Pick a Phobia, any Phobia!

By Sid Garza-Hillman

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A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting The Discerning Brute/Joshua Katcher in person. He had been a guest (via Skype) on my podcast only weeks prior, and just by chance was able to come up to the Stanford Inn during a trip to Northern California. I head up the Stanford Inn’s Wellness Center and am the Nutritionist/Health Coach there.

Joshua, his partner James, and I sat down for dinner, and while we talked about many things (fashion included, though why anyone would wear anything other than rolled up 501’s and white t-shirts is beyond me. Maybe I should be more discerning.), the subject of protein came up. Not because any of us—all plant-based—were concerned with protein in the least, but because working at a vegan resort whose clientele are overwhelmingly NOT vegan, I am constantly asked the big protein question—where do vegans get their protein?

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A couple times a week I hang out and walk through the inn’s restaurant and talk to guests. Almost nightly I get the protein question and am there to hopefully dissipate some of the fear around it. I was relating this to Joshua and James and we all decided it should probably be a phobia. And that’s when, through obviously divine inspiration, it hit: PROTEDEFIPHOBIA—the fear of protein deficiency. I think we nailed it, and now just have to figure out the hoops we have to jump through to make it official. Is there a phobia department of the patent office? Should we ‘tm’ it for now (i.e. protedefiphobia™)? Oh, the possibilities. I’m so excited about it that it must be something that deep down I’ve always wanted and finally got: I’m a co-owner of a beautiful baby phobia!

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And yet, a reality check. Fear of protein deficiency is very real. As a species we are designed to protect ourselves and to survive the best we can. Often times corporations/companies/industries feed on this instinct in order to drive sales. The animal food industry is no exception. They succeed every time they convince someone that he or she will suffer greatly without intense amounts of animal protein. However, there are a few pesky facts that hurt their bottom line: 1) whole plants are full of protein 2) the human body performs best on a higher carbohydrate diet (not refined/processed carbohydrates, but whole plant ones) and finally, 3) more and more professional athletes are actually performing and recovering better after switching to whole plants. In my practice I devote a substantial amount of time and effort minimizing the fear around protein. But that’s one of the best parts of my job—helping people be LESS afraid. Less fear, more happiness and health. Pretty simple equation.

So, to those with protedefiphobia™, rest assured, help is on the way. It’s located in the produce section of groceries stores around the world.

12 Things to Click

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The Lusty Vegan Interview

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Chef Ayinde Howell’s new book, The Lusty Vegan, co-authored by Zoe Eisenberg, is a delicious, fun, sexy and indulgent cookbook that focuses on innovative recipes with savvy relationship advice for people that may not see pie-to-pie. Yours Truly gives some of his own relationship advice on page 89! I’ve had the lucky opportunity to both work with Ayinde as a featured chef, and eat his delectable creations at more than one glitzy event. I went back for seconds. And thirds.  With his new book hitting the shelves, I got the inside scoop on what makes the perfect recipe for a book about what it takes to keep on loving food and each other.

Joshua Katcher: Which two recipes from your new book are your personal favorite?
Ayinde Howell: Orange Cream Stuffed French Toast and the Hearts of Palm Lobster Roll

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Hearts of Palm Lobster Roll, from The Lusty Vegan

JK: Why is food such an issue for people in relationships or dating?
AH: Because it’s physical evidence that you agree or really disagree on a pretty key element of life. At just about every meal it can be an easy source of conflict or reassurance. The key is to have understanding, mutual respect and good vegan food. I try to address as much of these as possible with my co-author in TLV. And provide 80+ recipes for the eating part.

JK: What have you learned about relationships from writing this book?
AH: That I have been selfish in the past and didn’t know how to compromise. But I do now. Really! It’s a two way street and when we talk about building a life with someone there is a lot to consider. So if it’s a serious one, be open.

JK: List 10 ingredients you could never live without.LustyVegan
AH: 1. Flavored oils, truffle, sesame, olive etc.
2. vinegars, balsamic, cider, rice etc.
3. sage
4. powdered herbs
5. an all purpose seasoning, I make my own but old bay is nice and a good masala curry
6. cashews
7. vegan butter
8. organic veggies
9. tamari sauce
10. flour

JK: I love your point in the book to “let the food do the talking”. I feel like this can be applied to a lot of things. Tell us about an experience you’ve had where your food did the talking.
AH: Mostly it’s from when I worked as an executive chef in Manhattan, I would sit in the dinning room during lunch and watch as vegans would drag their non vegan co-workers to the vegan cafe. Witnessing their faces go from skepticism… to that silent fork… to plate-clanking joy never got old. I saw that worked so much better than any pamphlet or  attempt at convincing.

JK: I’ve met some people who don’t like art, don’t like kids… but would you date someone who didn’t like indulging in good food?
AH: So interesting, I’d have to say no. As a chef I get a lot of inspiration from the person I’m dating pleasing her palate and surprising those testbeds is a such a fun thing.

JK: I love the theme of the book and its inclusiveness. What kind of feedback have you been getting? Any haters?
AH: Well we release on Oct7th, I’m sure there are some haters out there. My co-writer Zoe Eisenberg was called vegan whore for dating her meat eating BF by one of our ieatgrass.com commenters (at least it was a vegan whore).

JK: When are you opening a restaurant and when will I ever get to have your Mac-n-Yease again?
AH: Ha! Post writing this book I am putting together a plan and team so I can create the space I want in the the best way! I will let you know sir!

JK: What do you have your sights set on for the next year?
AH: More TV stuff, I am working on merging all my talents together and hitting the world with veganism in ways they have not seen before.

JK: What’s the best way for people to get your book?
AH: Most book stores or Amazon.com.

Stanford Inn Eco Resort

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I recently had the pleasure of traveling up the California coastline to Mendocino and staying at the Stanford Inn by the Sea, a bucolic resort tucked into a wooded hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean. James and I were warmly greeted by co-owner Jeff Stanford as well as Sid Garza-Hillman, author, certified nutritionist and head-of-kitchen at The Ravens, the hotel’s celebrated, haute cuisine restaurant.

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From the balcony of our room we savored a platter of macaroons, raspberries and cappuccino ice cream, all hand-made at The Ravens, while gazing upon gardens where they grow food for the kitchen, which led into a pasture where rescued horses, llamas and donkeys grazed, overlooking the sun setting into the Pacific. It seemed surreal yet warmly nostalgic. We lit the fireplace and absorbed the incense of a crackling fire while getting ready for dinner.

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The food was consistently fantastic, and they have one of the largest vegan brunch menus in the country, which is included if you stay at the inn. They have a canoe rental with vintage redwood canoes which you can take out for several hours on the bright-blue estuary, there’s an enclosed greenhouse pool, jacuzzi and sauna, and even a massage therapist who will get those knots out while you relax in the forest.

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We ended our second evening with a Pinkus Hefeweizen from the bar while wandering the gardens taking macro shots with my Olloclip of the plants and pollinators. It had all gone by too fast and felt like a mix of my fondest camp memories with a luxury twist and set of handsome ethics. I can’t wait to go back!

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The Discerning Brute On The Radio

I recently did two interviews one for Sid Garza-Hilman’s Approaching the Natural:

Joshua Katcher, The Discerning Brute, Brave Gentleman

The other is for Animal Voices Vancouver:

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