130 – Help Yourself – The Coolest Cookbook Ever feat. Ruby Roth

Welcome back to Episode #130 of The David Madow Lifestyle Show. As you know, this is the show where I help you live stronger, thinner, healthier, and happier. And actually a lot more. I have a blast doing this and I appreciate you as a listener. So thanks so much for being back with us today.

I have a special surprise for you today. Back in the early days of the show, I frequently has guests on the show. And for the past several months, you have only has me 🙂 But today I am going to surprise you with a very special guest. I have a copy of her brand new book in front of me. Her book is called The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids. You have probably figured out now that my guest is Ruby Roth.

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Dr. Dave: “Welcome back Ruby! How’s it going there?

Ruby: “I am good! I am so happy to come back on your show and have fun!”

Dr. Dave: “It’s great to have you back. I remember the last time we did this quite some time ago and I wanted to start off by saying something. I don’t remember if I shared this with you last time. I was listening to you on Erin Red’s podcast Red Radio. Back then, you and Erin were two of the people that got me interested and got me to go vegan. Do you remember that?”

Ruby: “I totally remember that story. I think you were listening to it in the car.”

Dr. Dave: “I was listening to it in the car. I was with my wife and we were pulling up to an Indian restaurant. As a matter of fact, I think the Indian restaurant was vegan or at least vegetarian. So we’re listening and we pull up into the parking lot. As the show kept going on, I was listening to you and to Erin and it was so interesting to me. And to this day I still remember one of the things you said on the show. I don’t know whether this is a famous tagline of yours or if it’s something you say every time you speak. But Erin asked you a question something to the effect of; are you shoving this information down people’s throats? And you very calmly said no I really don’t believe in shoving anything down people’s throats but my goal is to give people enough information so they don’t shove the wrong thing down their throats.”

Ruby: “Yes, that is definitely a philosophy.”

Dr. Dave: “It’s funny because at the same time at the restaurant there was a vegan meetup going on. There was a big table of people in there and one guy was clearly in charge. And they were having a vegan meetup in there and talking about all vegan stuff. And everything kind of came together for that day. And from then on, we were vegan. So I wanted to thank you again. I am sure I probably thanked you last time you were on but you played a big part in my life and did not even realize it.”

Ruby: “I love that story. It’s one of my favorites and I will not forget it.”

Dr. Dave: “Great! I remember the last time we had you on I had a copy of your book, That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals. I am not sure if that was your first book or your second book.”

Ruby: “Yeah it was the first.”

Dr. Dave: “So that was your very first one back in 2009. And not only did you write the entire book but you illustrated it too. It’s really cool and I’ve got it sitting in front of me here still. My grandson is 2 1/2 and I still think he’s a little bit too young for me to bring this down to him. But that’s another dilemma that I have. His parents, my daughter and son in law, are very strict omnivores. And I don’t know how much they like me giving my child this book. But we are going to work it in one way or another.”

Ruby: “Yes, that is the exact mission of my new book. I talk about that. That was a request that I got a lot from vegan people. They wanted a book that they could share with their friends, family, and the non-vegan community where they didn’t feel like they were pressuring the recipient.”

Dr. Dave: “So you are now referring to The Help Yourself Cookbook for kids? The one that comes out April 5th.”

Ruby: “Yes”

Dr. Dave: “So let’s talk about this for a minute. I’ve got it in front of me. I’ve looked through the recipes. And by the way, I’ve got to tell you something, I know this was written for kids but I have a feeling that on the other hand you wrote this for adults to enjoy too. I’m looking at some of these pictures of these recipes and I’ve gotta tell you that some of these recipes like the Crowd Pleaser Kale Salad are things that I would like to make for lunch. That’s not just for kids is it?”

Ruby: “No, and my philosophy behind this book is that it was specifically not kid’s food. Which in my research of kid’s cookbooks, seemed to be very bland and super high in carbohydrates, salt, and sugar and no greens. I feel like we need to raise our standards as a society to meet the capabilities of children. So I think getting kids an early start on whole foods and greens. It’s very easy to normalize that in a child’s life.”

Dr. Dave: “Now how do we do that if the parents are not really on board? And I’ll give you an example. A few weeks ago I am in Breckenridge, Colorado skiing with my wife. Something I notice all the time when we are skiing and are around a big group of people is that people get hungry. During lunch, people go into the lodge and go to the restaurants on the mountain and I see a family; mom, dad, and kids, and 99% of the time what they are eating is just repulsive to me. They are not only eating dead animals but they are eating fried chicken type nugget food and the greasy french fries and soft drinks. And this is what the whole family is eating. And I am thinking this is not going to be an easy family to convert to something healthy. How do you change a whole family over?”

Ruby: “I think one hundred million billion percent that parents want their kids to eat more fruits and vegetables. That’s a scientific fact 😉 They want their kids eating healthy food even if the family hasn’t made the transition yet. I think all parents want that deeply. They want a quality of life and health. So I designed this book to be super appealing. Every single page is full color photo and just bursting with colorful food and illustrations. It’s not apparently, at first glance, about health or pushing health or veganism at all. This is just a really fun book that is designed for kids ages zero to one hundred to enjoy and flip through. And I wanted to create a book that I would enjoy reading. I think that very often resources for kids are dumbed down and don’t meet their actual psychological, physical, or spiritual capabilities.”

Dr. Dave:  “I love how you started it off. First off you have a note from the author. And this is actually geared to the kids. So you are talking to the kids and explains what they’re going to get out of this book. I loved it. And then I love the section you have right after that, it’s called Meet the Ingredients. Now I’ve read through this and it doesn’t have a lot of ingredients that maybe the general population are used to eating. Maybe you don’t even know about some of these things like algae, almond flower, Bragg liquid aminos, and mochi. Most people don’t know about these things. I even learned something when I was reading about nutritional yeast. I love nutritional yeast in salads and soups but I didn’t realize that it was so high in vitamin B12. So I learned something within fifteen seconds of reading your book.”

Ruby: “Great! Yeah that resources page is just to explain some of the steeples of a plant based diet that might be new to some people. But they certainly aren’t new at all. Any health store has these. And during my research I went into mainstream grocery stores and I could see that the plant based influence is happening in the mainstream because there were a lot of superfoods that are now accessible in these stores. From cacao to goji berries and chia and hemp seeds. They are all on trend so it’s becoming very easy to make healthier choices. It’s right at your fingertips where you don’t have to do a ton of research. Even ordering food off of the internet. When you are getting a whole family to transition and make healthier choices, that was one of my priorities in this book to make the ingredients accessible. And most of the ingredients in the book are things people already buy from quinoa to lentils to greens, they are available in any store.”

Dr. Dave: “It’s definitely getting a lot easier these days. In the past year to two years a lot of these things are in the mainstream and you can find them in “regular” grocery stores. You have a little section before you get started called Mine: A Letter to Grown-ups. And this actually is not geared to the kids but is geared to mom or dad reading this book. Why did you put that in there?”

Ruby: “That is a letter to parents. The rest of the book speaks directly to children. But I wanted to address the fact that a lot of parents feel iffy and ambivalent about bringing kids into the kitchen. They’re afraid that the flour is going to burst open or that things are going to spill or break. And they would just rather hurry up and do it themselves. But I think it’s a lost opportunity to get kids in the kitchen and engaged. Not only for the practical benefits of normalizing healthy foods using raw whole ingredients but also big picture skills like language and motor skills, decision making, critical thinking, and exercising the innovator’s mind. So my letter and goal there was to say hey we have this opportunity as adults to teach the

Dr. Dave: “Right, be willing to share your kitchen. If you haven’t shared with your kids in the past because maybe you felt like it was your domain, now it’s time to let them be involved and let them see that they can make some pretty cool healthy choices themselves. I love it! And I love the way you incorporate your artwork and photography into the actual recipes. It just reads very very well.”

Ruby: “Thank you! The photos were a prereq. I love cookbooks with photos so every single page of this book is a full color photo.”

Dr. Dave:  “Did you do the photography yourself?”

Ruby: “I did not. I brought in a photographer because that is not my skill and it took a lot of skill to layout these pages. But the illustrations and the design are all mine.”

Dr. Dave: “Yeah, I can tell that. It’s interesting. I can imagine that you had to prepare every one of these recipes and make it look good on the plate or the bowl. And then have the photographer in there. So how many days of cooking and photography did this take? I mean I know you didn’t do it in one day. There’s no way. You can’t prepare all that stuff in one day.”

Ruby: “The build up before to the actual week of the photo shoot was an entire summer of planning every minute of every day. Figuring out color palettes, and which characters were on which pages, how to book would be laid out, and which bowls and plates we would use. But we shot all sixty plus recipes in five days. So it was a ton of work even for a simple book like this. But I am really happy with the team that I had; the photographer and a food stylist to help which was great. Again, this was all natural lighting and nothing that a commercial food stylist would use. No paint, no altering of the food itself, it’s using completed unaltered food that I bought from the farmer’s market and from my local stores.”

Dr. Dave: “That’s really cool. Was it done in your kitchen?”

Ruby: “It was done in my house, yeah.”

Dr. Dave: “Beautiful! That’s great. I love it. I really love the book. Ruby, I am going to ask you a question. What is your absolute favorite recipe in this book? What would it be? There are some really cool ones but I want to hear your favorite.”

Ruby: “My go-to’s that I probably make the most are the kale salads so it’s funny that you picked that one right out. But the Crowd Pleaser Kale Salad is something I make when we have parties. It’s just kale this is softened with olive oil and a couple other toppings. But it’s something that I use as my introductory card for people whether we are attending a party or we are having a potluck. My helper bunny, which is the main character in the book, is helping on those pages with chopping and cutting of the kale.”

Dr. Dave: “I see that. Speaking of kale, I have a funny story for you. My wife, Yoko, and I were in New York a few days ago and we had to stop. I had never been in Champs Diner in Brooklyn, it’s a very famous all vegan diner, so we stopped. And I was telling my Dad that evening that we stopped in there that evening and we had a great vegan meal. And he asked what we got. And I said one of the things I got was a really cool kale salad. My Dad is eighty six years old and I was trying to explain to him that kale is actually raw. And he was having a really tough time understanding how people could eat raw kale. And I said, Dad it’s not only delicious but it’s so good for you.”

Ruby: “Absolutely! And it’s one of the most nutritionally dense foods on the index.”

Dr. Dave: “Absolutely! Absolutely! It’s a cruciferous vegetable. It’s really really nutritious and healthy. And I love your Brocco-tree Bisque which looks delicious. It’s looks like broccoli. I am going to make that too.”

Ruby: “Yeah, it’s so simple. And one of the things I did in this book was to simplify the process. So if I was going to make if for myself I might saute each ingredient separately and add it to the pot. But for this book, we throw everything in the pot at the same time and then blend it up after and it tastes just as good. And I think if it’s easier and quicker for people to do then the better for this book.”

Dr. Dave: “You know I think the fact that you made it kid friendly also makes it dad friendly. Because I am not what you call a good chef. And something that’s really easy for me to make like this Brocco-tree Bisque. It looks delicious and it is not intimidating. There’s not a list of a thousand ingredients. and then two pages of directions. It’s all on one page; it’s really really easy. This is great! I love it! You’re changing the world. I don’t know if you even realize this, you’re an author, a vegan educator, you are literally changing the world. Why did you choose children to as your audience?”

Ruby: “Well, I’m an artist before I am a writer and I was teaching art at an after school program and the kids were all very curious why I wasn’t drinking the milk or eating the cheese that they served at recess. When I went to find a book that we could talk about, everything I saw was a talking animal or a talking vegetable. And I just thought that a) that takes away from the child’s intelligence and b) also from the rich emotional lives of animals. So I created these books that I wanted to see in the marketplace. I was also interested in social justice and politics. And I was able to put those two passions together.”

Dr. Dave: “The book is called The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids by Ruby Roth. She not only wrote it but she also did the incredible illustrations. Even if you’re not vegan and even if you don’t have kids, I am going to recommend that you pick up a copy of this just to look through it and look at these delicious recipes and look at the artwork and the photos.  I like things simple. Even in my podcast, it’s simple. It’s twenty minutes long generally. I don’t go into incredible weird details. I like to make things easy for people. I love this book just because I like things easy. It’s coming out April 5th. What’s the easiest way that my listeners can grab themselves a copy?”

Ruby: “The books will be available wherever books are sold so online or in stores. I encourage people to get them from bookstores because I think that also tells the bookstore that people are interested in these kinds of books. But I am happy for people to order it anywhere. They will also be able to get them at my website at www.wedonteatanimals.com.”

Dr. Dave: “That is great! We have a link for ordering below so that people can find a way to get it. (click on the book cover graphic). Ruby, the time goes so fast. I thank you so much for your time. I know you are a busy woman and have a lot going on. I bet you are already thinking about your next book. I am guessing.”

Ruby: “Stay tuned. Stay tuned :)”

Dr. Dave: “Thanks so much for being on the show today. And I invite you back anytime. I love your information and your passion for healthy living and living animal free except for pets of course. We love pets”.

Ruby: “Thank you for your work and for all you do for your audience as well. I appreciate being on the show tremendously.”

Dr. Dave: “Back at you on that one and let’s have you back another time. Good luck with your book. I wish you all the luck in the world. It’s a great project. I know it’s going to do well.”

help yourself cookbook for kids

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