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Wanna Test the Vegan Waters? ‘Mama Tried’ was my Gateway

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April 5th is Go Vegan for a Day, and this past week I’ve been trying to see if this would be a) hard, b) enjoyable, and c) costly. To my surprise, it was easy, tasty, and cheap. I didn’t go in blind though I had a really wonderful cookbook to ease me into this veggie-rific lifestyle.

I am a meat-eater and half Italian. I grew up with my Mom making amazing food every night. I actually still beg her to make her famous casserole when she visits. I’m no stranger to pasta-o-ramas, but as I get older they tend to sit a little heavy and have been causing a bit of heartburn. How do I still get my bloodlines food without the heartbreak?!


Let sit overnight! The flavor comes out the next day.

Enter the new Italian vegan cookbook Mama Tried. Much like me, Cecilia Granata grew up with traditional dishes (although she was actually in Italy). She’s able to not only maintain the flavor but that warm feeling you get from a home cooked meal. Eating healthier while staying true to my heritage was something I wasn’t sure was possible. Not only was I wrong but pretty damn impressed by what Cecilia compiled.

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Perfectly sweet but not tart.

Now you’re probably thinking that you’re not a chef and you don’t have time. And yes some of the 100 recipes do take a bit of effort, for me the ones I chose weren’t more than 45 mins from start to finish. But this included my very meticulous chopping skills that drive my poor dog crazy. While on the subject, props to my pooch for having the intestinal fortitude to endure scraps and the olfactory constitutions to handle smells, he didn’t complain once.

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Benny smells onions.

These recipes are also crazy easy to make. The way Cecilia has assembled each one is not only easy to understand but honestly doesn’t require precision. There’s a lot of ingredients amounts that are totally up to your discretions and taste buds. Which is part of the fun of cooking! Each recipe I tried I altered a little bit for my tastes and the meal didn’t suffer at all. Affordability was a concern too. But I wrongly assumed eating healthier would be more costly. I got 3 meals (each with leftovers the next day) for less than $20. And they aren’t just better nutritionally they were really filling too. This means I’m way less likely to wonder to the candy machine when I’m in the office. Plus the portions are perfectly sized. So if you live with your beloved or have a roomie you’ve got deliciousness for a party of two.


Best on cold rainy nights.

The most surprising thing of all was how wonderfully calming it was. Sure it started off as a bit of a pain, having to prepare dinner but once in the groove, it was amazingly therapeutic. It was also strangely fulfilling, making something from nothing. Taking all these random parts to create a thing that brought me back to my childhood. A thing that connected me to family that has since passed on or I don’t get to see often. Food with feeling, a thing we can all crave. Mangia!

Cecilia Granata‘s cookbook Mama Tried: Traditional Italian Cooking for the Screwed, Crude, Vegan, & Tattooed, is available to the masses on April 12th from Microcosm Publishing. If you’re a foodie or love beautiful photography/art please follow her on Instagram.


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Sheilah Villari - Dollar Bin Darling

Sheilah Villari - Dollar Bin Darling

Southern hospitality mixed with Northern sensibility. This native Charlestonian is one quirky hobby away from becoming a Wes Anderson character. Fluent in Jack Russell and Sportsball. She can be found perusing your local comic/coffee shops. She is the Managing Editor of BAS-NYC.