Monday, December 15, 2014

The Forks Over Knives Plan
Review and Giveaway

This is the book you want to get that special someone, who could use a gentle nudge and some friendly day-to-day hand-holding while transitioning fully to a healthful and delicious, whole-food, plant-based diet. In The Forks Over Knives Plan, husband and wife physician team Alona Pulde and Matthew Lederman meticulously lay out a step-by-step guide to the life-saving plan featured in the groundbreaking documentary, Forks Over Knives.  

Part One explores the many benefits of adopting a whole-food, plant-based diet, and explains how and why it creates and supports vibrant health. Part Two outlines a comprehensive four-week plan and walks readers through each stage of the transition, including a pantry purge. Fear not, vegan friends, this is no slouch into vegan eating plan. This is eating healthfully and deliciously and regaining our health starting right now and being fully supported in the process. Culminating in 100 easy-to-prepare recipes by Del Sroufe and Darshana Thacker and colorful eye-appealing photos by Tina Rupp, the journey to delectable, whole-food, plant-based eating is made delightfully simple and fun! From breakfast right through to after-dinner dessert, readers are treated to taste-tempting recipes like Multigrain Pancakes with Fresh Berries, Beets and Barley Salad, Polenta Curry, and Chocolate Raspberry Parfaits. Here are just a few of the dishes I made from the wonderful recipes in The Forks Over Knives Plan:

Potato-Vegetable Chowder—Who doesn't love a great chowder? This one is seasoned with thyme and is creamy, nurturing, and delicious.

Close your eyes, and imagine you are tasting a spoonful of this wonderfully warming soup.

The Penne with Tomato-Mushroom Cream Sauce was a snap to put together and oh, so delizioso!

This hearty Lentil-Vegetable Stew really hit the spot on one of the coldest days of season so far.

Tonight, I'm going to prepare Roasted Stuffed Winter Squash, so I thought I'd share this lovely recipe with you, too. It sounds so perfectly warming, tasty, and filling on such a chilly day! The recipe is from The Forks Over Knives Plan: How to Transition to the Life-Saving, Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet by Alona Pulde, MD, and Matthew Lederman, MD copyright ©2014 by Monica Beach Enterprises, LLC. It is reprinted here with the kind permission of Touchstone, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Photo ©2014 by Tina Rupp
Roasted Stuffed Winter Squash
Winter squashes, such as acorn and butternut, can be tricky to work with because their tough skin is hard to peel. Preparing squash this way -- stuffed with a savory filling and roasted -- puts that sturdy shell to good use. The rice should be quite moist after it cooks in step 3; it provides good contrast to the squash and helps the stuffing mixture stay together without becoming chewy or dry during baking. ~ Darshana Thacker

Makes 4 stuffed squash halves

2 medium acorn squash
½ cup wild rice medley
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth, plus more as needed
½ medium red onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1½ teaspoons dried rosemary
½ cup finely chopped carrot
½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
½ cup small broccoli florets
½ cup small cauliflower florets
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt
3 tablespoons pine nuts

1. Cut each acorn squash in half through the stem. Trim the stem and remove and discard the seeds (keep the skin on).
2. Bring a large saucepan or pot of water to a boil. Add the squash halves and cook until the squash is slightly soft when pierced with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the water and drain well. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
3. Meanwhile, bring 1½ cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the wild rice medley and cook, covered, over medium heat for 25 minutes. (Alternatively, follow the cooking instructions on the rice package, using a bit more water than called for so that the rice is moist after steaming.) Remove from the heat and set aside.
4. Use a spoon to scoop out the inner edges of each cooled squash half to create a wider and deeper hollow for the stuffing; leave about half of the squash flesh attached to the peel. Reserve the scooped-out squash flesh for the stuffing. Set the squash shells aside.
5. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
6. In a skillet with a lid, combine the vegetable broth, onion, garlic powder, ginger, and rosemary. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, covered, until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Add the carrot, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, black pepper, and salt to taste, cover, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes more.
8. Add the reserved squash flesh and wild rice. Use a wooden spoon to mix the stuffing together; it should be a bit creamy. If all the liquid has dried up, add about ¼ cup broth or as much as is needed to make it slightly creamy. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Remove from the heat.
9. Arrange the acorn squash shells on a baking sheet and divide the stuffing evenly among them. Sprinkle the pine nuts on top.
10. Bake until the pine nuts are browned and the stuffing is heated through, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for a few minutes before serving. Serve hot.
Congratulations to everyone involved with the creation of The Forks Over Knives Plan, which was recently chosen as an Apple Best of 2014 selection!

The best review I've read for this book appears on The Forks Over Knives Plan Amazon page. Reader Lani Muelrath writes: "The new Forks Over Knives book is like a visit with the kind plant-based doctor you wish you had. The doctor who is keenly interested in your health and well-being, assumes you actually ARE interested in taking practical steps – instead of pills – to be healthier. The doctor who believes you do have the drive to make better choices. The doctor who appeals to and honors your intelligence about it all." And in the words of T. Colin Campbell, PhD, author of The China Study, The Forks Over Knives Plan is "a smart, user-friendly 'how-to' book on using whole, plant-based foods." Enter now to win a copy for yourself or someone you love by leaving a comment below, and then follow the Rafflecopter prompt to complete your entry.* Earn additional entries by following any of the other prompts in the Rafflecopter box. Good luck! 

*Sorry international friends, this giveaway is open only to U.S. residents.  

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Vegan Casseroles
Review and Giveaway

A truly great cookbook is filled with easy-to-follow recipes that ensure perfect results every time, while at the same time inspiring home cooks to experiment, explore, and elaborate. Julie Hasson's terrific new book, Vegan Casseroles, is that and more.

Aside from the occasional holiday noodle kugel I enjoyed at my grandmother's house, I don't think I ever ate anything resembling a casserole as a kid. I know my mom never made one. (Not even with the help of Hamburger Helper.) So the word 'casserole' intimidated me. I thought it was some kind of fancy-schmancy style of cooking, rather than the simple, hearty fare that it is.

Because I never thought of a lasagna as a casserole, it was one of the very first one-dish meals I ever endeavored to make. Since making a lasagna for the first time can be an intimidating cooking endeavor (it was for me!), this only added to my trepidation concerning the mysterious "casserole." After years of trial and error, I came to believe that my "famous" Spinach Lasagna was as close to culinary perfection as a home cook could get. But Julie's Zucchini Basil Lasagna is over-the-top delicious and one-up on my recipe! It is not only sublimely delicious, it also comes together in a snap! For a hint of "meatiness," I added neat Italian Mix to the zucchini filling and perhaps a bit extravagantly, I also melted some Daiya Mozzarella Shreds over the top. I have since made this dish without the additions, and even though I'm not a huge zucchini fan, it was super yummy.

Take a perfect golden cornbread recipe and a deliciously smoky sloppy Joe recipe,  and voila! you get Julie's scrumptious Sloppy Joe Cornbread Casserole. Instead of TVP, I used neat Original Mix made with pecans, garbanzo beans, gluten-free grains and spices. It's a wonderful, gluten- and soy-free alternative to textured vegetable protein. This dish is as down-home, comforting, and nurturing as any meal I've ever enjoyed. And it was even more delectable reheated for lunch the next day!

After not consuming any sweets for more than three weeks, the recipe for Cranberry Apple Crumble was calling to me. And WOW! was it ever-so-yummy right out of the oven! The intoxicating aroma that spread throughout my house in waves of heavenly bliss beckoned me to taste that first forkful of deliciousness. It was worth the wait! And while it would have been amazing topped with a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream, this dessert was sublime all on its own.

The next recipe I'm going to sink my teeth into is Mujadara, an ancient Arabic dish made with rice, onions, and lentils. (The earliest recorded Mujadara recipe dates back to the year 1226.) I'm sharing Julie's Mujadara casserole here, so you can make it, too! The tantalizing recipe from Vegan Casseroles © 2014 by Julie Hasson is reprinted here with the kind permission of Running Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group.
Photo ©2014 Felicia Perretti
Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow or sweet onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
½ teaspoon sea salt
¾ cup brown lentils
¾ cup uncooked brown or white basmati rice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups steaming-hot vegetable broth, or 4 cups steaming-hot water with 1 to 11/2 tablespoons vegan chicken base, such as Better Than Bouillon, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Minced fresh parsley, for garnish

Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sprinkle with the salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring as needed. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes, or until the onions are a deep brown color.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.

Scoop the caramelized onions into the prepared baking dish. Stir in the lentils, rice, cumin, and hot vegetable broth. Cover the baking dish tightly with a double layer of aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour, if using white basmati rice, or 75 minutes if using brown basmati rice, until the rice and lentils are tender and have absorbed all of the liquid. Add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with minced parsley.
If you'd like to create flavorful, one-dish-wonderful meals you'll want to enjoy over and over again, get yourself a copy of Vegan Casseroles!  And if you'd like to win a copy for yourself or someone on your gift list, simply leave a comment below telling me about your memory of the first casserole you've ever eaten, and then follow the comment prompt in the Rafflecopter box. (This step is mandatory for entry.) After you leave a comment, you can earn additional entries by following any or all of the other Rafflecopter options. I'll be selecting one lucky winner at random.* Good luck!

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*Sorry international friends, this giveaway is open only to U.S. residents.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Vegan Without Borders
Review and Giveaway

Another winning collection of recipes from the amazingly prolific Robin Robertson!?! I can hardly believe it! Her latest title, Vegan Without Borders is a gorgeous hardcover book abundant with delectable, easy-to-prepare recipes from around the globe. When flipping through all the pages of tantalizingly beautiful Sara Remington photos, you're going to have an extremely tough time choosing which recipes to sink your teeth into first. I know I did. In a clever twist on the book's title, you'll also find colorfully bordered pages on the front and back covers and sprinkled throughout the book, which evoke a feeling of the many cultures and cuisines featured. The wonderfully crafted book design will lure you into taking your palate on an around-the-world adventure.

I "traveled" first to Spain with a delightful recipe for Vegetable Paella. This hearty stew is delicately seasoned with saffron and smoked paprika. Eggplant and artichoke hearts are delicious alternatives to the meat and seafood typically found in paella. And as Robin suggests in the headnote for this recipe, the next time I make this luscious dish, I think I'll add some baby bellas, too.

The real test of a good feta cheese stand-in for me is whether or not it lives up to fond memories of my favorite Persian breakfast of feta, walnuts, and raisins with warm pita bread. Feta, which originated in Greece, is a salty, crumbly, briny, curdlike white cheese made from sheep and goat's milk. It is also popular in Middle Eastern and Eastern European cuisines. Enjoyed with a cup of nice, hot tea, Robin's recipe is made from tofu and had just the right balance of saltiness from miso and briny"ness" from olive oil and lemon juice to take me back in time.

I'm sure that monks would swoon over Robin's Temple Soup, and so will you! This hearty, flavorful dish known as kenchinjiru in Japan, is an example of shojin ryori, or Buddhist temple food, a style of cooking based on compassion for all living beings and emphasizing seasonal vegetables and soy foods. There's a boatload of delicious nutrition in every spoonful of this soup made with kabocha squash, carrots, sweet potato, edamame, spinach, tofu, and shiitake mushrooms simmering in a luscious broth.

Robin's colorful recipe for Kung Pao Seitan and Eggplant was a big hit at our house. With a delightful array of flavors and textures, this vibrant dish is far superior to the classic Szechuan Kung Pao chicken dish so ubiquitous in Chinese restaurants. And I never knew that Kung Pao could be served with cashews instead of peanuts. YUM!

No trip around the world is complete with a sampling of desserts, and the photo and recipe for Mango and Rice Verrines reminiscent of Thai sticky rice were irresistible. Unlike most rice pudding recipes, this one starts with cooked Jasmine rice, which means you don't have to labor over the stove endlessly stirring! I'm so in love with this recipe, I'm sharing it below.

The following recipe for Mango and Rice Verrines from Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson ©2014 is reprinted with the kind permission of Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC.

These luscious rice pudding parfaits were inspired by my favorite rice dessert: the mango and sweet sticky rice of Thailand. Traditionally, this dessert is served on a plate with a scoop of coconut-infused rice surrounded by slices of mango. My version opts for a more unusual presentation, by layering the ingredients in clear glass dessert or parfait bowls or wineglasses. Verrine originally referred to a small glass container with no base that could hold a layered appetizer or dessert, which allows for a vertical and visually appealing presentation.

1 (13.5-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
½ cup natural sugar (try organic coconut sugar)
2½ cups cooked jasmine rice
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
⅛ teaspoon salt
2-3 ripe fresh mangoes, peeled, pitted, and finely chopped
¼ cup roasted unsalted peanuts or cashews, crushed

In a large saucepan, combine the coconut milk and sugar, and bring almost to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the cooked rice, vanilla, and salt, and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, or until desired consistency is reached,stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool. Spoon a small amount of the rice into the bottom of 4 clear dessert or parfait glasses (wineglasses are good for this). Top each with a layer of chopped mango, followed by another layer of rice, until the ingredients are used up (or the glasses are nearly full). Sprinkle the tops with the crushed nuts. Refrigerate until serving time. Serve chilled.

If you'd like to add a bit of delicious international flair to your cooking, you'll want your very own copy of Vegan Without Borders. And right now you can enter to win this delightful book just by leaving me a comment below telling me your favorite international cuisine, and then following the prompt in the Rafflecopter box. (This step is required for entry.) After you leave a comment, you can earn additional entries by following any or all of the other Rafflecopter options. I'll be selecting one lucky winner at random.* Good luck!

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*This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada. 

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Sara Bella Upcycled
Review and Giveaway

What happens to the 1 trillion single-use plastic bags that are used worldwide each year? While some are reused, most end up in landfills or become litter that gets entangled in trees, chokes animals who are tempted to ingest them, or floats off in waterways, often suffocating or poisoning sea creatures. And plastic bags can take up to a thousand years to decompose—still leaving behind toxic particles, even after they break down.

Think about it: About a million plastic bags are used every minute. In the US, some states, like New York, enable consumers to recycle plastic bags, including frozen food bags. Here in the city where I live, plastic shopping bags have been banned, but a plastic bag ban merely shifts production to paper bags and compostable bags, both of which also have dire environmental consequences. And even with the plastic shopping bag ban in my city, we have no recycling method for frozen food bags, so they continue to make their way into landfills and cause devastating harm to animals. According to the International Animal Rescue Foundation, the damage plastic bags cause to wildlife is catastrophic:

Plastic bags are made of polyethylene and polyethylene is a petroleum product. When animals consume such plastic bags they are then poisoned by the chemicals within that bag as it passes through the animals digestive system or they simply choke to death. In many case animals stomachs and intestines become so clogged with plastic bag waste that many die just from this complaint. Plastic bags are often mistaken as food by marine mammals such as turtles that believe a floating bag is prey such as jelly fish. 100,000 marine mammals die yearly by eating plastic bags.

Sea Turtle mistaking a plastic bag for a jellyfish. Photo credit: ©npwsnorthernmarine
A cultural shift away from the use-and-toss culture is the better solution. A single reusable bag can eliminate hundreds (if not thousands) of plastic bags. One enterprising entrepreneur combines art and ingenuity to tackle the problem head-on. Artist/designer Sara Weiner "rescues" plastic bags and banners and turns them into functional upcycled products that are as beautiful as they are green.  At her Bend, Oregon studio, she creates colorful handbags, totes, wine carriers, wallets, zip pouches, bibs, purses, messenger bags, and even very cool fashion wear from plastic bags and banners that otherwise would have contributed to the plastic-bag crisis.

Upcycled Designer Trench Coat Photo Credit: Tambi Lane
You can feel truly wonderful about purchasing something lovely from Sara Bella Upcycled for yourself or someone you love, because 95% of every item is made with upcycled plastic. And the process for making all of Sara Bella Upcycled’s products is marvelously low-tech. They turn recycled plastic bags into "fabric" by fusing the bags together in layers. Feeling creative? You can even make your own upcycled fabric with the simple instructions you'll find on Sara Bella Upcycled's website or if you're in Bend, you can take a fun two-hour class and learn how to fuse plastic bags to create beautiful material!

As an artist, I deeply appreciate the creativity that goes into each and every Sara Bella Upcycled design. All of the products are fun and fashionable, and no two are alike. I got myself a Veggie Box Tote, and I am thoroughly delighted with not only its beauty and functionality, but its durability. So many of my reusable shopping bags have fallen apart quickly. Recently, one of the handles on my favorite Whole Foods bag fell apart right in the middle of the parking lot, as I was carrying my groceries from the store to my car. I thought that kind of thing only happened with the handles on paper grocery bags. I wasn't expecting to have to scramble under cars on all fours retrieving cans of tomatoes and garbanzo beans in the rain. Now I feel not only colorful and classy, but safe and secure strutting down grocery store and parking lot aisles with my new Veggie Box Tote!

Sara Bella Upcycled’s Veggie and Fruity Box Totes are the perfect size for my Saturday farmer's market haul! They are smaller than the large totes, but they are roomy enough for a bounty of delicious goodness!

Here's another view. You may notice that the Fruity Box Tote is empty, and if you look closely, you can see the tag still attached to one of the handles inside the bag. That's because I'm giving it away to one lucky reader! And that reader could be YOU!

Simply visit Sarabella's website, have fun browsing around and looking at all the pretty things, and then leave a comment below telling me which item(s) you find most intriguing. (Me? I'd LOVE one of those pretty aprons featured in the flash on the home page!) I'll select one winner at random to receive the lovely new Fruity Box Tote pictured above! As always, follow the Rafflecopter comment prompt to enter the giveaway, and if you want to increase your chances of winning with  additional entries, you can follow any or all of the other prompts, too.* Good luck!

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For more information about Sara Bella Upcycled and to peruse all the pretty things, visit their retail store and workshop in Bend's Maker's District at: 1234 NE 1st Street or visit their website.

*Sorry, international readers. The giveaway is open only to readers with a US postal address.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Plant Power Review and Giveaway

I am a Nava Atlas fan. I own, love, and have reviewed two of her earlier books, Wild About Greens and Vegan Holiday Kitchen. I'm also honored to be a contributor on her wonderful website, VegKitchen. Her latest book, Plant Power: Transform Your Kitchen, Plate, and Life with More Than 150 Fresh and Flavorful Vegan Recipes is destined to become a vegan classic. With jaw-droppingly exquisite photos from gifted vegan food photographer, Hannah Kaminsky, readers will have a tough time deciding which vibrantly colorful recipe to make first.

Whenever I crack open a new cookbook, I find it hard to choose which recipe to make first. I'm so excited, I want to try them all! This time, my bountiful harvest of apples decided for me, and I've been enjoying lots of Green Smoothies with Banana and Apple for breakfast. It's such a naturally light, sweetly delicious, and nutritious way to start the day. And it's such a lovely shade of green!

Serendipity is when you're thumbing through the pages of a new cookbook, land on a photo that whets your appetite so strongly your tummy starts to growl, and you find that you have ALL of the ingredients on hand to make it! That's exactly what happened when I eyed Hannah's gorgeous photo of Nava's Chickpea and Kale Sandwich Spread. While my photo doesn't come close to capturing the recipe in all of its lusciousness, I can honestly say that after eating this sandwich, every time I look at my own photo I start to salivate a little. With every bite, a savory combination of curry, cumin, mustard, and dill danced deliciously together in my mouth.

It's a challenge getting my husband, Mark to consume enough food to ensure that he's eating enough calories. Fortunately, he loves pizza and pasta. (Good for his waistline, not so much for mine.) More and more I've been cooking without oil, preferring to eat my fats in their whole-food form. So I really appreciate that Nava gives readers the option of sautéeing with oil, vegetable broth, or water, and gives the appropriate measurement for each. I joyfully dug into her recipe for Pasta with Hearty Lentil and Spinach Sauce (choosing the vegetable broth method). Served with a side salad and toasted ciabatta, this peasant-inspired meal was molto buono, and Mark eagerly asked for a second helping!

Crumbled tempeh and chopped walnuts seasoned with chile and sweet paprika are at the heart of these scrumptious Tempeh and Walnut Soft Tacos. Their meaty texture and picante flavor will delight ominivores and vegans alike. We enjoyed this dish accompanied by Nava's Southwestern Flavored Kale Salad with tomatoes, avocado, red bell pepper, and corn topped with a creamy Cilantro-Lime Dressing.

I'm a sucker for Asian sweet and sour dishes, and the recipe I'm most anxious to try next is the Sweet-and-Sour Stir-Fried Vegetables with Seitan or Tempeh. I'm sharing Hannah's gorgeous photo along with Nava's recipe below, so we can all try it together. If you make it, please let me know what you think!

The recipe for Sweet-and-Sour Stir-Fried Vegetables with Seitan or Tempeh by Nava Atlas ©2014 is reprinted with the kind permission of HarperOne.

Photo ©2014 by Hannah Kaminsky.
This sweet-and-sour stir-fry, featuring high-protein seitan or tempeh along with colorful vegetables and pineapple, has several steps but can be made easily and at a leisurely pace. Best of all, it results in a delicious and nourishing meal. This is especially good served over bean-thread noodles or Asian brown rice vermicelli, but soba or udon work well, too. Long-grain brown rice and brown basmati rice are good choices as well. Serves 6.

1 tablespoon safflower or other high-heat oil, or 1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
1 pound seitan, cut into bite-size chunks, or one 8-ounce package tempeh, diced
1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large broccoli crowns, cut into bite-size pieces
2 medium red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium zucchini or yellow squash, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 medium ripe fresh tomatoes, diced
2 cups fresh pineapple chunks (about 3/4 inch thick) or one 20-ounce can unsweetened pineapple chunks in juice, drained and liquid reserved
Sweet-and-Sour Sauce (recipe below)
Hot cooked rice, quinoa, or noodles

Optional Toppings:
Chopped cashews or walnuts
Reduced-sodium natural soy sauce or tamari
Sriracha or other Asian hot sauce

Heat half the oil, broth, or water in a stir-fry pan or wok. Add the seitan or tempeh and stir-fry over medium-high heat until lightly browned, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Heat the remaining oil, broth, or water in the pan. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until golden. Turn up the heat; add the garlic, broccoli, and bell peppers and stir-fry for 5 minutes.

Stir in the zucchini and stir-fry just until everything is tender-crisp, about 2 minutes longer, then stir in the tomatoes and pineapple chunks.

Stir in the sauce and cook until it thickens. Taste and adjust the sweet-sour balance with more agave and/or vinegar (as called for in the sauce recipe) to your liking.

Serve at once over hot cooked grains or noodles. Pass around any of the optional items for topping individual portions.

Sauce: (Makes 1½ cups)
½ cup fruit juice (pineapple juice works best — use reserved juice from canned 
pineapple if using; mango juice or nectar is good, too)
2½ tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch
½ cup vegetable broth or water
¼ cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium natural soy sauce or tamari, or to taste
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 to 2 teaspoons grated fresh or jarred ginger

Combine the fruit juice with the arrowroot in a mixing bowl and stir until dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk together.

Note: Why a pound of seitan but just 8 ounces of tempeh? Seitan is more moist and less dense; a pound of tempeh would be quite intense in this dish. But if you’re a big fan of tempeh and want a higher-protein dish, go for it—use two 8-ounce packages.

Nutrition information:
 Per serving with seitan: Calories: 264; Total fat: 7g; Protein: 22g; Carbohydrates: 32g; Fiber: 4g; Sodium: 516mg
Per serving with tempeh: Calories: 237; Total fat: 9g; Protein: 10g; Carbohydrates: 34g; Fiber: 6g; Sodium: 237mg

If you want to transform your kitchen, your plate, and your life with fresh and flavorful vegan recipes you'll want to enjoy over and over again, Plant Power is the perfect book for you! Along with more than 150 delectable recipes, you'll find a guide to the benefits of a plant-powered life, nutrition basics, meal-planning strategies, and much more. And now you can win a copy of Plant Power for yourself or someone you love. Simply leave a comment below, and then follow the prompt in the Rafflecopter box! (This step is required for entry.) After you leave a comment, you can earn additional entries by following any or all of the other Rafflecopter options. I'll be selecting one lucky winner at random.* Good luck!

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*Giveaway is open only to readers with US and Canadian postal addresses.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If the product is purchased by linking through this review, I receive a modest commission. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The HappyCow Cookbook
Review and Giveaway

With vegan eateries springing up everywhere (hello Omaha!), living and traveling as a vegan has gotten so much easier and lots more fun. A quick visit to the HappyCow website will point the way to veg restaurants from Milan to Minsk—complete with reviews from diners. And with the release of The HappyCow Cookbook, now you can take your vegan palate around the world right from the comfort of your very own kitchen! I was excited to find recipes from some of my most favorite vegan eateries like Café Blossom and Hangawi in New York City and Real Food Daily in Los Angeles. Even more exciting was the opportunity to sample fare from restaurants I have always wanted to visit but haven't had the chance to, like Vertical Diner in Salt Lake City and Ain. Soph Ginza in Tokyo.

Here in Eugene, OR, we've got our very own famous vegan restaurant, the Cornbread Cafe, which has the distinction of being the very first vegan restaurant to be featured on The Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives! I've been a fan of Cornbread Cafe's down-home, delectable vegan comfort food since it first opened as a food cart downtown on Oak Street.

It wasn't very long before Cornbread Cafe evolved from its humble beginnings as a food cart to a colorful, full-service restaurant complete with comfy diner-style booths and lunch counter. When friends visit from out of town, I can't wait to take them to Cornbread Cafe to experience the decadently delicious Eugenewich. Take a peek at my very own personal Cornbread Cafe photo gallery. Look closely—you may even see someone you know!

Cornbread Cafe is renowned for its incredible Eugenewich, pictured below. Also shown are several of its fabulous side dishes: (clockwise from top left to right) Mac Uncheese, Uncle Todd's Greens, Sassy Slaw, and just visible all the way over on the left is a hunk of my favorite side— Cornbread Cafe's scrumptious namesake cornbread.

To put it mildly, I'm cuckoo for Cornbread Cafe's signature cornbread. So when I flipped through the pages of  The HappyCow Cookbook and found the recipe for Skillet Cornbread along with recipes for the cafe's crispy-good Chicken Fried Tempeh and impossibly thin and delicious Tofu Omelet Sheets, I just about flipped! (I also just about kicked myself in the pants for recently getting rid of my cast-iron skillet.) But I made the cornbread in a muffin pan instead of a skillet, and it came out gorgeously golden and tasted every bit as delicious as the cornbread I've enjoyed so many times at the restaurant. With just a schmear of strawberry jam on my cornbread muffin...WOW! What a treat!

Following is the recipe for Cornbread Cafe's Skillet Cornbread reprinted with the kind permission of BenBella Books. A couple of notes: I avoid products containing palm oil, so I used vegetable oil instead of EB to grease the pan. And because I used a muffin pan instead of a cast-iron skillet, the cornbread was fully baked in only 17 minutes. (Be sure to use a toothpick to test your batch.)

Cornbread Cafe Skillet Cornbread
Serves 6–10

1 to 2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter substitute (I used vegetable oil)
1 cup cornmeal (medium ground)
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup soy or rice milk
1⁄3 cup oil
Egg replacer for 2 eggs (follow directions on box)

For the topping (optional):
Earth Balance butter substitute (I opted for strawberry jam)
Agave syrup 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put 1 or 2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter substitute (or other vegan margarine) into a 9" cast-iron skillet and put in the heated oven for about 10 minutes.

Add together the dry ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl and whisk together, combining thoroughly.

Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients (soy or rice milk through egg
replacer). Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well, just until all of the dry mixture is incorporated with the wet. Some small lumps are okay.

Remove skillet from oven and coat bottom and sides with the melted Earth Balance. Pour (or scrape)
batter into skillet, spreading evenly with rubber spatula. Bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes in
the middle of the center rack. Test the center of corn bread with a toothpick after 20 minutes. When the toothpick comes out clean without crumbs sticking to it, the corn bread is done. Let it cool for a few minutes and, if desired, serve with Earth Balance and agave syrup.

If you'd like to take your taste buds on a tasty trip around the world, get yourself a copy of The HappyCow Cookbook. You'll soon be enjoying dishes like the Pistachio-Crusted Eggplant Napoleons from Millenium in San Francisco and Red Curry Tempeh Tempura from Veggies on Fire in the Netherlands. And now you can win a copy of The HappyCow Cookbook just by leaving a comment below and following the prompt in the Rafflecopter box! (This step is required for entry.) After you leave a comment, you can earn additional entries by following any or all of the other Rafflecopter options. I'll be selecting one lucky winner at random.* Good luck!

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*Giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If the product is purchased by linking through this review, I receive a modest commission.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Salad Samurai
Review and Giveaway

We eat lots of salads at our house, especially in the summertime. And while most people think of salad as a rather uninspired dish to be served "on the side," (or worse, as a chilled vehicle for consuming tuna, chicken, shrimp, or eggs), the artfully crafted plant-based culinary creations you'll find in Salad Samurai: 100 Cutting-Edge, Ultra-Hearty, Easy-To-Make Salads You Don't Have To Be Vegan To Love will lay any such notions to rest. Made with a variety of vibrantly delicious whole-food ingredients, sumptuous dressings, and a cornucopia of tasty toppings, award-winning chef Terry Hope Romero elevates the art of salad making to soaring heights of satiety and yum. No longer will salads be relegated to the lowly side dish. Within the pages of Salad Samurai you'll find entrée-sized salads that will satisfy your hunger for a meal that is healthy, hearty, and delicious.

When you get the book into your hot little hands, do take the time to savor the spectacular, full-color photos. Because I flipped through all 180 pages just before bedtime one night, I found myself dreaming about Terry's Tempeh Reubenesque Salad and her Bacon, Kale, Tomato Bowl. And while my photos may not do justice to the recipes, here is my rendition of the BKT. This luscious concoction of kale, avocado, red onions, tomatoes, Tempeh Bacon Bites, and Coconut Bacony Bits (recipes included in the book!) in a tangy maple-Dijon vinaigrette was extremely filling and made my taste buds very happy.

Tip: It doesn't hurt to make friends with the nice people working in the produce department at your local store. Case in point: I was asking one of the produce managers at my neighborhood supermarket if he would be willing to mark down some organic bananas that had brown spots on them, which he was happy to do. Just then, a co-worker walked by, overheard our conversation, and asked me if I would like some super sweet organic corn he was about to mark down to 3 for $1. (Yes, please! I'll take them all!) That was not only lucky, but serendipitous, because I was planning to make the recipe for Mexican Roasted Corn Salad with Avocado (aka Esquites) from Salad Samurai that very evening and just hadn't gotten around to picking out the corn yet!

I am crazy for super sweet, organic, fresh corn, and I could eat this twist on the classic Mexican dish, every day. (Given my fondness for Mexican food, art, and culture, I swear I must have lived in Mexico in a previous life.) A medley of avocados, cilantro, tomatoes, chilé pepper, and corn (still warm from roasting!), are bathed in a creamy, cashew-lime dressing. I'm pretty sure this must be what paradise tastes like. Make sure to scroll down, and grab the recipe, because it is that sensational!

The following recipe for Mexican Roasted Corn Salad with Avocado (Esquites) is from Salad Samurai by Terry Hope Romero ©2014. Reprinted with the kind permission of Da Capo Lifelong Books.

Serves: 3 to 4

Creamy Lime Dressing
½ cup unroasted cashews 
½ cup hot water 
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice 
1 teaspoon olive oil or coconut oil 
1 clove garlic, peeled 
2 teaspoons white (shiro) miso

Corn Salad
4 ears of corn, husks and corn silk removed 
Olive oil 
½ cup lightly packed, chopped fresh cilantro 
2 scallions, green part only, thinly sliced 
1 green or red jalapeño pepper, roasted or fresh, seeded and minced 
1 ripe avocado, diced 
1 big red ripe tomato, cored and diced 
2 teaspoons chili powder (preferably Mexican, such as ancho or chipotle) 
Lime wedges, for garnish
Make the dressing first. Soak the cashews in the hot water for 30 minutes, then pulse the cashews and soaking water in a blender until smooth. Add the remaining dressing ingredients, pulse until silky, then chill until ready to use.

Preheat a cast-iron grill pan over medium-high heat. Rub the ears of corn with olive oil and grill each ear until the kernels are lightly charred, turning the cobs occasionally, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer them from the pan to a cutting board and cool just enough to handle. Use a sharp knife with a thin blade to slice the corn kernels from the cob; for best results (and to prevent kernels from taking flight), slice a few rows off an ear, lay it flat on the cutting board, then slice off the remaining corn. Always keep one side of the ear flat on the cutting board.

Transfer the corn to a big mixing bowl. Add the cilantro, scallions, and jalapeño. Drizzle on the dressing and toss to combine. Transfer the salad to serving dishes. Top each serving with diced avocado and tomato and sprinkle each serving with chili powder. Serve immediately with lime wedges for squeezing over the salad while the corn is still warm!

Want to be the master or mistress of your salad-making domain? Get your hands on a copy of Salad Samurai! Want to win your very own copy? Simply leave a comment below, and then follow the prompt in the Rafflecopter box.* After you leave your comment, you can earn additional entries by following any or all of the other Rafflecopter options. I'll be selecting one lucky winner at random. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Sorry international friends. The giveaway is open only to readers with US postal addresses.
 Note: This post contains affiliate links. If the product is purchased by linking through this review, I receive a modest commission.