Be the change you wish to see in the world...

- Gandhi

Friday, March 21, 2014

Meet Julie Hasson of Julie's Original Baking Mixes

VeegMama interview with Julie Hasson
Photo via

I wouldn't necessarily call myself a baker.  I love to cook and consider myself skilled in that area, but baking has always intimidated me.  Becoming vegan made baking a necessity, and luckily, after 4 years, I do okay in that area now.  Still, sometimes I long for the days when I could just buy a mix or boxed recipe and whip up a batch of brownies or a layer cake without all the fuss of making something from scratch. Now I can - with Julie's Original baking mixes!

Julie is the cousin of a very good friend.  We were introduced when I first launched VeegMama because she is a big time vegan roller!  With several vegan cookbooks under her belt (and more in the making), a restaurant in Portland, and now her new line of mixes, this lady is on fire!  I follow her on Facebook and Twitter, and her joy and delight in what she does shines through brilliantly.  I am so very excited to have her on the blog today!

VM: Tell us about Julie's Original mixes.  Where can we buy them?

JH: Right now you can buy them in stores in Portland and San Francisco, or on our website ( We hope to have them available everywhere in the near future.

VM: You are also a cookbook author.  Tell us about your latest pizza cookbook, Vegan Pizza, and Vegan Casseroles coming this fall?

JH: I love creating modern, new versions of everyone’s favorite comfort food dishes, which shows how delicious and fun vegan food can be. Vegan Pizza is full of out-of-the-box pizza recipes like Chili Mac, Barbeque and Eggplant Parm, to fresh vegetable-laden pizzas like Sweet Potato and Kale, Corn, Zucchini, and tomato and Smoky Mushroom and Potato Pizza. It also has easy-peasy homemade crusts, creamy sauces, and homemade wheat-less and meatless sausage crumbles.

As for the casserole book, I’ve always been a huge casserole fan and really wanted to write a book with more modern, healthier takes on the old favorites. So instead of relying on canned soups, frozen vegetables, and pounds of cheese, my casseroles have everything from homemade creamy sauces to whole grains and pastas, with lots of fresh vegetables. These are definitely not your grandmother’s potluck standbys!

VM: A lot of people go gluten free out of necessity, like you, because they are intolerant.  What made you make the choice to go vegan too?

JH: I was actually vegan long before I went gluten-free. I went vegan for ethical reasons, but loved how creative I had to get with my cooking, trying to replicate all of my favorite dishes without using meat, eggs and dairy. It was really hard at the time to transition my career, since the cookbooks and magazine recipes that I wrote and developed contained eggs and dairy. But it was the right thing to do, and I was able to slowly transition my work in a new direction. My pie cookbook was the turning point for me, and after that I knew that I only wanted to write vegan cookbooks.

VM: Do you see any trends in vegan and gluten free baking and cooking right now?

JH: Kale, cauliflower, coconut, and Sriracha, are definitely big trends right now, although not necessarily in your baked goods. For desserts, coconut, caramel and sea salt are still very popular flavors, and look like they will be around for a long time to come.

VM: What are your favorite favorite flavor combos when baking?

JH: I am a lemon fanatic, so anything with a sweet, tart citrus flavor is tops in my book. Combine it with berries, and it’s hard to beat. I also love fruit and chocolate together, so anything with raspberries, orange or lemon along with some good dark chocolate, and you’ve got a wining combination!

VM: What's the one vegan product you couldn't live without?  What about the one gluten-free product?  
JH: Nutritional yeast flakes. 

VM: What about the one gluten-free product? 

JH: For staple ingredients, it would be sorghum flour. It’s a nutritional power-house, and in combination with other flours makes a great stand-in for wheat flour.

VM: You are based in Portland, one of the cities on my "Most Want To Visit" list.  What's the vegan scene like there?  What restaurants do I have to try when I visit (besides your Native Bowl, of course!)?
JH: The vegan scene in Portland is awesome! It was a big part of why we moved here. The city is super vegan-friendly, and there are lots of fantastic vegan businesses, like Food Fight Grocery, Herbivore Clothing, Home Grown Smoker, Back To Eden Bakery, and so many more. There is a real entrepreneurial spirit that runs through Portland. As for the vegan restaurants that you must try, just off the top of my head there’s Portobello, Blossoming Lotus, Papa G’s Organic Deli, The Bye and Bye, and my favorite food carts like Homegrown Smoker, and of course our old cart, Native Bowl (which has awesome new owners).

VM: Do you have a recipe you can share?
JH: I do! It’s a super-easy and delicious ice cream recipe.

Creamy Pineapple Coconut Ice Cream
Makes about 1 1/4 quarts

1 20-oz can unsweetened pineapple chunks in pineapple juice, undrained
14 oz can lite coconut milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons rum, optional

1. In jar of blender, combine pineapple (and juice), coconut milk, sugar and rum (if using). Blend until smooth.
2. Pour mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.
3. Serve right away, or transfer to a covered container and freeze until ready to serve.

VM: I am on a quest to live the "good" life in every meaning of the word.  What does the "good" life mean to you?
JH: “The Good Life” to me means living a happy, vibrant life, doing what you love to do, and sharing it with others.

VM: Can you share your favorite quote?
JH: “Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen”

Thanks, Julie!  Read more about her below and click here to learn more about her cookbooks.

Julie Hasson, cookbook author and founder of Julie's Originals baking mixes
From her first Easy Bake Oven, Julie Hasson has been cooking whole life. She is the author of 9 cookbooks, including Vegan Diner, Vegan Pizza and the soon to be released Vegan Casseroles. She has contributed extensive articles and recipes to Bon Appetit, Cooking Light, Vegetarian Times, and Family Fun magazines, and has been featured in magazines, newspapers, and on TV and radio across the country, including The Cooking Channel, Good Food America, Better, Better Portland, AM Northwest, Good Day Oregon, Martha Stewart Radio, VegNews Magazine, Vegetarian Times, and many more. Julie was one of the former founders and co-owner of Native Bowl, a popular food truck in Portland, Oregon, and currently runs Julie’s Original, a line of deliciously gluten-free baking mixes.