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Vegan cook loves coffee, helped start open air market

Cary Ashby • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:15 PM

Four-year-old Clark Houtz happily chewed on one of his mother's freshly-made vegan chocolate cupcakes.

He said his mother only lets him have one per sitting, but he would eat five at one time if he were allowed. Chrissy Houtz laughed in response, saying he knows she lets him have more than one.

"I wasn't sure if I should have a vegan main course or a dessert, but I think people are more curious" about desserts, Houtz said about her choice for this week's featured recipe.

The State Street mother of three boys believes the cupcakes are a good for people who aren't vegetarians or vegans.

"Vegans don't eat any animal products," such as eggs, honey and dairy items, Houtz said. "You have to be careful with sugar."

The 29-year-old woman had been a vegetarian for about 20 years before becoming a vegan a couple months ago. Her sons Clark, Auggie, 2, and Otis, 12 weeks, are or will be vegetarians. Her husband Matt, a Progressive claims adjuster, is not.

Houtz does some gardening and enjoys reading as a family. She admits she doesn't have time for a lot of hobbies or clubs while staying at home raising three boys.

However, she has helped start the St. Episcopal Open Air Market, which runs on alternating Saturdays, starting July 12 through the end of the harvest season.

Houtz, her mother and several other church members started the market. "This is our second season," she said.

If there are a lot of gourds or pumpkins, "we'll keep going, but will be smaller," she said, referring to a yet-to-be determined end date.

When cooking or baking, Houtz keeps olive oil, tofu, vanilla and quinoa, which she describes as a grain that's a complete protein, at the ready. Houtz most often makes dishes with beans or quinoa. When it comes to last-minute meals, she makes dishes featuring beans, rice and of course, vegetables.

"With the kids, I don't have to do a lot of cooking. I'll make a soy dog (or burger) and we're just fine," she said. "I make a lot of boca burgers. ... The kids are always asking for soy dogs."

She couldn't recall the worst thing she's ever made, but she laughed about some peanut soup her mother made several years ago.

"It tasted like vomit, but she's a good cook," she recalled. "That's officially the worst thing anyone has ever made."

Her husband would say his wife's best dish is meatloaf.

"But I don't know," Houtz said. "I think I make a real good vegetarian chili."

When she was pregnant with all three of her children, she ate a lot of the chili.

"I've never had a problem with food when I was pregnant, not any of it just wanting more of it," she said with a laugh.

Houtz doesn't have a comfort food; it's actually a comfort beverage fair trade, shade-grown, organic coffee from Trader Joe's.

"I love my coffee," she said.

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