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Nom Yourself: Simple Vegan Cooking Paperback – September 8, 2015
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About the Author
Mary Mattern is a twenty-eight-year-old vegan chef living in Los Angeles. After traveling with touring musicians to sell merchandise, Mary became involved in the business side of the music industry and maintains close ties to many stars. Mattern also founded the nonprofit organization Fashion A Cure, raising money for the American Cancer Society. She is a completely self-taught cook, and now works as a personal chef to several high-profile clients, including Ellie Goulding and Jeremy Piven.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
375 Hudson Street
New York, New York 10014
Copyright © 2015 by Mary Mattern
Photographs by Mary Mattern
Foreword © 2015 by Chad Sarno
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Neither the publisher nor the author is engaged in rendering professional advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures, and suggestions contained in this book are not intended as a substitute for consulting with your physician. All matters regarding your health require medical supervision. Neither the author nor the publisher shall be liable or responsible for any loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or suggestion in this book.
The recipes contained in this book have been created for the ingredients and techniques indicated. The publisher is not responsible for your specific health or allergy needs that may require supervision. Nor is the publisher responsible for any adverse reactions you may have to the recipes contained in the book, whether you follow them as written or modify them to suit your personal dietary needs or tastes.
This book is dedicated to the animals of our planet. I dream of a world where you no longer have to suffer for our entertainment, appetite, fashion, and leisure.
FOREWORD BY CHAD SARNO
STOCKING YOUR KITCHEN AND GETTING STARTED
SAUCES, DIPS & DRESSINGS
SOUPS & SALADS
The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.
The quote really sums it up. When the fuel of passion drives us, and that passion comes from a place of wanting to leave an impact and make a difference, there is nothing that will get in our way. Social media, as we all know, has become the greatest microphone we have to reach the masses and share our personal story and our purpose, and it can inspire others within this virtual community. From the beginning of time, food has brought people together, and it is our innate instinct to share meals with others within our community. Through the power of virtual platforms we are able to build on this surreal sense of community by sharing the foods and moments in time that inspire us daily.
I was first introduced to the power of plants at a young age and was determined to scream it from the mountaintops to whoever would listen. Being an activist at heart, I learned quickly that our forks are the greatest tools we have to make a difference for the animals, our health, and the planet.
Eating vegan has grown far beyond a trend, and just in the past few years it seems to have become a key piece of the conversation within the culinary world. More and more chefs are starting to recognize that showcasing plants is not only a healthier option but a channel of innovation and creativity that is gaining momentum. We are at the brink of a very exciting time, and we all need to do our part to support this snowballing movement.
Mary Mattern is a perfect example of someone who has taken her love for food, passion for cooking, and compassion for animals as an opportunity to build an online community to share just how easy it is to eat and embrace a vegan diet with simple, plant-based, comforting foods. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen a Nom Yourself post on social media and started craving some vegan comfort food. Mary is a mover and a shaker; she brings others together with the foods she posts, keeping us all hungry and constantly inspiring folks to get back in the kitchen. With the foods that strike that memory or emotional connection we have from childhood, the comfort foods we love is where Mary’s food shines. Her work has reached people around the world, and she inspires us all daily with the message not only that vegan cooking is approachable and delicious, but also that when we embrace our personal passion, our purpose for making a difference, there is no stopping us and we can create the path we desire.
It is so amazing to see the culinary journey unfolding for Mary and to know that her creative work is getting the recognition it deserves. This book is a wonderful showcase of that work. We are very lucky to have such a passionate influencer in the vegan community who is truly living her purpose and supporting others to do the same, starting in the kitchen.
Chef, educator, and plant-pusher
I’ve been so very lucky to have the greatest support system by my side during the cooking and writing process of this book. I would not have been able to complete Nom Yourself without the encouragement and love from my friends and family.
I would like to thank my parents, Richard and Kathyrn, for raising me to be a compassionate, determined, and artistic human being. You make me want to be a better person every single day. I have no words for the love and commitment you have shown me over the years. Thank you for believing in my dreams and allowing me to follow them with your full support.
I’d also like to thank my sister and brother, Elizabeth and Brian, for believing in me. You guys amaze me every day and I am so glad that you have shared this crazy journey with me, even when it may seem that you have no idea what it is I’m doing. I love you guys.
I would have never started this cooking journey without the help of an amazing kitchen in Baltimore and the roommate who came along with it. Lisa Dietrich, thanks for putting up with dirty dishes and my early-morning and late-night cooking sessions. Without that beautiful stove of yours, I would not be writing this right now.
Bryan Miranda, thank you for supporting me throughout this whole entire writing process. I will never forget the moments we shared while this book was being created. Jim, Barbara, Matt, Danielle, and Jackie, I am forever thankful to have met you. Your support and love throughout the writing of this book means a lot to me.
With this book I will continue to move forward as an activist, cook, and artist and strive to be the best human being I can be. I would not be able to do so without the continued support of the family that has so lovingly taken me in as their own. Team Fallon-Yeskey, thanks for believing in me from day one. Mary Alice, Dave, Spencer, Josh, and Dexter, there’s nothing we can’t fix with duct tape and construction paper.
Chad Sarno, thank you for inspiring me from the very beginning of my journey with food that has truly opened my mind to knowing that the possibilities are endless in the kitchen. Your foreword here, as well as wise words of advice throughout the past two years, have humbled me and make me fall in love with cooking all over again, every single day.
Honorable Mentions: Very special thank-yous to the Mattern family, the Benson family, the Ellsworth family (love you, Matt and Jennifer), Kathryn Pollak-Gorman, Jackie Smith, Sarah Smith, the Smith family, the Horn family, the DelleDonne family, Christine Prenez, Melissa Danis, Tom Cragg, the Austins, Andrew Gabriel, Kim Juretic, Cara Schrock, the Schrock family, Gabrielle Becker, Tony Kanal, Brendan Brazier, Kate Lewis, Lucia Watson, Gigi Campo, Marc Gerald, Lucy Wearing, Vivek Venkatraman, Augusto Pagliarini, Toby Morse, Moby, Ruth Tal, Ellie Goulding, Jamey Jasta, Aaron Elliott (BP), Steve Berra, Chris Rubenstein, Hunter Burgan, Hiram Camillo, Tommy Rasera, Corissa Jones, Anne Thornton, Kim Jones, Timothy Shieff, Kevin Minto (I got my rematch and lost), Jeremy Piven, Dan Elswick, Chris Perino, Sajin Price, The Vegan Zombie, Douglas Gautraud, Luca Enrico Fantini, Andy Coverdale, George Watsky (for the CC album that helped me write this book), Scales and Nappy Roots, Mercy For Animals, The Humane Society of the United States, the Baltimore Orioles, and Baltimore City.
Just writing this out, I’ve realized just how many people have truly affected my life and the process by which this book was developed. Very grateful for the knowledge and support you have given me.
Edward Norton once said, “Instead of telling the world what you’re eating for breakfast, you can use social networking to do something that’s meaningful.” Well, with all respect to Mr. Norton, I think I manage to do both on a daily basis. When I post a picture of pancakes on my Nom Yourself website or Instagram, hundreds to thousands of people view it, drool a little bit, send a screenshot to their friends, and then realize—wow, that delicious, decadent, rich dish is vegan!
Every day, through my presence online, I show people how amazingly delicious vegan food can be. And I gently suggest to the meat-and-potatoes crowd that a vegan lifestyle really doesn’t mean a life of deprivation. Eating a plant-based diet actually means a fuller, happier life, one that’s compassionate, healthy, and creative.
Hundreds of my followers who previously thought “I could never go vegan” or “Where would I get my protein if I cut out eggs?!” have been inspired by my photos and stories to make the commitment. And I hope this book will inspire you the same way. So I’ll keep right on posting my breakfast pictures, thank you very much—and you should, too!
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
I am who I am today because of the first two people I met when I came into this world—my parents, Richard and Kathryn. Richard is the guy in line who will start a conversation with anyone, regardless of where he is or who you are. He taught me that we must treat everyone equally and that you can learn something from everyone. Kathryn is a woman with a lot of love who gives it all to her children. She’s shown me that being myself should always be my number one priority and there isn’t a thing in the world that can’t be fixed with a good laugh. Along with my siblings, Elizabeth and Brian, we are a family of best friends. We have stuck together through thick and thin—and there have been a lot of both.
I grew up in the suburbs of New York City, in a little town called Suffern, just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the big city to see the stars at night but close enough to know why they call it the city that never sleeps. So naturally, I became the New York City teenager who got her first tattoo at sixteen in the basement of a shop that also sold hookahs, Bob Marley T-shirts, and those fluorescent posters that for some reason always feature frogs and mushrooms. I sprawled in Union Square on weekends and watched people shop, dance, fight, love, and live.
With its subway performers, street dancers, and never-ending concerts, New York City quickly made me fall in love with music. So at the young age of seventeen, I boldly quit high school and started traveling the country with musicians, selling their merchandise. This isn’t something I recommend everyone do. I love learning and value education greatly, but I personally benefited more from being on the road. For four years I studied the music industry and learned it inside and out. I woke up each morning in a different zip code and explored the cuisine and culture of what felt like every city and town across America.
After years of the road-tripping lifestyle that came with being a merch girl, I settled into a job as a label manager in Baltimore, a city I knew nothing about (beyond having watched a few episodes of The Wire). After working in the music industry, I was looking for a place to call home. When I started to really dig into Baltimore, I had what I guess you could call a quarter-life crisis—but the good kind. I felt compelled to explore what I wanted out of life. I found myself asking, Who am I? What am I all about? What do I love and value most? What changes could I make to become a better person? After lots of introspection, I decided to spend a year finding out what Baltimore had to offer me and, even more important, what I had to offer it.
So let me take you back to my life right before Nom Yourself. To give myself more flexibility and time on my soul-searching quest, I quit the music business and became a nanny for a wonderful family of three—an incredible little boy named Spencer, his loving and strong mother, Mary Alice, and his witty father, Dave. My relationship with this family as their nanny is one that I will be forever grateful for. They took me in as part of their family, and took me to my first farmers market, a debt I can never repay. Every Saturday morning, Mary Alice and I would trek to the Waverly Farmers Market and see what gorgeous produce was for sale. I’d explore heirloom tomatoes, and Mary Alice would show me how to pick the perfect peaches. Surrounded by lush kale, fragrant strawberries, and stubbornly knobby, hearty beets, I fell completely in love with the bounty I saw on offer. But when I came home, arms loaded with arugula and parsnips, I realized one thing: I had no idea how to cook.
Right around this time, I moved to a new house in order to live with my friend Lisa. The kitchen in this house was a wonder. It was gorgeous, spacious, filled with natural light, inviting—and it had its quirks, too. It made me work to enjoy it. I had to light the oven with a match any time I wanted to use it. At first, that seemed like a pain, but once I lit it successfully by myself, it made me curious about what else I could accomplish in this kitchen. Somehow the space made me feel both at home and inspired. I wanted to make the kitchen—and myself—proud of the meals I would create here. The kitchen was telling me, “This is your chance!”
I’d like to tell you that I fell in love with cooking the first day I decided to give it a shot, but that is far from the truth. I was frustrated for a couple of weeks (though it felt like forever). I’d bring home delicious asparagus and parsnips, painstakingly chop them and coat them with olive oil—and burn them to a crisp. My muffins wouldn’t rise, my eggplant ended up too soggy, and I could never wait for my avocados to ripen enough before slicing into them. So many times I would be about to say “screw it” and order takeout, but something inside me would push back. It was something I hadn’t felt before—this immense sense of creativity.
So I persisted, trying new spices and new ingredients each day. I woke up at five a.m. to get into the kitchen, and in those early-dawn hours I learned to dice, mince, sauté, and sear. I also learned to take a morning photograph with natural sunlight (which I know now is the key to taking great food photos at home). To put it simply, I fell in love with cooking.
At first I followed recipes, and as I tried more and more of them, my pantry became stocked with what I now realize are essential staples to have on hand: olive oil, flour, sea salt, and more (you can see my full list here). But soon it started to feel wrong to go to the bustling market and focus only on the specific ingredients for a recipe while ignoring the other luscious-looking vegetables just because they weren’t on my grocery list. So once I felt like I had a handle on how to put a dish together, I tossed the lists! I started shopping by season, picking the most vibrantly colored and delicious fruits and vegetables each time I visited the market and figuring out what to do with them once I got home.
Cooking with what was available in the kitchen and the garden was a challenge that I welcomed with open arms. Sure, sometimes I would ask myself, What the hell is kale and why did I decide it was a good idea to buy five pounds of the stuff? But experimenting with new ingredients always turned into a fun, fascinating journey of discovery. I also started to become much more knowledgeable about what exactly I was putting into my body.
In the kitchen, I loved to cook inventively and imagine new flavor combinations, and I loved to take photos of my results. I liked to think of my creations as edible art—art that anyone with the desire to get into the kitchen could make. What’s more, I felt great and I wanted the world to know it. Once I realized how easy and fulfilling it was to make amazing food from the earth’s bounty, I wanted to inspire others to do exactly what I was doing.
So I started posting photos on Instagram. My first followers were, of course, my friends and family. They were seeing a side of me that hadn’t been present for quite some time at that point: passion. I was happily transforming into a walking, talking fountain of knowledge about cooking, gardening, farming, and produce. As they followed my posts, they soon noticed a pattern forming. Apparently I had taken meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy out of my diet. I say “they noticed” because, honestly, I hadn’t.
These days, people ask me all the time how I became vegan. I’m sure you vegans out there will relate, since usually the second question people ask when you tell anyone you’re vegan is how it happened (the first one, obviously, is, “But how do you get your protein?”). My answer is always: I became vegan through cooking. Just by shopping at the farmers markets and giving vegetables and fruits the center stage, I found myself naturally cutting out animal products—and I felt so much better.
I soon realized that this was it. This was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I’d gone on a soul-searching quest, and I’d landed in the kitchen, surrounded by plants. I couldn’t wait to learn more. Chefs and cooks would become my teachers and the kitchen would become my classroom.
NOM YOURSELF: THE BEGINNING
Filled with love of everything plant-based, plus my growing love of photography, I started a new Instagram, just for my food photos. At this point, Spencer, my nannying charge, started each day wearing a bib illustrating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, with the words “nom, nom, nom”—a phrase that describes the pleasures of eating, and one we can all relate to. But I wanted to get across the you-can-do-it-too feeling that I’d been trying to spread among my friends and family. So, I came up with Nom Yourself. It was also my own way of saying “calm yourself.” My hopes for the account were simple. I wanted to connect with like-minded people on a culinary journey of eating and cooking a plant-based diet, to inspire those who hadn’t even thought of veganism as an option, and to start a kind of “food diary” of my life in the kitchen.
During the next few months as the account started to take off, “Nom Yourself” took on a new meaning: you are what you eat. Simple and true. And I would soon find that this was a message that appealed to many, many people. After mere days, it turned out that thousands of people were instantly interested in what I was doing with vegetables. People started asking for recipes. Me? Recipes? I would think, You do know I was burning sweet potatoes just a couple months ago, right? But that was the whole point. There were thousands of people in the same exact place I was, just trying to figure out what to do in their kitchens.
Besieged by recipe requests and eager to help my followers out, I taught myself to code websites and started nomyourself.com to share recipes, tips, and thoughts with those who were so graciously supporting and following my journey into the culinary and vegan world. I also reached out to interview vegans from all walks of life, to see how they handled the challenges and opportunities of a plant-based life. I knew my story wasn’t necessarily a universal one, so I wanted people exploring a vegan lifestyle to have a resource where they could come and find someone like them who was loving veganism. I started e-mailing people: Chad Sarno, a culinary educator and chef; Brendan Brazier, an author and formulator of Vega; Mike Zigomanis, a professional hockey player; Kimmy McAtee, vice president of marketing for Keep A Breast, a foundation for breast cancer awareness; Toby Morse, singer of H2O and founder of One Life One Chance; Stephanie Fryslie, owner and shoemaker of Nicora Johns. I interviewed them about their stories and their journeys to becoming vegan, and I posted those interviews on the site to encourage would-be vegans to take the plunge. The World Wide Web allowed me to form friendships with creative and motivated individuals who were pushing themselves to be the best they could possibly be, just like I was.
As I became more and more knowledgeable about vegan lifestyles, my passion continued to grow. Endless possibilities unfolded before me, and I received countless signs that this was the right move for me. Early in 2014, superstar singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding tweeted “that looks delicious” at one of my photos. She’s since become an incredible supporter of Nom Yourself, and our first tentative tweets and comments have blossomed into a genuine friendship IRL (in real life, as they say). Later that year, I was lucky enough to connect with Jeremy Piven on Twitter. He was a stranger to me at that point, but when we discovered that we had both eaten at the same restaurant, he sent me a message stating that he was interested in talking about a plant-based diet. We met up to discuss it, and by the end of the meeting we’d determined that I would become his personal chef that week and cater for him while he filmed the Entourage movie. The process of cooking for someone who is utterly dependent on you for health and wellness is an incredibly amazing feeling, and it gave me a great sense of fulfillment. My catering career has progressed from there, as has my friendship with Jeremy.
So I guess you could say I’ve been lucky—and you could also say that social media has contributed in large part to where I am today. I can promise you right now, I’m never going to stop posting drool-worthy photos of delicious, decadent vegan sandwiches, and I think the world will be a better place because of it.
I’m writing to you now from Baltimore. Yes, I’m back in the city I love, the place where it all began. I’m cooking in that gorgeous open kitchen, lighting my oven with a match, shopping at the Waverly Farmers Market, and writing this cookbook for you with my whole heart and soul. These recipes are my journey. They represent all the good times and delicious meals I’ve made, plus the wonderful blunders I’ve made along the way, each of which taught me something new. So from my kitchen to yours: enjoy.
STOCKING YOUR KITCHEN AND GETTING STARTED
I’ve never been a huge fan of grocery lists. When I do make them I almost never stick to them because I like to venture into the unknown and buy produce that I can’t pronounce. This allows me to get more creative in the kitchen and taste new things. That said, it’s important to have a few essential staples in your pantry at all times, so that you can actually turn your delicious new produce into edible meals that you enjoy. Below is a list of items I always keep on hand.
Keep in mind that shopping seasonally and locally is important, both to get the best-tasting produce for your dishes and to support your local agriculture. Look for farmers markets or community supported agriculture (CSA) in your area.
Nondairy Milk (Almond, Soy, Coconut, Rice, Hemp, Whichever You Prefer): Make your own (see here), or buy brands such as Califia Farms, Almond Breeze, or Silk, which usually offer various options, such as sweetened, vanilla, and more. I prefer to buy unsweetened original milks so I can use them for a wide variety of recipes. Then I’ll add additional sweetness with maple syrup and flavor them with vanilla extract as needed.
Vegan Butter: Chances are you may already buy vegan butter, even if you aren’t vegan already! Vegetable-based margarine has become a huge part of the buttery spread market. You can find brands such as Earth Balance at your local grocery store.
Canned Coconut Cream: I almost always use canned coconut purely for the fat it contains. It is great for whipped cream, sour cream, thick sauces, and dressings. Then I use the coconut milk left over in the can for my smoothie the next day.
Baking Powder: I’ve found it doesn’t truly matter which baking powder you use, as long as it’s stored correctly. Over time baking powder will degrade, especially in humid environments, so once you purchase your baking powder, be sure to transfer it to an airtight jar and keep it in a cool environment.
Baking Soda: Baking soda is not just that orange box you put in the fridge to keep things smelling fresh. It’s also a key ingredient in a lot of cakes and batters, as you’ll see in the recipes to come. My favorite brand for baking is Bob’s Red Mill Baking Soda.
Incidentally, baking soda is also a great natural way to clean your kitchen. Just sprinkle some on your countertops, spray with equal parts water and white distilled vinegar, and scrub!
Raw Nuts: High in protein, nuts are perfect to snack on. They are also really good to have when making thick nondairy sauces and nondairy milks. I usually keep raw unsalted almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pine nuts around. These guys can get pretty expensive, so I usually wait until a sale and try not to over-snack on them.
Nut Butter (Almond, Cashew, Peanut): If you don’t have time to make your own nut butter, store-bought can be fine as well, but depending on the brand can also be full of additives. So if you’re going with store-bought, stick with a nut butter that has the least amount of ingredients, and preferably just one: nuts!
Garlic Cloves: I use garlic in a lot of dishes, so I tend to pick up one or two bulbs just to have on hand any time I visit the market. Garlic does go bad, though, so before you use them, check to make sure that the cloves are not dry or mushy. It’s okay if the garlic has sprouted a bit (you’ll know when you see the little green stem showing); just be sure to remove the sprout before use.
Ground Black Pepper: If you can get whole black pepper and grind the peppercorns yourself with a spice grinder, that would be ideal. Ground black pepper is completely fine, though, if you don’t have the time or equipment to grind your own pepper.
Dried Herbs and Spices (Parsley, Basil, Chives, Oregano, Paprika): Spices and herbs are always best when fresh. You can easily grow them in your kitchen, but I understand that not everyone has the time to grow their own herbs. I like to keep my cupboard stocked with different spices and dried herbs to try. The ones I use the most are parsley, basil, chives, oregano, paprika, chili powder, and thyme. I usually like to collect dried herbs and spices to try out new flavor profiles. It’s always fun to try out new herbs and spices, and the reality is that sometimes they aren’t available in their fresh form.
Organic Ground Cinnamon: I love cinnamon. That’s actually an understatement. I’m obsessed with cinnamon. I use it in almost every baked good I make, as well as in chilies, soups, and marinades. Nutmeg is also great to have on hand, but I don’t use it as much as I use cinnamon.
Flaxseed Meal: You can absolutely buy whole flaxseeds and grind them yourself. However, for convenience, I like to buy Bob’s Red Mill Flaxseed Meal. You can use flaxseed meal as an egg replacement in a lot of baking. You can put it in your granola, cereals, and breakfast bars to add fiber to your diet as well.
Chia Seeds: One of the greatest benefits of chia seeds is omega-3. Mama Chia is the chia seed brand I prefer, and it is available in most supermarkets. I don’t use chia seeds on a daily basis, but I find myself reaching for them more and more in the kitchen. I like to sneak a tablespoon into sauces to bring another texture element to a dish. You can also simply mix 3 tablespoons of chia seeds with ⅓ cup nondairy milk, a dash of cinnamon, and a drop of vanilla to make a delicious chia seed pudding.
Hemp Seeds/Powder: Hemp seeds and powder are a great source of protein. So, as with chia seeds, I try to incorporate them wherever I can, usually in baked goods or smoothies.
Liquid Aminos, Soy Sauce, and Tamari: I usually have all three in my cupboard, but I tend to gravitate more toward tamari because it is thicker and great for marinades. Bragg Liquid Aminos is my second choice if I am out of tamari. I rarely use soy sauce because most store-bought soy sauce has a very high sodium content.
Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (Gluten-Free, If You’d Like): Always have a bag of flour in your cupboard. My favorite flour is King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, or the whole-wheat version. When I’m looking for a gluten-free option, Bob’s Red Mill makes a coconut flour perfect for baking, although not necessarily great for breading. For cooking gluten-free savory dishes, I usually go with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour.
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