Minimalist Baker

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You could say Dana Shultz has always had a thing for food.

Even from a young age, her appetite was, shall we say, healthy. “I think it kind of became a joke with my aunts, when I was coming over, that they would have a separate pie for me,” she says of her youth. “Because I was such a voracious eater.” She was skin and bones, and could eat whatever she wanted without gaining weight—certainly an easy way to develop a love of grub. At college in her home state of Kansas, she finally had to learn how to sustain herself, and became engrossed with the Food Network. It was then that a curiosity about food preparation and presentation began to parallel her passion for its consumption.

You probably know her by a different name, a famous name: the Minimalist Baker. Now based in Portland (a truly great place for food-lovers), Shultz runs the wildly popular blog with her husband John. Based around recipes that either involve 10 ingredients or less, or take 30 minutes or less to prepare, the blog has grown at a rapid pace since it was founded four years ago. “It seems to be this intersection for people who want something easy and diet-friendly,” says Shultz, who is gluten-free and lactose-intolerant. Though the blog is not exclusively vegan or vegetarian, most dishes are plant-based because she loves “the challenge” of preparing vegetables in interesting and delicious ways. It’s a philosophy echoed in her new cookbook, Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking—every recipe is unique to the book, which has been in the works for a few years and is finally ready for taking home and trying out.

Shultz is soft-spoken and sweet, the ethos of her minimalist lifestyle evident in the way she carries and presents herself. Her adoration of food is paramount, first as she lists off some of her favourite places in Portland (Hotlips Pizza, when she ate gluten; ¿Por Qué No? for tacos, always), and then again as she asks for recommendations during her short stay in Vancouver, immediately jotting down some restaurant names in her phone. She hopes her new book will act as a gateway into vegetarian cooking, showing people it can be as tasty as it is healthy. “I would love for people to feel empowered to try plant-based eating,” Shultz explains. “I’m not trying to push veganism on people—I just think we can all eat less meat and less animal products.” And then she finishes her tea and is off to find brunch.

RECIPE: Cherry Chia Lassi Pops (excerpted from Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking)

I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if I froze a cherry lassi. The results were delicious! These creamy, cherry-filled pops make the perfect summer dessert, and are a great recipe to prepare with kids! Yields ~10 Lassi Pops.

Ingredients

12 ounces (340g) vegan vanilla or cherry-flavoured yogurt

1⁄2 cup (118ml) light coconut milk or plain unsweetened almond milk

2⁄3 cup (~93g) pitted sweet red cherries, chopped (fresh or frozen), divided

1 tbsp (12g) chia seeds

Optional: 1-2 tbsp (15-30ml) maple syrup or coconut sugar

Method

Add yogurt, coconut milk, maple syrup or coconut sugar (optional), and half the cherries to blender. Purée until creamy and smooth.

Add remaining cherries and chia seeds. Pulse to just combine—there should be some chunky pieces remaining.

Pour into Popsicle molds. Recipe should yield eight large pops or 12 to 14 small pops, depending on size of molds.

Freeze until firm, at least four to six hours, and enjoy! Best within five to seven days.

Photos: Copyright © 2015 The Minimalist Baker, LLC. Published by Viking Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Limited, a Penguin Random House Company. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.


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August 7, 2016