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Peace and Parsnips

Q&A
Beet Bourguiognon, one of the most popular dishes in "Vegetarian Everyday".

Kale is the new black, Kristen Bell has been crowned PETA’s sexiest vegetarian celebrity and people are running in droves to New York City’s hyper-veg Dirt Candy restaurant for “Cabbage!” and “Beans!” and “Onions!” (Yes, those are the punctuations used on the menu—can you feel the passion?)

Toss in a handful of global influencers like Bill Clinton—who famously swapped Big Macs for beet burgers and has never felt/looked better—not to mention the bright, sexy, universal spotlight on the farm-to-table movement, and it’s no surprise that David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl’s blog, Green Kitchen Stories, led
to a book, “Vegetarian Everyday,” which is now a delectable smash hit.

We spoke to the Stockholm-based couple, who were vacationing in Barcelona with their three-year-old daughter, Elsa, about the wild success of their cookbook, the smoothie-food-bike they plan to launch and the natural beauty of a Brussels sprout.

Are you both 100 percent vegetarian?

David: I’m fully vegetarian. Luise is 90 percent—and always one at home. For me, it started when I was 15. In Sweden, we had free school lunches. They were pretty bad: random, pre-heated forms of meat. But I found out that for vegetarians, they would prepare the food on-site, done fresh. So I had my mom write a note to the school saying I was a vegetarian. And it kind of just stuck.

Is it hard being world-travelers with a strict diet?
David: In some countries, it’s extremely easy. Most of Asia is vegetarian-friendly. India, Vietnam, all their spring rolls and noodles, most of these dishes have vegetables at the core. Mexico wasn’t entirely easy for us. Thank goodness for guacamole. That was basically a guacamole holiday for us. Portugal was the worst. I had nothing to eat but this creamy vegetable soup. Every. Single. Day.
Luise: We really love to travel in southern Europe, because their side dishes are all comprised of beautiful vegetables. We practically lived off side dishes.

What are your favorite vegetables?

David: I use a lot of eggplant. It’s so interesting to cook with because it can be prepared from really raw or really soft to cut-thin, extra-crispy or something extremely hearty.
Luise: I love mushrooms—there are so many different kinds, especially when you get to go foraging; it’s so much fun.

Vegetarian recipes have been around forever, so why do you think your recipes have such a cult following?

David: We don’t know! Maybe because we’re nice and compassionate people. We were amateurs when we started...neither of us were chefs or photographers. We’ve taught ourselves everything, and I suppose people like that we’re not superhuman or anything like that.

Luise: Also, vegetarian food is quite simple to make pretty because it’s so full of colors. We’ve tried to capture that prettiness in everything from Brussels sprouts to beets. You have the whole rainbow spectrum. We see our food like that, and we hope others do too.


What is your most popular recipe? 
David: Our Beet Bourguignon—everybody seems to be obsessed with it. It’s playful and tastes really nice as well.

Do you receive a lot of fan mail?

Luise: It’s incredible. We get emails from families that really needed to get healthy—notes from mothers saying that it’s changed their kids’ well-being.
David: We’ve heard from young girls with eating disorders saying they’ve started to eat well again because our blog makes them feel good about food. That’s really moving.

What’s next?

David: I’m still disappointed in the quality of vegetarian restaurants in Stockholm. We’ve talked about opening our own, but we’re not restaurant people. It’s so much work and we have a small child. We do have another dream, which is to create a food bike—like a food truck—and cycle around Sweden with smoothies and such.

Luise: We also have another book that we’re working on. It will be the same format, but with a different twist. “Vegetarian Everyday” was such a long, hard process. When we handed in the final manuscript, we were like, “We’re never doing that again...” But that didn’t last long!

And your daughter, Elsa—what are her current eating habits?
David: Elsa eats almost everything we cook. Apart from loving all kinds of beans, lentils and chickpeas, she has always been a pancake kid. No surprise! So we often make banana pancakes from the book. And when we make gluten-free pancake for dinners, we prepare the batter in our Vitamix blender, where we also add spinach or kale, and call them green pancakes. She loves that they are actually green and we love that they are more nutritious than normal pancakes.

Still hungry for more? Here are six must-try vegetarian restaurants right now!

Greenbar, Fort Lauderdale
1075 SE 17th Street, 954-533-7507; greenbarkitchen.com
Green Bar & Kitchen embodies the concept of vibrant, plant based, gluten-free wholesome eating. Their menu items feature whole, gluten-free grains, nuts, seeds, veggies, soups, fruit, cold-pressed juices, superfood salads and smoothies, raw treats and vegan/gluten-free bakery items.

Kajitsu, New York
125 East 39th Street, 212-228-4873; kajitsunyc.com
The top choice for gourmands, specializing in shojin cuisine, a type of vegetarian cooking that originated in Zen Buddhism. This is the Japanese star for meatless, fishless haute cuisine.

Café Gratitude, California
Various California locations; cafegratitude.com
A super-chic, karma-centric restaurant serving the freshest and most healthy, feel-good food available. The menu is vegan, always organic and unbelievably satisfying.

Vedge, Philadelphia
1221 Locust Street, 215-320-7500; vedgerestaurant.com
Considered one of the best vegetarian restaurants in the country right now, Vedge prides itself on being a foodie’s restaurant—for omnivores, vegetarians, vegans and carnivores alike.

Seva, Michigan
Ann Arbor and Detroit locations; sevarestaurant.com
An award-winning vegetarian institution that’s been around since the ‘70s, this whimsical restaurant remains the core of Ann Arbor’s bohemian scene, not only for its delicious food, but coffee bar, juice bar, bakery and overall vibe.

Green Zebra, Chicago
1460 West Chicago Avenue, 312-243-7100; greenzebrachicago.com
With an intense focus on the purity of ingredients, the owners have strong relationships with local farmers and foragers, creating unique dishes that mindfully connect the seasons with our senses.

 

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