[This post is part of an ongoing series of interviews with cookbook authors, bloggers, women entrepreneurs and home chefs whose work I enjoy and admire. If you've got someone in mind you'd like me to approach for an interview, please shoot me an email at dietdessertdogsATgmailDOTcom, or leave a comment here and let me know! And now, enjoy today's installment!]
I’m delighted to bring you an interview today with Lisa Pitman and Nicole Axworthy, authors of the new ebook Tiny Treats: Vegan Recipes that will Tantalize Your Taste Buds and Nourish Your Soul, and two of the most lovely and inspiring women I’ve had the pleasure to meet. They’ve also kindly agreed to provide a copy of the book for today’s giveaway–see bottom of post to enter!
Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I actually met Lisa many years ago when I first attended the annual Vegetarian Food Festival here in Toronto. Lisa was the cheery, energetic volunteer with the always-smiling face who greeted many of the guests and helped us find our way as we wandered among the many stalls and vendor booths at the Fair (and, in more recent years, has become a presenter in partnership with Nicole, drawing a packed house for their recipe demos). Later, I began to read Lisa’s blog, Vegan Culinary Crusade. When I held a giveaway for baked goods from Sweet Freedom just before the book was published, it turned out that Lisa was the winner (you can read her review of the goodies here). From there, an email friendship grew and like her other loyal readers, I’ve followed along as Lisa has developed her blog, studied to become a raw food chef, and trekked around the world sharing her joyful veganism.
I was lucky enough to meet Nicole a couple of years back when Angela threw a birthday party and we were both invited. I was delighted to learn that she worked as a writer and editor (a dream job of mine!). As a food blogger and recipe creator, Nicole also holds certification in plant-based nutrition through Cornell University and the T. Colin Campbell Foundation, so she’s adept at making those fabulous and great-tasting recipes good for you, too. Her blog, A Dash of Compassion, highlights delicious, healthy, vegan recipes, which she refers to as her own brand of “baketivism.”
Now, Lisa and Nicole have collaborated to bring you Tiny Treats, and entire ebook of 25 delicious whole-food vegan sweet treats, many of them raw (though they do also offer baked options)–no special equipment required (just a food processor or blender). The recipes I’ve tried so far have been incredible, and the photos in this ebook are also stunning (and each recipe has its own full-color photo)–every page is a mini celebration of healthy, beautiful, delicious food! And perhaps most importantly, the women are donating a portion of their proceeds to the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand, in order to sponsor the elephants there. Every purchase will help them reach their goal!
Today I’m sharing the recipe for Cinnamon Bun Granola, a crispy, chewy, satisfying and just-sweet-enough treat (note that I adapted the recipe for the ACD, with no problems at all; in fact, most of the recipes would be easily adaptable by subbing coconut nectar for maple syrup).
I asked Lisa and Nicole a few questions about their baking, blogs, and ebook. Once you’re done reading, be sure to enter the giveaway, below!
1. You obviously work well together as recipe creators and cookbook designers—the recipes are all delectable and the photos are stunning. How did this collaboration come about?
We met at a vegan cookbook launch party a few years ago. It didn’t take long to discover that we’re culinary soul mates. We share a food philosophy, a curiosity about creative cuisine, and a love of learning new techniques. Over the years, we’ve collaborated on blog challenges, co-presented food demos and travelled to vegan events. With our shared love of sweet treats, the ebook became the perfect platform for us to tackle the recipes we’ve been dreaming about for years. We have different palates and different sources of inspiration, which helped to develop a diverse collection of recipes that all shared the same basic qualities: whole food ingredients and amazing flavours.
2. What did you enjoy most about working together?
We delight in each other’s creations. We’re inspired by one another’s enthusiasm and when things don’t work out there is always someone else ready to retest the sauce or taste the next batch.
3. Your ebook features many raw treats. How much of your own diet is raw? Any reason you eat this way?
The ebook recipes focus on whole-food ingredients, so they don’t call for any processed flours or sugars. However, we do use a few ingredients that do not fit into the standard definition of raw cuisine, such as maple syrup. We love the wonderful flavours that nut flours and date pastes impart but we also believe in flexibility. Even the directions in the book are not exclusively raw. Most kitchens don’t have a dehydrator so we made sure to include oven-baking instructions for any of our recipes that need a little heat.
4. Why are all the treats so small?
We both believe that a healthful diet is built around plenty of vegetables and fruit. The desserts in this book fit well into that plan. These desserts are nutrient dense and therefore surprisingly satisfying. They are the perfect size to enjoy at the end of a meal or as an in-between snack. But if you like a heartier portion, go ahead and cut those brownies into 10 rather than 20.
5. You donate a portion of the proceeds to the elephant sanctuary in Thailand. What was the motivation for this choice?
Last year, Lisa spent a week volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand. It was a life-altering experience. The elephants at the park have all been rescued from situations where they have been abused at the hands of humans and yet they treat all of the guests of the park with warmth and affection. It is powerful to learn forgiveness from an elephant. Although we wish we could help to end the suffering of all animals, we felt that this would be a personal place to share the proceeds.
6. What’s your personal favorite raw food, either in the ebook or not?
Lisa: The raw food I tend to eat the most is kale. I’m a big fan of leafy greens and seem to find a way to enjoy them at every meal. When it comes to desserts I look to the combination of apples, cinnamon and ginger—making a raw apple crisp is my ideal treat.
Nicole: Just like Lisa, I gravitate toward greens (usually in salad form). On the sweeter side, I love the fresh, tangy flavour of lemon—the Lemon Lava Cakes recipe in the ebook is one of my favourites.
7. For someone who isn’t used to cooking this way, what would be the best starter recipe from the book?
The Cinnamon Bun Granola recipe would be a fantastic introduction to Tiny Treats—oats, buckwheat, walnuts and coconut are coated with spices and a thick, date-and-maple-flavoured sauce and then dehydrated (or baked) until dry. The Pecan Date Cookies are also super simple but incredibly delicious and nutrient-dense.
Having made the granola myself, I can only agree! Both The HH and I loved it. And it’s really simple to make! I’m reprinting with permission here (with my own changes in square brackets).
Cinnamon Bun Granola from Tiny Treats ebook (reprinted with permission)
[Lisa and Nicole say:] If we ever open a vegan B&B, this will be on each breakfast-in-bed tray. We would keep the guestrooms full by serving it up differently each day–in a layered parfait glass with sliced apples and almond yogurt, or on top of our favorite banana soft serve, or in special tea cup with a substantial splash of coconut milk. The options are endless.
2 cups (215g) rolled oats
1/2 cup (95g) raw buckwheat groats
1/2 cup (65g) raw walnuts, chopped [I used almonds]
1/2 cup (50g) unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup (40g) raisins [I used goji berries]
1 tbsp (15mL) ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2.5mL) sea salt
1/4 tsp (1.25mL) fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 cup (120mL) pure maple syrup [I used coconut nectar and 20 drops stevia]
1/4 cup (50g) Medjool dates, pitted [I used prunes]
2 tbsp (30mL) melted coconut oil
2 tbsp (30mL) water
2 tsp (10mL) pure vanilla extra
1. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, buckwheat, walnuts, shredded coconut, raisins, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.
2. Using a blender, blend the maple syrup, dates, coconut oil, water and vanilla extract into a smooth, thick sauce.
3. Pour the sauce into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until all the dry ingredients are well coated.
4. Transfer the granola to a Teflex-lined dehydrator tray and spread into a thin (about 1/2 inch thick), even layer. Dehydrate for 8 to 10 hours at 115F.
4. Preheat the oven to 300F. Transfer the mixture to a baking tray lined with parchment paper and spread into a thin, even layer. Bake for 25 minutes, gently stirring every 10 minutes to ensure even browning. Allow to cool completely before gently breaking into clusters. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge or at room temperature.
Makes about 6 cups of granola.
Suitable for [with the changes in square brackets]: ACD Stage 3 and beyond, sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, vegan, lower glycemic.
AND NOW, FOR THE GIVEAWAY!
To enter, please leave a comment letting me know which sweet treat YOU love and would love to see in a whole-foods, refined sugar-free cookbook.
I’m going to keep this one simple: to enter the giveaway, just click the “comment” option in the Rafflecopter box, below, THEN leave your comment in the comments section. That’s it! Giveaway ends Friday, November 2nd at midnight. I’ll choose a winner at random and the name will be announced below. If I don’t hear from the winner within 3 days, I’ll choose another winner.
GOOD LUCK, EVERYONE!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Three Years Ago: Easy Breakfast “Sausage” Patties with Smoky Almond Gravy (gluten free; ACD Stage 2 and beyond)
© Ricki Heller, Diet, Dessert and Dogs