Bumbleberry Cobbler from Vegan Casseroles.

Julie Hasson has her fingers in a lot of pies—at least 200, if her Complete Book of Pies is any indication. When Hasson moved to Oregon in 2005, she had already graduated from culinary school, opened a wholesale artisan bakery in Los Angeles, co-hosted Comcast’s “15 & Done” cooking show, authored multiple cookbooks, and contributed to Bon Appetit, Cooking Light, and Martha Stewart Living Radio.

After moving with her family—first to Portland, then to a plant-based diet—Hasson quickly became a prominent voice in the vegan food world, churning out cookbooks, recipes, television appearances, baking products, and even a food cart. Her most recent accomplishment, Vegan Casseroles, is nothing short of a revelation for gluten-free vegans, comfort food fans, health-conscious foodies and everyone in between.

Intrigued? Here are three reasons to pick up a copy of Vegan Casseroles.

  1. Vegan Casseroles boldly goes where no cookbook has gone before, reinventing hundreds of classic casseroles to make them not only vegan (and often gluten-free), but more healthful as well. “I couldn’t, in good conscience, feel okay about adding two sticks of vegan butter to a dish and calling it ‘done,’ no matter how buttery and good it might taste,” Hasson writes. The result is Frito Pie and truffled mac that are not only allergen-free, but relatively healthful.
     
  2. Hasson’s husband and children don’t consider themselves vegan, but that doesn’t stop them from wolfing down pans of nacho tots and hash brown gratin. Casseroles are a perfect way to bridge the divide between hungry herbivores and meat-eaters scared of salad—who doesn’t love lasagna?
     
  3. While vegan cooking is much easier than many give it credit for, certain pantry staples simply don’t exist in plant-based versions. Hasson heroically tackles the challenge head-on, creating casserole-ready vegan gravies, cheese sauces, cream of chicken soup, and even gluten-free crispy fried onions.

Great, you've got the book. Now what? Here are three more reasons to keep an eye on Julie Hasson: 

  1. Julie’s Original Gluten-Free Baking Mixes are the quickest and simplest way to satisfy dinner guests of all diets. The white cake and fudge brownie mixes are vegan, nut-free, and wheat-free, and can easily be transformed into dozens of tasty desserts—think Chocolate Cherry Almond Brownies and Chai Carrot Zucchini Cake. Find them locally at New Seasons or Whole Foods, and keep an eye out for national distribution next year.
     
  2. Hasson's cookbooks can cure any craving, from Vegan Diner’s barbecue ribs to Vegan Pizza’s bacon mac and cheese pie to 300 Best Chocolate Recipes’ rum raisin ice cream. What’s next? Hasson once considered a bowl cookbook (we’re still crossing our fingers!) but is currently on a writing hiatus to focus on her baking mixes. In the meantime, catch new recipes and tips on “Everyday Dish,” Hasson’s online cooking show.   
     
  3. Hasson opened vegan fusion food cart Native Bowl in 2009 with her husband, Jay. The duo sold the business last year to focus on other projects, but as Portlanders know all too well, a new cart is only a Craigslist ad click away. Julie and Jay certainly have the knowledge and experience to open another restaurant, and while they have no intentions of doing so in the near future, we’re not ruling it out—how about a real-life Vegan Diner?
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