THE BACK STORY: Hey there! Thank you for stopping by! I’m a young soul living in a 50 YO body. My problem is that I love to eat! So, I’ve had to learn how to balance my love of comfort food, pastry and sweets with real, whole foods. And yes, they have to be comfort foods. I struggled for years in my relationship with food, trying different ‘diets’, working out like mad. It wasn’t until I discovered real food, slow food, is key to my ability to be healthy and maintain an agreeable body weight…. and of course, consistent exercise (of which I’m not very good at as of late)! This discovery would change everything I knew about food, how I approached it, prepared it, prepared for it… and the time I spent thinking about it. It changed my lifestyle.
I live with my husband, my high school sweetheart, Rob, my biggest fan in beautiful Port Ludlow, WA (previously Whidbey Island, WA). I’ve always loved to cook good food yet it hasn’t always been good and healthful. About 20 years ago, I made the switch to a mostly vegetarian lifestyle from a Texas born and raised meat centered, eat it at every meal, lifestyle. My switch to vegetarian eating began out of my concern for the consequences growing meat and harvesting unsustainable seafood has on our planet. Food is yet another opportunity for me to choose how I live in my effort to reduce my impacts on Earth. My sister had a hand in influencing my decision as well, having just recently switched to a mostly plant-based diet. She’s the one who first recommended the now most popular recipe on Vanilla And Bean: this Lemon Garlic Orzo with Roasted Vegetables (!!). When friends and family discovered I shifted to a vegetarian lifestyle, some looked at me and wondered how I was still standing.
For more about what you’ll find on Vanilla And Bean and my Most Popular Recipes, visit my Start Here page.
A GLUTEN FREE TRIAL: Mid 2018 I transitioned to a gluten free lifestyle due to a pesky hypothyroid that recently became more sluggish. I worked with my Naturopathic Doctor to tease out if gluten is impacting my thyroid or other things I’m unaware of. After SO much testing and on again off again gluten eating, I’m happy to say I’m back to my glutenous ways! Moving forward, I’ll still be sharing gluten free recipes from time to time because the Vanilla And Bean community responded well to gluten free recipes and, I’ve discovered how delicious baking with whole grains can be! Of course I’ll continue to label and categorize gluten free or not foods on my recipes and in the recipe index.
MY VEGETARIAN JOURNEY: My first few years as a vegetarian were a bit challenging as I replaced a lot of the meat I previously ate with vegetarian processed food that resembles meat. But over the years, I’ve learned how to phase out almost all of the processed foods and create whole food, healthy vegetarian meals through trial and error, and with the help of lots of cookbooks and outstanding food blogs.
Through my vegetarian lifestyle shift, I’ve also learned why ‘diets’ don’t work and the importance of consuming whole, plant centered food. I love sharing delicious food with others and the bounty of local and organic (when possible) produce that I prepare in my kitchen. It helps that I live amongst beautiful and productive family owned farmland that has thriving farmers markets and many community supported agriculture options. Inspiration is everywhere and the reason behind the second most popular recipe on Vanilla And Bean: Pickled Jalapeno Peppers!
BEFORE VANILLA AND BEAN: My professional background was previously in science education. I taught at science museums and middle and elementary school science classrooms and completed my National Board for Professional Teaching Standards during my eighth year of teaching. Although I loved teaching as a profession, I found I needed a change as my interests and motivations shifted.
I took a leap and left my career after nine years of teaching to investigate a totally different career path. I headed to pastry school exploring the world of baking and pastry in the French style at South Seattle Community College (unfortunately the Baking and Pastry Program Closed in 2018). Completing my AAS in Pastry and Baking was a most rewarding and challenging experience. Afterwards, I worked in a little organic bakery where pastries and artisan breads are produced. In the mean time, I started Vanilla And Bean to express my creativity and love of delicious food through photography and writing, bringing you the culmination of what I have learned over the years through my kitchen, via Vanilla And Bean.
MY PHOTOGRAPHY: Although I have no formal photography training, I have attended multiple small group classes, read and watched tutorials and have practiced. A lot! I continue to learn and develop my skills. I had dabbled in photography in the past, and have always enjoyed it, but never got serious about it until I wanted to shoot photos of the food and pastries I made. I have more information on how I approach my photography on my blogger resource page.
NO STRICT DIETING: Eating healthy vegetarian food including organic and local when possible, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds is what I focus on for feeling great. While I eat a lot of vegan foods, I do eat eggs and dairy, and source those foods the same as I do plant based foods – organic and as local as possible. I enjoy sweets not only because I love creating delicious pastries, and desserts, but I enjoy eating and sharing them too. Always in moderation of course.
» One of my most favorite things is taking a long walk or hike in the forest or mountains.
» If I could live anywhere in the world, I think I would live on Orcas Island, WA, although there are many destinations I’d like to travel to so this is still open for discussion! The Pacific Northwest is a pretty remarkable place to call home.
» Four things I cannot live without: 1. Smartwool socks 2. “All One” Lip Balm (Lemon Lime) 3. Kitchen Aid Mixer 4. Vita Mix (these are affiliate links).
» My ideal day includes a morning chocolate green smoothie, catching up with Rob, a yoga sesh and/or taking a spin with Peloton, pulling some weeds or tending to the garden when it’s warm out, taking a long walk, spending time in the kitchen preparing delicious foods, photographing what I prepare and creating meaningful content for my readers on Vanilla And Bean.
» When in season and on any given Saturday or Sunday, you’ll find me at the Farmers Market or at a farm stand checkin’ out what’s in season and supporting local food.
» Some things few people know about me is 1. I’ve watched Downton Abby at least 9 times (the whole series!). 2. Led Zeppelin is my all time favorite band. 3. Spending time in nature, studying birds in their habitat and listening for their calls/songs keeps me grounded. 4. Instagram stresses me out!
Cooking + Baking Notes from Traci
While I cannot be in the kitchen with you, I can provide guidance through each recipe. I encourage you to use your judgment throughout the cooking/baking process and taste as you go as each person’s palette is different. Our ovens are probably not the same. I bake in an electric convection oven. Oven temperature fluctuations, uneven baking and burner types can vary.
I recently switched to all electric/induction from cooking/baking with propane. What a difference! Not that one is better than the other, but the way things cook is definitely noticeable. I’m finding electric to be my preference. Use your intuition and make adjustments when needed.
I enthusiastically recommend an Oven Thermometer with a Air Probe. I’ve baked in commercial bakery and home ovens, old, lightly used and brand new ovens – they all have their own personalities with temperature variations and fluctuations. Knowing the temperature of your oven is important for the best outcome, especially when it comes to baking. I keep a close eye on oven temperature when testing/making recipes for the blog so that I am as accurate as possible with including the proper baking temperatures/time in my recipes. Always bake with fan assist (or convection) if your oven is equipped with it.
Working with cake batter, pastry and sometimes cookie dough can take practice and a bit of technique. If a cake doesn’t turn out just right or scones didn’t quite come together, keep practicing. Knowing how a dough should feel or cake batter should look takes hands on experience. My recipes are for non high altitude baking. For details on conversions see King Arthur Flour conversions page.
I’ve listed a few excellent baking and pastry books I have on my shelf that you may find helpful (these are affiliate links):
- Artisan Sourdough Made Simple – my favorite sourdough book
- Alternative Baker
- King Arthur Flour, The Baker’s Companion
- How Can it be Gluten Free Cookbook Vol 1 & 2
- The Grand Central Baking Book
- Vegan Chocolate
- The Bread Baker’s Apprentice
- Bouchon Bakery
- Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World
Most importantly, if an event/holiday is coming up and you want to make a recipe from Vanilla And Bean, please make the recipe at least once before the event just to make sure it suits your flavor palette and needs, AND you can tweak it if needed!
Thank you for being here! I value your visit and hope that you’ll consider leaving a comment or joining Vanilla And Bean’s email list to receive weekly fresh and fabulous recipes from my kitchen. If you have any questions, comments or just want to share what you made, please feel free to contact me at traci(at)vanillaandbean(dot)com, or on my contact page. Be sure to tag and notify me on instagram (#vanillaandbean @vanillaandbean) if you make one of my recipes. I love seeing what you’ve got cooking in the kitchen! I look forward to hearing from you!
I absolutely love your recipes. Thanks for your efforts.
Thank you for your note, Gayle and sending a smile! You’ve made my day :D
I don’t usually respond on blogs but couldn’t help myself this time. I have a loaf of your Sourdough Maple Oatmeal Sandwich bread proofing at the moment and noticed a mention somewhere on that recipe page the fact that you live on Whidbey Island! We live in Poulsbo but we share a family cabin on Whidbey that has been in my husband’s family since 1960! It’s on Harrington Lagoon with a Saratoga Passage/Mt. Baker/Camano view. I often joke that the cabin is the reason I married him! Probably not the only reason as we’ve been happily married for almost 35 years and have raised two sons.
At any rate, you live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. The view from Ebey’s Bluff takes my breath away almost every time I hike it! I’m looking forward to baking off the oat bread in a little while and to exploring your blog and recipes now that I’ve stumbled onto Vanilla and Bean.
PS. I’ll join you and Betty for that farm to fork dinner on Orcas one day! Another gorgeous island in the Salish Sea!
Well hello Neighbor! Thank you for your note and sending a smile! I just recently became familiar with Poulsbo – what a sweet community. You know Whidbey well with a cabin on Harrington Lagoon.. a wonderful place (and yes to reason for marrying :D ) No doubt Whidbey is such a special place, Ebey’s is so unique and indeed, takes my breath away too. Yes to joining in on a farm to fork dinner or Orcas…I’m all in! Thank you for stopping by, Patsy! SO happy to read your note.
Hi Traci, I just came over from your cousin Amber’s page. Looking forward to receiving your emails and trying some of your recipes. I’m fully whole foods, plant based but I’ve got great egg and dairy substitutes that I make. I have an artist friend who lives on Whidbey …it seems like such a beautiful place. I’m your neighbor to the north in Alberta Canada. So happy to have found your site. Kind regards🙏🏻
Hiii Neighbor Sandy! Thank you for your note and stopping by from Amber’s page! Hooray for egg and dairy subs – sounds like you’ve been at it for a while? Whidbey is such a beautiful place… I hope you’ll visit some day. I’d love to visit Alberta. I’ve so enjoyed BC when there, both the people and landscapes. Who is your artist friend – does he/she sell locally?
You had me at “…a young soul living in a 40 something year old body…”, 100% my demographic! Appreciate your real person being their best and enjoying this life overall approach. I have made a number of your recipes after google searching lead me to them and finally took a moment to click the About section. Thanks for your site and sharing a piece of your world!
Hi Hannah! Ah, thank YOU for your note! Full disclosure, I recently turned 50 (goodness)! SO happy to hear you’re enjoying the blog. Please keep in touch!
Great blog! Also love your linen overall style apron. Where did you get it? Thanks!
Hi Christine! Thank you for your note. I found my apron on Etsy and had a local seamstress do a few modifications. It’s well made and so comfortable! I hope this helps!
Love your blog! Makes me miss all the beautiful produce in the PNW! :)
Hi Erika! Thank you for stopping by and your kind words. Perhaps you’ll make it back up to the PNW for a visit and enjoy the farmers markets again!
Best recipe instructions I have EVER come across, not to mention how delicious our meal was!
I have been transitioning my family to veggie dishes as we reduce meat in our diet. I’ve been looking for yummy veggie dish recipes for months and couldn’t find many good fits. I don’t have a lot of time to cook and we are emotional eaters so our healthy dishes need to be filling and warm to help in our transition to a healthier life. The yummy recipes I found were complicated and took to long. The recipes that are faster to make are SO simple they almost fall under junk food because it’s cheese and pasta. This week I was once again looking for new veggie-full recipes to add to our minimal recipe rotation so we don’t get bored. I came across your recipe for Tha Ginger Garlic Noodle Bowl and gave it a try last night. I was SO impressed with the detail and simplicity of your instructions it felt like you were in the kitchen guiding me while I was cooking. Everything was exactly as you described it! When I was done, the meal was DELICIOUS!
Now I am going through your blog and other recipes and it feels like I found a primary resource with everything I needed! Simple recipes full of veggies that are fast and easy to make, thoughtful and fulfilling meals that don’t feel like edible deprivation, and yummy breads and desserts too!
Your instructions were so impressive and our meal so delicious, that I just had to send you a comment. Please keep doing what you’re doing; you’ve gained a new follower as well as a promoter of your blog today.
Hi Judy! Thank you for your note, sending a smile and kind words. So happy you’re here! YES to noodle bowls (!!). Thank you too for your feedback on recipe instructions. I’ve been told before that my instructions are too long. Being a prior educator, I guess it’s in my training and habit that I try to anticipate problems, and so, I tend to work that into recipe writing. I hope you enjoy the blog and please do keep in touch!
I just found your blog through a Pinterest link for your amazing black eyed peas recipe. I made it yesterday and it was delicious! This made me come back to your site to browse other recipes.
You site is great! The pictures are lovely and I like the way you list the steps for the recipe. It is like an outline and I used it to help me teach my niece to read a recipe. You can definitely see your educational background and love of cooking combined beautifully on every page.
I look forward to trying many more of your recipes.
I made the Kale, Mushroom and Leek savoury pudding and it was amazing! I didn’t have gruyere cheese or parm but used cheddar and smoked cheddar. The smoked cheddar made the whole dish taste incredible!
And I’ve been making sourdough since Covid started, and am always looking for ways to use up extra starter
And I’ve been a vegetarian for over 20 years with some fish but wanting to cut that out as well.
Thanks and looking forward to trying your other recipes!
Hi Jane! Thank you for stopping by and sharing a bit about yourself! It’s so nice to read your comment. Hooray for an amazing savory bread pudding and yay YOU for over 20 years of vegetarian deliciousness!
Traci, I recently discovered your site. I love the variety of recipes. Even though I am not vegan I will share your site with my friends here in the mountains of Colombia. I am a Serious Home Baker and I am helping friends here in Colombia and beyond with baking bread. Some have asked for gluten free recipes so your site has really helped.
I am living in Quebec, Canada ;) mom of 2 awsome little girls, hardworker and in search of Work Life Balance!!! Your web site si so inspiring!!!!
You are proposing healthy choices and tasty receipes!!! Thank you!!! You make my journey so easier!
Was looking for an easy Sourdough and came across your Emilie Raffa recipe for Everyday Sourdough. Tried it AND it worked right off the page. Am currently dancing round the kitchen with delight. Thank you so much Traci and Emilie.
p.s. There are a couple of US to UK equivalents that I didn’t get right. UK Greaseproof paper is not quite the same as US Baking Parchment AND US oven temperatures are quoted without fan assistance unless stated.
Hi Mike! Thank you for your note and happy dance! Isn’t that sourdough fabulous? Since I’m unfamiliar with greaseproof paper, I’m unable to speak intelligently about it. That goes for an oven with fan assistance. Is that the same as a convection oven? I bake in a convection oven, but the temperatures stated in all my recipes are conventional oven temps (already adjusted for). I find baking in a convection oven simply produces more evenly baked.. well, anything! Thank you for stopping by!
I am so glad to have found you (about a year ago)! I have tried many of your recipes and each one has been a success! I love so many things about your blog and recipes but today as I was perusing recipes for dinner tonight I felt compelled to share my two most favorite things about your work. In fact, besides the consistency of delicious results, these two very thoughtful things are why I keep coming back to you. 1) THANK YOU for the “jump to recipe”. I so appreciate this when I need to get down to business quickly! :) I”d try many more recipes if more bloggers did this! If I like the recipe I go back to read their blog. The blog isn’t what “hooks” me. You do it right! And 2) another huge thanks for not only putting the standard measurement of an item in the recipe but you translate it for us non-math romance language majors kind of people … ie., 1 lb of peppers -about 2 large peppers . You know what I mean! Keep up the great work!!
Hi Shelly! Oh my goodness, thank you so much for your note, kind words and sharing your appreciation with me – it truly makes me happy to hear this! Working so much in isolation, it’s sometimes hard to discern what people are looking for, their likes, dislikes, if recipes are working for them (unless a comment is left)… so your note gives me a little more insight to what is working. Thank you for that and thank you for trying the recipes and enjoying the blog!
Hello, I just wanted to say I love all your recipes that I have tried and I am a 58 year old living with a younger soul. But I love your website
Thank you for your time and effort sharing your recipes.
Maple Grove, MN
Hello Kay! Thank you for your note and kind words. I appreciate your stopping by!
Having lived in Tokyo for 14 years, I have decided to open a humble English tea room to remind me of my original home in Yorkshire. Your blog is an inspiration and reminds me of many English recipes. I look forward to creating them in my new shop and spreading your ideas.
Hi Darren! Thank you for note and kind words. Your tea room sounds lovely. All my best to you in this new adventure!
Greetings from Germany!
I grew here in Germany and live here now, but my home away from home is still in the Bremerton area.
I am looking for good food and changing my diet because I have alleviated sugar levels.
I am not on any medication but really want to change how I see food and how I can make great meals with
plant base ingredients.
I am looking forward to following you and getting to know you as you get to know me in your blog.
Hi Traci! I was searching for a good stuffed cabbage roll (something like mom used to make) but vegetarian and found yours (after seeing others, which might be tasty but some ingredients don’t sound like they’d go together) and yours look delicious. Going to try them out this Sunday.
I turned vegetarian due to several things, one is ‘Forks over Knives’, very powerful ideas and imagery in that movie. Second is my girlfriend is needing a second kidney transplant (I just met her almost 2 years ago) and with hardly anyone really willing to donate I have decided to get as healthy as I can on a plant based food lifestyle. People think I am crazy, for both things, but mostly for no longer eating animals.
To be honest though, I feel like a million bucks compared to how I felt when I used to eat meat (and veggies were a lesser option on the plate).
I also live in Marysville WA and when I saw one of your posts that you lived in Whidbey, I felt I had to read more.
Also from Texas, and there’s nothing like a good BBQ sauce!
Thanks for what you’re doing. It is helping me with the transition and the cravings for things I used to eat (not necessarily the meat, but the tastes/aromas/textures).
I decided to try am meal prep instead of order a food service for one month to see if it is cost effective. For this weeks dinner I made the Texas potatoes salad and Blackeyed pea collard wrap. It is “DaBomb.com” as the young kids would say.
LOL – that sounds great Charletta! Good for you trying something new. I’d love to hear the outcome of your ‘experiment.’ One thing that turned me off about mail order food service (I tried a sample), is all the waste. SO much plastic that’s not recyclable, packaging etc… I could never stomach it. So happy you’re enjoying the blog, Charletta! Thank you for your note! :D
First of all- I love your work.. bravo you inspiring woman! Now my situation- I am planning on making your vegan peanut butter kiss cookies, one item I forgot to get from the grocery store is apple sauce. What would you recommend as a replacement? Are you using it for moisture or fat replacement or binding agent? I am thinking of a mashed banana or egg if I want to go the no vegan route. Any thoughts? Thanks!
Hi Rebecca! Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate it! For these cookies, the apple sauce is for binding and moisture. You could probably get away with equal parts mashed banana, but the flavor will be impacted. If you go with an egg, I think one should do it! Please let us know how these turn out for you either way!
Traci, so happy to have found you! Just now starting the transition to vegetarian / vegan after being inspired by “Forks Over Knives.” Hubby is Type2 and i am very overweight. I had found an article from you on Pinterest that i neglected to pin & i NEED it but can’t find it again! I think it was a week or two of budget-friendly meal ideas including avocado toast or blueberry/raspberry smoothie for breakfast, your snashed chickpea sandwich, etc… Help!? :)
Hello Angee! Thank you for stopping by and your note. So happy to hear your and your hubs shift in lifestyle. Forks Over Knives is powerful. I wish I could point you to that pin, but I have no idea where/what it is. I don’t do roundups on my blog, but have lots of blogging friends who do and who have shared my stuff on Pinterest. Use my search bar and drop down menu bars at the top to find those things you’re looking for here. I hope this helps. Sending my best to you two on your transition! Yay YOU!
That must have been how i saw it – some collection. Thank you for the reply & the encouragement!
Love my new discovery….you`re sooooo handy with that camera young lady , stunning pics. I definitely need to raise my game now. Got lots of inspiration from your site. Thank you.
Hi Traci, I love your blog and found it as I was pinning on Pinterest one day. I also checked out your friend Izzie’s blog “She Likes Food” that you mentioned on your blog, and I love her blog too. I would love to know of any more blogs you like as well. I signed up for your emails and look forward to many days ahead of wonderful recipes. Also, Love Cheeto! He’s adorable. I have a grey/black stripe kitty named Harvey. I think he pretends he doesn’t like to be cuddled too.
Thank for your delicious recipes.
Hi Alice! Thank you for your note. I appreciate your writing and enjoying the blog! Izzy’s site is sooo good and that Cheeto is such a character! Your Harvey is just messing around.. he really wants your attention! :D
I AM SORRY I MISS WRITTEN THE SALAD HAD NO HONEY IN IT IT WAS THE SUMMER GARBANZO BEAN SALAD WITH CREAMY DILL DRESSING I OMITTED THE MAYO IT TASTED GOOD THE OTHER ONE I WANT TO TRY IS THE SMASHED GARBANZO BEAN SALAD SANDWICH. JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW YOUR RECIPE INDEX HAS THE SAME SALADS TWICE.
DO YOU HAVE RECIPES FOR YEAST LESS BREADS, EGG LESS BAKING, GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR MIXES MINUS XANTHAN GUM?
Hi Lonalee! Thank you for your note. My recipe index is not easy to use. I’m sorry about that. It’s something I want to get fixed. It’s on my list. The recipe index with a (V) next to the word indicates Vegan. I do not have recipes for yeastless breads. Look under Vegan for eggless baking. I do not have any gluten free flour mixes. Check out Minimalistbaker.com for gluten-free flour mixes.
I TRIED ONE OF THE SALADS IT CALLED FOR HONEY I DIDN’T LIKE THE TASTE OF IT WITH HONEY SO NEXT TIME I AM GOING TO OMIT THE HONEY. THE SALAD HAD GARBANZO BEANS, DILL, HONEY, OLIVE OIL, VINEGAR I AM GOING TO MAKE IT TONIGHT FOR SUPPER.
HI, I HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH CATER ACTS IT IS EASIER TO SEE THE LETTERS THAT IS WHY I AM USING BIG LETTERS.
I REALLY LOVE YOUR PINTEREST PAGE THERE ARE 2 SALADS I AM GOING TO TRY.
YOUR WEBSITE IS COOL.
HOW FAR ARE YOU FROM QUILCENE WASHINGTON?
I HAVE FRIENDS FROM THERE.
Thank you for your note and your kind comments! I hope you enjoy those salads! We’re about an hour and a half NorthEast and a ferry ride, form Quilcene. I’ve been to Quilcene.. it is quite beautiful! :D
Oh, check out my blog, too!
Beautiful work, Deborah! The colors, lines and and shapes of your work resonates with me. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you! I hope, some day, to be half the photographer you are!
I love Whidbey! Do you know Robbie Lobell; I’ve studied with her there. Your blog is gorgeous!
Thank you, Deborah! I feel the same about Whidbey. I have seen Robbie’s work, but have not met her. I would love to bake with her flameware. What a gift to be able to learn from such a skilled and talented craftswoman. Thank you for stopping by!
Robbie’s flameware is great! I have a couple of pieces I use all the time. You should definitely connect with her. I’ll be seeing her soon at the annual pottery show in NJ. We did an article together a few years ago for Ceramics Monthly about pots and food. She and partner Maryon raise donkeys!!!
I am so thrilled to have found Vanilla and Bean! The style is sleek and clean and filled with a love for a healthy lifestyle. You sound like an amazing person and I’m glad we got to exchange a few short emails and I’m excited about featuring your recipe on my blog soon and I look forward to learning from you. Thank you so much for your kind words and generous spirit.
It’s a pleasure to meet you, Pepper. I’m so excited about your blog too! I can’t wait to see how it grows and educates us about the amazing and interesting fruit of ‘Theobroma’. It’s history is rich. Thank you for the opportunity to share my chocolate ice cream recipe on your blog. I hope your readers enjoy it!
Wow, stunning recipes and photograph. Thanks so much for sharing your recipes and beautiful photos with the rest of us!! Your dishes literally whisk me away to a small farm to table diner in a cottage on Orcas Island. I think we’d all love to join you for a dinner there someday…..
Hi Betty! Thank you for your kind comments. You are most welcome! Oh wouldn’t it be fun?! A gathering of food lovers on Orcas Island…. I’m already dreaming!