Now don't get me wrong: I'm not saying that there isn't a time and place for veggie burgers, non-dairy milk beverages, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream. (Dear readers, you know how much I LOVE my coconut milk ice cream!) But to eat more healthfully, we need to choose whole, organic fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains as the centerpiece of our diets. And having a collection of plant-based recipes that offer us simple and delicious ways to prepare these foods is essential.
When I heard about Dr. Neal Barnard's latest book, The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook: 125 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Jump-Start Weight Loss and Help You Feel Great, it sounded like just the kind of book to get anyone started on the fast track to achieving and maintaining vibrant health. Turn to the very first page of the book, and you'll read, "This book holds the culinary secrets to lifelong health." It's a promise that was fulfilled in the pages that followed.
Let me share a few words about the book's authors: Dr. Neal Barnard has long been one of my heroes and a dear friend. A clinical researcher, prolific author, and founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), he has worked tirelessly for decades as an outspoken advocate for health, nutrition, and higher standards in research. Dr. Barnard is also president of The Cancer Project, a nonprofit organization advancing cancer prevention and survival through nutrition education and research. He generously provided the foreword to my first book, So, Now What Do I Eat? and was instrumental in helping me with the breast cancer prevention legislation I worked on in New Jersey back in the 80s.
Robyn Webb is an award-winning nutritionist, cookbook author and teacher, who has been a passionate advocate of cooking well and eating wisely for most of her life. Because of health problems within her own family, mostly notably diabetes, Robyn learned early on the importance of a balanced, healthful approach to eating. She is an active member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and serves currently as the past chairman of the Cooking Schools and Teachers section.
The bulk of the book contains simple recipes for eating healthfully and enjoying every bite. But it also includes many thoughtful tools that will help you revolutionize your kitchen and your life, easily and effortlessly. You'll learn the science behind making health-promoting food choices and how to make your foods fit your health and weight-loss goals. You'll discover all the essentials for stocking a vegan kitchen and even a recipe for making your own vegetable broth.
Many recipes include a wonderful little "Did You Know" sidebar, with tasty tidbits of information about the dish or one of its ingredients. I learned a lot of neat little culinary morsels from reading these boxes! For example, did you know that you can use your rice cooker to cook quinoa or that you can use chickpeas to make brownies? Nutritionals are thoughtfully provided for each recipe, and I noticed immediately that the recipes in this book are consistently low in fat and calories (even the desserts!) But after tasting several dishes, I quickly learned that they are also high in flavor!
Since in my mind, there are few foods more beautiful, sweet, rich, and juicy than fresh pineapple, the recipe for Tempeh Burgers with Pineapple Salsa caught my eye. The tempeh is first bathed in a tasty ginger-citrus marinade, then pan-seared and topped with a delightfully fresh and fruity pineapple and mango salsa.
Mixed Vegetable Curry with Whole Wheat Couscous blended together two of my favorite spices, coriander and cumin, with a medley of colorful vegetables. The little brown bits you see are zereshk, (European barberries), which are like tiny, sour, currants or grapes. They are high in vitamin C and added an interestingly sharp contrast to the sweetness of the sweet potatoes and carrots.
What I really liked about the Udon Noodles with Shiitake and Button Mushrooms is that this dish is quite tasty either hot or cold. And it's so simple and quick to prepare, you won't get overheated in your kitchen making this dish, even on a day as hot as the day I made this:
Following is the for recipe Udon Noodles with Shiitake and Button Mushrooms from The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Press. Copyright © 2010.
1 8-oz package udon noodles
1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
1 Tbs minced garlic
1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 Tbs black bean sauce
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 small carrot, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps
1 cup thinly sliced button mushroom caps
1/4 cup mirin
1 Tbs soy sauce
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tsp chopped toasted almonds
1. Cook udon noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat 1/4 cup broth in a large skillet over medium heat. Put in the garlic, onion, and black bean sauce and cook for 2 minutes. Add the ginger and cook for 2 minutes.
3. Add the carrot and cook for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the mirin and cook until it evaporates.
4. Add the remaining 1 cup broth and the soy sauce and cook for 2 minutes. Gently add noodles and toss to combine.
5. Serve noodles topped with scallions and almonds.
Note: In the photo above, you'll notice that I added a cup of spinach and 1 cup of shelled edamame to the recipe.
The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook is the perfect book for anyone who wants to eat more healthfully and deliciously. It has become a cherished addition to my own collection of vegan cookbooks, and I will be buying many copies to give as gifts to family and friends. Right now, I have an extra copy of The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook to give away to one lucky reader*, who will be selected at random. To enter to win this wonderful book, please follow these three simple steps:
1. Follow this blog. (There's a link in the upper left corner of this page.)
2. Leave a comment on this post. (Receive an extra entry if you tell me what your motivation for becoming vegan or your inspiration for exploring a vegan diet is!)
3. Unless you know that I already have it, please include your email address in your comment, so that I can contact you when you win!
If you'd like to earn extra entries, you may do so by either tweeting about this contest or posting it to your facebook page with a link back to this post. Thank you for visiting, and good luck!
*Contest is open to all entrants with U.S. postal addresses.