The Plan to Eat Podcast

#52: Interview with Cookbook Author, Lei Shishak, on Plant-Based Eating

March 15, 2023 Plan to Eat Season 1 Episode 52
The Plan to Eat Podcast
#52: Interview with Cookbook Author, Lei Shishak, on Plant-Based Eating
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we are joined by chef and author, Lei Shishak! Lei trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York and holds a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies. She is a five-time cookbook author with her most recent cookbook being Plant-Based Eating for Two.

We talk with Lei about her transition from the New York finance world to culinary school, to owning her own bakery, to becoming an author.  She also shares some of her tips for starting a plant-based diet and tips when cooking for two. We hope you enjoy!

Find the Plant-Based Eating for Two Cookbook on Amazon
Connect with Lei online:
Instagram: @leishishak

Find Lei's Boneless Broth recipe:

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I'm Riley and I'm Roni. And this is the plan to eat podcast, where we have conversations about meal planning, food, and wellness. To help you answer the question what's for dinner. 

Roni: Hello and welcome to another episode of The Plan to Eat Podcast. Today we have an interview with Lei Shishak. She is a cookbook author. She's also a chef. She has owned a bakery. Uh, overall she has a very interesting life and story, and we loved getting to chat with her today.

Riley: Today we talked to her about her newest cookbook, which is called Easy Plant-Based Cooking for two. It's 80 delicious meat-free recipes for pairs, from morning beverages to baked goods, breakfast to lunch, midday snacks to side dishes, dinner to dessert. It's a must-have for plant forward enthusiasts, plant-based dieters, vegans, vegan, curious, and anyone in between. Uh, we loved our conversation with her today. We got to know her a little bit better, uh, [00:01:00] hear more about her background, and all about how the cookbook came together. 

Roni: Hi, Le

Lei: Hey, how are you?

Roni: good. How are



Lei: I'm well, thank you.

Riley: Uh, Why don't we jump in and you just tell us a little bit about yourself and then, um, I've got some questions.

Lei: Sure. So my name is Lei Shishak. I'm a chef and cookbook author, and I've just released my fifth cookbook, which is Easy Plant-Based Cooking for two 80 delicious vegan recipes to share together.

Riley: And that's mostly why we're here to talk today, is to talk about your new book, which is really exciting. So when I was reading your bio, do you own a bake shop? Do you still own the bake shop in San Clemente?

Lei: So I no longer own it. I owned it. I founded it in 2010. Um, I ran it for 10 years and I sold it in March of 2020. Ironically was when the pandemic started, but also when my. 10 year lease happened to end. So it kind of worked out [00:02:00] really well for me, uh, with the timing and, and fortunately it gave me the time to, you know, as we'll discuss, I changed my diet, I learned more about plant-based eating and it led to this cookbook.

Riley: Oh, okay. Wow. That's, uh, really interesting, like, timeline, well, really interesting timeline considering March, 2020 is when you

Roni: Yeah.

Riley: Um, but also really interesting that just like all these transitions kind of happened, uh, in this row and it led to the cookbook that we're here to talk about.

Lei: It did. Yeah, it worked out really nicely. You know, at first when the pandemic hit and I sold my bakery, I was kind of like sitting at home like, what just happened and, and what am I gonna do next? And I really decided to, You know, focus on my health. And, um, you know, long story short, I had had some surgery two years prior to that.

I wasn't healing very well. I was dealing with a lot of inf inflammation and tendonitis in my arms. Um, from working as a chef for decades and I didn't wanna get on drugs and medication, I [00:03:00] wanted to do this naturally. And I thought that starting a plant-based diet was, was the way to go.

Riley: Have you seen tremendous benefit?

Lei: Oh, totally. I, I could barely lift. I mean, just everyday things like a bottle of mouthwash, I could, I could barely lift that up. Um, and, and now I've, I've got very, very minimal pain. You know, if I'm cooking a lot, like, say over Thanksgiving, I did a lot of cooking, I do start to feel, some aches and pains, especially in my joints. But, um, on a daily basis, I'm doing so much.

Riley: Oh, that's incredible.

Roni: that is incredible. Okay, so before we dive into the cookbook, I want to hear a little bit about your story of becoming a chef. What was your inspiration for becoming a chef?

Lei: Sure. Well, I had always cooked and baked with my parents. I definitely have fond memories of that. They both, uh, grew up in India and they came over to America and. You know, my brother and I were born here in this country, but you know, they weren't really familiar with this eating out concept. [00:04:00] So we pretty much had every meal, um, at home and we always sat down as a family and we ate.

And, and so I was very comfortable in the kitchen. I loved just hanging out there with, with my parents. Um, but I never thought of as, of it as a career. And, um, obviously my parents never thought of it as a career for their child as well, But one thing led to another, you know, I was working in finance in New York City and um, a bakery opened up near my apartment and I would start going there and I got to know the owner and she said she was looking for a cake decorator and she knew that I loved to decorate cakes, you know, with, with my mom when I was younger.

So, um, I went in for a trial and I somehow got the weekend job. And so I just started doing that on weekends and they started giving me more shifts and more responsibilities. And I just fell in love with it. And, you know, fast forward three, four years later, I was really getting really bored at my finance job, , and decided it was time to, to go to [00:05:00] culinary school.

So that's, that's when I took the leap into culinary school. That was a two year program. And then I, um, moved out to LA and just kind of worked my way up, you know, the restaurant ladder, working in pastry kitchens, eventually heading up pastry kitchens, and then eventually going out on my own and opening up my own baker.

Roni: Wow. I, I feel like it shows how much of a, a passion it is is for you that you were willing to take a a weekend job when you were working in the New York finance space.

Lei: Yeah, that's how desperate I was for something creative. I think that's what it was. You know, just sitting at a desk, you know, putting together financial presentations for wealthy people. It just, it wasn't really satisfying enough for me. So to be on my feet and actually to create and work with colors and, and, you know, cakes and, and themes and all that stuff, it was much more satisfying.

Riley: I can't even imagine how good at cake [00:06:00] decorating you had to have been for them to just say, yeah, you're hired Um, because I know that if my, if my, like if I tried to. If I tried to, I'm just chuckling because if I went to a bakery, um, to do a test run, they would say thanks, but no thanks. You can be our ta, you can be our taste tester, but not our cake decorator. Yeah, that, that is amazing to me. And so you must have been so good at it then. Just that natural, you're just naturally so good at it. I mean, obviously you had a ton of experience growing up in the kitchen with your family and, and decorating cakes at that time, but, I don't know. Like to me, I just must have been so good at it.

Lei: I don't know. You know, I'm sure if I look back at the cakes I was making there, you know, I'd be like, oh my gosh, that's not really that good. But , I guess it was good enough for them.

Riley: Well, I mean, the fact that you did that as a side job for four or five years, you said? Four years,

Lei: Yeah, three or four years I did

Riley: okay. Yeah. That, um, that's a long side [00:07:00] hustle to then finally leave your day job to go do that full-time. That's a, it's also a big, pretty big transition, you know, finance to baking. It's pretty, it's pretty big transition.

Lei: Yeah, it was, you know, but, but you know, I, I took that time because I actually had to start saving money. I kind of knew in the back of my head, I think I might want to wanna go to culinary school. So I really started saving money, um, so I could pay for, for my education.

Riley: Mm-hmm.

Roni: So then through all of that process, what inspired you to then become an author for cookbook?

Lei: So that came about when I. Kind of three, four years into working and owning my bakery, a lot of my customers had started asking about my recipes and if they could have them. And, and, um, I really wanted to share, share them with not just my customers, but with everyone. I thought, I thought it might be something that would be welcomed by many people.

So that's when I started putting together a book proposal and, um, sending it out to different agents [00:08:00] and. Really fortunate. I think I sent about 50 letters to different agents and I think I got one response. And, but that's all you need, . And she was really, um, excited about the concept. She came to visit Sugar Blossom and um, we talked about what we wanted the book to be like.

And then she went out and found me a publisher, and I've been with the same publisher ever.

Roni: That's great. Yeah, that's, uh, I think anybody out there who has ever tried to go through the book writing process, whether for cookbooks or not, uh, knows that it is a struggle.

Lei: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I read about that and then I lived it. It was . You know, it was like rejection after rejection and I was like, gosh, this really is hard. And um, but thankfully I, you know, I went the agent route. Some people don't get an agent and they just go straight to the publisher, which I've heard is even harder.

You know, and then once I found an agent, she did. Most of the [00:09:00] hard work was negotiating and finding the right publisher. But um, the first book was Beach House Baking, which was all the recipes from Sugar Blossom published into one book. And, um, from there we kinda did a whole theme of beach house cookbooks.

We did, beach house baking, beach house brunch and beach house dinners. And then I also did, um, a separate dessert cookbook called Farm to Table Desserts. And then, um, I've got this one now, which is plant-based cooking for two.

Riley: Oh, that's incredible.

Roni: So then tell us a little bit more about what inspired you to start this plant-based eating style. Was it just that you were having some of these physical ailments or were there, I guess, what was the, the thing that prompted you to go this route in your eating rather than a different way?

Lei: Yeah, my medical ailments definitely prompted me to make a change, uh, in what I was eating and what I was putting into my body, and not just me, my husband too. Um, at the time he had really high blood pressure and um, his cholesterol was high [00:10:00] as well, so we just figured this is the perfect time to. To change what we're eating and trying to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into our diet.

So it started with me just doing a lot of research online, a lot of reading, and then I eventually found my my way to nutrition, which is. The T collin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, and they offer a plant-based certificate, which I jumped on. I was like, this is exactly what I need, and then I have time to do this and study this.

So, um, I did that and then I, I, got on the plant-based bandwagon and just started, uh, You know, cooking up more plants and fruits and vegetables into our diet. And, um, at around the same time, my agent kind of popped back into my life and was like, have you thought about what your next cookbook will will be?

And I told her about what I was, was cooking at that time. And eventually, you know, there's some back and forth emails with my editor and we, we came and narrowed [00:11:00] down the subject and, and it, it turned into this cook.

Riley: What a wild, uh, stream of events that led to this cookbook. I just, you know, let's just look back. You sold your business. In March of 2020, and then you were at home, so you had time to do this other thing, and then your agent pops into your life and then oh, you're like, oh, I have this other thing I'm doing.

And it just, it all, it's so neat. and I'm thinking about your husband and what a benefit it is to him that you are a chef um, and that you, you know, you can kind of guide this, uh, thing that you guys are doing together. Was it a hard transit? I'm not sure. I'm not sure what your eating style was like before, but I'm curious just how the transition was.

Lei: Yeah, we were definitely, uh, both meat eaters and, and we still are, I'm probably 75% plants. He's probably more like 50% plants I'd say. He is a dude after all, and , you know, they need their steaks, but, um, but he was willing to go on this journey with me, which was, was really, really nice [00:12:00] and, and, um, made everything so much, so much easier. 

Um, and you know, there's definitely certain tips for people who are wanting to, to incorporate more plants into their diet that I put into the book, and I can certainly talk about them. I think the, the best tip for me was to start viewing meat as a side dish I'd.

Viewed it as the main entree. And, um, just that kind of mental switch really helped me, um, make that first step into this plant-based eating realm. And after that, um, just meatless Mondays, I know it's, it's. You know, pretty popular and it's, it's an easy and fun thing to do. But, um, you have all week to plan out what you're going to eat on Monday, and you can make it fun if you, if you do it on Tuesdays, you can make it Taco Tuesdays it, you know, tacos are really easy to make plant-based and they're really delicious.

So, um, start off slowly would probably be, You know, one of my [00:13:00] tips too, there's no reason why you have to go, you know, cold Turkey and just, you know, sh shoe meat, you know, all, all meat dishes. Um, and then if you have the budget, and I know not everyone does, but there's a lot of, um, great plant-based meal delivery services, um, where, you know, all the food is already prepped out for you and the recipe's right there in front of you and, and, you know, it takes like 10 to 15 minutes to prepare a dish and, and it, it'll make the transition stress.

Riley: That's a great tip. All those are great tips. Uh, the thing I found really, um, great about your cookbook is you talk about in the beginning, some of the, like the, almost like the negatives around this type of eating and how to combat them. Um, particularly the one thing I was looking at was about protein and then you listed out all your favorite plant-based protein sources.

I, if that's any indication for people of how the rest of the book goes, I, I feel like it's so helpful because it's just really tangible. Really tangible tips and amazing recipes that can kind of help you [00:14:00] make that transition. So your book in and of itself sounds like a really great resource for that.

Lei: Thank you. Yeah, I put a lot of time into the first kind of sections of the book. Um, not just the introduction, but then the other, you know, chapters that follow that really kind of delve deep into plant-based eating. And, um, talking about the, like you said, the different proteins that, that are available.

You know, tips for eating, what kind of vegetables to focus on. And, and there's. , um, an FAQ section that talks about all the, all those common questions that people are probably wondering and like, will I get enough protein? And you know, like, what if, what if my vegetables start going bad? Am I gonna start wasting a lot of lot of money?

Is this really budget friendly? Or, you know, how about batch cooking? So, so I, I really hope that it's, it's a great resource not only for recipes, but for a lot of useful inform.

Roni: I like that you include all those tips in there because. I'm sure when [00:15:00] you made this transition, you probably had a lot of those questions yourself too. So being able to empathize with the people who are , you know, getting your book and reading it, that's really helpful.

Lei: Yeah, when, when I started this book, I was definitely a beginner. So I, you know, I hope that comes across and I hope that makes this book super approachable for others who are starting, um, plant-based eating.

Roni: Yeah, so the other part of the book, aside from it being plant-based eating, it's plant-based, eating four two. So do you have any tips on like cooking, preparing food for, you know, a smaller amount of people,

Lei: Yeah, well definitely my first tip that comes to mind is buy my book cuz the recipes are already pre-portioned for two . But I know, but that's okay if you don't. Um, if, if you wanna cook for two, definitely, you know, um, buy. By only what you need. I always tell people, you know, everything you purchase at the grocery store should have a purpose.

You should know exactly what you're gonna do with it. Otherwise, you're just gonna end [00:16:00] up with so much excess food in your pantry and in your fridge, and it's gonna go bad, or you're just gonna forget about it. It's gonna get pushed to the back of your pantry and you're never gonna use it. Definitely you could stick to, um, fresh produce that maybe has a longer shelf life.

So, you know, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, sweet potatoes are great too. They last a really long time. Um, so I kind of focus on, um, buying those specific items. I would say also, um, you know, use your. Vegetable drawers in your fridge. A lot of people don't use them properly. You know, most of them have like a high humidity level and a low humidity level.

So you wanna put, like fruits in your, uh, low humidity drawer, like anything that's gonna rot quickly. You wanna get in low humidity. If it's gonna be things that wilt like greens, um, you wanna get it in a high humidity drawer. So those things will help, um, preserve your, your fresh produce longer.

Riley: and, and that ultimately helps you [00:17:00] reduce food waste even more because you're properly storing it and you're buying what you need. Um, we're big fans of reducing food waste around here, so that's another really great, that's great tips.

Lei: Yeah, absolutely. Cuz you know most people, if you buy a head of cauliflower and there's only two of you, you're probably only gonna. Half the head of cauliflower and then you wanna store it, store the rest properly. So, um, you don't have to have cauliflower the next day. You can, you know, wait a few days and have it have it in a few days later.

Riley: Cabbage is the one that my house that I always buy you. S there's a lot of cabbage in one head of cabbage Um, you start chopping that thing up and you got cabbage for an army Um, yeah, I, yeah. Cauliflower, cabbage, either one. It's, I feel like those are things that you have to figure out what you're gonna do with them and plan for it.

Otherwise, uh, it gets, it's gone.

Lei: Yep.

Riley: So you built this for two, so you built this for you and your husband. Um, I feel like it's pretty rare to come across a cookbook that's designed for just two people. [00:18:00] Uh, and that is, I feel like it should be more popular than it is, but that is a, that's a huge benefit to this cookbook because it's so easy for me.

I have, uh, me, I'm cook for meat and my husband and a two year old daughter. And, Man, like she doesn't need enough to really count as a whole portion. Um, but man, there are times when I make a recipe and if I overlook the serving size, we have something for way too many days. But I, I really love that you built this around two people.

Um, And that's another way this to cookbook becomes really tangible for somebody transitioning into this way of eating. Because even if they're just cooking for one, then that's, they just, they double dipped by making the whole thing and they can have it for a leftover or something like that. Uh, I think it's, I think it's incredible that it's just for two people.

Lei: Yeah, thank you. I, I remember when I, I mean, looking back at it now, I can't remember if it was my editor who maybe pitched the cooking for Two Angle. Um, but I remember doing some research about it, and I had discovered that. It was something like [00:19:00] 67% of US households are two or less. And I remember being so shocked by that because I thought everyone had a household of four except for me,

But, but it wasn't, it wasn't true. So I was like, wow. So more than 50% are two or one. I didn't realize that. And then, um, this book, you. Is great for larger households too because, you know, it's, it's very likely that even if you're in a household of three or more that you, or you know, maybe one other person might be the only ones in the house who maybe wanna try going plant-based and the others may not want to.

So this is perfect for larger households too, and also all the recipes. Pretty straightforward in terms of measurements. You know, like half cup this one, cup this. So if you wanna double the recipes to serve four, it can easily be done.

Riley: That's great. That is a statistic I did not expect to hear either. I, [00:20:00] 67% is pretty dramatic. I'm surprised that more cookbooks aren't designed this way because of the, that's a, you know, that's weighted more on one side than the other of percentages of people who are in the, you know, two or less.

And so, um, I'm surprised more cookbooks aren't designed this way because that's much more tangible for people.

Lei: it's true. Yeah. I wonder what started that. Four to six surveys for a recipe trend.

Riley: Everybody's got friends over for dinner every night. I don't know, it might, it might come from the, uh, is it two chil, 2.5 children is the average or something? Maybe that's where that came from, is it's just this like, oh, two parents and 2.5 children equals four to six servings.

Lei: Yeah, it may. Yeah. Or even years ago when, you know, like entertaining at home was, was so popular, you know, that like maybe that's, that's why the larger portions were, were made. I don't know.

Roni: Well, I'm curious, uh, what was your favorite part about [00:21:00] creating this cookbook?

Lei: My favorite part, gosh, I love every aspect of writing a cookbook, honestly. Um, but I, oh gosh, that's a really great question, , and a really tough question, , because I really do love all aspects of it. Um, I can talk about what my least favorite part is, which is probably. Um, photographing, I'm thrilled with the photographs in the book.

You know, I took all the food photo photographs, but, you know, it's a, it's a challenge for me, you know, to get the right lighting and the rest right setup and the right props. Um, I probably take about, 100 to 150 shots of one dish, and then I just narrow it down to about four or five, which I submit with my final, um, manuscript.

And then the publisher chooses the final one for the cookbook. So it's, it, you know, in terms of stress level, I get probably most stressed out about the photographs, just wanting to make them look appetizing and beautiful and enticing. [00:22:00] So, yeah, I know you asked my favorite, but I, I, I think it's just easier if I say what my least favorite is, and then everything else is my favorite.

Roni: Yeah.

Riley: That's awesome. You're so seasoned at this point with cookbooks, so if you love it all and you just don't like that part, I mean, that's pretty amazing. Yeah.

Lei: Right.

I did hire a professional photographer. Photographer for my first two cookbooks, I believe. And, um, and having a professional photographer is, is amazing. But I, that was also stressful too because if, um, you know, the photographer didn't live that close to me.

So what I would have to do is, you know, plan out. Maybe 10 dishes in advance, make them all and then have one long photo shoot in one day, or, um, I would, I remember one time I made like 10 dishes and then drove it all the way to the photographer's house and then, you know, over the course of. You know, the next few days she took the photographs, but then you're always stressed, like, oh, does it still look fresh?

And I'm not there to like, make sure it looks [00:23:00] like perfect. So that's why I, you know, basically decided like, I really gotta learn how to take some photographs. And that's why, um, with this one I did take all the photographs.

Riley: Impressive cuz food photography, I feel like is probably one of the most challenging, um, photography aspects there are out there. Just because of all the reasons you just said. Does it look appetizing? Does it still look fresh? Does it and just enticing people to wanna cook it and eat it? All of those different things.

And lighting, all the aspects of food photography is pretty challenging.

Lei: Yeah. Yeah. I admire food photographers very much.

Roni: Well, you had kind of answered my next question, but that was how do you even go about the process of photographing your, the recipes for the cookbook? Um, you know, I don't know if there are res, if there's a photo for all 80 recipes in the cookbook, but. Even if there's rest, even if there's photos for half of the recipes, like how do you go through the process of cooking each recipe and then getting photos of it in a reasonable amount of time?[00:24:00] 

Lei: Yes. Yeah, I know. It seems like such a big task and And it is, and and yes, to answer your question, there are. 80 photographs, the one of each dish. And, um, the way I go about it is it usually takes me, you know, a few tries to, to nail down a recipe. So I don't worry about photographing the food the first few times.

Um, my main focus is to get the recipe correct, um, make sure it's written properly, and then it's usually on my final. Kind of run through the recipe. That's when I really plate it up nicely and I really focus on, on getting a good photograph.

Roni: So it just happens over the, over the months of , the creation process.

Lei: It does, and some are faster than others.

Riley: And it seems, you know, you have a beverages section in your book too, which I feel like allows you to kind of double dip. You know, you can do like this one for dinner, but you can have a, you know, the beverage in the mid-afternoon or whatever, um, you might wanna do. So it helps you at least, you know, [00:25:00] you're not doing.

you're not doing 10 recipes a day. In some cases, you're, you can kind of spread it out and have a bit of a more normal schedule.

Lei: Yes,

Riley: we're gonna make this, photograph it and then eat it for dinner

Lei: Yeah,

Riley: whatever.

Lei: Yes, that's very true. It's not that I'm like, like actually, uh, when I wrote beach house dinners, that's all strictly dinner recipes. So that was, you know, that was very challenging because it's like making a full dinner. You know, I, I wouldn't, who, who wants to cook two dinners in one day?

Like, I don't wanna do that. So like, I definitely have to, had to spread it. You know, and not do multiple dishes in one day, but definitely with this book, you know, that's a really good point. There were mornings where I woke up and I was like, oh, let me work on one of the beverage recipes. And then in the afternoon I worked on one of the entree recipes.

Roni: Do you have a favorite, um, recipe in the cookbook, or if not a favorite recipe, but maybe a favorite section of recipes? Because I know a single favorite recipe can be a really hard choice to. Like. make.

Lei: Yeah, I, I definitely have a [00:26:00] few favorite ones. Um, I probably eat. The Thai chopped salad the most, just because I love the bright tangy flavors that are in that salad. Um, it's a lot of fresh herbs and fresh vegetables, and I love the dressing. It's really fiery and spicy. Um, but I also love the roasted cauliflower steak recipe primarily because it uses one whole head of cauliflower for two.

And so there's absolutely no leftover cauliflower left in the fridge. Um, you used half of. For steaks and the other half, you, um, puree it into a cauliflower puree. You serve the steaks on top with a kale pesto and some, um, wood len lentils, and it's extremely flavorful and, um, comes together really quickly.

And then as far as favorite section, Hmm, I mean, I'm a. Pastry chef by training. So probably the dessert section. Um, I'm really happy with and I really love all the desserts, [00:27:00] um, you know, plant-based or otherwise. I think those desserts are fantastic and I, and I really don't think anyone would, would think that they're vegan.

Riley: Okay. So I have multiple questions here, but the first is about the pastry section because that's where you just, uh, stopped. But do you have a unique take on pastries in some way? Like, um, What, I guess, what's your thing when it comes to pastries that is, it kind of like runs, maybe runs through all the recipes or it's just your favorite thing to make with pastries?

I'm, I'm feeling like this goes back to your first cookbook of everybody asking for these recipes and it makes me feel like there's something underlying with you in particular that's really special and I'm wondering if you know what that is. guess you may not know. It

Lei: about me

Riley: it just, it may, it may just be something that your de your desserts are just so delicious cuz you're so good at what you do.

But just curious if there's a flavor that runs through things that's really [00:28:00] unique or something like that.

Lei: Well, I think what comes to mind is actually my cookbook, um, farm a table desserts, which is a seasonal cookbook. So all the recipes, all the chapters are winter, spring, summer, fall, basically, and it, and it focuses on what's in season and, and baking desserts with, with fresh fruits and vegetables. So, Personally how I love to bake and I like to not, um, manipulate and cook the fruits and vegetables, um, too much.

So I try to keep them as fresh as possible in all of my desserts. And, you know, I'm thinking of. in this cookbook, the strawberry marzipan Gillette is probably, you know, a perfect example where you're just taking, you know, fresh strawberries, tossing them with a little sugar flour and some lemon and some maple syrup, syrup.

And, um, it's baked really quickly on a buttery, dough. And so the flavors of strawberry are kept very fresh, minimally [00:29:00] cooked, and, and, you know, bright red, they don't lose their color either. So, That's, that's probably the theme that runs in some of my favorite desserts. And, you know, it definitely, was demonstrated in Farm to Table desserts, cookbook.

Riley: Awesome. I mean, that sounds incredible and it also does sound special because preserving fruits and recipes can be hard to, in desserts in particular can be hard to do. Uh, and I think that that freshness about them, um, You can lose that, and I think that's something that I really like about Fruity Desserts is just that the way the freshness of the fruits taste, so.

Lei: Right, right. Yeah. You don't wanna lose that, especially when you start combining them with other, you know, sweet flavors. Sometimes that flavor of the fruit can get lost, and so I really try my best to retain that.

Riley: that's great. So are you inspired by certain flavors or cultures in the other recipes in the book? Um, you mentioned the Thai salad. You know, you talked about a little bit about your heritage. I'm not sure if those flavors kind of come through too.[00:30:00] 

Lei: Yeah, I, I didn't try to go too crazy. I, I cook more Indian type dishes at home a lot. I didn't wanna get like too crazy with this cookbook, but there's definitely. Like the Indian style potatoes in this cookbook. Um, I grew up eating, there's a potato and pea curry as well. Um, but just in general, I mean, I love cooking with spices, uh, and I think when you're cooking with plants, they sometimes they need it.

And also, you know, they're just so delicious when you add different spices and, and seasonings from your pantry. So, um, I, I pretty much use a wide range of spices and seasonings in the book 

Riley: Is there anything else that you'd like to share about your cookbook With our audience.

Lei: Well, you kind of touched upon it earlier, um, but I just wanna say that there's a pretty wide range of, um, recipes. There's chapters ranging from beverages. To snacks, to desserts, to entrees, to side dishes. So my hope is that you'll find, um, a good range of dishes that [00:31:00] you can enjoy all, all day long.

Riley: That is wonderful. Um, well, we're excited to get that cookbook into people's hands hopefully soon. where can people connect with you and buy this cookbook?

Lei: So they can purchase a cookbook. I mean, pretty much anywhere they buy, uh, books, but it's definitely easily accessible on Amazon as well as, uh, has it as well. And then as far as where people can connect with me, Instagram is probably the easiest. Um, my handle is my name at Lei Shishak. They can also check out my website,, and my email is on there if they have any questions or.

Roni: That's great. So we do like to end our podcast talking about one last recipe. Um, do you have a recipe that you have either made or eaten recently that you just loved and would like to share with our audience?

Lei: do you want it to be from the cookbook or not necessarily

Roni: Whatever you would like.

Lei: Oh gosh. Okay. Well, I [00:32:00] recently made the boneless broth, which is in my cookbook, and um, it's obviously a plant-based version of bone broth. And I love the recipe because, I just, the aroma that fills my kitchen when I, when I let it simmer for, you know, the hour or 90 minutes that it takes.

Um, it's just fantastic. It's a, it's very, very healing. It's very nutritive. I actually love to sip it, but I also, if I have any leftover, I just use it as a vegetable broth when I'm cooking. I'll use it as a base for soups as well. And the wonderful thing about this recipe is if you don't care for some of the ingredients that I use in my broth, you can certainly substitute with some of your favorite vegetables.

Roni: That 

Riley: Awesome. Uh, well thank you so much.

Roni: yeah, thanks 

Lei: you guys for, oh my gosh. Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

Roni: All right. Bye-Bye.

Lei: Bye.

Roni: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Plan to Eat podcast. We love hearing different approaches to food, and we hope that you enjoy hearing it too.[00:33:00] 

Riley: We would love to invite you to find all the recipes mentioned on the Plan to Eat podcast, um, in our podcast account on Plan to Eat you can go to that's PT, E P O D and the variety of recipes that you've heard about and the variety of eating types that we talk about, those can all be found in that account.

Roni: Thanks again for listening.