HOLY CRAP THE BOOK IS HERE

HOW THIS BOOK GOT STARTED
Below is a photo from the morning I had my first meeting with Flatiron Books. I was in New York for a Tastemade event, but my new literary agent wanted me to go to some meetings while I was there. Going to meetings in New York was -- um, still is -- out of my league. But I bit the bullet and decided to go anyway.

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The thing is, I was broke. So broke I couldn't afford the extra nights at the hotel to stay for meetings. My now-husband pretended he "had" to be in NY for work so that I could stay with him at his hotel (without me knowing he was doing me a huge favor).

I was out of my league, and my anxiety was IN FULL FORCE. Keep in mind that I am genetically predisposed to have anxiety, so I always have a solid baseline--but this was exponentially worse. It felt like there so much riding on this going well, and I did not want to screw it up. At one point my back was spasming so much that I had to lie down on the floor of the hotel room because I couldn't even stand. I didn't have anything "cool" or professional to wear to meetings, so I wore the same $20 dress that I'd gotten from a farmers market 3 days in a row and washed it in the sink every night. I was having such bad anxiety before the meeting that I could barely breathe. (Eric and I decided that I should have a Bloody Mary for breakfast; for the record, it didn't help with the anxiety and just made me worried that I'd smell like an alcoholic.) I was a mess.

Then, I met my amazing lit agent, Zach Schisgal (for the first time in person, mind you). I was sure he was going to see what a naive dummy I was and decide he no longer wanted to rep me, let alone have anything to do with me and my whole crazy food thing. We went up to Flatiron building where I met Will and Kara (who would soon become my editors!). I was sweating. And not like, internally. Literally. Visibly. Like, wipe-the-sweat-off-my-forehead sweating. But I wouldn't take off my jacket because I was embarrassed about my outfit. I assumed they hated me (although for the record, my anxiety always tells me everyone hates me). In the midst of what many might assume is this glamorous, big moment or mark of "success", I felt like a complete fraud. But the meeting went fine, and within the next few days we ended up deciding to make the Raw. Vegan. Not Gross. cookbook together.

WAIT, HOW DO I WRITE A BOOK?
I hadn't written a proper book proposal, and to be honest, I had no idea what I was doing. I write all the recipes for RVNG the show, so I knew a bit about how to structure recipes and talk about them, but I had no clue how to write a book. I did a lot of procrastinating. I got really frustrated with myself and then really depressed and angry at myself for procrastinating. I found out at the age of 31 I have an off-the-charts case of ADHD (a life changing diagnosis that I'm still sorting out and will save for another post). I basically ran myself through through the gamut. I also fell in love, moved from S.F. to L.A., bought a house with my husband, and got married. My friends got irritated because I wasn't returning phone calls and texts. My family, who I'm very close with, didn't see me for months at a time. There was a lot of chaos and a lot of feeling like a screwup.

Then, I got help. My producer from Tastemade, Emily Mraz, realized that I had the book photo shoot coming up and had literally no idea how to do it. She stepped in and helped me keep my head above water. I hired her and two other gals I'd worked with at Tastemade: Sophia, a food stylist, and Jamie, another producer for Tastemade. They all came up to SF to bang out the whole photo shoot in a week. I don't know how to describe it except that it was one of the most challenging, exhausting, and rewarding weeks of my life. I wanted so desperately to do a good job...and now I had an amazing group of people around me to help make it happen. We'd gotten an incredible photographer, David Loftus, to come shoot the book, and I was terrified he'd walk into our jerry rigged operation and turn up his nose at us--he didn't. He was lovely and sat and talked with my dog Buzz between shooting dishes.  


My literary agent, Zach, flew out from New York to come support the team and go on coffee runs. My editor, Will, also came out to help and give us some direction. I felt like I had tricked them all into showing up. But it worked! The photos were awesome. Things were really coming together and it felt incredible and surreal. After they all left I got in bed and stayed there for a week straight.

OK ALSO: HOW DO I PUT THIS OUT INTO THE WORLD WITHOUT HIDING UNDER A ROCK?
I decided that my only new years resolution for 2016 was to be okay with being criticized. Not only that, but to TRY to get criticized. Not by doing things that are purposely offensive or controversial, just by DOING THINGS. Lots of things. Over the years I've gotten criticized for my voice, my weight, my recipes, my tone, my jokes, my cursing ...everything. So now I'm putting out this cookbook that has A WHOLE LOTTA ME in it. And I'm feeling vulnerable. I'm hoping people love it, but I also know that some people won't. I'll get criticized, and that's probably going to hurt. But you know what? It'll be fine. I'll be fine. I've survived tougher stuff than getting made fun of. I got grit. I'll be ok. My excitement about this book greatly exceeds my stupid fear of people making fun of it. Seriously, I can't wait for you to see it.
 

Ok, enough of my feelings. I love this book, and I hope you like it too. You can preorder it by clicking any of the buttons below to make sure you get it the DAY it drops, May 17th!

BODY LANGUANGE / ERIN

Erin and I have probably spent less than 5 hours in the same room together, but I feel like we are old pals. I get so energized and feel so hopeful for the future of women when I am with her. We met through mutual friends on Instagram, and when I saw that she'd started the hashtag #BIGHAIRBIGFEELINGS I knew that we were on the same page.

We both have big feelings about the current state of girls and women and their relationships with their bodies. Not just the emphasis on how they look, but also in taking ownership of them and knowing their value. 

Erin is a yoga and meditation instructor. She has spent a good chunk of her life grappling with what she refers to as an “all-consuming eating disorder”, which she described as a way to "flatten her life." (I love that imagery btw.) She found yoga and meditation to be incredibly effective tools in her own healing, and now she's made it her mission to share what she's learned with others on their own paths to wellness. 

Who are you?
I'm a yoga teacher, originally from Cape Cod and I've been living in San Francisco for the past 7 years. I tried to pursue the fashion world during college in Manhattan but that life did not fit right. So I bought a one way ticket to a coast I'd never been to and now I've basically come around full circle to making a living off of exactly what I was doing throughout my childhood. Waking up with the sun, wearing spandex outfits and forcing my friends to do choreographed dances with me. They'd come over all excited like, “Let's play barbies!" And I'm like, “Cool, so...we're dancing." That's what yoga class is sometimes like with me—booty shakin.

How do you like to use your bod and treat it right? 
I walk around my city a lot. I'm shaking that ass whenever possible, and mostly I practice what I preach! I work hard in my personal yoga practice and I do it because I LOVE it. It is something that always makes me feel better. But no matter what, I'm moving my body in a way that's explorative and KIND. I have no time or patience for exercise as punishment. 

What energizes you?
Teaching comes to mind first. That is so fun for me. It's a beautiful, energizing, all-consuming task. My body, mind and spirit are all there 100% working together with no underlying life noise, if that makes any sense. So anything that does that for you—gets you all involved—is invigorating and powerful. Also, being in class as a student is just as empowering and fun for me. These days, I see my body as my teammate and that's a game-changer. We show up to class together ready to see what's what in that moment under those specific conditions, without any expectation to perform or impress.  

What are the benefits of yoga for you?
Sanity! Becoming a student and a teacher were pivotal parts of finally untangling a long battle with bulimia and anorexia. Yoga asks you to have discipline with compassion and that idea was very foreign to me. I was used to desperately attempting to control myself. Going to yoga allowed me brief moments of peace and that was addicting. Like, “Oh my god! Did you feel that calm!?  I want more of THAT." Yoga is proven to increase your baseline for handling stress and just life in general. It helped bring me back toward evenness. I still have my moments! Of course, this little seedling has a lot of growing to do but, man! I am so happy about how far I've come and how much I genuinely care about my own well being.

Is this a solo activity, or part of a wider community?
Well, teaching is both. Part is solo—you're studying, learning new things to pass on, planning thoughtful classes and playlists that help the set the mood. But obviously I've got to have someone to teach to and there's my community. I LOVE the people I teach. I'm at one studio in the Marina [a neighborhood by the bay in SF] and a bunch of different tech companies in SoMa [an art/tech neighborhood in SF], so I see a lot of the same faces. Over the years I've watched them grow and that is so special to me. No matter what is going on in my life, those people show up ready and give it their all and I show up in kind. Practice can be both, too. I love my home practice, I love how weird and random it can become. And then on the other hand, getting a room with other like minded people and doing work, hearing the breath, seeing the effort—that's pretty special.

What advice about your body would you give yourself 10 years ago?
Loosen your grip. Be okay with the unknown. And stop using all your energy trying to make the whole world love you. The only one who needs to love you, is you. Believe that!


 

FOLLOW ERIN @ERINTRON

Chocolate Chili Cereal

I've been playing around with using leftover quinoa in recipes, specifically breakfast recipes. In this one, you'll want to toast the quinoa before throwing it in with the rest of the cereal ingredients because it's still got a bit too much moisture in it to combine properly. It adds one extra step but it's easy to do while you're oven is heating up for the cereal and while you're gathering the rest of the ingredients.

 

CHOCOLATE CHILI CEREAL

cereal:
1 C oats
1 C quinoa, cooked and toasted
1 C buckwheat groats
1/4 C coconut sugar
1/4 C chia seeds
1/2 C pumpkin seeds, roughly chopped
1/2 C almonds, roughly chopped

chocolate mix:
1/3 C coconut oil
1/3 C maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C cocoa powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp cinnamon

*to toast the cooked quinoa:
Spread across a baking sheet and toast at 300*F (aka a low broil) for about 15 minutes, stirring a couple times during to make sure it toasts evenly.


1. Preheat your oven to 375*F.  
2. Combine oats, toasted quinoa, buckwheat, coconut sugar, chia, pumpkin seeds, and almonds in a large bowl.
3. In a saucepan, melt the coconut oil and medium-low heat. Whisk in maple syrup, vanilla, salt, cocoa, and spices.  
4. Pour wet mix into your bowl of dry ingredients, coating the granola mix evenly. Transfer to a baking sheet and spread evenly, pressing down with a spatula. Bake for 20 minutes.
5. Remove pan from oven and flip your mixture. Bake another 10 minutes in the oven, stirring every 4 minutes until everything is nicely toasted and and fragrant (it should make your house smell amazing!)

Vegan Gluten-free Queso

This stuff is good. Like, why-would-I-ever-touch-velveeta-again good. The incredibly gooey creamy texture relies on the first step, which is the roux. Do not be intimidated, it's basically just stirring. You won't mess it up. 

I was inspired to make this version after trying a bunch of other nut-heavy dips that were really falling flat. Then I found Minimalist Baker's Green Chili Queso recipe and seriously, that roux. I used the cornstarch version she suggested to make it gluten-free. She's a genius. 

Anyway, you should try this. You won't be sorry.

VEGAN GLUTEN-FREE QUESO
Makes 2 cups of dip

For the roux:
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or neutral fat of your choice)
1 yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups unsweetened almond milk

For the rest:
5 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne powder (adjust according to preferred spice level)
1/2 tsp salt
1 4-oz can diced green chiles
3 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon)


Steps:
1. Add oil to pan and sauté onions on medium heat for 8 minutes. Add jalapeño and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 more minutes, stirring frequently. Keep a close eye—don’t let the garlic burn!
2. Whisk in cornstarch one tablespoon at a time.  Cook for 1 minute.
3. Add almond milk a half-cup at a time, stirring all the while until the mixture becomes smoother.  Cook 2 more minutes. Transfer to a high-speed blender.
4. Add nutritional yeast, spices, salt, green chiles, and lemon juice.  Blend until smooth and creamy.
5. Garnish with red pepper flakes, jalapeño slices, or cilantro. 
6. Serve with corn chips and lime wedges. Keeps well in the fridge for up to a week in a sealed container.

 

p.s. I'd suggest doubling or ever tripling this recipe if you're bringing it to a party!

Adoptable Dogs in Produce

Just in case you missed the borage of photos on my instagram, last week I made the trip to Napa to do a fun little collaboration with Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch and photographer Emma K. Morris. We did our best to dress up the dogs in produce (some were really not into it, as you can imagine) in an effort to get some fun new photos of them to help them get adopted. 

The dog above, Carmen has terminal cancer and is living with a hospice foster for the rest of her days. Her care is funded completely by private donations to Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch.

Adoptable Bachelor: Red Rooster
He cares a lot about vitamin k, hops like a bunny when he's off leash running around, and is naturally monochromatic. He's good with other dogs and could learn to live with cats. He is just under 2yrs old, 50lbs, and knows basic commands.

Adoptable Bachelor: Gunner
A head nuzzler with the body of a greek statue, Gunner is a healthy, 65 pound, 5-year-old pittie mix. He loves people and would do best as the only dog in a home. Most importantly, Gunner knows how to sit at a table like a human and watch you drink wine (a trick he learned from managing the tasting room at his foster parent's winery).

Adoptable Bachelorette: Sally
Sally is a mature 9 yr old very chill lady. She would have worn this hula skirt forever as long as we kept those treats a'comin. he's very adaptable and can hula her way through almost any situation (i.e. she gets along well wit both cats and dogs).

Adoptable Bachelorette: Merry Ann
This 60lb, house and crate trained 9yr old is looking fab with her bridle coat and radish necklace. She is incredibly sweet and immediately gave us her belly to rub when we met her. She would do best as the only dog in the home or with a well-matched large dog!

Adoptable Dynamic Duo: Rose & Sally
This one is gonna getcha. These two sweet dogs are joined at the hip after suffering years of abuse together. Their ideal home is a "fospice" situation where Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch would provide all food, medicine, and vet care. Sally and Rose just need a calm and quiet home with not a lot of activity or other animals to enjoy the rest of their time together.

Adoptable Bachelor: Malachi
First off, THOSE EARS! This 10-month-old German Shepherd/Doberman puppy needs someone who is willing to give him the exercise and attention he needs. Malachi is housebroken, gets along with other dogs, sleeps all night in his crate, and loves a good car ride.


For info on adopting any of these dogs, or donating to support their hospice care, please visit Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch

photos by Emma K Morris
styling/dog wrangling by Alex Healy and Katie Miller
veg costumes by me