Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Abundance Diet
Review and Giveaway

With so many terrific new titles being released almost daily, it feels like I must have died and gone to vegan cookbook heaven! My latest treasure is Somer McGowan's The Abundance Diet. It is filled to the brim with flavorful recipes that will satisfy and energize you while supporting your most vibrant health. Somer, who overcame her own health challenge by adopting a whole-food, plant-based diet, guides and supports readers through a 28-day program that will empower you to take back your own health and do it ever so deliciously!

With recipes like this Chipotle Knock-off Chopped Salad, readers quickly discover that this style of eating is not about deprivation, but rather, a lively celebration of flavor and vibrancy!

Made with a fabulously simple and tasty recipe for Fresh Vegan Moxarella, this Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Lasagna won't leave you feeling over-stuffed, because there aren't any pasta noodles in this yummy and satisfying dish.

The ingredients in this colorful Roasted Tofu and Vegetable Stir-fry with Garlic-Ginger Sauce are alive with freshness and will leave you wishing you'd made a double batch so you could enjoy it all week long!

While my photo of Somer's Homestyle Mexican Casserole doesn't do it justice, this dish is such a joyful fiesta of flavors, you'll want to make it again and again. (I have!)

Ice-cream lovers take note: Cherry Garcia Soft-Serve is a luscious, guilt-free frozen treat that will satisfy your craving for something creamy, cold, rich, and delicious, but without the refined sugar, fat, thickeners, or gums found in most non-dairy frozen desserts at your local market. I'm so wild and crazy about this super quick and easy recipe, I'm sharing it below for you to enjoy!

The following recipe for Cherry Garcia Soft-Serve from The Abundance Diet, copyright ©2015 by Somer McCowan is reprinted here with the very kind permission of Vegan Heritage Press LLC. 

4 medium-sized bananas, cut into 1-inch pieces and frozen (I suggest making sure your bananas have a few lovely brown spots)
1 cup frozen cherries
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon to 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk, as needed
2 Tablespoons mini vegan chocolate chips (as you can see from the above photo, mine weren't at all "mini.")

In a food processor, process the frozen banana pieces, cherries, and vanilla until creamy, adding almond milk, on tablespoon at a time as necessary, for processing. Pulse in the chocolate chips. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

With a bounty of delicious recipes, terrific tips for reinventing your kitchen and saving money, and  a plan to simplify your menu and help you look and feel your very best,  I highly recommend adding The Abundance Diet to your recipe book collection.

And if you'd like to win a copy, please tell me in a comment below, what most motivates (or motivated) you to want to improve your diet—A weight loss goal, health concern, or care or concern for animals, the planet, or others? After leaving your comment, simply follow the Rafflecopter prompt to complete your entry.* You can earn additional entries by following any or all of the other prompts in the Rafflecopter box. One lucky winner will be selected at random. Good luck!

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*Sorry international readers. This giveaway is open only to residents of the United States.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The PlantPure Nation Cookbook
Review and Giveaway

In The PlantPure Nation Cookbook, the official companion to the inspiring documentary, PlantPure Nation, author Kim Campbell proves that healthful and delicious can joyfully coexist on your plate like two peas in a pod. Like its predecessor, Forks Over Knivesthe film's goal is to inspire thoughtful food choices that will help create "a world of healthy people, strong economies, sustainable food systems, and an environment on the mend." With a foreword by her father-in-law, The China Study author, T. Colin Campbell, and more than 150 delectable recipes, The PlantPure Nation Cookbook brings the powerful science-based approach to nutrition that is at the core of the film into the kitchen. Destined to become a favorite of both seasoned vegan and vegan-curious home cooks, alike, it's a resource you'll want to have close at hand when planning your next meal.

Thank you, Kim for sharing the culinary wisdom that could only come from 25 years of experience cooking for a vegan family. While I love the complexity of the subtle layering of flavors that are the hallmark of many fine gourmet vegan recipes, there is elegance in simplicity. Without a lengthy list of herbs and spices, the sumptuous flavors of fresh fruits and vegetables shine. And the sheer joy of putting together an outrageously delicious meal with fewer ingredients and in less time than a more complex one cannot be overstated. I fell head-over-heels in love the first time I tasted this sweetly satisfying Watermelon Smoothie, which has become my favorite indulgence on a hot summer day. Morning, afternoon, or evening, when the temperature is hovering in the 90s, this refreshingly delicious 4-ingredient wonder can be whipped up in 5 minutes! AND although it's divine when made with the sweetest watermelon you can find, it's also a fabulous way to use that less-than-stellar watermelon—the one you can't get all that excited about eating, but you don't want to waste. I'm so excited about this recipe, I'm sharing it at the end of the post.

From dozens of globally inspired entrées complete with tantalizing, colorful photos in The PlantPure Nation Cookbook, I first chose to make this yummy Black Bean Enchilada Bake. Flavorful, filling, and even with bake time, it went from kitchen to table in an hour. Its time-saving secret is that it is made with salsa, instead of the more traditional enchilada sauce. Such a surprisingly clever switch resulted in a spectacularly delicious dish!

Why make a stir-fry with twenty-two ingredients when you can make an incredibly delicious Asian-inspired dish with fewer than ten? This Portobello Mushroom and Broccoli Stir-Fry is made with hoisin sauce, but you'll save time preparing this recipe, because you won't be peeling, slicing, chopping, or mincing any garlic or ginger. A stir-fry without fresh garlic or ginger sounds a bit blasphemous, doesn't it? But once again, you'll be amazed by the brightness of the flavors in the finished dish, and your taste buds will ooh and ahh over each bite (as will those of your friends and family lucky enough to share this dish with you). But only you need to know that you didn't slave over your cutting board or stove to make it.

Chocolate lovers rejoice! Here's a tasty treat you can savor without any refined sugar or oil. These luscious little Chocolate Power Bites are made with cocoa powder and whole-food ingredients. And just one little bite will satisfy your craving for something chocolatey and sweet any time of day! And again, with just five ingredients, the prep time is minimal. Better tasting than a candy bar and so much better for you!

As promised at the outset of this post, below is the recipe for the wonderfully refreshing Watermelon Smoothie from The PlantPure Nation Cookbookcopyright ©2015 by Kim Campbell. It is reprinted here with the kind permission of BenBella Books. Enjoy this frosty treat on a sweltering summer day. You will LOVE it!

Yields: 2–4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 0 minutes

Watermelon Smoothie

3 cups chopped watermelon
2 cups strawberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated ginger

1.     Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed until smooth.

2.     Serve immediately or chill and save for later.

In addition to smoothies, entrées, and sweet treats, The PlantPure Nation Cookbook offers a delicious cornucopia of recipes for breakfast and brunch, breads, snacks and appetizers, dips and spreads, salads, sauces, marinades, and dressings, spices and toppings, sandwiches, burgers, and wraps, side dishes, soups and stews, and of course, desserts. This wonderful book has quickly become a treasured addition to my recipe book collection, and I know you'll want to make it a part of yours, too. Head on over to Amazon.com or your favorite bookseller and grab a copy.

But wait! Enter to WIN a copy of The PlantPure Nation Cookbook right now! Simply tell me in a comment below, which food documentary has most inspired you—or—tell me if there a food film you haven't seen, but can't wait to see. (I'm always on the prowl for great films!) Then follow the Rafflecopter prompt to complete your entry.* You can earn additional entries by following any or all of the other prompts in the Rafflecopter box. I'll be picking one winner at random. Good luck! 

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*Sorry international readers. This giveaway is open only to residents of the US and Canada.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen
Review and Giveaway

I have been a Vegan Richa fan for many years, and Richa Hingle's beautiful new book, Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen, fulfills every vegan foodie's fantasy for all the sensuously spicy stimulation great Indian food delivers. With a range of spices and seasonings as vast as the subcontinent itself, it's no easy task to combine them in the perfect balance needed to create the complex flavors and textures that are the hallmarks of Indian cuisine. An entire book filled with delectable vegan recipes that are not only exotically rich and flavorful, but also simple to prepare, is truly a gastronomic achievement.

Did I mention the photos? Not only is Richa a culinary force to be reckoned with, she's become quite the talented food stylist and photographer, as well. If the gorgeous full-color photos in this book don't make you want to just head for the kitchen and start cooking, I don't know what will. The biggest dilemma for me was that I wanted to make ALL the dishes all at once! (I still can't look at any of the photos in this book without starting to feel hungry.)

With no fewer than fourteen tantalizing cauliflower recipes in Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen, this cauliflower-loving girl was hard-pressed to choose just one for this review. Generally, I simply dry roast cauliflower and sprinkle it with a little nooch, and I'n good to go. But I'm as much a sucker for the popular Indian restaurant dish, Aloo Gobi (Potatoes and Cauliflower) as the next person. And there is a recipe for Richa's dad's favorite—albeit it's called Gobi Aloo—in the book. But the enticingly named Sweet and Spicy Baked Cauliflower dish (Gobi Manchurian)—a surprise discovery in an Indian recipe book—sounded too amazing not to try. Little did I know that such a thing as "Indian Chinese cuisine" existed. This tasty fusion of Chinese seasoning and cooking techniques adapted to Indian tastes is said to have been developed by the small Chinese community residing in Kolkata for over a century. The marriage of Chinese and Indian cuisines seemed like it had the potential for an explosion of mouthwatering flavors, so it was with the greatest of gusto that I set about preparing this fiery recipe, which excited my taste buds with its rich and spicy ginger-chile sauce. If you think it looks incredible in the photo, let me just say that it tastes about 1,000 times better than it looks!

Did you know that there are between 400 and as many as 1,000 mango varieties in the world? (It depends on which website you believe.) All I know for sure is that the mangoes that grow on my dear friend Parandeh's trees in Miami are the sweetest, juiciest mangoes I've ever eaten. If I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, I think it would be Parandeh's mangoes. Mangoes are plentiful in India, but I had never tasted Mango curry. (When I was in Rajasthan, I did eat watermelon curry, and it was delightful!)  Richa's Mango Curry Tofu recipe made with mango pulp and coconut milk creates the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. My husband, who is most definitely not a fan of curry, enjoyed it so much, it inspired me to share the recipe with you at the end of this post. 

But hang on, don't scroll down to the end of the post just yet! This review would not be complete without telling you about the two Indian dishes I have missed most since becoming vegan more than twenty-five years ago: Navratan Korma, an entrée first created for kings and queens, and Rasmalai, a sensationally sweet dessert made with spongy balls of cheese soaked in saffron cream. Finding recipes for both in Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen was a dream come true for me.

Let me just mention here that when it comes to making flat bread, be it pita, pizza dough, chapati, or anything else, although I'm otherwise no slouch in the kitchen, I suddenly become all thumbs. Still, I had to roll up my sleeves and at least make a go of trying Richa's recipe for Naan. After all, what good is all that creamy-rich korma sauce without some freshly baked bread to soak it up with? While my result didn't look exactly authentic, it tasted amazing. And if I could do that, well, then anyone can. (My husband was still enjoying the Naan, long after the korma was gone!) As for Restaurant-style Navratan Korma recipe—a medley of fresh vegetables, cashews, and raisins all simmering together in a lusciously creamy sauce—it was even more delicious than the dairy-based dish I remember fondly from so long ago. 

As for the Rasmalai, there are two different options for making the "cheese" balls, and I tried both. The first, simpler recipe is made with tofu, and the second "more challenging" variation is made from scratch with soy milk. I heartily endorse going with the soy milk-from-scratch recipe, as I found that the resulting pillows soaked up the sweet saffron cream more readily, and it was well worth the extra bit of effort. As for the saffron cream, scented with just a splash of rosewater, it tasted exactly like the heavenly dessert I'd been missing so intensely. Way to go, Richa!

As promised earlier, following is the recipe for Mango Curry Tofu from Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen Copyright ©2015 by Richa Hingle. Reprinted with the kind permission of Vegan Heritage Press, LLC.

Mango Curry Tofu
Prep: 20 minutes | Active: 25 minutes | Inactive: 20 minutes | Serves 4

Mangoes are abundant in India, where they are always juicy and sweet. In the United States, mangoes can be a bit tart. For desserts or curries like this one, I prefer mango pulp or puree in canned or bottled form. You can use a ripe mango, if you prefer, but be sure to puree it well before using. This is a simple recipe but the resulting dish is very alluring with its sweet and spicy sauce. It can easily be made soy-free with 2 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 1/2 to 3 cups chopped vegetables. 

14 ounces firm tofu
2 teaspoons safflower or other neutral oil
¼ teaspoon cayenne
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon Garam Masala
¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup chopped red onion
1 (1-inch) knob of ginger
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon safflower or other neutral oil
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
4 cloves
1¼ cups canned or culinary coconut milk
¾ cup ripe mango pulp or puree (unsweetened or lightly sweetened canned)
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
Generous dash of black pepper
¼ teaspoon Garam Masala, for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, for garnish

1. Tofu: Cut the tofu slab into 1/2-inch slices. Place them on a clean kitchen towel. Cover with another kitchen towel. Place a 10-pound (approximate) weight on top and let sit for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can use pressed tofu. Cut the tofu slices into 1/2-inch cubes.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, tilt the skillet so the oil coats it evenly. Add the tofu and cook until lightly brown on some sides, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes. Add the cayenne, cinnamon, garam masala, and salt and mix well to coat. Cook for another 2 minutes and set aside.

3. Curry: In a blender, combine the onion, ginger, and garlic and blend into a smooth puree with 2 tablespoons of water. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds, bay leaves, and cloves. Cook for 1 minute. Add the pureed onion and cook until the onion mixture is dry and does not smell raw. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking, 13 to 15 minutes. Add the coconut milk, mango pulp, salt, and vinegar and mix well. Add the tofu and all the spices from the tofu skillet to the sauce skillet. Add a dash of black pepper.

4. Mix, cover and cook until the sauce comes to a boil, 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered until the sauce thickens and desired consistency is achieved, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt and tang. Add 1/2 teaspoon or more sugar if the mango pulp was not sweet. Garnish with cilantro and a dash of garam masala and serve hot.

A few other notes about Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen, in addition to all the lovely recipes for breakfast, small snacks, side dishes, dals, one-pot meals, mains dishes, desserts, and flat breads, you'll find recipes for making your own chutneys and spice blends, as well as resources for buying ingredients online and in brick-and-mortar stores. There's also an exploration into the many cuisines of India, and as an added bonus, recipes are indexed by region. (Just in case you want to create an authentic Punjabi or Kashmiri meal!) Quite simply, if you love Indian food and have been yearning for scrumptious vegan versions of classical Indian dishes (all made without a hint of ghee, heavy cream, or paneer), you are going to love this book! And if you've been wondering whether or not you can recreate authentic vegan Indian dishes, you'll joyfully discover that with the no-fail recipes in Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen, you'll soon be swooning over the dishes you make in your own vegan Indian kitchen.

But don't leave just yet! I'm giving away a copy of Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen to one lucky reader, and it could be YOU! For a chance to win this fantabulous book, simply tell me what your favorite Indian dish is (or what dish you'd most love to try) in a comment below, and then follow the Rafflecopter prompt to complete your entry.* Earn additional entries by following any or all of the other prompts in the Rafflecopter box. I'll be picking one winner at random. Good luck!  

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

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

But I Could Never Go Vegan!
Review and Giveaway

In a nutshell: I love this book! But I Could Never Go Vegan! is jam-packed with mouthwatering recipes that will give omnivorous readers all the inspiration they will ever need to start eating more healthfully, sustainably, and compassionately right now. Exquisitely photographed and cleverly laid out (recipes are arranged by excuses, rather than by seasons, occasions, or mealtimes), this book will not only inspire reluctant vegans, but will galvanize seasoned herbivores, who will find a profusion of delectable new recipes to add to their culinary repertoires.

Yes, you'll find incredible recipes for breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner, dessert, and lots of special occasions. However, the Table of Contents reads like every "but I could never go vegan" excuse you've ever heard like, "Vegan Cooking is Too Hard,""I Could Never Give Up Cheese!," "All Those Special Ingredients are Way More Expensive," and of course, the ever-present, "Where Would I Get My Protein?" to name a few. There's even a chapter dedicated to die-hard pescatarians with recipes like Artichoke Crabcakes with Sriracha Tartar Sauce and Beer-Battered Faux Fish and Chips.

Think you can't veganize your favorite breakfast dish? Check out these yummy Chickpea Omelettes from the chapter, "Vegan Cooking Is Too Hard." Vibrantly colorful and remarkably egg-like, these omelettes were hearty and healthy, and filled to the brim with mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, kale, and green onion. And they were super easy to make!

When does tofu not taste like tofu? When it's made into a scrumptious Tofu Chevre! I can't emphasize how impressed I was with the creamy texture and tart, cheesy flavor of this easy-to-prepare recipe. By adding some culinary lavender and rose petals, the result was a lovely cheesalucious treat. If you think you could never give up cheese (or know someone who does), give this nut-free recipe a try!

I've become a soup lover, and we often make a hearty meal of soup at our house. But until now, I've never been a fan of cheese in soup. Smoky and sultry are two words that come to mind when describing this lusciously creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup from the"Not Soup Again!" chapter. With its gorgeously golden creamy base and bright green broccoli chunks, I'm now a cheesy soup lover!

Imagine the best "meatball" sub you have ever tasted, then think of the yummiest eggplant parmigiana you have ever enjoyed, and you'll get an idea of what these scrumptious Eggplant Meatball Subs with Spicy Marinara Sauce are like. This fantasy grinder, with its chunky, spicy, sassy sauce taste like a hoagie from heaven.

Also from the "But I Hate (Insert Vegetable Here)" chapter, you'll find this delightful recipe for Sweet and Sour Cauliflower. Mark is not a huge cauliflower fan, so I thought I'd give this recipe a try. The sauce has just the right balance of sweetness and kick, and Mark gave it two thumbs up! In this chapter, you'll find more win-'em-over recipes made with beets, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

Balsamic Baked Pears with Cashew Blue Cheese from the "I Could Never Give Up Cheese!" chapter was a delightful mix of tart, sweet, and salty. I've been laying low on sugary desserts lately, so this subtly sweet treat really hit the spot! 

And because I made a whole batch of blue cheese, I treated myself to Kristy's Roasted Root Veggie and Kale Salad with Cashew Blue Cheese so much, I'm sharing the recipe with you. Although you'll have to get your hot little hands on a copy of the book to get the recipe for the blue cheese (my intention is not to tease, but to rather, to tempt!), this salad is so good, you're going to love it on its own! Take a look at this vibrantly beautiful salad, and then check out the recipe near the end of this post.

The recipe for Roasted Root Veggie & Kale Salad is from But I Could Never Go Vegan: 125 Recipes That Prove You Can Live Without Cheese, It's Not All Rabbit Food, and Your Friends Will Still Come Over for Dinner, copyright © Kristy Turner, 2014. Reprinted with the kind permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. 

Serves 4 

3 medium beets, peeled and chopped into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces
1 small celery root (celeriac), peeled and chopped into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces
1 tablespoon liquid aminos (or tamari or soy sauce)
Olive oil spray
2 teaspoons dried thyme
Several dashes of ground nutmeg
Salt and black pepper to taste

8 to 10 small rainbow carrots, peeled, or 1 cup (160 g) chopped carrots
1 bunch kale (12 to 16 ounces), stems removed, chopped
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1½ teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup (250 ml) balsamic vinegar
2 to 3 tangerines, peeled and separated into wedges
Cashew Blue Cheese (found on page 46 in But I Could Never Go Vegan!)

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

2. Spread the beets and sweet potatoes on one baking sheet, keeping them separated so the beets don’t bleed onto the sweet potatoes. On the other sheet, spread the celery root. Drizzle the liquid aminos over the celery root. Spray all the vegetables with olive oil and evenly distribute the thyme, nutmeg, salt, and pepper across them.

3. Roast for 15 minutes, then toss to ensure even cooking (keeping the beets as separate from the sweet potatoes as possible). Scoot the celery root toward one side and lay the carrots on that baking sheet. Lightly spray the carrots with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, return both sheets to the oven, and roast for 15 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, place the kale in a large bowl. Add the lemon juice and oil. “Massage” with your hands for 2 to 3 minutes, rubbing the lemon juice and oil into the leaves. Set aside.

5. In a medium pot, bring the vinegar to a boil over medium heat (not high heat); reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until reduced by at least half, if not two-thirds (the longer it cooks, the thicker it will be). Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl or cup to cool.

6. When the vegetables are fork-tender, remove to cool for about 5 minutes. Add to the kale with the tangerines and toss. Serve with Cashew Blue Cheese and the balsamic reduction.


• Try adding different root vegetables or even winter squash.

• If sweet salads are not your thing, replace the reduction with Lemon-Tahini Dressing (page 117) or Dijon-Thyme Vinaigrette (page 255).
But I Could Never Go Vegan! illustrates beyond any remaining shadow of a doubt that there is definitely a decadently delicious life beyond dairy, meat, fish, and eggs, and you can tantalize the taste buds of anyone who enjoys eating. Enter to win your very own copy of this wonderful book right now simply by leaving me a comment below with your "favorite" excuse for not going vegan (it could be the most illogical excuse you've ever heard, the one that you might have told yourself before you stopped eating cheese, ice cream, or eggs, or the one that drives you the most crazy), 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!

*Sorry international readers, this giveaway is open only to residents of the US and Canada.