I know it may sound crazy, but there is a new cookbook out called Betty Goes Vegan.

Yes, it’s Betty Crocker, the fictitious character who was created by a major food company in the last century to make certain foods and recipes more relatable to the American female shopper.

Turns out that the authors Annie and Dan Shannon — longtime vegans living in New York — got the idea for the cookbook from the movie Julie and Julia about blogger Julie Powell’s compulsive year of cooking every recipe from Julia Child’s cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

If you didn’t see the movie or read the book, I highly recommend them.

As vegans eating only a plant-based diet (no eggs, no dairy, no animals products or refined sugar), the Shannons were always looking for new mainstream recipes. Read The Oregonian story about how the movie inspired them here.

Although I haven’t gotten the cookbook yet, I love that the authors are committed to their vegan lifestyle, yet know that most people don’t understand it. So, by creating popular everyday “Americana” recipes without meat and animal products, it makes adapting a healthier lifestyle more palatable.

When I went vegan in August 2012, I got a lot of crazy questions and comments from friends – and still get them. (Right now I am now only about 90 percent vegan, because I eat an occasional egg white and fish.)

“I need to find a restaurant that you can eat at.”
Honestly, every restaurant I’ve ever been to has salad and serves some sort of vegetable. I have never starved at a restaurant. Just pick a restaurant that has a cool venue and atmosphere.

“What can you eat?
I think hearing that a vegan is coming to your house is scary to some people. I remember the first time my fitness trainer, Ikumi, came to my house (she’s vegan). I thought she was a little eccentric, not eating meat, dairy, or any animal products. I was actually a little put off. But I didn’t understand how healthy and doable the lifestyle is. So now I tell my friends, “Don’t worry about me. Any kind of salad, veggies, nuts or fruits will work for me.” I usually grab a snack before I leave my house, so I am not hungry when I arrive for a meal.

“Do you get enough protein?
Since I don’t eat soy products (food allergy), it was difficult for me to get enough protein for my body. That’s why I added back an occasional egg white omelet or wild fish (I prefer to eat wild fish rather than farmed fish when possible. Learn more here.) But some vegans can get plenty of protein from nuts, tofu and other soy products. 

I want to thank our friend Kellee and my mom for sharing this story with me. It really does seem that choosing a plant-based diet (going vegan) is becoming more of a mainstream phenomenon!

Go veggies!

Have you ever heard of Sunchokes®? You may know them better as Jerusalem Artichokes. They are one of the HOTTEST vegetables for 2013, according to those organizations who track food trends, like The New York Times’ Julia Moskin.

They are a knobby root vegetable that looks like fresh ginger root, but are crunchy with a nutty flavor, and can be eaten raw or cooked.

Fresh Ginger Root


Jerusalem Artichokes were first discovered by my mom in 1965, as a man came walking down the Los Angeles produce market. He had this odd looking new vegetable, and no one on the produce market was interested…

Except for Frieda Caplan, of course!

My mom began selling them to her supermarket customers nationwide. Because they resemble ginger root, they were confusing to shoppers when displayed loose in produce departments, which lead to my mom’s first packaged product!

She put the Sunchokes® in a one-pound bag, stapled a recipe brochure on top, and they were an instant success. The sales of Jerusalem Artichokes increased six-fold once they were packaged! (I personally think they became easier to identify for both the consumer and the produce manager.)

But then we discovered the name was confusing. They were not from Jerusalem, and they were not related to the artichoke. We figured their French name “Girasole” was somehow converted to Jerusalem, and because their taste is reminiscent of artichoke hearts, they got their name.

Since they are actually the root of a sunflower-like plant, my mom coined the new name, Sunchoke®. She trademarked the name, and the rest is marketing history!

A few years ago, I was having dinner at Tom Colicchio’s Craft Los Angeles and noticed Sunchoke® purée on the menu. It made me nostalgic, as I have many memories of selling and eating Sunchokes®.

My most vivid memory is the hand written postcard we received from Julia Child…yes, THAT Julia Child!

The postcard read, “Dear Frieda – I just love those Jerusalem Artichokes. But is there anything you can do about the flatulence?”

Yes, the only problem with Sunchokes®…but, they are a nutritional powerhouse. Turns out Sunchokes® are a source of the carbohydrate Inulin, which is easily digested by diabetics, and is worth adding to a healthy diet.

Be on the look out! We have some exciting plans for Sunchokes® in 2013. Look for them in your local supermarket or on a restaurant menu!

Bon Appétit,


Since the early 1900s, March 8th has been observed as International Women’s Day. When I woke up this morning at a hotel in Florida and logged onto my computer, this popped up on my Google home page.

I think it’s so great that the world has chosen a special day to honor women. Of course, women in the United States have a far better situation than women in many other parts of the world, but we should ALL be honored today.

For the men reading this, you probably have female coworkers, friends and family members. I suggest you take a moment to acknowledge them. Don’t send flowers or a card; acknowledge their work, leadership and contributions as human beings.

For the women, pat yourselves on the back. Thank your mothers, aunts, bosses and coworkers who have paved the way for you and what you have access to today.

I am personally reminded of the strides women have made on a daily basis through my mother, Frieda. I think about what she did as she pioneered her way through the produce industry more than 50 years ago, when it was “a man’s world.” A day does not go by without someone telling me how inspiring my mom has been for them.

I look at my sister, who is also my business partner, and marvel at her strength as a breast cancer survivor.

I watch my daughters, Alex, who I work with every day, and Sophia, who I receive daily texts from as she plods through her freshman year in college in New York City. They are so strong and driven.

And I watch all the women I work with at Frieda’s, who I know in the produce industry and hundreds of other women I call my friends and have met in my journey of life.

And I say – “We’ve come a long way baby!”

So, today is a day to celebrate and acknowledge!

You go girl,


This week, I made my annual trek to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HLSR). For 20 days, the community of Houston encourages and promotes the breeding, raising and marketing of better livestock and farm products through charitable, educational and scientific means. Much of the money raised by the HLSR goes to educational scholarships for children in Texas. This year, they awarded more than $12 million in scholarships!

On my flight out of Houston, I started reading the February 25th edition of TIME Magazine and one headline caught my eye: “Beyond Counting Sheep.” (I thought, maybe it was an article about the rodeo!)
It was actually an article about how math has become the new bedtime reading. It highlights the “invention” by an astrophysicist (and mother of three kids under 10), Laura Overdeck, who recently launched a website called Bedtime Math.

Her premise is while most parents know that readingto their young kids each night before bedtime builds strong reading and literacy skills for when, no one had thought of a simple and proven method to build math skills in a fun and engaging way.
Because we are all painfully aware that many young people lack strong math skills and aptitude, it makes perfect sense that if we introduce math at a young age, and in a fun and palatable way, our children will grow up enjoying it.
I very much related to the article (you can read it here if you’re a TIME subscriber). Even though I did well in math as a child, I have never thought of “numbers as my friend.” My two daughters both struggled with math, but realize the importance of it in their adult life. Balancing ones’ checkbook, understanding interest rates, filing your tax return, etc. are all math skills that young adults need.
I think it gives us great hope to see that one mom’s epiphany may help us build those math skills in our next generation, helping to keep our nation at the top.
And, thinking back to the Rodeo, I wonder how many kids would benefit from participating in a counting game while touring the Rodeo grounds? How many days until a baby cow is expected to be born? How many chicken eggs were hatched this week?
Hope y’all have a chance to attend a Rodeo sometime – they are held all over the country and you will learn very interesting things about the livestock industry.