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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Giveaway is open only to readers with US and Canadian postal addresses.
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