Carolyn Scott-Hamilton is the creator of HealthyVoyager.com, a website promoting healthy and green living and travel. A nutritionist, chef, author, film making, screen writing, travelling, singing, dancing, fun-loving vegan of more than 10 years, Carolyn holds a master’s degree in holistic nutrition, and has attended culinary arts school.
At roughly what age did you become vegetarian?
I went vegan at 22
What made you become vegetarian?
I read a book called Fit for Life and it struck a chord. It wasn’t necessarily about veganism but actually about food combining and overall health. I immediately went vegan because I felt that it was the best path to a healthy life!
What is your favourite vegetarian meal?
That’s a tough question! I love a big bowl of quinoa, black beans, greens, avocado and a creamy garlic dressing but then I do love a good slice of vegan pizza! Yum!
Which is the best vegetarian restaurant you have been to?
Oooh, also another tough question. 😉 There are so many fabulous places but one that stands out in my mind is Sutra in Seattle. They are a small, intimate restaurant that only takes reservations for 1 dinner seating a night. The menu changes every 2 weeks, never to be repeated again. It is 100% vegan, local, organic and gourmet. Fresh from the garden in the back yard of the restaurant, you are treated to a special 5 course meal with wine or beverage pairing that will knock your socks off. It is a beautiful dining experience that really showcases the beauty of food and pays tribute to where it comes from.
Where is the most vegetarian-friendly place?
I think Portland, Oregon takes the crown on that although Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles aren’t far behind.
What has been your worst experience as a vegetarian?
Early on in my veg journey, I would say that the food options were just not good. Cookies tasted like cardboard and the vegan cheeses were awful, haha! Restaurant menus were difficult to navigate so dining out was a mission. Vegan food has come such a long way and I’m so grateful!
Can you recommend any good vegetarian resources (cookbooks/guides/websites/etc.)?
Well of course HealthyVoyager.com since we are a one-stop-shop for all things healthy and green living and travel. 😉 HappyCow.com is great for veggie travellers as well as SelectWisely translation cards that can help you order your veggie meal in any language. The China Study is the best book and Forks Over Knives is a fantastic film. There are so many great online as well as print or media resources for vegetarians and vegans nowadays that a google search will render thousands. No matter what you’re into in the veg world, someone has written about it!
What’s your “signature dish” (and can you give us the recipe)?
My quick recipe that goes over super well with non-veggies is my baked gnocchi! It’s hearty and tasty so no one ever misses the meat! The recipe is below.
Baked Gnocchi with Spinach (Potato dumpling pasta)
You may want to make the gnocchi up to a day ahead.
Ingredients for Gnocchi (you may want to make these up to a day ahead of time)
3 pounds Russet potatoes, diced into 1 inch pieces
6 quarts water, for boiling
Ice bath of 6 cups of ice and 6 cups of water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg replacer, mixed
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
Ingredients for Sauce and Assembly
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1 ½ cups of marinara sauce
2 cups of vegan gnocchi (store bought or recipe above)
1 cup vegan meatballs, cooked (optional)
1 cup of shredded vegan mozzarella
2 tablespoons vegan butter, chilled and cut into pieces
¼ cup basil, chopped, for garnish
To make the gnocchi:
Boil the potatoes until they are soft (about 15 minutes). While still warm, peel and pass through vegetable mill, potato ricer or grate through the large holes of a grater onto a well floured cutting or pasta board. Set 6 quarts of water to boil in a large pasta pot and set up ice bath.
Make well in centre of potatoes and sprinkle all over with all of the flour and salt. Place egg replacer in centre of well and using a fork, stir into flour and potatoes. Once well incorporated, bring dough together, kneading gently until a ball is formed. Knead gently for about another 4 minutes until ball is dry to touch. You may want to work with floured hands. Take about ½ cup to ¾ cup of the dough and scoop it onto the board. Dust with flour and dust your hands generously too, before rolling it into a finger-thick roll. Cut it into little pillows (stick the knife into flour to prevent it from sticking to the dough). Then place each gnocchi on a floured board or parchment paper lined baking tray. Repeat until all the dough has been used. Continue quickly with the next step, otherwise they will get soggy and stick to the paper/board.
Drop the gnocchi into boiling water and stir once so they don’t stick to the bottom. Cook until they float, about 2 to 4 minutes, depending on size. Remove them to ice bath. Continue until all have been cooled off. Let sit several minutes in bath and drain. Toss with ½ cup olive oil and store covered in refrigerator up to 48 hours until ready to serve.
Chop your spinach and prepare or heat your sauce. Once the sauce is done, take it off the heat and toss in your spinach and meatballs (optional).
Cook your gnocchi (takes about 4 minutes unless you have made your own already), drain and add it to the sauce mixture, tossing to coat the gnocchi well.
Preheat your oven to 350 ºF (180 ºC/Gas mark 4). Add the gnocchi/sauce mixture to a glass or ceramic casserole dish. Top with cheese and butter pieces and bake for about 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Serve and garnish with chopped basil.
Yields 8 servings