[I don’t know about you, but I can never get enough chocolate chip cookies! This variation contains seeds and dried fruit (plus I’ve made an ACD-friendly version). They’re vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, nut-free and yeast-free. Suitable for Stage 2 and beyond on an anti-candida diet.]
I’m thrilled today to share what is not only a fabulous recipe, but also an interview with one of Canada’s own best known actors and entertainers. If you watch TV or movies, you likely know Stephanie Belding.
Stephanie’s has been a familiar face on TV here in Canada for some time (you may have seen her Canadian Tire or Tim Horton’s TV commercials, or her roles in The Jane Show and more recently, in the Syfy network series, Incorporated). Then there’s her role as reporter Janet Black in the movie Watchmen, who prompted one of the most quotable lines from Dr. Manhattan.
So, I can’t tell you how delighted I was when I saw her name pop up on my twitter and instagram feeds! Through the magic of the internet, I not only had the opportunity to exchange tweets with Stephanie, but also discovered that she is an avid vegan baker. Well, I knew I had to invite her to share something on the site!
These enticing cookies are Stephanie’s recipe, which she graciously allowed me to share here. I’ve made 3 batches already–one exactly according to the original recipe (which the HH managed to eat entirely by himself with no trouble at all), plus 2 more that I tweaked to be “ACD friendly.” I’m happy to report that I consumed my fair share of each of those latter two batches, and so can say with full assurance that these will now become a new staple in our home.
These treats are soft and chewy without being cloyingly sweet, so they can double as a great breakfast-on-the-go as well as a hearty afternoon snack (and because there are no nuts, the kids can even take them to school). If you’re heading out for a weekend getaway and want something substantial that’s also nourishing, pack a few of these cookies in your bag and you’ll never be without something yummy to eat.
So now I’m thinking: lots of actors start restaurants, right? Maybe we can convince Stephanie to start up a bakery. . .
Q. Did you always know that you wanted to be an actor? What about the profession drew you to it?
A. I think so. I was always drawn to music and movement and my own imaginative world; we were involved in sport from an early age but I was always singing and reading and consumed with story. I got into theatre training as a child and that carried me through my entire schooling life, all the way through 7 years of post secondary studies.
Q. So many actors in our society–and especially women–are perceived by the public as having disordered relationships with food as a result of the demands to remain impossibly thin. Despite this, you maintain what appears to be a healthy attitude about food, bake regularly, and work as a trainer teaching others to achieve strong, healthy bodies. What’s your general approach to eating healthfully? Do you follow any special kind of diet?
I think the pressure on actors to look a certain way is very hard to escape but I’d like to believe it’s shifting towards a more attainable, healthy and balanced representation of bodies out there. We’re finally starting to see more diversity not only in race and culture but also size and shape. I’ve struggled with feeling like I didn’t fit in, physically; I had one agent tell me I was too tall, too fit, not fat enough, not skinny enough, not ugly enough and not pretty enough so he couldn’t figure out how to get me into rooms. So, fired him, and found people who understood that my worth as an actor isn’t about how skinny or pretty or I am.
The business is what it is, I can’t control how others perceive me or my work; I can control what I bring into the room and always being ready to go. I consistently work on my craft and part of that is about staying physically healthy with training and eating well. Cooking and baking gives me ridiculous joy at the best of times. It also allows me a creative outlet when I’m not working. I’ve been vegan since 2003, but other than that, I don’t think of myself as someone who follows a special diet. I know what makes me feel good and what is hard for me to function on, food wise.
Q. You’ve worked on some amazing productions both in Canada and in the US (our international readers will likely recognize the likes of Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Anjelica Huston or William H Macy from the US, and Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara in Canada.). Is there a difference between working in the US or Canada? What’s been your favorite experience in this field?
I’ve never worked in the US; all the American shows I’ve done have been here in Canada, which is wonderful because I love life here, be it Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal or wherever we get to shoot. Different projects have different budgets which affect how the work is produced. I’ve had incredible luck and good fortune in working with some extraordinary artists from all over. The larger their star power, the more generous and compassionate they have been as actors, too.
Q. I imagine that a lot of your work involves travel and long hours on set. Do you have any routines or tricks to ensure that you stay healthy even when you’re away from home, or not getting your usual sleep?
Ah, sleep- the master of my domain! I’m hard wired to be an early, EARLY bird, so night shoots or working late days can be rough on me until my body acclimates. The key for me is regular hydration, small meals, and movement and exercise, even if that means bodyweight training in my trailer or a workout at odd hours to fit it in.
I always travel with my own snacks, a reusable water bottle and travel mug and Vega Sport Protein, especially if I’m on location where my food options are limited. I’ll keep diet really simple. But if everything goes sideways? Sleep. Sleep is by far and large THE most important tool in my kit bag.
Q. Your instagram profile describes you as, “actor, trainer, vegan baker.” I love following your baking exploits there. So this brings up 2 questions: a) what attracted you to a vegan diet, and how long have you been eating this way? b) What are the greatest benefits you’ve seen from this diet? And do tell us about your work as a trainer, too!
I transitioned to a vegan diet in 2003 from a fairly omnivorous diet. I had dabbled with vegetarianism in my 20’s but it didn’t stick. I walked away from beef and pork years earlier but was still eating a ton of dairy, eggs, chicken and fish when I moved in with my friend, the wonderfully talented actor, activist, and cat rescuer Leni Parker, who had been vegan for 4 years. I picked up Peter Singer’s book Animal Liberation and went vegan soon after.I suddenly had access to information and started reading up on ethics and environmentalism, vegan nutrition and animal exploitation. I dove into the veg community here in Toronto and learned a ton from them.
Living in a vegan household, I began adapting all my favorite recipes. It was really fun to experiment and play around with substitutions then recreate something completely from plants that I never thought possible. We were cooking and baking for each other and sharing stories, favorite meals, tips and tricks…I highly recommend transitioning to a vegan diet with other people around you so that you have a built in community to explore the journey with.
The greatest benefits for me have been the expanding consciousness of my footprint on the earth and continued knowledge that choosing compassion over killing is not only beneficial for the animals and the earth but for my sense of self and well being. My diet got larger and more diverse in terms of what I eat on a regular basis. I became very aware of what I need to be conscientious of maintaining in my diet in order to stay healthy and well balanced, like supplementing with B12 and a good multivitamin for when I’m not eating as well rounded as I could be.
As for training, I grew up in gyms and had worked with my own trainer for years starting in my mid to late 20’s. I certified almost 15 years ago and am constantly learning different modalities, expanding training practices and ways of learning. I’m fascinated by how we move and why we break down. Biomechanics, movement patterns as well as function and form intrigue me. Everyone is an individual working with their own set of circumstances, mechanics, genetics and habits/patterns so as a coach and trainer, I like to delve into what’s functioning and what’s broken down or stuck and help people reconnect or discover their strongest, most efficient and highest functioning self.
Q. What is your favorite food/foods?
Oh, I like this question. I love hummus and any kind of bean spread, be it red lentil curried hummus or a white bean spread with an olive tapenade on massive rice cakes. I love kale steamed with coconut oil, some nutritional yeast and hemp seeds with Spike seasoning on top. Dark chocolate, bananas, fragrant rices like jasmine and basmati. Nutty tempeh and black beans with molasses and cumin. Nut butters! I try to make all of my own raw nut butters. Brazil nuts with medjool dates. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers- old school traditional salad fixins. Lebanese food- there’s a great restaurant in Vancouver called Nuba that I love. Cereal and granolas, with unsweetened soy or nut milks with blueberries and walnuts…I wish I ate more seaweed. I could benefit from that, for sure. Mushrooms are underrated, period. I have a sweet tooth which is why I bake so much- I adapt traditional decadent cookies and cakes to healthier versions so I can eat more, plain and simple 🙂
Thanks so much, Stephanie! It’s been great getting to know a bit more about you. And thanks for this great recipe!
More about Stephanie
Stephanie is an actor, trainer and vegan baker based out of Toronto, Canada. A graduate of The National Theatre School of Canada, Stephanie has performed on stages across North America as well as countless commercials, television shows and films. Passionate about baseball, hummus, kale and good cookies. Spontaneous dance breaks and kindness for the win. Find more about her on her site, stephaniebelding.com .
Connect with Stephanie on social media:
Stephanie Belding’s Giant Chocolate Chip and Fruit Cookies (shared with permission)
Depending on the sweetener used, these cookies will be soft and cakey or denser and chewier; both are great. I’ve included my own adjustments to the recipe in square brackets beside the original.
1-1/2 cups (360 ml) unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
1/2 cup (120 ml) coconut sugar or maple syrup, if allowed [I used xylitol]
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
[2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil, optional]
1-1/2 cups (360 ml) total of gluten-free flours; Stephanie’s mix is 3/8 cup (90 ml) each buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, almond flour and hemp protein powder [I used 1/2 cup/120 ml each of buckwheat flour and almond flour, with 1/4 cup/60 ml each of grainfree protein powder and chickpea flour]
1 tsp (5 ml) baking soda
1 tsp (5 ml) fine sea salt [I used 1/2 tsp/2.5 ml]
1 tsp (5 ml) cinnamon [I used 2 tsp/10 ml]
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) nutmeg
1/8 tsp (.5 ml cloves
2-1/2 cups (600 ml) old fashioned rolled oats (ensure they are gluten-free)
1 cup (240 ml) dark chocolate chips [I used Lilys]
1/2-3/4 cup (120-180 ml) raisins, if you can have them [I used 1/2 cup/120 ml golden berries]
1/2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened shredded coconut
Suitable for: ACD Stage 2 and beyond; refined sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, nut free, yeast-free, vegan.
Disclosure: Links in this post may be affiliate links. If you choose to purchase using those links, at no cost to you, I will receive a small percentage of the sale.
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