Sandra and Susan Sellani grew up watching their Italian mother and grandmothers cook all manner of hearty Italian dishes.
The West Pittston natives treasured and remembered those family recipes, even though no one ever wrote them down.
So when Sandra Sellani moved to California at age 24 and became a vegetarian and later vegan, she wondered how to incorporate those family recipes into her life without sacrificing her dietary choices.
“I missed some of the foods from my past,” Sandra Sellani said. “I wanted to share them with people, share healthier versions of them.”
Susan Sellani drew upon her memory of their mother’s recipes and Sandra Sellani used her vegan know-how to craft recipes that would form their award-winning cookbook, “The 40-Year-Old Vegan: 75 Recipes to Make You Leaner, Cleaner and Greener in the Second Half of Life.”
The book recently earned an International Book Award and a Green Book Award, which recognizes books helpful to the environment.
“It’s so exciting to be acknowledged,” Sandra Sellani said. “This book is really a dedication to our mother and our grandmothers.”
Susan Sellani lives in Franklin Twp. now and while she does not follow a strictly vegan diet, creating the cookbook with her sister helped her realized how plant-based and vegetarian many of the family recipes turned out to be.
One of Susan Sellani’s favorite recipes, her mother’s macaroni and broccoli dish, hardly needed changing to make it vegan.
“It’s really exactly like my mother made it,” she said. “It’s one that I still make.”
She said they managed to include one of her mother’s show-stopper recipes — a stuffed artichoke.
“That one used to blow everybody away,” she said.
Since publishing the book, Sandra Sellani said it’s become a gateway to either full veganism or a few vegan meals for many people.
“It’s made a believer out of a lot of people,” she said. “This is really hearty, wholesome eating.”
Susan Sellani said she’s seen a “tremendous outpouring” of support, especially from people wondering what to cook for vegan family members at gatherings.
“This book is really designed for people to work it into their own diet,” she said. “I think there’s a mass appeal.”
The cookbook is available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble’s websites.