Good Food Gratitude With Hollan Hamid

AL Hollan | Good Food Gratitude

Food, and the love for it, can be a double-edged sword. That’s one of the things that Hollan Hamid shares in this episode and her book, Good Food Gratitude Cookbook. Hollan’s perspective is that creating healthy food does not need to be difficult or complicated. She incorporated that mindset when she created her recipes. Getting into the vegan lifestyle was a no-brainer for her. It’s something that’s usually misunderstood because of all the bad stigma that gets attached to it. Hollan explains that most of the disease we are feeling is connected to the food we eat. She encourages people to consider eating clean, eating vegan to achieve a healthier and more fulfilled life.

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Good Food Gratitude With Hollan Hamid

I want to welcome you to this episode, Hollan.
Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Is your last name Hawaii?
My last name is not Hawaii. It just happens to be my Instagram handle and my website. It seemed easy to have it on the book cover so people could find me.
I’m excited about your book, Good Food Gratitude. This is not just any book. It’s a cookbook. I’m going to start with the standard question that I have for everyone even though you’ve been a friend for years. That is, why did you write this book?
It was always a dream of mine. When I went to culinary school, I had dreams of turning it into something, especially a book and a cookbook. Chefs that I looked up to always had cookbooks. When I changed my diet years ago, friends who would come and stay with me would say, “I could eat that way if I just had you in my kitchen.” I felt the easiest way to get me in people’s kitchen was to write a cookbook.
That’s a fast way. We talked about it. You create it and then you could scale. Create it once and sell it over and over again. It’s duplicating you, Hollan.
It’s putting me in places. I’m in all 50 states. I’m in Australia and Canada. I sent one to Germany. The impact a book can have is amazing.
It’s fantastic because we’re talking about authoring life here. That’s the name of the show. It’s sharing your stories with the world and what it’s like to share your story? First of all, what are you exactly bringing into their kitchen?
Good food and gratitude, those are the two things that changed my life. First of all, eating good quality foods. For me, that means vegan plant-based foods. When I changed my diet, it was the difference between feeling not good and healthy to feeling vibrant and energetic. It aligns so many things in my life. About five years into it, I realized that I needed something else in my life. Food wasn’t going to change everything for me. That came as a gift with gratitude and just being grateful for everything I have in my life. Good Food Gratitude is 100 recipes that are plant-based. I call them comfort foods. I never think of myself as a chef. I think of myself more as a home cook.
What’s the difference between a chef and a cook?
I had a restaurant, but it was more of a cafe. It’s very homey, mom and pop. When I think of a chef, I think of someone in whites with a hat, who loves being on the line. It’s definitely more disciplinary. There are recipes and you follow them to a tee. I like being in the kitchen and changing things. I love very simple foods. I want to teach people that the kitchen doesn’t need to be evasive. It’s not something that’s scary. I went to culinary school years ago and I would look for recipes for things. I’d be like, “How can someone that doesn’t have a background read this and feel like they could do it?” What I did was make all of my recipes. One by one, I started taking ingredients out to see if they were necessary. Once we got it to the most simple form it could be but still have it be delicious and nutritious, it made the cut.
Anytime you can add more fruits or vegetables to your diet, it's going to add to your health. Click To Tweet
I didn’t know that. That’s the story behind the story. I have been the proud recipient of your meals and you have fed me in many different ways. I didn’t realize that part of your recipes, in terms of Good Food Gratitude, was simplifying them for unnecessary ingredients.
Some recipes will have you go to five different stores to find spices. It will be a quarter teaspoon of nutmeg. Do I want to run out and get it? Does it make a difference? A lot of people get caught up in thinking they have to do it exactly as it is, especially if you’re not comfortable in the kitchen. I wanted to make it so that anyone can do it and that it is easy. There are a few recipes that are more complicated than others, but most of the recipes have six ingredients or less.
Writing this book, is it beyond the food?
It is beyond the food. The book starts talking about beyond the plate and what it was like for me. I grew up in San Francisco, which is like the food mecca of the world. I loved food. We actually modeled briefly together.
You and me in 1993.
I talk about it in there. Food became very skewed for me at that time because it was during the weight look. You had to be thin. I started using food or lack of food as a weapon to keep my body thin. It put me at war with food. Not until I got pregnant was it like a light switch that went on. I realized, living in San Francisco, that food was so good. It spoke to my soul. After I had my son, I knew we were going to move to Hawaii. There wasn’t a lot that you could do. I thought, “What if I went to culinary school?” That’s a job I could have in Hawaii. I love being in the kitchen.
When my son was a year and a half, I decided to go to culinary school. I fell in love with the making of food. We got to do everything from bread making to chocolates to morning pastries to everything in between. It gave me this love of food. With that, and with having three children by the time I was 30, food had become a weapon against my body. I was overweight. I remember Christmas right before my 30th birthday, I got on a scale and I was 160 pounds. That would be what I would be at when I was six months pregnant. I thought that something has to change, something isn’t working. Another book that changed my life completely was called Skinny Bitch. I thought, “I’m going to be vegetarian one week and then I’m going to be vegan the next week.” I made it a day then I turned vegan and I haven’t looked back. The weight started falling off my body.
I fell in love with all these ingredients I didn’t even know in the world. It got me back into the kitchen. Being in LA, we’re in the vegan heaven. There weren’t any products out there and the ones that were weren’t good. I thought, “What if I take my culinary background and what I know about food and start making recipes and start switching things out?” I fell in love with cooking again. I wanted to make stuff all the time and I wanted to learn how to do it. These foods that I used to think were bad for me, all of a sudden, I could have a carrot cake that I was making with brown rice flour and sweetening with agave syrup. I was having applesauce instead of oil. That’s what happened. It goes into my whole story and the effect that going vegan had on my health.
Back in 1997, I became vegan for three weeks. I flew down to Costa Rica with my best friend and we were backpacking across Costa Rica. I didn’t trust the meat and the dairy. I was like, “I’m not going to eat meat or dairy here.” Costa Rica, it was amazing because it was big bowls of beautiful fruit, juicy beautiful food. There was rice, beans, and plantains. My girlfriend and I would backpack and walk. One time, we walked for 4 or 5 hours, hiked up to volcanoes, and all of this travel. On that trip, being active plus being a vegan, I lost weight. I didn’t really need to lose weight but I did. I lost about 5 to 10 pounds on that trip. It was great. As soon as I came back, I came back to my habits. The weekend before this interview, I was a vegan.
When you get into your habits, you’ll stop eating certain foods because you’re eating the other foods over and over again. I can tell you that I feel a little different. I feel some things and I think it’s fantastic. What I love is what you’re introducing is maybe someone doesn’t become a vegan but maybe they just learn how to prepare vegan foods as part of their diet. People are not eating enough plant-based food and that is contributing to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and all these. They’ve done interesting documentaries. I saw The Game Changers on Netflix, the one Arnold Schwarzenegger produced. They took two athletes’ blood and they did the little spinner thing. The person who had the chicken and the cheese burrito versus the burrito that was completely dairy-free, there were lipids in his fat.
The fat is floating to the top. That’s circulating around your body because it’s in the blood. The one thing I can say where I felt hope because sometimes I feel doom and gloom for friends and family that don’t eat the way I do was your body quickly adjusts. They had the same guy who had had the chicken burrito eat plant-based the next day and the fat was removed from his blood.
It shows that you can be in control of your diet, you just get to make the decision. With that perfect example from The Game Changers, I recommend that everyone buy Good Food Gratitude and then watch The Game Changers. It could be scary to leave a diet that you’ve been eating for many years.

AL Hollan | Good Food Gratitude
Good Food Gratitude Cookbook

It’s habitual. I know what my experience was with food. I also coach people and I cook for people. I know everyone’s body is different. I don’t try to push anyone into a vegan diet. I say, “Every diet you look at has either heavy vegetables or fruits and vegetables in it. It’s common among all of them. Anytime you can add more fruits or vegetables to your diet, it’s going to add to your health.” I have a whole other idea on it too. Because eating is personal, I recommend for people to find healthier ingredients for foods they love. If you love a Chipotle burrito, go there and try the sofrito. Get everything else you’d get in there besides cheese and sour cream. Eat it and see if it hits on those love of food brain cells.
We’re in deprivation when we’re in diets. The way I eat is pretty much based on foods I grew up loving in a vegan form. If I gave that to someone who doesn’t eat the same way as me, they wouldn’t stick to it. Normally, people do a diet or cleanse and then go back to what their habits are or what foods they ate before. I’m a big believer in teaching people what products to use to replace, whether you’re at a restaurant or you cook at home, and for you to put those into your recipes. If you love mashed potatoes, you can still have them but with no cholesterol in a form that doesn’t make you feel tired and still allows you to have energy. You’re going to stick to that. If I try to tell you that you can only have celery for your diet or your cleanse, most likely you’re going to go back to mashed potatoes that have butter and cream in them. Also, steak on top of it or maybe bacon sprinkled over that with wheat bread that’s made with eggs.
People don’t realize that they’re combining 3 or 4 different animals every time it’s on their plate. Never in nature would we find that. You would never be that wasteful in nature. Getting back to our roots and looking at what’s on your plate is important. I try to have people lean in. We can do three-quarters of your plate with plant-based foods. You can choose one thing and see how you feel. Are you willing to go vegan for a week and see how you feel? Can you break up with those beliefs?
Let’s take a deeper cut, Hollan, because I feel that you have even a bigger message. It is a step. It’s such an evolution. There are some hard facts of the environmental costs of beef consumption, animal consumption, that it’s well known and documented. At least, I’ve heard it with my California ears. I don’t know if everyone has heard it. When you eat beef, that’s a bigger polluter and contributes to the detriment of the environment. It destroys the environment.
It’s more than all transportation on this planet combined. People are getting electric cars more than all the conservation of water you can do. Even if you cut back to a one minute shower, every person in the United States. People giving up meat and dairy products would have a bigger impact. I know human beings have good hearts. I know there are many people alarmed about what’s going on. I definitely think people should start doing a Google search. I recommend a movie called Cowspiracy, which is incredible. It’s alarming to me. I want the planet to heal like our bodies want to heal, the planet wants to heal. I believe you just start treating it better.
For me, things that I had from childhood started going away. It was food. I believe it’s true in terms of environmental concern. The planet wants to heal. The planet knows what to do. As we continue doing all these things and doing more for-profit than we are for the purpose of anything. We don’t need to eat as much meat as we do and the planet will heal. You would be shocked at how many different issues there are in the world that changing and people having a tipping point of eating more plant-based could change.
That’s the message I wanted to hear from you. It can be a clarion call to everyone out there to think about what it would look like if I changed. Instead of having 100% animal-based, having 20% or less in terms of animal-based like the 80/20 rule. You know how you said that in The Game Changers, he went vegan the next day and his blood had no lipids in it quickly. What is possible if that’s the same thing that happens to the earth? Our bodies can heal quickly. Our bodies want to heal and the world wants to heal. For example, I haven’t drank milk for decades.
I’m shocked people still do. I was like, “You didn’t get the memo? That was so 1990’s.”
I have not drunk in the snot. There’s coding in the mouth.
Mucus is a protection and it’s inflammation. Your body is letting off inflammation and trying to coat everything with a protective barrier so your body isn’t absorbing it. You need to pay attention. I have many friends that are on sleep apnea machines, however, they won’t look at dairy. That’s one thing I want to say to people. We look at everything except for what we put into our body every single day that literally feeds ourselves to try to come up with the reasons our body is overweight or in disease. I talked to people and I’m like, “Do you think it could be the food you eat?” They’re like, “I eat healthy. I only eat Taco Bell two times a week.” They don’t want to have the conversation because food is personal. They don’t want to change it, but it could be the keys to your life are making these changes. The keys to a new life, to all the things you crave, to having a body that works for you instead of against you.
I wanted to speak into that because everything in life has a ripple effect. We get to realize our own consumption is creating a ripple effect. It was difficult for me to do this. Red meat, in 2019, I might have had it once or twice. It’s something that I removed. I’ve been doing more of an elimination. I’m eliminating red meat and I do a lot of vegetables and fruit. I eat at vegan restaurants all the time. Right now, it’s cheese which is made out of milk. I get to look at that and also chicken and eggs.
What a great time to give up cheese. There are many cheese replacements on the market that are incredible. When I went vegan, you didn’t even want to touch them. You were like, “That is not even close to cheese.” There are many dairies and different cheesemakers.
We look at everything except for what we put into our body every single day. Click To Tweet
There are a lot of almonds that are not too processed. You don’t want to have too processed stuff.
They’re doing it in the old world ways of cheese. They’re using almond milk, cashew cheese, coconut milk, and cultures. It’s getting close. What happens is that because it’s cow’s milk, there’s morphine in milk because it calms the baby calf. It’s a naturally occurring thing that’s in it. When we do cheese, it gets concentrated so the levels are higher. Cheese is literally addictive. People don’t know this. That’s why people have a hard time giving up cheese. I tell people, “Go a month and see what happens.” I never crave cheese. It actually turns me off when I see it.
When I heard it was made out of cow mucus pus, it turned me off for about 3 to 6 months.
It’s infected because there’s no way to do what we do and the insane amount of food and production that we do with a living being and have it be healthy.
If you’re sitting on top of a mountain, what message do you have for your readers?
A lot of the problems that you’ve seen in your life, whether it be your body, your weight, you’re in disease, you have allergies. A lot of what you see in the world that you want to change like the Amazon fires, Australia fires. If you like Greta, anything she talks about, she’s vegan as well, a plant-based diet can be the key to all of it. It’s the key to healing many things. A lot of people have been turned off by vegans and there’s an argument that happens. I just want to clarify. I believe there are three types of vegans in this world. One, you go into it for your own health reasons. Two, you go into it because you’re an environmentalist. Three, you go into it because you’re an animal rights activist.
When you’re talking to someone about a diet, especially a vegan diet, you want to make sure you know where they’re coming from because all three of them are extremely passionate about it. I think a lot of people have been turned off by animal rights activists. They’re closed off to it. I want to encourage people to look at all three, whichever one opens their heart. If they want to do it for animals, or for the environment like to Google. Find articles based on those things. If you want to do it for health and you’re reading from an animal rights activist’s point of view, it’s going to look different.
That’s a good distinction that you made. Thank you for making that. For me, I could take you home with me and stuff here in the kitchen. When I look at all the vegetables, I’m like, “What am I going to do?” The curries are good, I love that. It’s easy when it’s made for you or be like, “I’ll go to Cafe Gratitude.” Definitely, the environment is what’s speaking to me. Animals are what’s speaking to me and health. The reason I haven’t made the full turn is because there’s a lot of grain. I feel like grain doesn’t agree with me so much. What would you say?
I would say listen to your body because you know your body better than I do. I’ve been a grain-free vegan for years at a time. We would look at what you’re doing and then we would switch that out. If you’re doing chicken and do good with mushrooms, I’d say to have roasted portobello mushrooms as your chicken for a while. Do the same stuff. You’re doing greens and salads.
Potatoes are like a saving grace.
Sweet potatoes are my jam. I have those 50 different ways. This is something easy to know. Here’s a great little tip. Take a sweet potato and slice it like it’s toast. You can put it in the toaster two times and it cooks all the way through. Use it as your toast for avocado or whatever it is. Use it as a burger, bread or whatever it is you want to do.
That’s a great hack. How was it to share your story through your book?
It was incredible. There were parts of it that were hard though because there’s such an evolution in health. There’s an evolution to growing. I was like, “When am I ever going to finish this book?” I change if it takes too long. You change your thoughts. You change the way you eat. You have more to add to the bio. That part was difficult. I was like, “Can I just birth it and let it out? Maybe I can write another one about what chapter I’m at in my life.”

AL Hollan | Good Food Gratitude
Good Food Gratitude: When you’re talking to someone about a diet, especially a vegan diet, you want to make sure you know where they’re coming from.

The most incredible thing about sharing my story is, first of all, it makes you vulnerable because you’re putting it out there and you’re having an opinion on something. I have to deal with reviews and people that maybe don’t love certain things about it. It’s letting go of that. There’s been this saving grace where I get handwritten letters in the mail from people saying that my book changed their life. This book put me through the wringer to get it out. Having that is a full circle and supporting people.
Many people want to make changes and don’t know how. If I can help people with even one step or understanding it, and hopefully written in a way that just gives them ideas and doesn’t shame them. Before I was vegan, I didn’t think very much about food besides, “Does it make me skinny? Does it make me fat? Does it taste good?” I have empathy for people. I feel like this was the biggest gift that was given to me in my life, changing the way I eat. To be able to share that is a beautiful thing.
How can people find out more about you?
I am on Instagram and my website is My username is @HollanHawaii.
Where can we find your book?
My book is available on my website, on Amazon and at lots of different juice companies and vegan cafes across the country.
Hollan, it’s wonderful to have you here. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and for your vision.
I absolutely love you and thank you for supporting me and my vision.
I love you too, girl.

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About Hollan Hamid

AL Hollan | Good Food GratitudeAloha, Pleased to meet you.  I am Hollan. I am here to inspire you to take steps to change your life. I am a wife, mother, vegan chef, former restaurant owner, self-help junkie and now cookbook author. I have worn many hats in this life, but the only one that matters is my relationship with myself and my body.  When those two are aligned, everything falls into place. I am a better wife, mother, chef and am motivated to help others.

I live my version of my dream life. I am an island girl and feel my best when surrounded by water. I live on Kauai, the most beautiful place in the world. I am able to be in nature all the time. I write for a living, cookbooks, books, blogs, programs and articles. I travel so much. I always dreamed of seeing the world.  Now it is my reality. I shift when I’m not feeling something in my life, and always reassess what is working and what is not.

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