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EXAMINER.COM | Get Back to the Basics |Terry Walters Interview, Part 4 of 4

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Interview Part 4 of 4 | examiner.com | January 28, 2015 | A. Michelle Blakeley

As I wrap up my interview with Terry Walters and featured recipes from her Eat Clean Live Well book,

What’s the story behind your latest cookbook, Eat Clean Live Well?

It was fun to write about my life and not just the recipes. To take it outside of the kitchen and talk about the journey and how I use this to not only feed my family, but to keep us healthy throughout the year and how our choices change from season to season. Planting the garden, joining a CSA, making cleaning products for our house, cleansing in the Spring, keeping my kids immune system strong when they go back to school, the reflection and self-assessment, quiet meditation and healing… talking about all of that is so intimately connected to the food we eat. The book includes all of those lifestyle pieces and the recipes with the food all in harmony with the environment and the changing seasons.

I also came out a little bit from behind the cover of the book for people to see my family and that I’m just like everyone else. I’m home cooking dinner and empowering and teaching my kids how to make good choices. It’s my hope that it will resonate with people and their own lives. I think when we share the journey, there’s as much nourishment in sharing it as there is in the food. So, it was fun to bring that whole component into the book, plus there’s like 200 new recipes!

Were these recipes gathered over a period of time that you’ve held onto or recently created for the purpose of the book?

Both. My last book came out in 2010. I teach regularly. Every time I teach, I create five new recipes. So, when the deadline was quickly approaching, I had an outline and knew what I wanted to write and I just went back and looked over the recipes I’ve created since the last book and I looked at the season ingredients that were missing. Then of course, you’re on a deadline and sometimes you just get creative.

The book is beautifully done. I try to get my readers to eat with their eyes first. Let them try it and taste it and then tell them, “Did you notice, there’s no meat in it?” I always think it’s better to get people to be enticed by the visuals of the food and then you can engage them in a conversation about the health benefits or the fact that it’s vegan or vegetarian or dairy-free, etc.

Everyone wants to label my book as vegetarian or vegan. I never want that because there’s a whole section of the population that’s not going to try it because of the label. When the reality is that it’s really delicious and good food. When I first starting making recipes, I wanted to make HEALTHY food. Now I focus on making DELICIOUS food and part of that is visual. I did have this panic with my first book, when they wanted to go back and put photos in. I was like, “Ooh, I’m not sure that it looks that good. It tastes good, but not sure about the looks.” Now I look at texture and color and all of those things I really didn’t understand when I first started out.

What advice or tips do you have for new vegetarians?

I think the best thing to do is not to judge yourself. Focus on brining IN. Don’t focus on depriving yourself of the foods you love. Just pick one new food. Find a vegetable or whole grain and go to the back of the book and find a recipe for it and just try it. Focus on making it doable for you. Over time, your pantry changes, slowly. Your lifestyle changes, slowly. In the course of a year, you’ve added so many new foods to your diet. Your choices are totally different. Your health is totally different. You’ve either found healthy versions of certain foods or they’ve fallen by the wayside. There’s no sense of deprivation, just a healthy fullness and feeling satisfied with your new foods.

I tell people all the time, if you still don’t know where to begin, just go to the store and buy something green. Just start. I had one woman come up to me after an event who said, “I love everything that you’re talking about, but I just don’t think I can do it. I take care of my elderly parents and work and by dinner time, I’m exhausted and sometimes I just need to open that can of soup. I told her no one is trying to take away your can of soup. But the next time you go to the grocery store to get the can, buy a head kale, swiss chard or spinach. Take one leaf of kale or chard, chop it up and put in the soup. You’ve just made the soup cleaner. You’re developing a taste for kale, you’re slowly changing your lifestyle.

It’s my hope that people aren’t going to feel judged. There’s no judgment in these books. This book will meet them exactly where they are. And that’s different for everyone.

What recipe from Eat Clean Live Well do you most want people to cook?

Only because they are on my counter right now, it’s the No No Bars. They’re good for kids, good for athletes. My daughter came home from school one day and asked, “What are you making?” I told her, “There’s no gluten, no dairy, no baking, no soy, no nuts. So I’m going to call them No Gluten, No Dairy Bars. She says, “Oh, they’re No No Bars!” They’re high protein, good energy; I’ve taken them to school for the kids, they’re great.

What can we expect from Terry Walters this year?

Book four. More fermented foods. Good baking. I’ll be touring for the book. Some video instruction. Lots of good things coming.

This Week’s Featured Recipe | Vegetable Curry Pot Pie

(Full disclosure: I received a copy of Terry’s book for review. However, all of my reviews, opinions and/or other commentary expressed here are my own and based on my experience with a product. I am not affiliated with any brands mentioned in my column nor do I endorse them and they do not endorse me.)

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EXAMINER.COM | Get Back to the Basics |Terry Walters Interview, Part 3 of 4

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Interview Part 3 of 4 | examiner.com | January 21, 2015 | A. Michelle Blakeley

Don’t be afraid to experiment with food. Try something different. You won’t know if you don’t like it unless you try it. For a long time (over 40 years), I turned my nose up at Brussels sprouts. I had envisioned that they were hard and bitter and just “nasty.” Mind you, I had never even bothered to cook or taste one. This was all an assumption I had created in my head. I saw an image of Brussels sprouts browned to perfection and seasoned so well, I could taste it from the page. I was smitten. They looked too good to be true, but I went to the store, bought some Brussels sprouts, got home and prepared the recipe. Needless to say, I am currently addicted to the very vegetable that I had despised all of these years. The first thing I thought was, “My God I have been missing out on something really delicious!” My second thought was, “never again.” I will try everything at least once. Maybe even twice to make sure (by preparing it differently).

More recently, I had my first poached egg. All this time before, I couldn’t get past the thought of the gooey yolk and the whole “it’s not cooked” issue. I made my husband poached eggs for two weeks to improve my technique. It’s not the best, but it’s pretty good. So your lesson today is to try something new, something different. Go out and get something that you sworn off without even trying it. Get it, try it and check off the list or keep it on the list.

It’s Part 3 of my interview with Terry Walters, author of Eat Clean Live Well. I’m reminded to keep an open mind about food, allfood and just continue to enjoy the journey of life. (see Part 1 and Part 2)

What do you think is missing from food scene?

There’s a lot coming into the food scene. I think we’re forgetting where our roots are. But I’m seeing some of that coming back. Whether it’s fermentation or becoming familiar with what grains are or seeds like millet and quinoa. People ask me all the time, “what would I use if I wanted to take out the wheat in a recipe or egg, or the shortening, etc.?” I never learned how to cook the conventional way. So, when I use millet flour and chickpea flour, it’s not because I can’t have wheat. I’m using all of these different ingredients because they have great taste and I love their texture. I love helping people become more aware of all of these other phenomenal ingredients that taste really great and sustain their health, which happen to be good substitutes for things they can’t have.

Is there any food you’ve been dying to try, but for some reason haven’t gotten around to or been able to?

You know, if someone were to recommend something, I would love to try something new. I learn so much from going to the Farmer’s Market. When I’m at the Farmer’s Market and see something I don’t recognize, I force myself to buy it. And I force myself to have that conversation with the farmer. “What is this strange thing?” I feel fairly familiar with quite a variety.

I’ll be in Chicago next month promoting Eat Clean Live Well. And I’m picking restaurants that I know are going to introduce me to new things I haven’t had. I have no culinary education. I’m completely self-taught, so I’m very experimental.

What’s your favorite cookbook?

When I started out, there weren’t a lot of cookbooks that didn’t have dairy or sugar in them. Most of my favorites are the ones that I found along the way and found something inspiring in them or I met the chef and that inspired something in me to continue in the journey. Peter Berley, who wrote The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, taught me how to make sourdough bread. I love his book, it’s an old one, but it’s great. I love the book Plenty. A friend of mine gifted me the Australian version. There are brilliant line drawings and a simple aesthetic in that book that is refreshing and combined with Ottolenghi’s approach to food.

What’s your favorite kitchen gadget?

I love my chef’s knife. When I first started cooking I didn’t really know what I was doing so I had a pot and a food processor. I didn’t have a clue as to what to do with a knife. Even cutting vegetables, I would just throw them in the food processor and then into the pot, so everything was turned into soup.

I really do appreciate my knife. I’m not a really a gadget gal. I’ve got a good cutting board, my knife and I love, love, love my cast iron skillet. That is the best deal in the kitchen; a well seasoned cast iron skillet. You can make anything in it.

Any kitchen pet peeves?

I don’t think so. I started cooking in the most minimal of kitchen with coil burners and I already told you about my “lovely” oven. Today I have a pretty phenomenal kitchen with ventilation, quite the luxury from days past. If anything, it’s running out of storage containers. I hate when I don’t have enough lids for the containers. I don’t know how that happens.

Where do you go or what do you do to unwind after a long day in the kitchen?

I’m actually a runner and that’s my go-to to unwind. I also love to take my dog for a walk and just spend time with my family; a hike in the woods, skiing in the winter. I used to say reading a book, but I spend so much time at the computer, my eyeglass prescription can’t keep up with my visual needs. In the Summer I love being in the garden. I’m not much for sitting, I like to be physically active. If I’m going to sit, it’s to watch my girls and their activities. They are my greatest joy.

This Week’s Featured Recipe | Chinese Cabbage Soup

(Full disclosure: I received a copy of Terry’s book for review. However, all of my reviews, opinions and/or other commentary expressed here are my own and based on my experience with a product. I am not affiliated with any brands mentioned in my column nor do I endorse them and they do not endorse me.)

EXAMINER.COM |Get Back to the Basics | Terry Walters Interview, Part 2 of 4

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Interview Part 2 of 4 | examiner.com | January 14, 2015 | A. Michelle Blakeley

This week on Part 2 of my interview with Eat Clean Live Well author, Terry Walters, Terry reminds us that not everyone has access to healthy, locally grown food. Food deserts are a real issue in the United States. Faced with having to travel by bus for an hour just to get fresh food, most low-income families find it difficult to justify the means. Urban and community farms are growing, but we need more. Each of us can help bring this issue to the forefront until fresh, whole food is within reach for everyone. Think about volunteering at a local community farm, start a community farm, start a Farmer’s Market… sure these are lofty ideas for some of us, but at the very least each of us can further the conversation simply by talking about it and asking “what can we do to make sure people in the low-income neighborhoods have access to the same fresh food we do?” Sometimes it’s as simple as connecting dots. One person with another person. One idea with another idea.

Terry has spent quite a bit of time at her local urban farm and has worked with local schools to help educate youth and their families on quality and healthy food options; including how to plant their own gardens. Learn more about Terry on her website or connect with her on Instagram at @terrywalterscooks. Here’s Part 2 of 4 of our conversation… (also see Part 1.)

What are your thoughts on the “farm to table” movement?

I think it’s a trend generated by our increasingly adulterated food system. I do think it is here to stay. We’ve had a tremendous amount of growth here in Connecticut in small farms. I think community farms are the answer. It’s empowering and achieves so many goals in addition to feeding and nourishing communities with economic support, cleaning the air, being stewards of the land and crop diversity. In Connecticut, the largest segment in the number of farmers has been women. That is really cool to me. That whole sense of empowerment is phenomenal.

Sadly, I think it’s only for certain segments. From what I see, it’s accessible to the wealthy and the not-so wealthy. It’s the folks in the middle that are getting a little bit lost. Fortunately, we have a lot of role models in New England who have been very successful in making it accessible to everybody. There are so many people working towards that and I’d like to think I’m one of them. We are moving in the right direction, but we have a ways to go.

Are there issues with food deserts when you are?

Urban Oaks is in the middle of a food desert. I can’t image the struggle of having to source fresh produce miles away from my home. I’ve worked with Urban Oaks for over 14 years and served on their board. Food deserts are unimaginable. Urban Oaks reaches out to the schools, showing them how to grow their own food and bringing them out to the farm and offering volunteer and educational opportunities and having translators come in to speak Spanish and Polish so that they can really understand. It’s really an amazing place and a gift to be part of that community.

What won’t you eat?

I’m not a huge fan of eggplant. Although I’ve had people make it where it’s just delicious, nothing makes me say, “I think I’ll order that again.” I think that happened after I had my children. Before children, I really loved eggplant. After children, not so much.

Coffee or tea?

No thanks. Water with lemon.

Savory or sweet?

Salty. Savory and salty, unless it’s chocolate. Then it’s bitter.

What’s your guilty food pleasure?

Pizza. I love thin crust. I’m pretty flexible after that. Fresh greens. Kale. Mushrooms. Thinly sliced potatoes.

Sometimes dining out can be challenging for vegetarians and clean eaters, what’s your favorite go-to restaurant?

There are some clean food options, locally. There are some vegan and non-vegan restaurants that value the local farm scene with really phenomenal food. One of our main food chains, Plan B makes their own veggie burgers sourced from locally grown greens. When they make that effort; that’s what I want to see because I know the food is made with care. Remember the days when you’d go to a restaurant and the “vegetarian” option was just a stack of vegetables? A plate of steamed zucchini, mushrooms and eggplant with some sauce around it? We’ve come a long way.

This Week’s Featured Recipe | Acorn Squash Cups with Ginger Apple Stuffing (It’s good enough for breakfast!)

(Full disclosure: I received a copy of Terry’s book for review. However, all of my reviews, opinions and/or other commentary expressed here are my own and based on my experience with a product. I am not affiliated with any brands mentioned in my column nor do I endorse them and they do not endorse me.)