Monday, June 24, 2013

The Great Vegan Bean Book
Review and Giveaway

Nutrition. Flavor. Value. Variety. Versatility. Sustainability. What's not to love about beans? Along with other legumes, beans have been harvested among the Earth's most ancient cultures for a very long time—as far back as the Bronze Age. But aside from baked beans, refried beans, and bean burritos, many of us really don't know beans about beans. And if you ask most people to list their top ten favorite foods, I would venture to guess that beans would not hold a spot on most lists. Take me, for example. I really do love lentils, I favor fava, I'm crazy about cannellini, and I'm goofy for garbanzos. But when it came to knowing about the amazing variety of beans and the multitude of ways they can be deliciously incorporated into just about every kind of recipe imaginable, well, what I knew about beans didn't amount to a hill of beans. 

Beans are inexpensive and packed with nutrients. They're low in fat, high in protein and fiber, and are a great source of B vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidents. Some beans are also a great source of other vitamins, like edamame, which has a whopping 30 mcg of vitamin K per quarter cup. Just about every culture is known for its own special bean dish, and according to, beans are a perennial staple crop that can be harvested non-destructively. Like all legumes, they are one of the world's basic foodstuffs, and the harvesting of beans does not kill the plant nor prevent future harvests.

Kathy Hester's latest book, The Great Vegan Bean Book contains more than 100 delectable recipes that will revolutionize your relationship with beans. 

The recipes are broken out into type of dish, and you'll love the cute chapter titles like "Noshy Beans" and "Portable Beans." I wanted to try something completely different from my typical bean fare, which consisted mainly of black bean burritos and various kinds of dal, so I started with the recipe for Pineapple Rum Beans Over Coconut Lime Sweet Potatoes. The flavors were every bit as lusciously tropical as they sound! I'd show you my own photo, but it doesn't compare to RenĂ©e Comet's lovely image from the book:

From breakfast (oh yeah, I'm making those Enchanted Vanilla Pancakes!) to dessert (there's a little sneak peek below)—The Great Vegan Bean Book contains an enticing collection of recipes that will quickly elevate your opinion of the humble little bean.

As a side note, I  admit that I have come to rely a bit to heavily on canned beans. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But my friend Allison, has been telling me for years that there's nothing like the flavor, texture, and extra nutritional boost you get from cooking beans from scratch. And while I don't own a pressure cooker (Allison's preferred method, because they cook up in just 35 minutes!), I do own a slow cooker (thanks to falling in love with Kathy's first book, The Vegan Slow Cooker), so I followed the directions for slow-cooker beans at the beginning of The Great Vegan Bean Book and have been cooking up perfect beans every time! There are cooking instructions for every kind of bean imaginable—Rattlesnake beans? I had no idea! Nor had I ever heard of Barlotti, Apaloosa, or Goat's Eye beans! (Have you?)

I couldn't recall the last time I'd enjoyed beans as part of a dessert, so I couldn't wait to try Kathy's creative recipe for Vanilla and—my heart be still—Rose Water Parfaits. Sandwiched between bands of vanilla cookie crumbs, the lusciously creamy layers are made with lentils, tofu, and coconut milk yogurt (I used So Delicious, of course!) delicately flavored with vanilla and rose water. I improvised a little by mixing in tiers of strawberry sauce infused with Rose Petal Jam from Premrose Edibles. These parfaits would make such an exquisite finish to a special meal, an indulgent breakfast, or a delightful midday treat!

If you love beans and especially if you think you don't, get your hands on a copy of The Great Vegan Bean Book! Your taste buds will thank you, and your appreciation for one of nature's most perfect foods will soar. And if you'd like to win a copy, I'm giving one away. Here's all you need to do:

Update: Congratulations to Lizzie Bordello, the lucky winner of The Great Vegan Bean BookHuge thanks to everyone for participating in the giveaway! More fun reviews and giveaways to come, so please stay tuned ... Lizzie, please check your email inbox for a message from me on how to claim your prize. 

Leave a comment below telling me what your favorite bean dish is.* To increase your chances of winning this fabulous book, you can also do one or more of the following, and leave a separate comment for each item you complete:

1. Follow this blog.
5. Tweet the following message: I'm Tweeting to win a copy of Kathy Hester's The Great Vegan Bean Book via @vegiegail #vegan #recipes #book #giveaway

Good luck!

*Sorry international friends. This giveaway is open only to US residents.