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On this episode of The Raw Food Podcast, we welcome a special guest to the show, Susan Powers of www.rawmazing.com.
Susan Powers is an award-winning photographer and cookbook author who is certified in Plant-Based Nutrition and Professional Plant Based-Cooking.
In this episode, Susan and I share tips for getting your family on board with healthier food choices, we talk food photography, and we also get to hear a few personal anecdotes from Susan, including her own food story and a snapshot of her vegan wedding!
Welcome to Episode #48 of the Raw Food Podcast. I am your host, Laura-Jane, the Rawtarian, and on today’s episode we have a very special guest on the show. It is Susan Powers of rawmazing.com. Susan is a photographer and stylist and a celebrated food blogger known for her plant-based recipes. On this episode, we share tips for getting your family on board for healthier food choices, we talk food photography, and we also get to hear some of the personal side of rawmazing, including all about her vegan wedding. We also get to share in Susan’s own food story as well. So stay tuned and Susan and I will be with you shortly.
Laura-Jane: Thank you so much for joining me on another episode of the Raw Food Podcast. Today I’m super excited. We have Susan Powers from rawmazing.com. She is a cookbook author, a stunning food photographer, and of course the founder of the wonderful rawmazing.com. Susan, thank you so much for being here with me today.
Susan Powers: Thank you so much for having me. I’m happy to finally quote-unquote meet you.
Laura-Jane: This is definitely meeting. Sure! I’ve been familiar with you; you’ve been around for a long time sharing amazing whole food raw vegan recipes. But for some of our listeners who want a refresher on you and your story, maybe you could tell us a little about how you got started in raw food and your whole food story.
Susan Powers: Oh, absolutely. My food story - the raw food part - kind of comes in toward the end if you were to look at my whole food story. I’ve always been extremely interested in cooking and I did a lot of very gourmet cooking. I am also a sommelier, so I did a lot with wine and food and wine pairing, and I got to a point where all this wonderful gourmet, French especially, cooking that I’d learned and studied over the years was starting to take a toll on me. Coming from a father who had been a chiropractor way back in the day, and he was very tuned in to nutrition - he passed away over thirty years ago - all of a sudden I was hearing my dad’s voice in my ear: “It’s nutrition that’s going to get you feeling better again.” And one day I was watching a TV program on PBS of a woman who does a lot of vegan food, and she did a raw dish. I was so intrigued by this raw dish. It was basically zucchini and a marinara sauce - you know, the zucchini noodles that we all do. I made it for my daughters, and it was one of the worst things that we’d ever eaten. Looking back, I know why: it was because she hadn’t balanced out the acidity. You can’t just throw tomatoes in a blender and throw some herbs in there and expect them to taste like a good tomato sauce. There was no balance. There was no cohesiveness to the dish. But I still was intrigued by this raw food because I was thinking, “There are an awful lot of nutrients there.” It’s how we all get so interested in it; it’s so exciting. Then I started researching everything I possibly could. I bought every book that was available back then on raw food, which, back in that day - probably eight or nine years ago - there wasn’t a ton. You know, Cafe Gratitude, a couple of others, and I started making recipes. Then the natural progression is you start thinking, “Oh, I’d like to make this this way. I’m going to change that.” I found that I had a knack for making these raw food dishes. At the same time I was looking to transition out of what I was doing, and I wanted to do something new and different, and so I started the website, and rawmazing was launched, and that’s where it all started.
Laura-Jane: So while you were dabbling in this, at the beginning, what did your daughters think of all this?
Susan Powers: Well they liked my food. That’s a terrible thing to say. They’ve always been really supportive of it. They weren’t super young. I think my girls are twenty-six and thirty at this point, so they were old enough to be young adults. It was exciting. It was fun. My youngest daughter was a vegetarian at the time, anyway, and I was a vegetarian, too, because she was, of course, because you want to cook for your kids. That really developed into a whole new thing. It went really well.
Laura-Jane: And when you were in your early days, can you think back to some of your really early successes, or one or two recipes that you thought, “Oh wow. That zucchini marinara was a flop.” What was your first memory of, “Okay, this actually is delicious”?
Susan Powers: Oh, when I started working with cashews and started making the cheeses. And then of course the really fun crackers to go with the cheeses. I remember also doing tortilla shells, and I did a raw nachos. You start playing with it, and it’s blowing your mind that you can get the kind of flavor you can get out of these delicious raw foods.
Laura-Jane: I think you used the word “exciting,” and that’s how I felt as well. I think that once you really have that moment - it could be with a raw cheesecake, or something like that - it does blow your mind, and you think there’s really something magical and exciting here. When you got into it, at the beginning, were you just dabbling in it, or did you go whole hog, as they say? Pardon the expression.
Susan Powers: Yes, I did. I went whole watermelon. I think when you start into it, you get so excited by it and you start feeling so incredible when you’re eating the foods, that I did - I just went lock, stock, and barrel. I was one hundred percent in.
Laura-Jane: I think our listeners here on this podcast are a mixture - some people who have been into it for a long time but others who are just interested in making a change. Do you think that we can experiment with raw food, or do you have to go whole watermelon right at the beginning?
Susan Powers: No, in fact, in hindsight, the whole watermelon thing probably lasted only three to six months total. I was living in Minnesota. It’s twenty below, and I was noticing that I wasn’t - even though I was eating one hundred percent raw - I was not eating healthy. I was eating so many high-fat, gourmet type raw foods to try to keep my body warm. If I had just said, “Okay, I’ll eat some cooked carrots with beans,” it would have made a really big difference. And then I started introducing more cooked food back in, but always whole food, plant-based cooked food.
Laura-Jane: So if you were, say, trying to talk to a friend or a new person in your life who knows that you are Susan Powers of rawmazing, you would say, “The first recipe you should try that might blow your mind and isn’t too complicated would be…”?
Susan Powers: Oh gosh. There are so many delicious salads that you can do. When you start experimenting and playing around with the raw dressings and things that you can do with that, I think those are wonderful. I’m trying to think of—
Laura-Jane: I know. I really put you on the spot there.
Susan Powers: You warned me. You did warn me. Everything is just so fun and so approachable. I used to think that desserts were a really good segue into raw foods because they’re just so delicious, and a lot of them are not that difficult to do, but now, as I get older, I’ve backed away from that a little bit. I would love for people to be doing super healthy dishes. I always do a caveat with desserts: they are desserts, and people should absolutely think of them as desserts. But there are so many lovely things you can do with a dehydrator. It’s really interesting. I know there are a lot of people who shy away from picking up a dehydrator because it seems like a big expense, but, to me, I would highly recommend it because you can coax so much out of the food, and it’s interesting because I’ve photographed in a lot of very top-level professional kitchens. You’d be amazed at how many of those kitchens actually have dehydrators in them, not because they’re raw foodists, but because it’s a way to get these insane flavors.
Laura-Jane: I think it’s a really - first of all, interesting about a regular restaurant having a dehydrator. That is something I wouldn’t have thought.
Susan Powers: I know. Isn’t it crazy?
Laura-Jane: At the same time, I like that you’re bringing this up. I think a lot of people think about the dehydrator as the pinnacle piece of raw food equipment that maybe some day you might get. I would argue - and maybe you can have a fun thought about your thoughts on this - that the top three pieces of raw food equipment would be blender, food processor, dehydrator.
Susan Powers: I think so too. Obviously our chef’s knives. But I would agree with that. I wanted to add really quick another one of the ways that can be a really fun way to start in are the noodles you can make. If you pick up a spiralizer and do some lovely creamy sauces for them with your cashew base or maybe a macadamia or pine nut base, those are fun places to start too, because then you almost feel like you’re really experiencing something that seems like something you were eating. Does that make sense?
Susan Powers: I agree with you. When I am really really working the raw food recipes, the blender and the food processor are huge. And absolutely the dehydrator. You don’t have to spend five hundred dollars on a dehydrator. You can pick up one at American Harvest for $125. You just have to make sure that there is a temperature gauge on it.
Laura-Jane: It took me a long time to get my first dehydrator. Before I began eating raw myself, I never had a food processor. I basically grew up in a healthy household. My mom - God love her - was not an amazing cook. She wasn’t into cooking at all, so the thing that I use the most in my kitchen is my food processor. I have a real affinity for nut pates or brownies, that kind of thing. That really opened up my mind to getting a food processor. I asked you about your mind-blowing moment at the beginning; for me, it was getting the food processor and seeing how quickly you could whip things up. The food processor is probably what I use the most in my kitchen. What would you say is yours?
Susan Powers: I totally agree. Especially when doing raw food. I do the same thing. There’s all kind of nut pates. You can even get certain sauces to get almost as good as a blender - a high speed blender. If you want to do anything with your energy bars, anything with nuts, your vegetables, they’re amazing. They’re absolutely amazing.
Laura-Jane: I think it’s nice that you can pick one up for not too big an investment as well. I love my food processor. I find a lot of people that I know who aren’t into raw food don’t necessarily have one. Even if you’re not going to go really big into raw food, I think they’re amazing for cooked recipes or whatever. I love them.
Susan Powers: They are. You can throw together an avocado pesto in seconds and do a lot of chopping. They are. They’re just amazing. I would 100 percent agree with that.
Laura-Jane: I remember when I first went raw, and you were around at that time. And your photography, Susan… I couldn’t even look at it any more because I just loved it so much, I had to look away. I just want to say that I think any of you who are familiar with Susan’s work, she’s an award winning food photographer, and she’s amazing. Not only in food photography, but in food styling. The photos are good, but also it just looks so beautiful. I wanted to ask you a little about your journey as a photographer. Is that something that grew out of rawmazing.com, or something you’d done in the past? I’d love to hear a little bit about that.
Susan Powers: It’s interesting, because I’ve always had an affinity with the camera. When I was in high school, I studied photography. I even studied some photography in college. But it was never food. It was always landscapes or people. Of course then came the kids. When I started with rawmazing, I realized I needed good pictures. You really have to have good pictures if you want people to make your food. I started experimenting with light. I had an old Nikon D70, which is - gosh, you could probably pick one up for a hundred bucks nowadays. I started having success, and I wasn’t necessarily sure because lighting food is completely different than the lighting you do with any other kind of photography. Maybe somewhat product shooting, but you have to scrape the food with the light. Once in a while I’d really nail it, and I’d go, “Wow, that looks great,” and other times I’d be so frustrated because I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get the lighting right.
Laura-Jane: That’s the stage I’m in right now! Keep going.
Susan Powers: Through a tremendous amount of experimentation, studying everything I could, and taking seventy shots of one dish - just changing a little bit - and then working with natural light, trying different windows at different times of the day, and realizing very quickly that you can’t just take it outside and put it in the shade and shoot it, because it’s going be so flat… and that’s what you’re trying to get away from. You don’t want your food to be flat, whereas, when you’re lighting people, you want that. You don’t want to see every single crevice on their face.
Laura-Jane: No thank you.
Susan Powers: But with food, you really need that. You just don’t want that flat lighting. It was a tremendous amount of work - and I loved it. I just absolutely immersed myself in it, and so every time I made something, I would shoot it and shoot it and shoot it until I was happy with what I got, and just studied and studied everything I could, learned more about composition. Your biggest things are going to be lighting and composition. So that’s kind of the journey, and it just took off, and I actually started getting hired as a food photographer. I’ve shot for magazines and books, and it’s exciting. I love it.
Laura-Jane: I think your love of it and your passion for it has come through for years and years. You’re so talented at what you do, and that really comes through.
Susan Powers: Thank you.
Laura-Jane: You’re welcome. One thing - as I’m going through my own journey - I’ve thought about my own photography and dabbling is the difference between photography and food styling. They go together, especially when you’re a one-woman shop, but I’m curious: do you like them both equally? If you were a kajillionaire, would you hire a stylist and just shoot the photos, or the opposite? What are you drawn to more?
Susan Powers: I love both. I wouldn’t hire a stylist, and I wouldn’t hire a shooter. I really enjoy doing both and learning both. For me, it’s not that difficult to learn how to actually style your food.
Laura-Jane: Says Susan Powers.
Susan Powers: There you go. But there are some basic things. You want to make sure when you look at the color of your food, the dish that you put that food on either complements or is in a really good contrast to that food. You can figure out a pretty basic setup that can take you through many dishes with just a little deviation. Right now I’m branching off, trying to make some of my shots look more like an art photo, which is kind of fun, but still highlighting the food. The food always has to be the main thing in the picture. There are some food shooters for whom the styling is the most important. To me, the food gets lost in that. But when you have a recipe site, the food has to be front and center. You have to make these pictures that make people want to tear the food off the page and eat it. Styling can be as easy as getting some decent backgrounds, getting some nice linens, making sure you have some different dishes to shoot in, and then just really paying attention to what’s happening with the colors that are in your dish versus the colors that are in the props that you’re using.
Laura-Jane: I think one of the things that’s really so beautiful about what you do is that you really have a cohesive style, the way that you shoot. I feel like there’s a nice, tasteful, vintage look in what you do, and I really like that a lot. I’m a fan of vintage stuff.
Susan Powers: Yeah, that’s wonderful. It’s interesting because a couple of years ago I was working with a consultant - a really wonderful photography consultant - and she kept talking bout finding your voice, as they say. It really is finding your style. When you really finally settle into what your style is, somebody should be able to recognize one of your photographs, and I honestly can’t tell you how to do that. You shoot and you shoot and you shoot until your voice comes from within, and you look at your work one day, and you go, “Oh wow. This all looks like it came from the same place.”
Laura-Jane: I enjoy watching Project Runway on TV, which is where people design clothing. I don’t sew, but I feel like you have to learn how to make pants and skirts and all the things before you really can even have your own style. With my own photography, I’ve experimented with ‘this,’ and it’s like, “Oh, okay, I can make a pant, and I can make a shirt,” but you can’t have your own real style. It’s the next level, maybe.
Susan Powers: I agree with you. It’s something - as far as food is concerned - it probably took me five years until I really had a voice. Even when I start cooking a dish - or if we’re doing raw, preparing a dish - I’m already thinking about that final image when I’m starting to work with the ingredients if I’m making something for the website. Like, great example, last night I threw together at the last minute - and this is a cooked one, so bear with me - it was one of those nights where you look in the refrigerator and you want something really healthy. I diced up a bunch of onion, celery, carrots, threw in tomatoes. And then basically broth, quinoa, and made this stew. And it was absolutely delicious. I put coconut aminos in it. It ended up, the taste was phenomenal, but I would never shoot that for the blog, because it was so dull. Oh, and there was broccoli in there too. The colors were not vibrant. They weren’t something that I think people would look at and think, “I want to eat that.”
Laura-Jane: But, Susan, you are depriving your fans of these delicious stews just because they’re dull!
Susan Powers: Well maybe I’ll have to dress it up a little bit to shoot. But that’s a consideration. If I wanted to put that recipe on the website, I would make it again, but I would do it a little differently so that I had more color contrast, things would pop more. I’d add the broccoli at the end and barely cook it to keep that beautiful green in it. Last night, it was just trying to get dinner on the table, as we all do. It’s a consideration. It’s a consideration of what does this all look like when it’s over?
Laura-Jane: Well speaking of getting dinner on the table, how does this work for your family these days? Your husband, is he pro-rawmazing recipes? He must be. He has to be.
Susan Powers: He’s wonderful. I think I married the most incredible man on the planet. Before I met him, he was a big meat eater. His favorite dish was - heaven forbid - pork. He loved ham and steaks and all kinds of things. When we first started dating, he just loved my food. When we went out, he would partake in whatever he would like to eat, but he was also respectful. And then I actually took T. Colin Campbell’s plant-based nutrition course. As I’m going through this course, because he’s reading along with me on certain things or I’d tell him things, it was so incredibly eye-opening to him that I said to him, “Why don’t we try going vegan for six weeks?” And we never looked back, and he never looked back. It has worked out beautifully, and he absolutely loves the food that I make. So that’s pretty fun.
Laura-Jane: Well it kind of helps to have you as the chef. But I think that’s something my readers struggle with a lot, and I’m sure yours do too, where one person in the family wants to eat this way - especially with young kids in the house. It makes it so much easier when, as you said, your daughter was a vegetarian first. Do you feel like your husband was really open-minded at the beginning? Do you have any general tips for people who might be struggling getting the family on board?
Susan Powers: He was open-minded, and I was really lucky. I do have tips. There are ways to make recipes that - even if you look at some of the cooked food I’ve been bringing in to the site - let’s say one member of the family was really committed to having something be one hundred percent raw, but the rest of the family wanted different things. Create that raw dish, and then embellish for the rest of the family, if you’re comfortable with that.
Laura-Jane: Definitely. I think there needs to be some sort of compromise when people are busy enough with life as it is, and making two of everything is a bit too much. Making one is sometimes too much for some. I think that’s a really nice thought.
Susan Powers: It’s amazing how easy it is to do, and we do run into that when the kids and their significant others come. My kids are great, but some of the significant others want a little bit more. We have a future son-in-law from Australia, and vegan is not even kind of on his radar, and so a lot of times if that’s the case, we’ll make a big pot of chili, and my daughter will take part of that chili and add in something that’s not vegan. It’s not necessarily easy for me, but I also don’t want to be exclusive and have this attitude. I love everybody and want to meet everybody where they are.
Laura-Jane: I think, too, that it doesn’t have to be such a black or white thing. If we can get people having a lot of good fresh fruits and vegetables and whole foods in their diet, let’s focus on getting that in and who cares about the other stuff. Let’s try to make a large portion of your meal be as healthy as it can be.
Susan Powers: Right. I think over time - maybe you experienced this - your taste buds actually do change. You stop craving some of the things that you used to crave. You want the healthy food. You want to eat this wonderful stuff.
Laura-Jane: It is really true, but the thing that doesn’t happen is they don’t change on the very first day. I have found that my taste buds change. It’s weird the things that I thought I would crave and then don’t. One thing I would love to eat and I haven’t would be a scone. That craving - if I see someone eating a scone, I’m like, “Can I smell your scone?”
Susan Powers: I’m not going to lie. I’ve done that before. “Can I smell that?”
Laura-Jane: But there are other things that I really don’t have that desire for. I used to really love potato chips like Doritos or whatever. I was a potato chip addict. I truly have no desire to eat them anymore. It think that also comes with when you can find a healthy substitute. I can satisfy that chip craving in so many ways. Do you have a good scone recipe, Susan?
Susan Powers: There is one on the site. You should look it up.
Laura-Jane: I think the things we crave are when we can’t satisfy that craving. At least that’s what I’ve found, for me.
Susan Powers: Absolutely. And it’s amazing, nowadays, what you can actually make. Even because we really try to stay whole food plant-based, not eating processed foods. Occasionally that’s going to sneak in. Somebody’s going to have a birthday and you’ll have a cake. But it’s amazing what an incredibly gorgeous vegan cake you have. Our wedding was one hundred percent vegan, and, I can tell you, our guests weren’t. I don't’ know that anybody even realized it because the food was so spectacular.
Laura-Jane: I like that you brought that up. I find sometimes that if you present something like, “Hello, twelve year old child’s birthday party. Here’s the vegan popsicles, everyone. Here’s the raw…” And people are kind of like, “Ew.” But if you just say, “Here’s the chocolate popsicles,” they’re like, “I”ll have one, please.” A lot of it is about labeling things. You don’t have to say, “This is the vegan raw whatever.” You can just say, “Here are the chocolate brownies.” And sometimes people - especially if they’re a bit freaked out by the idea of raw or healthy eating - sometimes they don't even notice.
Susan Powers: I know. I can’t tell you how many times I have brought food to different functions and you just don’t say anything. You don’t say it’s vegan, you don’t say it’s raw, and people just love it. Then usually afterwards I’ll tell them because it’s just fun to see the look on their face because they’re like, “No.” It just makes me laugh because we have some friends that when we would have them over for dinner, I would do both cooked and raw but all vegan and one of the friends wouldn’t even touch the raw food because it was raw. It used to make me laugh because I used to think, “It’s just food. It’s just vegetables and fruits and things.” You’re right. People get this crazy notion in their head. Getting back to helping people move into this lifestyle and getting their family more interested in it…in the beginning it can be finding recipes that mimic things that you’re normally used to eating, and I think that can be very helpful.
Laura-Jane: We just have to go back - for a second - to your concept of vegan wedding. I would love to hear about how you planned this, and you being you, were you really involved in the making of the food? Was it hard to let go? I would love to hear about your vegan wedding.
Susan Powers: It was a really interesting process. We had our ceremony up in Sonoma. It was very small, just family, and we had a party two days later back at our home. I met with the chef up at the - actually we got married at the Kenwood Inn, this amazing place - and it was really cute because he had never done a vegan wedding before. He’d never even done vegan food, but he was game, and that was great. The two of us sat down and we went over menus and we worked together and came up with a really lovely menu. The one thing that cracked me up, though, was he didn’t use many beans and grains, so we ate a lot of vegetables that night, but he did a beautiful job. It was a stunning meal. As far as doing the big party at the house, that was a bit more challenging. I had contacted about four or five vegan caterers, and I was running into dead ends because I wasn’t happy with the food I was seeing. We really wanted a very high level of food to present to our guests for two reasons: one reason was because we wanted to make sure that we had a really high level of food, and that other reason was because we wanted to introduce vegan food to people in a way that would blow their mind and have people say, “Wow, this is incredible.” So I went through quite a few caterers. I ended up with a caterer who did both vegan and non-vegan, but when I started looking at the menus and the things that they were saying they were going to make, I was like, “These are the people.” And they did a spectacular job. Little pulled pork - but it wasn’t pork, of course, it was jackfruit - little sliders, and the menu was just exquisite. The cake wasn’t that hard. In the San Francisco area, it’s not that hard to find somebody who can do a vegan wedding cake. And everything was just perfect. It was lovely. And everybody was blown away, which is exactly what I wanted.
Laura-Jane: Yes, when you’re you, you want the food to be good, and it was a success.
Susan Powers: Yeah, it turned out really good. I will say there was a point where I thought I’m just going to do it, and then I thought, “You’ve lost your mind.” Because it’s your wedding, you don’t want to be dealing with that. We really looked hard, but we really found somebody we liked and they did a spectacular job.
Laura-Jane: That’s lovely. I do want to ask you more about food photography from the newbie perspective, just changing gears here. Let’s say, if you could boil it down, for someone who’s trying to ramp up their food photography from any level - particularly a new person- what would be the number one thing they should focus on when trying to improve?
Susan Powers: The biggest mistake I see most people make is with their lighting. Lighting does not have to be that hard. I think people really should learn how to shoot natural light if you can do that. (Sometimes people are cooking at night and they just don’t have that option.) But natural light, getting your food next to a window, getting that light diffused just a little bit, no direct sunlight, making sure that the light is coming at an angle from the backside - you don’t want the light coming straight at the dish - and you start looking at that and eventually you’ll start to see it. Lighting is huge. It can take a dish from looking flat and dull and boring to looking juicy and succulent and wonderful. I think natural light is the easiest thing for people to start with. It’s also about finding the right window in your house. You want to make sure you test out a couple of different windows to see where you get the best light.
Laura-Jane: We are in the middle of looking to move. We’re actually looking at houses. I feel like I saw on Twitter or something that you moved within the past year or two. Was that a big part of thinking about the new place you were going to live in?
Susan Powers: No, it wasn’t because, in the Bay area, it’s not easy to buy a house. Coming from Minnesota, having always had land, I just really wanted a piece of land, which is even more tricky. So I had actually looked for two years before we found the house we found. I have to tell you, for the first six months to, maybe the first year, I fought the lighting in this house. We have these gorgeous two-story tall windows that overlook Mt. Diablo, but it was just too much light. So I would try this and I’d try that, and I’d try to block it off. The other day - this is not even that long ago, I suppose, a few months ago - I went and bought these big cardboard pieces and I blocked off all the upper windows, and all of a sudden I had my light. You kind of smack yourself upside the head. Why didn’t I do that earlier? You really are looking for the sweet spot. Even though I was still shooting all that time, I finally got that light to the point where I really loved it.
Laura-Jane: It’s funny in life when you have those “aha” moments with anything - like what you’re saying, putting cardboard up. I hate it when you’re like, “Why didn’t I think of this?”
Susan Powers: Exactly. And I’ve been shooting for years now. I walk into restaurants and I have to deal with whatever I can deal with, but this house had so much light and the ceilings are all these big white ceilings, and light would just bounce from everywhere. It would come in the windows and it would bounce off the walls and it was flooded. I had to really, really work with that, and finally the answer just ended up being simple, which is so silly.
Laura-Jane: Well I think that’s a really great tip. I think we could all stand to improve our lighting. I feel like we haven’t really talked about your cookbooks much. One thing I am curious about is, as a kid, were you a person whose life dream it was to have a book published, or was it something you fell into? How did that all come about? How do you feel about being a published author?
Susan Powers: Oh, it’s fun. It’s wonderful. It’s an exciting thing, and I know - not from a child, certainly not from a child - but probably from a younger adult, I always wanted to publish a book. Now did I think it was going to be a cookbook? Not necessarily. But it’s fun. It’s nice. I had originally self-published two of my books, and then a publisher approached me to publish those two books. That’s how those two came about. But that was also quite a few years ago. Nowadays, if you have a popular blog, you can almost get a cookbook contract depending on the kind of traffic that you have, or, you know, if you’re a movie star. That’s the tricky part about publishing now. If you just have really great food but you do not have an audience, publishers aren’t going to want to have anything to do with you, which is really sad. But I love it. It’s wonderful having a book. It’s so fun when people send me pictures of the book in bookstores all over the country. And now the book has been translated into French, and a Swiss publishing company just picked up the rights to it, and they’re going to do it in a bunch of different languages.
Laura-Jane: That is kind of surreal. That’s very cool.
Susan Powers: It’s so funny, because you’re looking at it going, “I did these recipes years ago.” And then you think about, “I did this photography years ago.” There’s that part of you that thinks, “Oh, geez, I really want to do a new book.” Because you develop. Your abilities to create wonderful food develops. Your ability to create wonderful images develops.
Laura-Jane: I think that’s something - I’m not sure if you’re familiar with this book (this is way off topic, but…) Elizabeth Gilbert wrote this book Eat, Pray, Love. She has this new book out called Big Magic.
Susan Powers: Oh, I have the book. I haven’t read it yet.
Laura-Jane: I have the same! I’m just on Chapter 1. It’s talking about creativity and fear, and one of my issues that I think has held me back (oh, we’re getting into my issues now, Susan!)—
Susan Powers: I can help you with this. Go.
Laura-Jane: I have always experienced that in my life, which I think everybody does, where you look back at something you did three years ago. At the time you thought, “Oh, this is the cat’s meow.” And then you look back on it now and you think, “Oh, that’s horrible.” Lately I have been thinking, “Oh, I think this is great now, but I’m sure in three years I’m going to think this is horrible.” My point is, creativity is a weird thing, and one of the things that I think is really important to think about and talk about in food photography. It’s such a creative thing, especially when you’re developing the recipe and taking photographs of the food and doing it all, it’s this huge creative thing. For me, I find it really easy to share my story and my words, but putting my photos out there is this really scary thing. I don’t even know where I’m going with this, but—
Susan Powers: No, I understand. It’s so interesting. For me, the creating the recipes and photographing the recipes is the easy part, and then I have to sit down and write.
Laura-Jane: I’ll trade!
Susan Powers: That is more of a chore for me. I have to really pull that out more. It’s a process. It’s about growth and about moving forward. You have to start somewhere, and you just keep moving forward.
Laura-Jane: I think that’s all we really can do. One thing too that I really like about that book - Big Magic - (I haven’t really read it much, but I watched a couple of interviews with the author)… I think it’s one thing that inspired me to invite you on this podcast - ‘cause I think you’re amazing, and I was feeling the fear - thinking “I can’t ask rawmazing. She’s rawmazing.” But I think a lot of life and creativity is what they say is you feel the fear and you do it anyway. I think that’s something I’m trying to do with all my rawtarian-ing stuff. That’s a positive message we can put out there in terms of creating food, recipes, stuff, but also in terms of changing your own way you eat. I think a lot of people feel fear about that too. You probably get these emails like “I want to go raw but I don’t know where to start.” I’m just acknowledging that we all have that fear. You just have to do it anyway.
Susan Powers: Absolutely. I like to look at it as an adventure. It’s always fun to learn new things. It’s so interesting because even the food - I bet you had exactly the same experience - when I started working with raw recipes, it was so new and so different and so exciting because it was like nothing I had ever eaten before. I hate to say it, but some of that comes with age, too, where it’s about really living and experiencing life. I started painting with pastels last year. Once again, you’re faced with a blank canvas, with something you have no clue what you’re doing, and you just start. It’s amazing what can happen. You just keep going and you finish one and you go to the next. You just keep growing. Unfortunately for us, our beginning things that we did with our raw food are right there online. It’s not like we can say “That canvas didn’t turn out well.” Some of those recipes might not have made it to the sites. You’ve done wonderful work for a long time.
Laura-Jane: Thank you. Well I’m also trying to grow. Everything is a little bit more progressed than the year before. I think that’s all we can ask from ourselves - eating better than we did the year before and creating more exciting things than we did the year before too. I do want to be mindful of your time. I’m thinking I should probably let you get back to your rawmazing life. I want to say, firstly, thank you so much for sharing all of this amazing good stuff with us, and also, I want to ask you and let you share. Where can people find you? You have two books as well as ebooks and lots of stuff at your website. Tell us where people can find you and all of that good stuff.
Susan Powers: Absolutely. The website is www.rawmazing.com. A lot of people try to make it “raw amazing,” but it’s not. You can buy the books there. There are three ebooks and two print books. You can also get the two print books - a dessert book and the regular rawmazing book - on Amazon, and you can find them in bookstores all over like Barnes & Noble. If you’re interested in the photography, I have susanpowersphotography.com, and I have a fun site called shootingthekitchen.com where I profile restaurants.
Laura-Jane: Thank you so much, again, Susan. It’s been a real pleasure.
Susan Powers: Thank you so much.
You have been listening to the Raw Food Podcast with your host, The Rawtarian. Be sure to visit me at therawtarian.com where you can browse over 100 of my absolute favorite simple, satisfying raw vegan recipes that you’ll find pretty quick to make and with just a few ingredients and that taste amazing. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for my newsletter and once you’ve signed up for that, you’ll automatically get a PDF copy of eleven of my most favorite, most satisfying, most delicious recipes, including raw vegan alfredo sauce, raw brownies, and a whole host of other delicious recipes that you can make at home that are raw and taste amazing. Thank you so much for joining me and I hope to hear from you very soon. Until next time, enjoy your raw adventure.
This information is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. I encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with like-minded, qualified health care professional(s). I wish you success on your raw journey!