Crave Eat Heal by Annie Oliverio plus Butternut Squash Queso Mac & Cheeze

Food cravings usually come in categories, for me anyway.  I want salt or I want sweet, or both, spicy or warm.

This new book, written and photographed by my old friend Annie, has something for everyone.  It manages magically and deliciously to keep two feet on the ‘healthy’ mat while using the freshest, most organic of ingredients.  Just don’t think about why it’s healthy, just make these recipes out of a uncontrollable desire to satisfy your own cravings.  Annie has done all the work to keep these cravings healthy, cruelty free and fun all in one book.  Pretty cool, huh?

Crave Eat Heal by Annie Oliverio

Whether it’s Carbs you’re craving, chocolate (duh!), icy cool stuff, creamy, crunchy, salty or just plain ole junk – this book has it all.  Big beautiful pictures with clean, easy to follow instructions.  It has recipes that everyone, everyone will love and enjoy while at the same time, help to keep their bodies strong and healthy.  

My first reading of Crave Eat Heal I thought… ‘I could just make the things in this book alone for about a year and never get bored‘  Love it

 I had a chance to ask Annie about her book, life and the vegan movement this month and she’s sharing her thoughts with my readers today:

Now that you’ve been fabulously successful with 2 books and a few more photography projects, what’s next for An Unrefined Vegan? I know you’re traveling a bit this summer, after that?

Annie: Ha! Yes, it’s tough being recognized wherever I go!

This is a good time for my blog, I think. While all of these projects were going on, I couldn’t focus on my blog very much and frankly, it became a source of stress. This forced me to make some decisions about the future of An Unrefined Vegan. I started by paring posts down to 1, sometimes 2 per week. This allowed me to spend more time on recipes and photographs and removed the self-induced pressure. Then, I splurged for a complete redesign. I needed it and the blog needed it. With the new design – a much cleaner, fresher look that more accurately reflects how I felt about the blog and the ideas behind the blog – I decided to clean out the long list of ads I had. I’m not in it for income (though I can certainly understand and appreciate why other bloggers are), so it just seemed like space that was being wasted. Going forward, I will continue to focus on clean, delicious recipes and mouth-watering photos.

And yes! I cannot wait to hit the road (or the skies, more accurately!) with my dad. We’ve planned a father-daughter trip to Europe and it’s going to be so much fun. Dad, at 81, is a huge inspiration. He continues to learn, seek out adventures, and stay active.

Crave Eat Heal has such a wide array of vegan ingredients. Did you ever think that you’d be using some of these foods and techniques in your daily diet when you changed to a plant-based lifestyle? 

Annie: like to think that in my omnivore days that I had an interesting and varied diet – but the truth is that my diet was fairly limited. And, it really was pretty unhealthy.

Going plant-based was eye-opening in so many ways. Although it’s possible to be vegan and subsist on processed and prepared foods, the route I took was to explore the bounties of the plant-based world. Seeds, nuts, grains, greens, beans, and of course all of the fruits and vegetables that we are so lucky to have delivered to our stores. For me and I know for many others, veganism sparks a curiosity in eating and creating. One becomes fearless in the kitchen!

Crave Eat Heal by Annie Oliverio plus Butternut Squash Queso Mac & Cheeze


Tell us a bit about how the process was for you with Crave.  And you got married in the middle of everything as well?   

Annie: Well, you probably well-remember how much whining I did throughout this cookbook!  I was lucky in that I know a couple of established cookbook authors who were more than willing to share their knowledge and experience with me, so in many ways I was prepared for what it would be like. But I wasn’t prepared for the amount of work involved.

But about the process…The first thing I did was set up a website for recipes testers. Best thing I ever did. I counted on their input so much! Once I got them going on  a few recipes I could really begin writing recipes and exploring how I wanted the photography to go. Writing was the easiest part for me and before I’d even gotten to the recipes, most of the other text was written or at least sketched out.

Yeah, Kel and I decided to make it official and we planned the wedding for shortly after the cookbook manuscript was due at the publishers. So, it was a kind of “reward” and something to look forward to after working non-stop for 8 months.

Thankfully neither Kel nor I are into big events so we went very, very simple. An old friend of my parents’ – the mayor of a lovely town in northeastern Ohio – married us in the town hall and only a few family members and close friends joined us. The ceremony took less than 5 minutes. Afterwards we went to a wonderful vegan-friendly restaurant, ate dinner, and carved up a vegan wedding cake. Chocolate, of course.


I love how you reel in the non-vegan reader in Crave with traditionally indulgent dishes and snacks.  Any favorite dishes that you have yet to veganize from pre-vegan craving days?

Annie: The one that pops into my head is Italian Wedding Soup – you know – with the little meatballs? It was one of my favorite soups as a kid, but I haven’t yet tried to recreate it. I’m sure it’s possible, though!

We picture your home, out in the open fields of Oklahoma to be calm and peaceful.  And yet you seem to be endlessly busy now days.  What pushes your seemingly tireless work with your blog, cooking, and now photography work?  Have you always been so busy and organized? 

Annie:  I’m a bit OCD, which you’ve probably guessed from our “offline” interactions.  I think my craving (hehe) for organization and order were always there, but it really wasn’t until I got out of college and lived on my own that those tendencies blossomed. And it makes perfect sense that I became an office manager and administrative assistant. I have a need to be in control…

Now that I “work from home,” I kind of dialed it up a bit more now that I’m working on my own projects and goals. I definitely do not have a problem being self-driven and if anything, I could learn how to slow down and relax. But, I really hate being idle. It just doesn’t work with my personality.

You mention the peacefulness of our rural setting – and I think that’s actually key. When I’ve driven myself absolutely bonkers with self-manufactured deadlines, etc., I have the option of stepping outside, breathing in the fresh air, and taking a long walk in the pastures to clear my head. It keeps me sane.

With a few years of living a vegan lifestyle, what changes have you seen in the vegan movement since first taking the plunge?  There’s good and bad as with anything I suspect. 

Crave Eat Heal by Annie Oliverio plus Butternut Squash Queso Mac & CheezeAnnie: There have been big changes. And really, they’ve happened and are happening so fast! You almost never saw anything in the mainstream press about plant-based eating and you can now find something about it – good or bad – every day. 

I’m going to be hosting a cooking class in July on making non-dairy cheeses at home and what struck me as I was sketching out the class was how we now have so many choices at the market: Treeline, Kite Hill, Heidi Ho, and other crazy-good cheeses made with whole, plant-based foods! And then of course you have the specialty cheeses like Miyoko’s Kitchen – – plus those old stand-bys, Daiya and Follow Your Heart. 

There really isn’t too much that’s bad. I don’t like seeing celebrities jumping on the vegan bandwagon briefly just to get publicity or to lose weight – but in the end, maybe that’s not such a bad thing, either. Anything that spreads the word about the health benefits of eating plant-based and the positive ethics of veganism is welcome, really.

You and Kel are both vegan, which I’ve discovered more and more, is such a rarity for couples, even in the highest profile Vegans out there.  How did you come to both make the change and were you always the main cook of the house?

Annie: I guess I kind of take it for granted but you’re right, it’s really pretty rare. The idea of going vegan had been on my mind for a while, and I knew that at some point I’d do it – but Kel is really the one who made it happen. We were eating at The Vertical Diner – which happens to be vegan – in Salt Lake City and Kel was leafing through a PETA magazine. He came across an article about how commercial chickens are raised/housed/slaughtered – and he turned to me and asked, “Should be go vegan?” And that really was it. 

I’m the cook. On those rare occasions when I’m traveling, Kel fends for himself pretty well (though I usually stock the freezer and cook up a big pot of beans) and is quite capable of putting together decent eats. He also makes some pretty mean green smoothies. 

There are vegans who don’t consider honey to be a problem and still use it in their diets. Do you see a problem arising from the growth of the almond industry now and how does that compare to beekeeping?  I know you and Kel at one time, pre-vegan days, had considered raising bees.

Annie: We had two hives for a while (sadly, both hives slowly died out) and our primary reason for having them Crave Eat Heal by Annie Oliverio plus Butternut Squash Queso Mac & Cheezewas for pollinating our orchard (which also slowly died out…do not try to grow fruit in Oklahoma) and garden. Harvesting honey was never part of the plan, even when we still consumed it. I think we were just both tickled by the idea of having our own bees, watching their activity and providing them with plenty of pesticide-free flowers.

I know that some vegans consume honey and each to his own, but for me, honey is a product of the labor of living creatures. As I wrote in a short essay a few years back: honey is for bees.

On the commercial level, I think we have some serious reckoning to do in the way that we farm. This goes beyond almond trees and bees. In an effort to grow massive quantities of food, we are doing irreparable harm to the ecosystem (not to mention our health) with the types and amounts of poisons with which we douse our food. It’s scary and I don’t think we will fully understand the consequences for many years. I don’t know what the answer is. I just know that the clock is ticking.



Tell us a bit about the Utah race you’re working on to honor your brother Charles.  Sounds like something that could really grow in popularity around the country eventually.

Annie: I’m really proud of this event. Last year I connected with a man who organized a group called Voices Against Brain Cancer. Mario lost his son to the same cancer that took my brother and he vowed to do whatever he could to stop the scourge of glioblastoma, the deadliest form of brain cancer. He’s an amazing guy – and not only because he’s a runner like me, and vegan – but because he’s built something powerful and positive through sheer dedication and positive energy. I have so much admiration for him.

Marco proposed that we do something together to honor Charles and since his organization puts on fundraising 5ks around the country, he suggested starting up a race in Salt Lake City. My family and I were all in and we brought my brother’s doctors on board as well. The inaugural race is set for October 31 and I cannot wait! My brother would be absolutely thrilled to know that family, friends, and strangers will be running – Run For Chuck – in his honor and to raise money that goes directly to brain cancer research at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Mario and I have plans to start a similar race in Oklahoma City as well.

Crave Eat Heal by Annie Oliverio & Butternut Squash Queso Mac n Cheeze - on

What’s next for Annie?  Any new books buzzing around in your head yet?  And what did you think of the process now?

Annie: After a brief vacation in June, my plan is to focus on content for my blog – and also to try to restore some balance in my life. I need to get outside more and to take a few steps back from social media.

I just don’t see myself becoming a serial cookbook author. But, I’d like to make some headway in a project that pulls together stories and writings from the past 20+ years into an e-book – really just for my pleasure. Writing a book is a huge but rewarding commitment. Having produced two books on my own and one through a publisher, I’ve learned that when you control the process (rather than relinquishing control to a publisher), you enjoy it much more.

And, I believe that I will have a cookbook photography job coming up towards the end of the year.

But really, who knows, right?!

Thanks,  Angela for giving me the opportunity to chat with you and your readers. And thanks for being such a good friend.

As for this creamy, delicious queso?  It sure hit my craving.  I used it as the base sauce for a gluten-free

Mac & Cheeze.

I mixed in some chopped jalapeño, a bit of cherry tomato and some black sesame seeds – because I bought a 2 Lbs. bag of black sesame seeds and everything I make that I can hide them in now gets a pinch or two.  I love the cheezy flavors Annie brings to this sauce.  Her hints for roasting a butternut squash worked fabulously not to mention making the kitchen smell divine while it baked!  The queso can transform into so many dishes or just stand all by itself as a creamy queso for chips or veggies.


Butternut Squash Queso
This recipe was inspired by an appetizer at Matthew Kenney’s now-defunct “plant-based Mexican kitchen,” Tamazul, in Oklahoma City. While everything I’ve eaten there has been delicious, fresh, and creative – their queso impressed me more than any other dish. I was too shy to ask how they made it, so I set about creating my own version. This also makes a delicious sauce for mac ’n’ cheez. Gluten-free, Oil-free, Easy
  1. 2 cups roasted* butternut squash
  2. 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked 8-12 hours, rinsed and drained
  3. 1 Tbsp. white miso paste
  4. 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  5. 1 1/2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
  6. 1 tsp. dried onion flakes
  7. 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  8. 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  9. 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  10. 1/4 tsp. cumin powder
  11. 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  12. Water, as needed
  1. Add all of the ingredients to a high-speed or regular blender and process until very smooth. You will need to tamp down the ingredients and add water – just a little at a time – during processing to get a very smooth texture.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan and gently heat. Serve warm with baked tortilla chips or fresh steamed vegetables. Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  3. Prep time: 10 minutes
  4. Cook time: 5 minutes
  1. Suggestions: Try using pumpkin puree or roasted sweet potato in place of the butternut squash. Reserve 1 cup of the queso to make Cheddar Cheez (see recipe on page XX). If you like it spicy, stir in a 1/4 cup of fresh, diced jalapeño peppers (or pickled jalapeños) – or for milder flavor – stir in a 1/4 cup of roasted red bell pepper. *Here’s how I roast a butternut squash: Preheat the oven to 425-degrees and line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut off the squash’s stem and pierce the skin a few times with a knife. Place the whole squash on the baking sheet and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the flesh of the squash is very soft (I test it by inserting a knife). The skin will be shiny and dark brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before handling. Peel off the skin, then break open the squash and scoop out the seeds.
  2. Makes 2 cups. Add additional water / nut milk for Mac -n- Cheeze
Adapted from Recipe reprinted with permission from Ann Oliverio and Front Table Books
Adapted from Recipe reprinted with permission from Ann Oliverio and Front Table Books

 Crave, Eat, Heal: Plant-based, Whole-food Recipes to Satisfy Every Appetite 

is available for pre-order now and will be released in May. 

Crave Eat Heal by Annie Oliverio

Annie has graciously offered two copies of her book for 2 of my readers:

1 hard copy to a winner inside the U. S.

and 1 copy of her Crave, Eat, Heal Outtakes E-book for 1 International reader.

To enter to win, please leave a comment on this posting.  2 winners will be chosen at random on May 7th, 2015.

You can also enter to win Crave, Eat, Heal + 3 other fun prizes over at Annie’s website An Unrefined Vegan


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13 thoughts on “Crave Eat Heal by Annie Oliverio plus Butternut Squash Queso Mac & Cheeze

  1. An Unrefined Vegan

    Many thanks, my friend. Appreciate your support and your “ear” for when I needed to vent and share – not only during the cookbook-writing process but on many, many other occasions. xoxo

    1. Angela @ Canned Time Post author

      Congratulations Karen! You’ll be getting the hard copy of Annie’s new book when it’s available from the publisher. Drop me an email with your name and address to ship to when you get a chance.
      Thanks so much for reading Canned-Time and have a great Mother’s Day ♥
      cannedtime11 @

  2. sue hegle

    I love the interview! Thank you for doing it! That butternut Cheese sauce sounds amazing, I cant wait to try it!

  3. EMC

    I’ve been seeing promo stuff for this book all over…. First time, I went and tried to request it through the library, not realizing at the time that it wasn’t out yet. Now, as I continue seeing things about it, seeing a few recipes from it…. I REALLY want it. LOL Thanks for hosting this giveaway!

    1. Angela @ Canned Time Post author

      Congratulations Lydia! You’ll be receiving the E-book Outtakes version of Annie’s book.
      Just email me at Cannedtime11 @ so we can send you the book.

      Thanks for reading! I know you’ll love all of her recipes.

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