First up in my continued Veggie Girl Power Interview Series is Katie Higgins, the fun, creative and lovable lady behind the popular website Chocolate-Covered Katie. Get ready for some healthy-dessert inspiration!...
I came across Katie's site via her submissions to Finding Vegan. Her creative sweet vegan treats are so easy to make and always have a very healthy spin. She specializes in uber-fun and not-so-fancy recipes (and that is why we LOVE her, yes?) Things like cake batter, single serving cupcakes, chocolate for breakfast, amazing cookies and all sweet things in between. Get to know the sweet girl behind this booming website!
A few of Katie's recipes..
Healthy Cookie Dough Dip:
"Reeses" PB Eggs:
One-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake:
No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie:
Veggie Girl Power Interview: Katie Higgins, Chocolate Covered Katie
Q1: Back to Basics. When and why did you go vegan? We love a good "this is why I went vegan" story.
Katie: After watching Charlotte’s Web and realizing the Wilbur I loved from the movie was the very same Wilbur engulfed between two slices of bread in my ham sandwich, I became a proud vegetarian at age seven. This lasted about a week! But my love of animals remained, and I gave up meat for real when I was fourteen, with absolutely no intention of ever going vegan. Vegans were weird and extreme… and they couldn’t eat chocolate! (Or so I believed.)
Fate intervened, however, when my family moved to China a year later. Milk products are not prominently featured in Chinese cuisine, and I thus cut my dairy intake drastically without even realizing it. Suddenly, giving up my beloved ice cream and cheese didn’t seem so daunting; I tentatively decided to give veganism a try.
Eleven years later, I still consider it one of the best decisions I ever made.
Q2: Help a Girl Out. The vegan transition can be tough for some! What sisterly advice can you give to new or transitioning vegans?
Katie: If the cold turkey (cold tofu?) method works for you, that’s great. But no one says you must give everything up at once. Try designating one or two vegan days per week, and work up from there. Look at it as a challenge, not as deprivation. Investing in one or two all-purpose vegan cookbooks can help tremendously, and it’s also a great idea to buy a book on nutrition basics (this goes for everyone, not just vegans).
Don’t attempt to replicate cheese immediately. Expanding your horizons with foods that are completely new to you (Polenta! Kabocha Squash!) is easier than trying to “replace” old favorites with a substitute. After a while, you really do lose your taste for cheese and dairy milk. If I accidentally take a bite of something made with cheese (yes, it does happen on occasion), I can tell right away; the food will have a disgustingly-sour aftertaste, and this former cheese addict does not miss it at all!
Q3: Traveling Vegans. In your neck of the woods, what are the local vegan hot spots to visit/shop at/dine at? Traveling vegans want to know!
Katie: Dallas is not the most vegan-friendly city on earth, and it doesn’t hold a candle (café) to places like Portland or New York. (A vegan doughnut shop with Butterfinger doughnuts?! Not fair, NYC!) But it’s getting better every day: we even have a gas station with non-dairy softserve (The Green Spot), and the world’s first 100%-vegan college dining hall—open to the public—is located just a half-hour away.
Q4: On Food. What is a typical day of vegan eating for you? Fave eats?
Katie: One of the best things about veganism is that there is no typical day for me. Whereas before I ate the same rotation of burgers, steaks, and chicken, now any given day might find me indulging in Thai coconut curry, butternut enchiladas with cashew cream, Vegan Macaroni and Cheese… paradoxically, my diet is much more exciting and varied than it was before I gave up meat.
A sample day (yesterday): started with a pre-run snack of grapefruit slices and a few handfuls raw pistachios. Breakfast: large bowl of peanut butter and banana oatmeal. Lunch: soba noodle soup, steamed broccoli with a quick almond-butter dipping sauce, and some dark chocolate. Snack: cherry-chocolate smoothie and coconut melties (basically just coconut butter frozen in candy molds. Weird, but so good!). Dinner: homemade black bean burger on an Ezekiel bun, big salad with Goddess dressing, and crispy sweet potato fries. (I make a giant batch of sweet potato fries at once, so I can pull them from the freezer whenever I’m short on time.) Night snack: chocolate Jocalat bar and almondmilk.
I also do a lot of taste-testing throughout the day, both for the blog and cookbook. Really, I’m just always eating!
Q5: Words of Wisdom. Here is your chance to create your own quote. "Veganism is....."
Katie: I feel like I’m supposed to say something really profound here, but the right words seem to be eluding me. Clearly I haven’t eaten enough chocolate yet today.
Q6: On What is Hot. Share people, brands, books and more that you like to rave about.
Katie: Tofu is hot. No, really! If you don’t believe me, just google “Justin Timberlake SNL tofu.” See? Tofu is hot. Even hotter than tofu (and even hotter than Justin Timberlake. Sorry, Justin Timberlake) is chocolate. Chocolate will always be hot, especially Sweet Riot chocolate, Taza chocolate, Endangered Species chocolate... all chocolate really, as long as it's vegan. (Everyone knows dark chocolate tastes better than milk chocolate anyway.)
And the ice cream from Lula’s Sweet Apothecary is really, really hot. Even though it’s cold.
Q7: Soapbox! Go for it ...Soapbox away...
Katie: Veganism is great for the health benefits, the awesome food, and the endless energy it gives you. (I literally have not been sick in 5 years.) But my main reason for being—and staying—a vegan is because I don’t want to look into the eyes of an innocent being and tell him that the reason he’s being beaten, tortured, and eventually slaughtered is to satisfy my craving for a hamburger.
I must put in a plug for The Catskill Animal Sanctuary, a safe haven for formerly abused and neglected animals who have never known love or kindness. Some people will try to tell you that farm animals can’t feel like we can. But spend just one minute with any of the animals at CAS and you’ll know without a doubt this isn’t true.
Q8: What upcoming projects are you working on? Please share!
Katie: I’m working on my first cookbook, to be published in late 2014. It will be all desserts, with an emphasis on chocolate!
Q9. Smoothie love! I would love to hear about YOUR favorite smoothie recipe..
Katie: My favorite changes all the time... Right now, it might be this recipe: Vanilla Chai Breakfast Shakes.
Q10. Do you think veganism is the diet of the future? Why?
Katie: I hope it’s the diet of the future, for the sake of the environment, the animals, and our own health. It certainly seems to be more mainstream than it was ten years ago. Back then, people looked at me like I was crazy for voluntarily giving up meat and dairy. Now… well, most people here in Texas still look at me like I’m crazy. But at least there are a lot more of us crazies running around. Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Clinton are vegan now. You can’t get more mainstream than that!
VGP kickoff: Cookbook Interview Chloe Coscarelli
Simone Reyes, of Running Russell Simmons / Animal Advocate
Doron Petersan, of Sticky Fingers Bakery
Angela Liddon, of Oh She Glows website
Elizabeth Castoria, Editorial Director VegNews Magazine
Katie Higgins, of Chocolate Covered Katie
Laura Beck, of Vegansaurus and more / writer
Emily Von Euw, of This Rawsome Life website
Marly McMillen, of Namely Marly website
Sara Sohn, of Sweet & Sara Vegan Marshmallows
*all photos were provided courtesy of Katie Higgins