As part of Ann Gentry‘s Blog Tour for her new book Vegan Family Meals, we have featured her delicious recipes (Garlic-Sesame Kale Chips and her My Niçoise Salad) with a raw twist here on Mama in the Kitchen. In her professional life, she has been in the forefront of the Vegan and Green Food Movements: Ms. Gentry owns two Vegan restaurants, Real Food Daily in Santa Monica and Hollywood serving 100% Vegan foods, she hosts a cooking show, Naturally Delicious, she is the author of The Real Food Daily Cookbook and the executive chef to Vegetarian Times magazine. But what I really wanted to get to know was Ann Gentry, the Mama in her own Kitchen… so here is my interview with her, which I want to share with you.
Q&A with Ann Gentry
Carissa: As a Raw Vegan Mama today, I am only too aware of our culture that encourages an unhealthy lifestyle and the Standard American Diet. How have you been able to bring your children up in a counter culture, being a Vegan chef, restauranteur, author and mother? How have you created a family culture that allowed your children and husband to embrace the Vegan diet and lifestyle?
Ann: At my house, my kids are vegan. At birthday parties, or other social occasions at their friend’s houses, they eat vegetarian. We allow them to eat these “non-vegan” foods from time to time, NOT to supplement their vegan diet as there are no supplements to an already ideal diet, but rather allow them joy, comfort and participation in their childhood social settings. My kids get plenty of protein from beans, legumes, nuts and seeds and soy foods. I love it that they prefer non-dairy Cheeses to cow’s cheese any day.
Carissa: Have your children chosen to be Vegan themselves?
Ann: I tell them they are in this family for a reason and eating a plant-based diet is one of them! My 12-year-old daughter early on understood the implications of an animal based diet and was perplexed as to how people could live in this world, eating animals while having others as pets.
Carissa: What are (or have been) your family’s top favourite Vegan meals?
Ann: Nachos – corn chip with black beans and my cashew cheese. Recipe in Vegan Family Meals on page 57. Tacos and enchiladas made with beans. Mac ‘n’ Cheez – I worked so hard to perfect this recipe for Vegan Family Meals. The joke around my house is everyone is burnt out eating it. Recipe on page 152 called Baked penne and cauliflower w/ Cheesy Sauce. Right now, both kids are eating the Acai Bowl with My Super Hippie Granola everyday. The granola is also a dish that both kids love to help make. See first recipes in the book.
Carissa: At your restaurants, what are the favorite dishes that non-Vegan patrons order?
Ann: Most people eating at Real Food Daily are not vegans or vegetarians, instead they are health minded eaters who are looking for clean delicious tasting food served to them in a clean and stylish ambiance with friendly educated service. Everyone has the same favorites, to name a few: the daily specials and soups, all the hot entrees are popular, The Club Sandwich, our burger w/ the Works.
Carissa: I am all for ‘un-processing‘ my family’s food and making everything from scratch, so many Vegan ready-made products are not something I would readily buy. My boys still crave their meat and don’t like beans at all, what dishes would you recommend a Vegan Mama prepare to help her family transition to a more Vegan diet?
Ann: In the world of plant proteins besides beans, there are the soy products such as seitan also called wheat-meat, tempeh and tofu. These foods can be made into tasty dishes using condiments that bring texture and flavor to them. I too stay away from the overly processed faux meats. I find my kids will eat soy-based dishes such as Frittata on page 17. The texture is creamy and pleasurable. Also, nuts and seeds are great sources for protein.
One simple thing that has worked for me is always having one consistent dish on the table. This is one way I’ve introduced new foods or dishes. Right now, I always place a bowl of steamed brown rice on the table. This is the fall back to peaky eaters. If they don’t like what I’ve prepared, then they can eat the rice. This is not a punishment, I just tell my kids our home is not a restaurant, if they don’t like the foods I prepared then their other choice is the rice. So, you might try new foods you want to introduce using this method. It has worked for me as my kids love brown rice. In fact, it is now time to change the consistent dish on my dinner table to something new.
Carissa: I am a Raw Vegan Mama and wonder do you have any favourite Raw Vegan Foods?
Ann: I appreciate living foods and on occasion really enjoy them as a meal. My all time favorite is Lydia’s Luna Nori Crackers. Not only are they raw and vegan but they are gluten free too. I love these, so satisfying, great with any spread or dip.
Carissa: Thank you Ms. Gentry! I very much appreciate your time and your generosity in sharing your wonderful Vegan tips with all of us!