So, a few months ago the folks from Earth Balance approached me about doing a blog takeover in February as part of their Book Club series. In a nutshell, I take over the blog for a week, thus kicking the world of butter vegan spread squarely in the pants. Today they let me know that due to “some exciting new changes to the blog” that they will no longer be featuring me in February. But shoot, I already did the work for the takeover, so why not post it somewhere?

Therefore, I am taking over my own blog. Please enjoy this exciting guest post from one of our favorite food bloggers here at Bake and Destroy, Natalie Slater of Bake and Destroy!

Blog Takeover

Natalie Slater Bake and DestroyChicagoan Natalie Slater is the creator and writer of popular food blog Bake and Destroy which features original recipes with a healthy dose of pop culture. She has written for Baking and Pastry International, and her recipes have appeared in Bust Magazine, Time Out Chicago and several online publications. Natalie’s first cookbook,Bake and Destroy: Good Food for Bad Vegansis available now wherever books are sold.

Q & A

Tell your story. How did you become vegan?

I was up late one night just after I graduated high school in 1998 and I somehow ended up on PETA’s website reading about factory farms and watching terrible videos of animals being abused before being slaughtered. It just broke my heart and I decided right then to never eat another animal. The more I read and learned about the meat and dairy industries the less I wanted to contribute to the suffering of animals. Over the years I’ve also witnessed first-hand the transformative benefits of a plant-based diet. I’ve had friends with diabetes, cancer, all kinds of health issues who have literally healed themselves by eating more plants and less of everything else.

How did Bake & Destroy come about?

I started my site with the intention of keeping my friends and family posted on how my life was going with my newborn son. I spent nap time playing around with recipes I remembered from my days as a professional baker – so I’d post an update about the baby along with a recipe. Pretty soon I started getting comments from other punky moms, vegan bakers, and just food fans in general and I realized my “mom blog” wasn’t just a family affair anymore.

What food do you always, always have in your fridge or pantry?

Nutritional yeast is a staple in our house. We throw it into sauces, soups, sprinkle it on pasta, and make it into “cheese” sauces all the time. It’s such an easy, tasty addition to just about any dish that I buy it in bulk.

vegan samoa pot pie bake and destroyWhat’s your personal favorite vegan snack?

Apples with peanut butter – is there anything simpler?

What’s your favorite way to use a particular Earth Balance product?

My family is totally obsessed with all the Culinary Spreads. I use the Coconut Spread to make vegan caramel sauce, the Garlic & Herb Spread instantly transforms a loaf of bread into savory garlic bread and there is nothing better than slathering the Sweet Cinnamon Spread onto a hot stack of pancakes.

Veganism seems to be “hip” now. Do you agree? What’s that like from your perspective?

I grew up in the Chicago hardcore scene, and in the 90s a lot of the shows I attended took place in Krishna temples, so I have friends who have been vegan for more than 20 years. I’d agree than veganism is hip these days – a lot of celebrities have made it a household word – but I see that as a good thing. The more “normal” a plant-based diet becomes to people, the more likely they are to give it a try and see that it’s actually pretty tasty way to live.

If you had a restaurant, what dish would always be on the menu?

Jackfruit a zillion ways! I love how versatile jackfruit is, and that I can get it dirt cheap at the Asian market by my house. I’m surprised more vegetarian restaurants don’t serve it – but I’m always excited when I see it on the menu. (Read more about my love of jackfruit here.)

vegan banana bread french toast cupcakes bake and destroyWhat’s the best piece of advice you’d have for someone wanting to go vegan?

Arm yourself with snappy comebacks. Thanks to the Internet, it’s pretty easy to find vegan recipes and to understand the basics of a vegan diet – but the one thing you might not be prepared for is all the unsolicited opinions on nutrition you’re going to get from people who mean well. It’s like as soon as you go vegan every aunt and uncle you have becomes an expert on protein and calcium. Do your research and store all that info about nutrient-dense foods in your brain because it’s really helpful to have quick answers to questions like, “How do you get your protein?” My go-to is “elephants get enough protein from plants, I’m pretty sure I’ll be OK.” (Also check out my Plant Strong Crash Course here.)

Recipe and Whatever

Then they were going to share a couple of my recipes, which you can find by buying my book and/or checking out my recent blog tour! My publisher would also like me to tell you that the recipes in my book are all original, and have not been previously published on my blog. I feel like you knew that already, but he doesn’t know you like I do.