An Interview with Emily von Euw: Rawsome Vegan Baking
So, you're like so many of us -- you're interested in eating healthier food, but you just don't know how to get there. Emily von Euw's first cookbook, Rawsome Vegan Baking: An Un-cookbook for Raw, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Beautiful and Sinfully Sweet Cookies, Cakes, Bars & Cupcakes, is a fabulous way to get started -- even if you only end up on her excellent blog, This Rawsome Vegan Life and find some fabulous vegan recipes there. I had the opportunity to catch up with the utterly charming and not-completely-100-percent raw Emily. Find out a little bit more about her book, blog, recipes, and the ingredient she just can't do without.
When you introduce yourself on your This Rawsome Vegan Life blog, you are wonderfully down-to-earth, noting that while you eat mostly raw, vegan foods, that you don’t all the time, and that you’re not always eating organic because you’re not made of money. Do the recipes in your book reflect that kind of viewpoint, with easily accessible (and inexpensive, when possible) ingredients?
Thank you! I think it's important to stay realistic and non-judgmental about what you and others eat; just do what works for you and respect the decisions of others. My book reflects this attitude as well. I have a whole paragraph about adaptions and substitutions for ingredients and recipes, as well as notes throughout the book. For example: if you want low-fat and less expensive recipes, I recommend you use oats instead of cashews. Most of the ingredients are fairly easy to find and the ones that tend to cost more (coconut oil, cacao powder, etc.) are used in small amounts. I want this kind of eating to be do-able for everyone, and I kept that in mind while writing the book.
You note the “baking” part of the book’s title is more a reference to the recipes being inspired by baked sweets. How do you translate baked goods to raw food?
Yep! Well, let's take pumpkin pie as an example. A conventional pumpkin pie has a baked pastry crust, filled with a creamy mixture of pumpkin puree, sugar, milk, eggs, etc. which you bake so it sets. Things I love about this pumpkin pie? The crumbly, dense crust and the creamy, sweet, colourful, flavourful pumpkin filling. Things I don't like? The processed ingredients and animal products. All I do when I veganize and rawify recipes is keep the things I love while taking out the stuff I don't like! My raw pumpkin pie has a crumbly nut and date crust and a creamy, sweet, super simple filling of fresh pumpkin, dates, spices and coconut oil. You don't have to bake it because it can set in the fridge. It's good for you. It tastes great. Nobody gets hurt. Everyone wins!
What made it seem like the right time to write the book?
Haha I didn't have much choice! My publisher found and contacted me (about a year ago) and after a few phone calls we had a signed book deal and I had to write a book in 4 months! Luckily it was perfect timing, since my school semester had just ended... for exactly 4 months. Before my publisher initially got a hold of me, I had been daydreaming about writing a cookbook for a little while because a lot of readers/family/friends had been seriously suggesting I should. Then lo and behold I get this email from one of the biggest publishing companies in the world (Macmillan), asking me to write a book for them. The universe is on my side! Things could not be working out better.
How long did it take to write the book, which features 100 new recipes, alongside 15 favorites from the blog? How did it differ from writing the blog?
Like I said, the actual writing and photography process took about 4 months. I was making, on average, one recipe every day and photographing it; it was nuts (no pun intended... well okay it was kind of intended). It differed from writing my blog in that in some sense I was working for someone else. I mean I'm always working on my blog for my readers... but in this case, there were deadlines and expectations to be met. Fortunately none of that turned out to be an issue. Everyone at my publishing company is really excited about my book, and so am I.
Do you have a favorite recipe in the book?
Oh that is the toughest question. I have my favourites, but I think if I had to choose one it'd be the Vanilla Chocolate Chunk "Cheesecake", or the Reese's-inspired cake... just because everyone can appreciate those.
Your site includes wonders like Raw Vegan Poutine and Fettuccine Alfredo with Zucchini Pasta and Cauliflower Sauce. What inspires you to create such recipes and how much trial and error is involved before you share one on the site or OK it for a cookbook?
Thank you. Lately I have been getting ideas from my readers and friends, because I've shifted my focus to giving people what they want (not that I wasn't doing that before... but most of my ideas were coming from my dreams). I really want to show how easy and delicious it can be to eat healthy food... that happens to be vegan. My inspiration is knowing that I am helping other people find long term wellness, physically and beyond. I don't see being healthy as an aspect of a good life, I see it as a foundation for one; in that way, I am always excited and honoured to be helping people build on these foundations.
Is there an ingredient you just can’t live without?
Coconut oil. I use it in the kitchen, in the bathroom, in the bedroom... Everyday I'm coco-in'.
You went vegan quickly and then raw vegan fairly swiftly thereafter. Is there any advice you would give to someone planning to go vegetarian or vegan, to keep them exited about cooking?
Yeah! Do it at a pace that is comfortable and suited to YOU. Your body will probably do best if you gradually transition. Begin by adding more fruits to your daily diet; in smoothies, for breakfast, as snacks throughout the day. Eat as much fruit as you want. Also snack on yummy stuff like veggies with hummus or raw nut cheese, kale chips, raw energy bars or dried fruit and nuts, etc. For dinner, make big salads alongside steamed veggies and whole grains with homemade sauces. Keep increasing the size of the salad, if you wish, until you don't even need the cooked food. Having said that, I don't eat 100% raw and I don't recommend a lot of people do, because for most of us it's too expensive and not sustainable. I just had a huge bowl of delicious veggie soup my mom made for dinner and enjoyed every spoonful. Cooked foods can be great for you, just make sure you eat a large amount of raw foods (at least 50%) and the try to keep the rest of your diet as whole foods and preferably plant-based.
What’s your next recipe challenge — is there a nut you have yet to crack?
RAW VEGAN CHOCOLATE CROISSANTS!
Is there anything else you would like people to know about the book?
I designed the book for everyone. I don't care if you're a raw foodist, carnivore, vegetarian, vegan, foodie... whatever! This book is accessible to every kind of eater and if you don't know the first thing about this kind of diet, you'll learn all you need to know. If you are already a pro at it, maybe you can get some new ideas. I want people to have this book in their hands! I want them to get it dirty in the kitchen while jamming to good tunes and making the recipes! I want them to buy it right now! x