wanderlust vermont: bad yogi, sarah copeland + a killer recipe
posted: June 28, 2014
When I first heard that I’d be interviewing Sarah Copeland, a holistic nutrition educator and vegetarian celebrity chef, I thought we may have difficulty finding common ground given the fact that I had bacon for lunch exactly 12 hours before our meeting. But after attending her lecture “Have Your Cake and Vegetables Too,” I realized that any woman who’s a friend of cake is a friend of mine. To sum up her talk: it was awesome. Sarah’s philosophy about food and nutrition is not only forgiving, but focuses on finding the balance between food that’s not just good for the body, but food that’s good for your own body. She doesn’t think one size fits all, and says that “no amount of kale will save humanity.” Ca-ching! I’m listening! After leaving her speakeasy even I, an enthusiastic omnivore, was convinced that vegetarianism under her rules wouldn’t be so bad. We sat down in the sunshine for a little chat.
This is her, Chef Sarah Copeland, the woman who knows that no amount of kale will save humanity
Bad Yogi: Tell me your food philosophy in one to two sentences.
Sarah Copeland: So much of what we know about the best foods for us can be traced back to the way our ancestors ate. Eat what they ate. Eat wholesome and whole and simple foods—in delicious combinations!
BY: You said you used to be an omnivore. Why the change to vegetarianism?
SC: For me, it was very slow, very gradual shift.
Side note: one thing that influenced her decision was love; a relationship with a guy she was dating who happened to be vegetarian, and whom she later married. His health and vitality and strength and utter respect for all living things had magnetic appeal that made perfect sense to her. A match made in veggie heaven!
BY: So why not go fully vegan?
SC: I can’t imagine giving up fish! I love it too much! Or dairy. Or cheese. Come on, what is life without butter or cheese?
Another side note: something I loved was that Sarah discussed the importance of respecting the environment you’re in. Sometimes you really need a stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal and other times you need lighter fare. “There’s no magic formula; there’s facts to support [the goodness of] almost every type of diet out there…. Food is nourishment and it’s not about what we should or shouldn’t be eating, but how what we eat makes us feel.”)
BY: I think most of us get quickly inspired by what we see on Pinterest, or what’s popular, but making it stick is totally different. What are your tips for making lasting changes?
SC: The biggest piece is variety so that you stay interested in what you’re eating. Tie it in to something that’s already a staple in your life. Whether that’s social or it’s doing something with someone, like a partner or friend.
Permit me one more side note? She also made the great point that “feeling connected with your food is important.” For her, that connection comes from gardening and growing her own produce—she has seven fruit trees at home.
BY: A lot of people don’t have access to a farm or a way to grow their own food. What’s the next best thing?
SC: Farmer’s markets! You naturally feel more connected to the source and knowing where it comes from and feeling the passion from people helps. For me, going to the farmer’s market is a social event (though I haven’t gotten my husband to buy into that one yet).
BY: You talked about there being a mind-body connection when we eat, and that it can be a spiritual experience, too. How do you balance the physical with the spiritual without going overboard on one side?
SC: Food is life, food is love! Eating with awareness, while you’re sitting down and enjoying what’s in front of you is a big part of it. I love making breakfast for my family. It just makes me feel so good that I’m making them something to start their day and that we’re all sitting at the table, looking each other in the eye, enjoying this together.
Final side note (I promise!): she says that it’s possible to over-correct. So believe it or not, you can eat so perfectly that you forget to feed your soul, and also eat so poorly that your sustenance is poisonous.)
BY: So, for the non-vegetarians. Is it possible to eat meat in a healthy, sustainable way?
SC: Yes, definitely. If we cut out 1/2 the meat we eat and replace it with fresh vegetables, we’ll be in much better shape across the board, physically and ecologically.
BY: Okay, less serious stuff now: What’s your favourite go-all-out meal? When you don’t care about any food rules, what do you reach for?
SC: Chocolate cake and watermelon! And anything in a tortilla.
BY: What’s your fave meal to make at home?
SC: Soups! Lots of soups because they’re hearty and you can combine so many ingredients! Warm liquids are just so satisfying… and on that note I also love hot chocolate, but that wasn’t your question. (<— this woman is my spirit animal)
Love Sarah as much as I do? Check out her book, Feast! She actually told me that it’s the “vegetarian cookbook for non-vegetarians.” Sign. Me. Up. I leafed through it, and it’s seriously the least complicated cookbook I’ve ever held in my hands. Brilliant and beautiful. Order your copy now, but in the meantime, here’s a recipe from Feast.
WARM WINTER VEGETABLES WITH FARRO
Says Sarah: “This is one of my absolute favourite salads in this book. Warm root vegetables, nutty farro, creamy yogurt, and toasty nuts flatter each other in this filling winter meal. Farro cooked like rice tastes almost buttery; toss with warm vegetables and it will satisfy to the very last grain.”
Prep time: 25-30 minutes, plus soaking time
Cook time: 25-30 minutes
For the salad:
8 red or yellow baby beets, scrubbed and trimmed
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp/90 ml extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
6 young heirloom carrots or baby turnips, scrubbed, trimmed, and halved lengthwise
1 tbsp honey
1 sprig fresh thyme
8 oz/225 g farro
2 heaping handfuls arugula or baby leaf lettuce
Small handful toasted hazelnuts
Flaked sea salt such as Maldon
3 oz/85 g aged Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino cheese
For the dressing:
¼ cup/60 ml full-fat plain yogurt
Juice of ½ lime, plus more as needed
2 tbsp finely chopped assorted fresh herbs
1 tbsp hazelnut oil
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 400F/200C. Drizzle the beets with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil and roast until they can easily be pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool in the foil.
Combine the carrots, honey, thyme, and 1 cup/240 ml water in a medium skillet over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are fork-tender and broth has reduced to a glaze, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
Meanwhile, put the farro in a medium pot and add enough water to cover by about 2 in/5 cm. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce to low heat, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.
When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel the skins with a paring knife and quarter. Slice the radishes as thinly as possible with a mandoline or a very sharp knife.
To make the dressing: Whisk together the yogurt, lime juice, herbs, hazelnut oil, olive oil, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper in a medium bowl. Taste with a leaf of arugula; adjust the salt, pepper, or lime juice as needed.
Divide the farro among shallow bowls. Drain the carrots. Combine the beets, car¬rots, and arugula in a large bowl; toss together; and arrange over the farro. Top with the radishes, drizzle with the dressing, and sprinkle with hazelnuts and flaky salt. Generously grate or shave Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top with a vegetable peeler. Serve warm.
Tampa-based vinyasa flow yoga teacher Erin Motz is not your traditional yogi. She happens to be the carnivorous, red wine- and French cheese-loving type, though she believes whole heartedly that yoga is for everyone, from the kale-loving vegan to the prize-winning deer hunter. She aims to keep her classes fun and accessible, both in the studio and online. You won’t hear much Sanskrit in them, and she’ll totally forgive you if you don’t know your asana from your elbow. Teaching yoga continues to be one of her greatest pleasures. “I practice to feed my teaching, but I teach to feed my life,” she says. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.