We talk to Alexa Peduzzi from Fooduzzi.com about some of the challenges of following a vegan diet abroad, the best vegan ingredients you need to try, and how she’s been able to grow her food blog into a resource for vegans worldwide.
Your Vegan Kitchen: Thanks for joining us Alexa, we’ve heard you’re a proud Pittsburgher, what’s the vegan/vegetarian scene like there?
Alexa Peduzzi: YES! “Proud Pittsburgher” is a great term. The vegan/vegetarian scene here is surprisingly…pretty great. While a lot of the more traditional Pittsburgh restaurants haven’t incorporated vegan options into their menus, there are still a ton of vegan and vegetarian-friendly places.
Our yearly VegFest (an awesome outdoor vegan festival) was just a few months ago, and I just feel like, in general, restaurants are just more understanding of what a vegan diet is. Some of my favorite restaurants with vegan options are Noodlehead (Thai noodles), Millie’s (ice cream shop with great vegan options), and Aladdin’s (a chain with awesome Mediterranean food and the best hot sauce I’ve ever had).
Regardless of what I’m hungry for, I can find a vegan version 99.9% of the time (if I try hard enough). 😉
YVK: What motivated you to start your food blog, Fooduzzi?
Alexa: So many things. First and foremost, a love of writing. In my early blogging days, I was stuck at a job that I wasn’t super jazzed about, and I didn’t really have an opportunity to write. Fooduzzi has opened up so many writing opportunities for me.
Another is that I followed food blogs for years. I had so many favorites, vegan and non-vegan – Oh She Glows, Sally’s Baking Addiction, Pinch of Yum, How Sweet It Is -, and I just kept thinking that they lived the coolest lives. Cooking, writing, and telling people about it. What could be better than that?!
So eventually I asked my friend (now boyfriend!) to help me set up a blog, and the rest is history!
I constantly say that starting my blog was one of the best things I ever did for myself. I struggled with an eating disorder in college, and Fooduzzi has really helped me turn an unhealthy food obsession into a celebration of what makes me feel good.
YVK: We love your Buffalo Chickpea dip by the way, do you have any recipes that you’d make for omnivore/carnivore friends to show them that plant-based meals can be easy and delicious?
Alexa: Thank you! It’s one of my faves too.
So, for some context, my family is very Italian – cheese and meats galore. But there have been a few recipes I’ve shared with them that have surprised them.
A few of my faves:
Cheesy Vegan Zucchini Roll-Ups – Homemade cashew ricotta cheese rolled in strips of grilled zucchini and topped with tomato sauce. So simple, but really impressive!
Vegan Pumpkin Roll – My favorite dessert in the fall, made with the most heavenly vegan cream cheese frosting.
Creamy Vegan Chocolate Peppermint Pie – Definitely a less “whole foods” option, but I was shocked when my dad ended up requesting this tofu-based pie for his birthday!
Vegan Elote Corn Dip – Spicy, limey, creamy, and smoky. My favorite summer dip!
I find it’s pretty easy to win omnivores over with sweets. 😉
YVK: Tell us about your kitchen at home, do you have any utensils or appliances that you couldn’t live without?
Alexa: For sure. For one, my Aeropress. I love love love making coffee in the morning – the smell, the ritual, the way it instantly takes away my grogginess -, and I’ve been really into the Aeropress lately.
I also really love my garlic press. Like, it’s a full-blown obsession at this point. I got it from IKEA for like…$5, and I use it nearly every day. I love garlic, but I hate sticky, stinky garlic hands. Thanks to my garlic press, I can garlic-up any recipe without the mess.
Last thing, a good wooden spoon. I have my favorite, and I always reach for it when I’m in the kitchen. I feel like everyone has that one spoon they love to cook with.
YVK: Have you discovered any great ingredients since starting a plant-based diet?
Alexa: Yes! So, I’m not a huge nutritional yeast fan. It’s fine in small doses, but I feel like it can be overused pretty easily. That said, add it to some almond flour with a bit of salt, and you have the easiest vegan parmesan (Here’s the full recipe if you want it!).
I also really love coconut yogurt. Not necessarily for eating, but for baking. I find that coconut yogurt is an awesome egg substitute for cakes (like this or this), because it adds moisture and binds things together. I use So Delicious!
I also really love Bob’s Red Mill’s Gluten-Free Vegan Egg Replacer. I’ve worked with them for a few years, but this is a fairly new-to-me product that I’ve just totally fallen in love with. Sometimes you just don’t want to mess with figuring out the best egg replacer for a certain recipe – you just want one that works. This is it for me!
I’m not a huge fan of super processed vegan ingredients like meats or cheeses, but when I get a hankering for a good ol’ chocolate chip cookie, I love reaching for Miyoko’s Cultured Vegan Butter. Have you tried that yet?! It’s incredible.
YVK: What challenges have you faced following a plant-based diet?
Alexa: This is a great question, and very timely! I just got back from a trip to Europe, and I found it was pretty difficult staying vegan in Paris. Heck, even some of their vegetarian options came with sardines! I try to keep to a plant-based diet 98% of the time, but when I’m traveling or spending time with family, I’m okay making exceptions with things like dairy or cheese. I’ll never eat meat again (a particularly scarring Anthony Bourdain episode solidified that fact for me 😉), but sometimes I need to be flexible.
YVK: We understand you also work full-time at Food Blogger Pro, how has this helped your own website?
Alexa: Oh man. I’m still pinching myself that I get to work with the Food Blogger Pro team…and I’ve been there for almost four years! It has just helped keep me motivated. Food Blogger Pro is a community for food bloggers, and since I’ve been working there, I’ve just met so many awesome people doing what they love. And being around people doing what they love is just so exciting and encouraging.
Blogging can be super isolating sometimes because I find myself hanging out behind a computer screen more often than not, so being able to hop into the Food Blogger Pro community forum or connect with other bloggers on social has just been an incredible source of inspiration for me.
YVK: What are your plans for the future of Fooduzzi?
Alexa: The million-dollar question! I have a never-ending baking list I want to keep working through. I’d love to really be able to nail some of my favorite baked goods with an awesome vegan recipe. I’m a baker at heart, and I think sharing the “perfect vegan croissant” recipe or “the creamiest vegan creme brûlée” recipe would be awesome.
I’m also setting my sights on writing more. Perhaps a book, but definitely on the blog. When things get tough and my numbers aren’t quite where I want them to be, I always know I can fall back on my love of writing to get things moving again. 😊 And I’d love to do more travel food writing. Actually scope out the places in Paris that make it easy to stay vegan and write about it as a resource for others!
Your Vegan Kitchen: Thank you so much for talking with us Alexa, we’re excited about your vegan travel guide for Paris!
We’re so happy for how far Alexa has come with her food blog, Fooduzzi, and the amazing recipes she’s been able to share. If you’re like me then making great food is one of the best joys in life, and cooking yummy, nutritious vegan meals is important for a healthy diet.
I strongly believe that being vegan leads to a happier, healthier life, but it’s essential to make sure you’re getting enough nutrients to keep your body functioning properly. Without making an effort to eat enough of the right vegan food it can be easy to miss out on your daily recommended intake of protein, iron, and B12. If you’re wondering whether you’re getting enough nutrients in your vegan diet, check out our guide on how to stay healthy as a vegan.