Last week, I appeared at a Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce panel on behalf of LEAP. We were there as Miami's culinary entrepreneurs, speaking to other women who have or are looking to start their own business.
There I was, soulful plant-based food writer and advocate, with Dena Marino of MC Kitchen, Feverish Ice Cream's Felecia Hatcher, Chef Adrianne Calvo, Misha's Cupcakes creator Misha Kuryla-Gomez, caterer Joy Wallace and cookbook author and radio host Linda Gassenheimer.
The event, emceed by branding goddess Michelle Villalobos, sold out, and the room was buzzing with happy, nervous energy. People sat forward in their seats or texted like their lives depended on it, ready to take on the world, ready to soak up any advice we could offer. We offered this -- you need to have a plan. Winning the lottery or appearing on "Oprah" helps position you for success, but you can't, you know, count on it. We mean business plans, financial plans, basic tools you really need to make it.
I want to succeed in my business, I want to make money, (buy my book, be my next VegTherapy client, book me on your show), but money and Facebook "Likes" aren't the only metrics. They're not the only things worth valuing. Make a business plan, get the website up and running, but align yourself with something beyond your business, too, something that matters to you so much it keeps you going when your server, numbers and spirits are down. Call it a mission statement. My mission statement -- and my mission -- is to create plant-based recipes to delight you now but also get you thinking long after a great meal about the impact of what we eat.
We need to lighten up on the planet that's already feeling our weight. For starters, there's seven billion of us, more of us than ever in the history of mankind. A good chunk of us -- a third, in fact -- are chunky. Dangerously so. We're also heavy in terms of the resources we use to produce our food. Livestock production generates sky-high amounts of greenhouse gases and consumes and pollutes oceans of precious water. It's also heavy on bad karma. Ten billion animals are killed every year in America alone just to feed our outsized appetite for meat. If we eat less meat and more plants, there'll be food enough to feed all of us and land aplenty to grow it.
Our challenge now in the food industry -- and out of it -- is realizing we don't live in a vacuum, that our actions, right down to what we eat, have an impact -- politically, environmentally, ethically, on our health and even on our business.
It's good to have a business plan. It's vital. We need a business plan for life on Earth. Right now, we don't have one. We don't even have a plan B. Get out there and show the world what you're made of, but don't forget the world, either. The fattest bank account won't matter in an unsustainable world -- that's the real bottom line.
(Collard) Greens Rolling in Dough
Greens, rolling in dough, all terms for money, which we want to make. But we also want to make dinner, so I went literal here, with these collard tortillas. Serve with black beans, guacamole and chopped jalapeño.
1 fresh bunch of collard greens
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 pinch chili powder
4 to 6 soft tortillas, whole wheat, corn or GF
Wash the collards well. Blot dry. Slice out the thick stems and discard (you could use them to make broth later -- I do it all the time). Place the collard leaves on on top of each other and roll them up widthwise, forming a tight collard cigar. Using your sharpest knife, slice across as thinly as possible, forming skinny ribbons -- collard tinsel, or to use the correct culinary term chiffonade. You'll have about 4 cups of greens. Congratulations, you've just done the toughest bit of the recipe.
Scoop the collards into a large bowl. Add the lime juice and olive oil and toss to combine. Sprinkle in the cumin and chili powder and toss again.
Spread a good spoonful or two of greens (1/3 to 1/2 cup, depending on tortilla size) on each tortilla. Roll up and enjoy.
Serves 4 to 6.