In her debut cookbook, Maria Koutsogiannis digs deep into her past—including her Greek roots.
She’s fierce, fun and irreverent—and she’s on a mission to prove food is your friend. She also spent six years battling bulimia. Yes, Maria Koutsogiannis, the infectiously enthusiastic founder of the healthy cooking and lifestyle site FoodByMaria, was once tormented by calories. It’s an unusual revelation for the opening pages of a cookbook. But that’s exactly how Mindful Vegan Meals, her very first cookbook, begins. This book is as much about how Koutsogiannis fell in love with food again as it is about cooking food. She inherited her love of food from her Greek family, and the Greek recipe section in Mindful Vegan Meals Vegan Meals is a standout (but then, every chapter—with titles like “Add pizzazz to your food” and “Treat yourself, you deserve it”—is full of must-makes). Whether she’s writing about kicking her eating disorder’s ass or cooking with her aunties, Koutsogiannis’s warmth comes through, inviting as a kitchen with the oven turned on high and the aroma of oregano in the air. “The meals you seek from traditional Greek restaurants can be made in the pots and stove in your own home,” she writes. “Filled with dense nutrients, crispness and culture, you’ll be left satisfied and happy! Hell, maybe your household might even end up louder, more aggressive and honest—I think that’s what happened to my family?” She also understands celebrating food doesn’t always come easy—and has some proactive ideas for how to address that. “I would highly suggest that you talk to a friend or family member about creating a weekly ‘Love Food’ group! You can talk about food—not in an obsessive way—and further educate yourself about the food you eat, are afraid of or avoid due to societal norms.” After all, for Koutsogiannis, it comes down to a simple truth: “The word ‘guilt’ should never be associated with food or eating.” Dig into some of our favorite Greek recipes from Mindful Vegan Meals with nothing but joy.
Mindful Vegan Meals includes a detailed list of what Maria keeps in her pantry—ingredients like mesquite powder (tastes like caramel!), pitaya powder (pink and high in antioxidants!) and arrowroot powder (thickens sauces in lieu of cheese!), to name a few. It’s true what they say: with great powder comes great responsibility … to make tasty food.
Reprinted with permission from Mindful Vegan Meals by Maria Koutsogiannis, Page Street Publishing Co. 2018. Photo credit: Maria Koutsogiannis and Chris Amat.