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Please welcome Layne Lieberman, an internationally recognized, award-winning culinary nutritionist and author of Beyond The Mediterranean Diet: European Secrets Of The Super-Healthy, to the Earth Balance blog!

Layne has a passion for wholesome food and healthy living and has been a leader and innovator in the food and health industries for over 25 years. She offers expert advice about diet, cooking and lifestyle without gimmicks or fads. Here’s what she had to say during our interview:

Earth Balance: Tell your story. How does plant-based eating play well with your newest book Beyond The Mediterranean Diet?

Layne Lieberman: Beyond The Mediterranean Diet: European Secrets Of The Super-Healthy is based on the diet and lifestyle secrets of the three healthiest countries in Europe, those with the lowest rates of heart disease, obesity and the longest lifespans. Europeans are locavores and although they eat (mostly grass-fed) animal products, portions are smaller compared to American super-sized portions. At home, fruits, vegetables and grains take center stage at meals. In fact, meals are planned around what is fresh and local at the farmers markets. Seasonal fruits often show up as desserts such as roasted figs and poached pears. Italians would never give up pasta dishes (often vegan) to conform to a diet that eliminated it—instead they’d opt for a dish like the vegan Spring Fusilli with Asparagus and Walnuts I feature in the book.

EB: What’s your personal favorite vegan snack?

LL: I love making homemade dips and spreads (hummus, avocado, eggplant, tomato) served with assorted crudité and fresh whole grain (really sour) sourdough bread. Everything organic and fresh!

EB: What role do Earth Balance products play in your cooking and baking? Do you have a favorite?

LL: My favorite is the Earth Balance original spread. I always go for “originals” of everything.  When you just want a buttery spread on a fresh, hot loaf of bread, Earth Balance satisfies with a delicious flavor and creamy mouth-feel.

EB: If you had a restaurant, what dish would always be on the menu?

LL: Ratatouille…  I love the movie.  The dish reminds me of summer in Provence, France. Tomatoes are my favorite vegetable (really a fruit), and peak flavor is summer when ratatouille is at its best. I love summer. It’s the season when I was born. You can find a simple roasted ratatouille recipe in my book, Beyond The Mediterranean Diet.  During winter, I stick to roasting seasonal roots and tubers!

EB: What foods are always in your fridge or pantry?

LL: ORGANIC… Almond milk, local and organic vegetables including tomatoes, carrots, red onions, avocados, sweet potatoes, kale, arugula or spinach and bananas, rice crackers, tofu, quinoa, oats, cornmeal, dark chocolate, cocoa powder, maple syrup, canned beans, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, apricot jam, cinnamon, lots of herbs, spices, Espelette pepper, sea or rock salt, hot pepper sesame oil, imported extra-virgin olive oil, walnuts, tamari almonds, frozen berries and an amazing loaf of fresh bread.