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You might recognize the name Brian Patton and The Sexy Vegan Cookbook from his quirky and fun cooking videos on YouTube, where he has become an internet sensation. What's cool is that he is the perfect example of a self-made man with humble beginnings.
Brian taught himself to cook watching cooking channels and then started his career with the Los Angeles vegan food delivery service Vegin' Out. When he started working there, he was the only meat eater, but before long he decided to go vegan for "just one month. Sixty pounds and six years later, he's now the Executive Chef for Vegin' Out and has just published his first cookbook, The Sexy Vegan Cookbook.
What I love about stories like Brian's is that they are so relatable. How many people do we each know who have their favorite go-to meals and say they'll absolutely never give them up? And how much time do you spending devising ways to convince them to try a vegan diet? A cookbook like The Sexy Vegan speaks to those people because it's written by one of them.
Vegan food works for everyone, and with "ordinary dude" recipes with catchy names like Mostest Ultimate-est Breakfast Sandwich, Pretend Canadian Bacon, and The Green Goblin and asides entitled "WTF" that explain odd ingredients, it becomes accessible to people who might not normally be interested in a cookbook. If you're looking for a cookbook for someone who loves a good Hardees Thickburger commercials, The Sexy Vegan Cookbook: Extraordinary Food from an Ordinary Dude is your book.
Beyond the cute tongue-in-cheek writing style and colorful language, the recipes are sincerely very good. You won't find full color pictures in this first edition, but don't let that dissuade you from buying The Sexy Vegan.
For example, I've made a few vegan clam chowders before, but most were creamy because of a nondairy milk. I hadn't thought to use fresh cashews to give it that creamy texture, and the oyster mushrooms in Brian's Blam Chowder gave the soup the right mixture of soft potatoes, chewy "oysters," and smooth soup base. It's a huge winner in our household now!
You can get a copy of The Sexy Vegan Cookbook on Amazon, either in book form or on your kindle and start converting those nonbelievers the instant it hits your kitchen.
1. Many of our readers are starting a vegan diet to change how they feel in their own bodies, and you experienced substantial weight loss on a vegan diet.
a. How has eating vegan changed how you feel?
In the first week or so of being vegan, I actually wasn't feeling all that awesome. I was tired and irritable, and didn't feel much motivation. I later found out that my body was undergoing a detoxification, and this feeling was normal. I was also dispatching with two major addictions: cigarettes and Taco Bell Crunch Wrap Supremes, so I'm sure that didn't help my demeanor either.
Then one day, after two animal-product-free weeks, I woke up and was shot out of a cannon. I felt a whole bundle of energy with which I did not know what to do...so I went for a run. That made me feel really good, so the next day I went to the gym. Again, that made me feel great, so the virtuous cycle began.
My energy level continued to increase, and before I knew it, ten months later, there was a whole lot less of me. Sixty pounds less! And now, almost 6 years later, I'm in the best physical and mental shape in my whole life...and it keeps getting better.
b. What foods did you eliminate first, and what was your second step?
Well, I eliminated everything first. I ate a steak on Sunday, and became full-on vegan on Monday. I'm not sure that this, however, is the best method for everyone. I was in a unique situation of being a chef, and having the ability to cook for myself, and I worked for a vegan food delivery service (Vegin' Out where I'm currently Executive Chef), where I had access to healthy fully-prepared meals. I had the tools that made my transition easy. Many people do not.
The first step, in my opinion, should be to take an interest in your food. Stop doing the grab-and-go thing, or the frozen dinner thing. Set aside some time, and learn how to prepare food, no matter what kind of food it is. Learn how to cook grains and vegetables to your liking, and put them next to your meat on the plate. As you learn more, let the veggies slowly take over, and let the meat portion shrink until it's gone.
I think people will find that they end up liking a lot of vegetables that they didn't like before. If your mom served you mushy green beans from a can, you probably think that you don't like green beans. If you lightly blanch some fresh, crisp, green beans, and toss them with fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper, and dill, I'll bet you my beloved Pearl Jam concert bootleg collection that you will become a fan of green beans.
c. Did you have any initial cravings for your old foods, and if so, what did you do to overcome them?
Even though pizza was, and is, my number one favorite thing to eat, the vegan ones I was making during that time, were satisfying me plenty. I appreciated the absence of that lump-of-congealed-cheese-brick-in-my-gut feeling that I usually had after polishing off half a pie. So I wasn't craving pizza.
One thing that I did really want in those first two weeks, was a turkey sandwich. I don't know why, it just sounded good to me. I didn't even want cheese on it. I got over cheese and dairy pretty quickly. I just wanted turkey, lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, and italian dressing on a big, crusty, Italian roll. That sounded just healthy enough to fit in with what I was doing, I suppose. Since, as you'll read in my book, my becoming vegan was only going to be a month-long experiment, I figured I could stave off the turkey sandwich cravings, then reward myself after 30 days.
There have been other things over the years that I have craved or missed. The one that stands out is Easter Pie - which, after not eating it for over half a decade, I have finally, and triumphantly veganized (http://youtu.be/L2R2UDG21xA). And once I veganize that Crunch Wrap Supreme, I think I'll retire.
Seriously, though, what kept me from eating those beloved comfort foods is the ethical side of being vegan. Once I began to learn how animal products got to my plate, I decided that I would never again be a contributor to that. I became vegan for health reasons, but I stay vegan for the ethical ones.
2. There's a silly misconception that vegans eat boring, bland food all the time and that none of us really enjoy eating, which is why we give up animal products. If you were given one chance to change the minds of the people at say, one dinner party, what dinner and dessert combo would you make for them?
It is a silly misconception. One that I'm hoping to put a dent in with The Sexy Vegan. I would say that, hands down, in this situation, I serve the Lasagna Fauxlognese from my book. Since I'm all famous now (in my head, anyway), my friends always want me to cook at their dinner parties, birthday parties, etc. - even when I'm the only vegan in attendance. The last time I served this lasagna, the carnivores were scraping the casserole. And, no, smart ass internet troll, it wasn't because they were still hungry because it was lasagna made out of twigs and leaves. They had sizable portions, salad and bread, and still could not get enough.
Having this recipe in your arsenal, alone, is worth the price of the book...and there's 99 other recipes that are just as awesome. So, if I'm doing the math right...you're getting over $1,500 worth of recipes in just one book! How's that for value (ego)? As far as dessert goes I would serve them The Sailor's Peanut Butter Rum Ice Cream, also from the book. It's ice cream with peanut butter. And rum. How can you go wrong?
3. What hobbies do you have outside of creating hilarious vegan videos, cooking, and writing vegan cookbooks?
Taxidermy. I'm kidding...I'm kidding...I'm just kidding! Most recently I've been enjoying a good daily strum session on the ukulele. It's fun and easy to play, and lends itself very well to writing silly songs...which is another hobby. I also enjoy karaoke. Since using the word "junkie" is a little harsh, I like to say that I'm a "karaoke enthusiast." My go-to songs, depending on my blood to gin ratio are: "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey, "White Wedding" by Billy Idol, and when I don't care about what the crowd would enjoy, "Mother" by Danzig. Also, I'm not sure if this counts as a hobby, but I make-out with my dog quite a bit...not in a creepy way, though.
In a pan, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the tempeh to the pan, and fry for 2 to 3 minutes, or until browned on one side, then flip and brown the other side, 2 to 3 minutes. Re-move the tempeh from the pan, and set aside. Add the onion to the same pan and saute for 4 to 5 minutes, or until slightly browned and soft. So as to not set yourself on fire, turn off the flame, and add the bourbon to the pan.
Now let the bourbon simmer over medium heat for 1 minute, or until reduced by half. Stir in the brown sugar, and simmer until it dissolves, about 1 minute. Add the vegetable stock, and simmer for 2 to 3 more minutes. Stir in the arrowroot slurry, continuing to simmer for about 1 more minute. When the sauce begins to thicken, add the tempeh to the pan and coat it with the sauce. Cook for 1 to 2 more minutes, or until the sauce reduces to a glaze. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Time for assembly. If using the smoked cheddar sauce, spread it on the inside of the buns. Assemble the sandwiches from the bottoms up in the following order: 1 bun half, 1 piece of tempeh, a little of the bourbon sauce and onions, a few spinach leaves, 1 tomato slice, a pinch of salt, and the other bun half.
Makes 3½ cups
In a small pot, cover the cashews with water, and boil for about 8 minutes to soften them up. Drain and let cool. In a food processor or blender, process the cashews until they’re finely ground. Add the tofu, garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric, liquid smoke, miso, paprika, salt, mustard powder, oil, nutritional yeast, and water. Puree till the sauce is smooth.
Excerpted with permission from The Sexy Vegan Cookbook: Extraordinary Food from an Ordinary Dude ©2012 by Brian Patton. Published with permission of New World Library http://www.newworldlibrary.com
I hope you enjoyed this review of The Sexy Vegan Cookbook and our interview with The Sexy Vegan himself, Brian Patton.