Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Frequently Asked Questions

I love hearing from people. You know how much I love getting blog comments (not that I'm a big responder, but I appreciate reading them all the same). I also love when people drop me a line by e-mail (that's getitripeATgmail.com) to say they've been reading or cooking with the book and what their experience has been. I have been finding though that many people have the same questions, and along with feeling like a broken record, I'm not to jazzed about all the typing. So in comes an FAQ post to the rescue!

This book is really just for vegans (and omnivores won’t like it), right?
Actually, I wrote this book for everyone. While converting people to veganism just isn’t my thing (I think we should all get informed and make the decisions we feel are best for us), I do believe as a nutritionist that we all need more creative ways to be eating and enjoying vegetables. A whole foods plant-based diet is cleaner-burning in our systems and eliminates many of the most common food allergens (like dairy). And I’m not the only one suggesting that everyone eat vegan meals more often, it’s a popular idea these days (just read Food Matters by Mark Bittman or the UN document Livestock’s Long Shadow) for slimming down, addressing other health issues, and for the health of the planet.
Recipes that tend to impress the pants off meat-eaters the most include The Good Shepherd’s Pie, Coconut Cauliflower Chana, Sesame Kale Soba, Millet-Stuffed Bell Peppers, many of the soups and salads, and pretty much any of the muffins (Banana Chocolate Chip), cookies (Double Trouble Chocolate or Date Coconut) and desserts (the Chai Cake)!

Where can I get your book?
As a former employee of an indie bookstore, I do encourage you to spend your dollars at their establishments. (Did you know that a greater percentage of the book price goes to the author if you get it at a smaller place instead of one of the corporate chains?) I understand that the pull of the discounts and the sometimes free delivery from big name online sellers can be quite enticing. When it comes down to it, if you can get your hands on the book in one way or another, I’m happy!

Where can I get your book in Montreal?
I get asked this particular question often enough that it’s worth answering here. Co-op La Maison Verte in NDG sells my book, and I love them so much that I hope you go and support them! It can also be found at Bon Appetite in Westmount and any Chapters or Indigo store location.

Do all vegans avoid wheat?
Of course not, silly! Veganism is simply defined as the elimination of all animal products (like meat, dairy, eggs) from one’s diet (and often from one’s lifestyle too). Get It Ripe excludes wheat because it’s a grain that many people have developed an intolerance or allergy to, including me. (And what would be the fun in creating recipes I couldn’t enjoy myself?) For many people, spelt, while it’s an ancient grain that’s related to wheat (and still contains gluten), is easier to tolerate, and it can replace wheat with a relative amount of ease in most recipes.

I can’t eat gluten. Will Get It Ripe have recipes I can enjoy?
Almost 75 percent of the recipes in the book are or can be gluten-free, including a few sweet treats. And rest assured, I’m working on more gluten-free baked goods for the next book!

I can’t eat sugar. Does that mean all the sweet recipes and baked goods are off limits to me?
Most of the recipes in the book are free of granulated sugar, and when it is called for it’s organic and fairly traded sugar, which contains more minerals and gives the growers and producers a fairer wage. All the muffins and most of the other recipes in Get It Ripe are sweetened with fruit, maple syrup, agave nectar, stevia and/or molasses.

Why so much maple syrup? (And what if I can’t afford it?)
Maple syrup is a staple in my kitchen because it tastes delicious, is vegan (unlike honey), is produced locally (one of the many perks of being Canadian!), and contains more minerals (such as manganese and zinc) than refined sugar, making it less of a hit on our blood sugar levels and a more health-supporting sweetener.
If you feel that you can’t afford maple syrup... well, I have a few thoughts. I don’t think that it takes a million dollars to eat well, but I would ask you to look at where the money you have is going in your life. We as North Americans tend to spend a significantly smaller percentage of our income on food, as compared to folks in Europe. Are you “not affording” wholesome foods, but going out and buying $7-12 drinks at the bar, or $200+ shoes/jeans when the mood strikes you? Obviously, I’m very food oriented, but I have to ask “Don’t you deserve high quality (fresh, clean/organic, whole) foods to nourish your body?” and “Don’t the people producing this good food deserve to make a living wage?” Often times maple syrup can be replaced with agave nectar (but be sure it’s organic agave nectar, as I’ve been hearing that some agave “syrup” is being cut with corn syrup... ugh!), though I’m not sure that’s any cheaper. There was a time in university where I’d pour water over a packed cup of brown sugar to substitute for maple syrup, but that was before I had the nutritional understanding I have now, and saw that while you may save money with lower quality sweeteners now, you’ll spend way more on probiotic supplements to heal your digestive tract from sugar damage later on.

If you’re talking about “ripe” does that mean the book’s recipes are all raw?
Nope, the recipes aren’t all raw – about 23 of them are. You’ll get to enjoy many of the drinks and salads in the book, some sauces and a few desserts.
Get It Ripe is a spin on “get it right” – encouraging you to take nutritionally-beneficial steps that help you move towards greater health and happiness. “Ripe” brings to mind (at least to my mind) fresh, juicy, seasonal produce, which is hopefully the focus of any meal.

I leant my copy of Get It Ripe to a friend – can you send me the recipe for _____?
I am so wrapped up in writing my next book that I really can’t take the time to send individual recipes out over e-mail. Check Domestic Affair to see if the recipe is here somewhere. If not, I’m sure you’ll find something just as great in the blog recipe archives.

Here is a list of my personal health problems and/or concerns and questions about certain foods. Can you tell me what I should do?
How to best support our health can be a mystery to many of us, especially with all the conflicting information on teevee, in magazines, on the web, and from our health practitioners, family and friends. I understand that questions come up (heck, they do for me, too!). I love sharing information, and consulting with people about their health and nutritional concerns, but I can’t spend hours each week responding to individual questions, nor can I give you answers about what you “should” do when I don’t have adequate information about you, your family history, your lifestyle, etc.
If you are interested in nutritional consultation with me (you don’t have to live near me!), which includes a thorough assessment to help me offer suggestions that’ll suit you best, go here (best viewed through Firefox, or e-mail me for an updated PDF pamphlet).

Are you going to write a book on vegan or vegetarian pregnancy, or a whole foods nutrition/cookbook for kids?
All these topics are of interest to me, but I prefer writing about what I know firsthand, so until I’ve had a wee one (or two) of my own, I’m going to hold off on writing books on those topics. In the mean time, I recommend The Natural Pregnancy Book by midwife and herbalist Aviva Romm and the books what Should I Feed My Baby? by Suzannah Olivier and Raising Vegetarian Children by Joanne Stepaniak and Vesanto Melina for pediatric nutrition. (If they’re not veg-focused, they at least have a good holistic/whole foods bent.) Vegetarian cookbooks for kids that I like include Honest Pretzels and Salad People by Mollie Katzen and Better than Peanut Butter & Jelly by Marty Mattare and Wendy Muldawer.

I’m thinking of going to school for nutrition. Can you tell me about your school, and if you think I should go?
I attended Canadian School of Natural Nutrition here in Toronto to become a registered holistic nutritionist. They have sites across Canada (and by distance ed), just check their website. The course topics include Anatomy and Physiology, Cellular Biology, Biochemistry, Preventative Nutrition, the Body-Mind-Spirit connection, Pediatric Nutrition, Sports Nutrition, Allergies, and Alternative Diets. I had a few wonderful teachers who I still keep in touch with today. For many students it is a catalyst for further study (some people go on to naturopathy or homeopathy) or something they want to add to an already existing career (like personal training, massage therapy, culinary arts, or work with children or the elderly).
One of the big challenges for the right now is waiting out the learning curve while people begin to understand the value of preventative self-care and more holistic (body-mind-spirit connecting) healing practices. I do believe that everyone should see a holistic practitioner (naturopathic doctor, holistic nutritionist and/or doctor of traditional Chinese medicine) at least once or twice a year, just as you’d see your family doctor, but until that becomes generally accepted practice, I joke that holistic health practitioners are like the new “starving artists” (and we don’t even have access to things like artists’ grants!).

Are you still selling your cookzines?
For years I loved producing zines, but it’s not a big focus of mine anymore – I’m trying to focus on books!
Sometimes I’ll bring any stock I still have (like Ripe #4, Sprouts and Roots) to an event, but it’s unlikely that I’ll be making more copies of the old cookzines (Vegan Freegan, Ripe #s 1-3, Root, Cookie Zine...).

When’s your next book coming out?
My second book, Ripe from Around Here, is expected to be released by Arsenal Pulp Press in March 2010. As the title suggests, it has a local foods theme, but will be set up in a similar way to Get It Ripe: resource chapters (helping you to understand where various foods are coming from and how to reduce your carbon footprint and build healthy communities) followed by recipes.

"Domestic affair... do you think it's a funny title?" I asked a friend.
"Funny ha-ha?" she responded, "well, no not really."
"But 'domestic affair', it's like what's going on in the nation, but it's also me, being drawn to all these domestic tasks - knitting, cooking, caring for small children..." I tried to explain.
"I like that it has the word affair in it," she concluded.

jae's first book!

Get It Ripe cover Have you seen my award-winning whole foods cookbook Get It Ripe: a fresh take on vegan living (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2008)? Keep your eyes peeled for it!
To join the Facebook group for the book, go here.


about the blog:

about the cookbooks:

While I love hearing from you, and read each and every one of your e-mails, please understand that I just cannot respond to all of them due to the rate at which they're coming in these days!

If you have a question, I might have already answered it here.

in the press

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come see me:
* Vida Vegan Con in Portland, OR, August 26-28, 2011.

...but better yet, check the calendar for details!



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