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Playing with Her Food: A Chat with VEGWORLD’s Food Editor Cathy Katin-Grazzini

Cathy Katin-Grazzini is on a mission to educate others about the powerful health impacts of eating a plant-based, nutrient-rich diet while empowering them…



Cathy Katin-Grazzini is on a mission to educate others about the powerful health impacts of eating a plant-based, nutrient-rich diet while empowering them to stretch their culinary horizons in delicious, health-promoting ways. Her work as a plant-based chef, nutritional coach, and VEGWORLD’s Food Editor is a testament to that mission.

Now, Cathy can add cookbook author to her list of delicious achievements. Her new cookbook, Love the Foods That Love You Back, is overflowing with more than 90 recipes for delicious plant-based, salt-, sugar-, and oil-free dishes from around the world. From the food curious and people who enjoy cooking, to the home cooks who want to reinvigorate their repertoires and uncover the healing properties of food, Love the Foods That Love You Back was created for everyone.

We sat down with Cathy to chat about her passion for plant-based cooking, her advice for beginning cooks, and the inspiration behind Love the Foods That Love You Back.

All smiles with Love the Foods That Love You Back and Pasta alla Puttanesca

Can you share a bit about your plant-based journey with us?

Back in 2013, Giordano (my husband) barely survived a surgery that went terribly wrong for what turned out to be a blocked artery. His diagnosis: atherosclerosis, a progressive disease that we knew pills and procedures could only slow but not cure. Shaken, we searched for options and discovered Drs. Esselstyn’s and Ornish’s remarkable successes treating seriously ill heart patients using whole plant foods. We grabbed on with both hands, the results proved stunningly beneficial, and we never looked back.

Have you always had a passion for cooking, or did that passion coincide with adopting a plant-based diet?

I’ve always been food curious, but this flame was truly fanned when I lived in Italy as a young woman. There I discovered a beautiful, rich food culture – “la cucina casalinga” (home cooking) – centuries-old and founded on fresh local produce, prepared simply and beautifully. I was hooked! The kitchen is the heart of every Italian home and where everyone gathers. It’s all about the food. When we went vegan, I set out to go deeper, seeking out long-honored agrarian foodways from all over the world. Preserving the unique character and flavors of these dishes, I tweak them to be healthier and much more climate-friendly.

Early Spring Miso Soup
Spring Miso Soup – Photography by Giordano Katin-Grazzini

Describe Love the Foods that Love You Back. What can readers expect to find inside?

The culmination of years of playing with my food, with this cookbook, I wanted to coax people away from fast and processed foods and takeout and back into their kitchens, which, let’s face it, is where physical and emotional healing begins. This cookbook is for everyone who wants to eat cleaner, more ethically, and to help cool our feverish planet, cooking newbies and experienced home cooks alike. It’s for vegans who want to up their culinary game and for omnivores who want to lean more into plants. In addition to global cuisine, you’ll find lots of novel dishes with everyday vegetables used quite unconventionally. You’ll learn how to set up your pantry and useful tools to have around. With eye-popping photos for every dish, my goal is to make cooking fun and a magnet for happy times to share with others.

What does your recipe development process look like?

Many factors can prompt a new recipe, an intriguing ingredient in a shop, or some fascinating dish I hear about. I’ll research its history, native ingredients, and seasonings, then build on that. Other times, I start with what looks fabulous in the market and work a dish around that. I try to imagine what seasonings would bring out its best? What would pair well with it? I never know where such musings will take me. It’s always an adventure.

This question might be a bit unfair, but if you had to choose which of the dishes in your book is your favorite to cook?  

That’s hard. They’re like my children. I don’t have favorite recipes, but sometimes, I get a yen for comfort foods, like my Buffalo Cauliflower or Zimbabwean Huku ne Dovi. These are like old friends whom I drop in on. I also have go-to staples, like my Vegan Greek-Style Yogurt, No-Knead Sourdough Boule, and we consume huge batches of beans and greens of every variety.

Buffalo Cauliflower and Zimbabwean Huku ne Dovi – Photography by Giordano Katin-Grazzini

More and more people are shifting their diets towards plants. Is there a recipe you would recommend for those new to plant-based eating?

Start with familiar flavors that you already know, perhaps zesty Pomorola Rustica, a flavorful red sauce to serve over (whole grain) pasta, or a hearty Mushroom and Barley Soup, or Chinese Hot and Sour Soup. Or make my Silken Vegan Mayo and use it in my Tuna-ish and Eggless Salads for salad plates and sandwiches. Pick a few and add as you go.

What about a good recipe for beginning cooks?

Beginning cooks should dive into my Building Blocks chapter for an Easy-Cheesy Sauce and other simple, flavorful sauces and dressings that they can widely use over pasta and potatoes or to liven up steamed vegetables and salads. They might make an easy, wonderful lemony lentil soup like Shorabat Adas. Or how about some simple desserts like my Ganache with Berries, Crèma, or a batch of Homey Oatmeal Raisin Cookies?

What advice would you give to those new to cooking and maybe a little nervous about giving it a go?

It requires a little boldness to step out of your comfort zone, but I say, “Coraggio!” After all, what’s the worst that can possibly happen? Remember, growth happens at those tender points where we push beyond old boundaries. And you have so much to gain when you cook in this super anti-inflammatory way.

It’s like any new skill: first a little daunting, but it won’t take long before you master this new “language”, you can get more creative and discover a world full of flavor! Invite a friend to cook with you. Turn up the music. Kick off your shoes. Make it a party. We’re social animals, and it’s always more fun to share cooking adventures.

Plum Chestnut Tartlets and Brownie Bites – Photography by Giordano Katin-Grazzini

Your husband took beautiful photographs of the dishes in Love the Food that Love You Back. How special is it to share this with him?

It’s my favorite time of the day when, after finishing a new dish, I plate it, we decide how to stage and style it, and he shoots it. The process is endlessly creative as we’re always trying new setups, props, and equipment. Then we edit together. Giordano is my partner in all things, and our cooking and photography are yet another way we have fun together.

Cooking and the dishes we cook can be so personal. What is it that makes cooking special for you?

Cooking saved our lives, literally. These simple, wholesome, delicious foods that spring from the Earth hold the key. It’s the way forward for human health, for climate cooling, and to halt the die-off of pollinators and all lifeforms that share this fragile world. Traditional societies have relied mostly on plants for millennia, but the allure of fast, convenient, faux foods, cheap meat, dairy, and takeout has brought us to the very brink.

We each have agency to create the world we want to live in and to save one another. What we do individually really matters! Through my cooking, I hope to inspire all of you to retake control of your health and the future. Cooking is a life-affirming way to nurture yourself and others, and much more powerful than you think.

Love the Foods That Love You Back is available from Rizzoli New York and at your favorite online booksellers. Learn more about Cathy at and find more of her recipes in every issue of VEGWORLD Magazine.

The post Playing with Her Food: A Chat with VEGWORLD’s Food Editor Cathy Katin-Grazzini appeared first on VEGWORLD Magazine.

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