Cookbook Review: The Easy Vegan Cookbook

The Easy Vegan Cookbook

I recently got the opportunity to check out The Easy Vegan Cookbook: Make Healthy Home Cooking Practically Effortless, by Kathy Hester. I have Hester’s vegan slow cooker cookbook, which I really enjoy, so I looked forward to checking this one out.

It’s a beautiful cookbook. Nearly each recipe has an accompanying photo, which I really like. Pictures of the finished dish are always a draw, and of course, everything looks delicious.
The Easy Vegan CookbookI think this is a great cookbook for new vegans, too. Hester made the recipes adaptable for different diets, such as soy-free or gluten-free, and offers great information on planning meals. She also gives readers lots of great tips on utilizing their freezer to make cooking and meal planning easier and more cost effective. I really appreciated this section because I find that I don’t take advantage of my freezer nearly as much as I should.

Chapter one features 14 make-ahead staples such as Easy Homemade Bouillon, Almond Ricotta, DIY Golden Creamy Gravy, and Super Fast Enchilada Sauce. Chapter two consists of 10 amazing soups such as Autumn Harvest Noodle Soup; and Warming Lentil Soup. Chapter 3 offers 10 hearty stews. I’m eyeing the White Bean Kale Stew. Chapter 4 is all about pastas—10 recipes that include One-Pot Veggie Vodka Sauce Pasta; and Almost Effortless Lasagna. Chapter 5 features 11 Manageable Mains. I’d like to try the Holiday Stuffing Casserole, and the Carrot Kale Falafel. Stir-fries make up chapter 6, while chapter 7 is all about sandwich fillings and spreads. The Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad is on my list to try. Chapter 8 is called, Straight-Forward Sides and has recipes like Zucchini Masala Fries and Dreamy Greens. We finish up with Desserts and Drinks and the Salted Caramel No-Ice-Cream Milk Shake is calling to me!

So what did I make?

First up, the Carrot Cashew Chez on page 27.
Carrot Cashew ChezI love anything cashew chez, so I knew I wanted to make this. We really liked the flavor, texture, and consistency. However, both The Husband and I agreed that next time, I’d reduce the carrot a little. I’d also amp up some of the seasonings. It’s great for a cracker spread, or dip, but I think it’d be great on toast or on a sandwich too.

Next, I made the Veggie “Potpie” Pasta on page 97.
The Easy Vegan Cookbook

We definitely liked this dish. But because it does taste like a potpie, we were looking for the flaky pie crust. It just felt like it needed it, which I think would be easy to do with some puff pastry. I also felt it needed some more seasoning, but otherwise, a great dish.

I also made the Cuban Black Beans Over Coconut Rice on page 63.
The Easy Vegan CookbookAn amazing dish! Loved it. And so easy to make. The rice takes 30-40 minutes, but the rest is so simple. We really loved the flavors and the heartiness of the coconut brown rice.

Lastly, I made the Surprise Walnut Brownies on page 179.
The Easy Vegan CookbookThese brownies require 2 avocados which is fantastic, so no need for added oil. I did however, find them to be a little dry. The recipes says to cook them for 30-35 minutes, warning not to overcook them. I went with the 30 minutes, but they still were a tad on the dry side. I wrapped them up in parchment and put them in an air tight container and after a day, I was surprised to find that they weren’t so dry. They’re very tasty, but I think they’d be perfect with a scoop of cashew ice cream on top! Oh yes, I’ll be picking up some ice cream later.

The Easy Vegan Cookbook has some unique recipes that are definitely simple to make. I think it’s a great cookbook for those starting out with the vegan diet. I liked that I had most of the ingredients at home already, so I didn’t have to go out of my way to find a bunch of items. I like having a cookbook I can rely on for quick and simple recipes that can also be tweaked here and there. The book goes on sale today and is listed for around $12 now on Amazon. Overall, a great cookbook.

Disclosure: Although the cookbook was provided to me for free to review, that in no way influenced my opinion.

Cookbook Review: Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking

Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking Review -- Epicurean Vegan

I won’t leave you in suspense. I love this cookbook. It’s probably one of the best I’ve seen in a while. Authors Annie and Dan Shannon who brought us Betty Goes Vegan, have outdone themselves with Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking. They’ve taken decades of classic recipes and not only veganized them, but did it in a cost-effective manner. Of the many ridiculous excuses I’ve heard over the years for not going vegan, it’s too expensive is really one of the silliest. For one, even if that were true, isn’t your health and the health of the animals and environment worth it? Secondly, that argument is simply not true. Yes, it can take a bit of homework to create this very affordable lifestyle, but lucky for us, Annie and Dan have already done that.

Chapters 1 and 2 are must-reads, each packed full of money-saving tips, advice, and suggestions that will take the guesswork out of building a cost-effective vegan pantry. I love chapter 2 because it offers valuable shopping strategies from coupon-ing, reading price tag labels, and which fruits and vegetables to buy by season. The authors have also added the price-per-serving on each recipe. How cool is that?

And the recipes!! I’m in love. As  you can see, I marked a few . . .
Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking Review -- Epicurean VeganThe book starts out with 26 breakfast recipes that are bound to get you out of bed in the morning: Ginger-Plum Oatmeal, Savory Crepes with Easy “Hollandaise” Sauce, Smoky Butternut Squash Scramble, and a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Then we’ve got 33 lunch recipes. I’m dying to try The Six Million Dollar Tofu “Egg” Salad and the Lasagna Sandwiches featuring Italian Tempeh Sausage.

The dinner chapter features 52 recipes including Bubbie’s Polish Potato Pierogies, Steamed Sesame Seitan Dim Sum, and Betty’s Wartime Walnut Burger . . . not to mention several pizza options.

The next chapter is really genius. It’s called No More Leftovers and offers amazing recipes that you can then use the leftovers of to create a whole new meal. Love this idea. I’m not a big leftover fan; thankfully, The Husband is, but even he can sick of certain meals over several days. There are 31 recipes, including one for Pumpkin Curry Soup with the Leftover Recipe of Pumpkin and Spinach Orzo, both of which, I’m anxious to try.

Chapter 7 is all about special occasions: Sweet Treats; Potlucks and Parties; and The DIY Wedding. I’ve got my eye on the Chai Spice Cheesecake, Baked Potato Bar, and the Chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup.

Throughout the book are money-saving tips and interesting food-related anecdotes. Many of the recipes also list suggestions and tips on what to do with certain leftover ingredients, which I think is incredibly helpful. The book also has two sections of beautiful, full-color photos showing 70 of the 200+ recipes. Hopefully you can’t see my drool on the pages . . .

Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking Review -- Epicurean Vegan

Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking Review -- Epicurean Vegan

Most of you know I love a good risotto, so I made the Vegan Bacon, White Bean, and Spinach Risotto on page 155.
Vegan Bacon, White Bean, and Spinach Risotto, Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking review -- Epicurean Vegan

It was super simple to make and was absolutely delicious. The only thing I omitted was the vegan Liquid Smoke because we aren’t big fans of it. I subbed in vegan Worcestershire sauce. The dish was creamy and full of flavor—certainly one I’d make again.

So, as you can tell, I highly recommend this cookbook. Not only do I think the recipes are unique, yet accessible, I find the money-saving tips and suggestions extremely valuable; I learned a lot. Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking is available now for around $17 on Amazon.  It would be a great addition to any cookbook collection.

Disclosure: Although the cookbook was provided to me for free to review, that in no way influenced my opinion.

Raw Walnut Tacos {The 22-Day Revolution}

Raw Walnut Tacos, The 22-Day Revolution -- Epicurean VeganEarlier this month, I brought you my review of The 22-Day Revolution, a new plant-based cookbook by Marco Borges. I promised to post the Raw Walnut Tacos recipe, so here it is. Everyone here loved these; great flavor and ready in 10 minutes. The only thing I added was some cilantro. This makes a fabulous lunch option, or a light dinner.

Taco meat:
2 C walnuts
1-1/2 Tbs cumin
1 Tbs coriander
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs coconut aminos
dash paprika
dash garlic powder
dash black pepper
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 Tbs parsley flakes
pinch of black pepper
pinch sea salt
1 lime
The rest:
2 heads of romaine lettuce

Separate and wash the romaine leaves and set aside. Combine all of the taco meat ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times, careful not to grind them too small.
Raw Walnut Tacos, The 22-Day Revolution -- Epicurean VeganSpread the walnut meat on the romaine leaves and garnish with cilantro (if using), avocado slices, tomato, parsley, pepper, salt, and lime juice.
Raw Walnut Tacos, The 22-Day Revolution -- Epicurean Vegan


Raw Walnut Tacos {22-Day Revolution}
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 4-6
  • Taco meat:
  • 2 C walnuts
  • 1-1/2 Tbs cumin
  • 1 Tbs coriander
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbs coconut aminos
  • dash paprika
  • dash garlic powder
  • dash black pepper
  • Garnish:
  • 2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced
  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ Tbs parsley flakes
  • pinch of black pepper
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 lime
  • The rest:
  • 2 heads of romaine lettuce
  1. Separate and wash the romaine leaves and set aside.
  2. Combine all of the taco meat ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times, careful not to grind them too small.
  3. Spread the walnut meat on the romaine leaves and garnish with cilantro (if using), avocado slices, tomato, parsley, pepper, salt, and lime juice.
  4. Enjoy!



Book Review: The 22-Day Revolution

The 22-Day Revolution Review -- Epicurean Vegan

I had the opportunity to review The 22-Day Revolution by Marco Borges, which boasts: “The plant-based program that will transform your body, reset your habits, and change your life.” The book focuses on the human health benefits of a plant-based diet, emphasizing that you could lose up to 22 pounds in 22 days. Borges is an exercise physiologist, plant-based-living advocate, and lifestyle coach. You may have heard about Beyonce going vegan, which she attributes to Borges. The two then teamed up to launch 22-Days Nutrition, an all-vegan food delivery service. In the forward, Beyonce endorses the program saying, “The truth is, if a Houston-born foodie like me can do it, you can too—you just need to try it for 22 days.”

Dr. Dean Ornish wrote the introduction and not only focuses on the health benefits of a vegan diet, but also touches on the environmental impacts of a meat-eating lifestyle.

This is a detailed, step-by-step guide to transforming your body and mind by embracing a plant-based diet. Borges offers strategies and tips on how to stay motivated and successful with what can be a difficult change for lifelong meat-eaters. Borges explains how and why a plant-based regime is better for your body and provides facts, figures, and health studies throughout.

Borges makes it easy by giving readers extensive information on nutrition, by explaining the ins and outs of carbs, proteins, calcium, and other nutrients. He spells it out clearly, which I feel is very important for those new to plant-based eating. Chapter 7 focuses on creating a kitchen pantry that’s free from processed food, and chapter 8 dives into actual shopping lists. There are also over 65 recipes that actually look pretty darn good. Normally, I include a recipe review with my cookbook reviews, but I’ve been swamped. However, I will be testing out the Raw Walnut Tacos on page 111. (I’ll post a review.) The center of the book is filled with color pictures of 28 different dishes from the book. Other dishes include: Vegetable Curry; Ceviche; Jicama and Avocado Salad; Chia Pudding; and even Mini Chocolate Chip Muffins.
The 22-Day Revolution Review -- Epicurean VeganEmphasizing that diet alone isn’t enough, Borges dedicates a chapter to fitness and includes an exercise routine complete with stick-figure explanations. Borges then offers ways to continue on the plant-based path after the 22 days.
The 22-Day Revolution Review -- Epicurean VeganSome vegans will scoff at this book because it focuses on the human health benefits of a plant-based diet and not the ethical reasons (the environment and the animals), but it’s aimed at those who want to improve their health; to get off medication and to lose weight. I think that’s just as an important reason to go vegan as the others. When I first began my vegan journey, I was focused on my health, but within the first couple of months, I had learned about the other implications of consuming (and wearing) animal products. It was an evolution, and frankly, the reason I stay vegan, is for the animals and for the environment.

Regardless of why you become vegan, once you make this change, it’s inevitable that you will be faced with all the other reasons—and those reasons will help you stay vegan; you’ll understand that it’s not just a “diet.” If this book gets people to eat a plant-based diet, then I’m all for it. This is a comprehensive, easy-to-follow book that can help guide people toward a vegan diet, which is what we all want, right? If you know someone who could benefit from a plant-based diet (uh, I think we all know a few), this book could be a great start, and possibly more effective than forcing them to watch Earthlings or an undercover slaughterhouse video. (While I urge everyone to watch these, trying to get others to watch in order to go veg, doesn’t always work.) Even if you’re a longtime vegan, you’ll still benefit from the book’s great information about nutrition that we can often overlook. It will also give us ammunition when faced with meat-eaters who love to challenge us on every turn about protein, etc. I highly recommend this book.

Disclosure: Although the cookbook was provided to me for free to review, that in no way influenced my opinion.


Product Review: Mac Uncheddar from Pastariso

Mac Uncheddar -- Epicurean VeganI recently got the chance to try out a new boxed vegan mac and “cheese.” This one is from Pastariso Foods and not only is it vegan, but it’s gluten-free and soy-free as well. Unlike the “real” mac and cheese varieties, this one isn’t full of freaky ingredients: White and brown rice flour, pea protein powder, organic maltodextrin, sunflower oil powder IP, sea salt, organic corn starch, fructooligosaccharides, citric acid, paprika extract.

Sometimes trying a new vegan product is like blindly eating food while backpacking through another country; it can be a little scary. You just never know. But vegan products are getting better and better-tasting these days, and I have to say, this stuff is pretty dang good. The Husband, who dislikes almost every vegan cheese there is, really, really liked this. We agreed that the sauce is fantastic—it doesn’t taste rubbery, plastic-y, or “fake.”

Because the noodles are gluten-free, I did find them a little grainy-feeling at first. They’re rice noodles, which have that kind of texture, and because I rarely eat gluten-free pasta, it struck me as odd at first. However, the sauce made up for it. Plus, the noodles are a good size—they cook up like a regular boxed mac and cheese noodle.
Pastariso Mac Uncheddar -- Epicurean Vegan

The package is only 5-oz, which seemed smaller than most, but it made for a nice little side dish. 2-ounces will run you 258 calories, 2 grams of fat (no saturated or trans fat), give you 190mg of potassium, 50 grams of carbs, 243 grams of sodium, and 10 grams of protein. When you compare it to regular Kraft mac and cheese, the calories are roughly the same, as is the protein and carbs, but the sodium is over twice as much with Kraft; more fat with Kraft; and 10 grams of cholesterol, compared to no cholesterol with Pastariso. I should point out, however, that Kraft’s serving size is about 20 grams more. All in all, if you’re going to feed your kids boxed mac and cheese, whether you’re vegan or not, this is a healthier choice.
Vegan Mac Uncheddar -- Epicurean Vegan

You can find Pastariso Vegan Mac Uncheddar at Vegan Essentials ($3.79) and will be available at Sprouts later this month. I would definitely buy this product and I recommend you give it a try!

Cookbook Review: Keep it Vegan

Keep it Vegan by Aine CarlinI’ve had the opportunity to review Keep it Vegan by Aine Carlin, former actress and popular food blogger of Pea Soup Eats. Carlin offers over 100 recipes that include breakfasts, midday meals, sides, and sweet treats. She also has a section called “Something Special,” that include appetizers, salads, soups, and some very yummy-looking cocktails. (I’d like the Cherry Ginger Fizz, please.) Carlin opens with an informative introduction about her journey to veganism four years ago and believes it’s important to show nonvegans (who usually don’t “get it”) that it’s not as difficult as it seems. “I feel it’s my duty to show a different side to a lifestyle that can be off-putting to many. Positive actions are the order of the day; keep your cool and you’ll find it much easier to keep it vegan.” I couldn’t agree more. In fact, the whole book gives off a happy, peaceful, and serene vibe.

Keep it VeganThe book is well-laid out with beautiful pictures throughout. The recipes are also simple, yet unique. The No-Bake Strawberry Vanilla Cheesecake looks divine. I’m also anxious to try the Winter Squash and Couscous Salad; the Vegetable Rosti with Smoky Roasted Salad; and the Holy Mole Black Bean Chili.

The Husband was flipping through the cookbook and immediately stopped at the Macaro-No Cheese with Crispy Kale on page 76. We knew we had to try it. Coconut milk and butternut squash make an ideal mac and cheese sauce and this one was so simple to prepare, too. It definitely has a flavor all its own and it took us a couple of bites, but then we couldn’t get enough of it—in fact, there were no leftovers. The Husband loved the crispy kale chips on top, but I preferred the dish without them. Either way, a winner.
Macaro-No Cheese with Crispy Kale Chips --Keep It Vegan CookbookWe love risotto, so we zeroed in on the Pea and Lemon Risotto with mint oil drizzle on page 70. Another really flavorful dish. The only thing I found was that for the mint drizzle, 2 tablespoons of oil for the 3/4 C finely chopped mint, was not enough to drizzle. It merely made a paste, so I added more oil. Certainly no big deal. It was easy to make and we loved the flavor of the mint and lemon together—-subtle and not overpowering. Like the other dish, I’d make this again.
Pea and Lemon Risotto with a mint oil drizzle -- Keep it Vegan CookbookOverall, a great cookbook for your collection. I thought the recipes looked simple to prepare with ingredients that I buy on a regular basis, but a few it wouldn’t hurt to try. Keep it Vegan goes on sale today, February 9th for around $16.

Disclosure: Although the cookbook was provided to me for free to review, that in no way influenced my opinion.

Cookbook Review: Meat is For Pussies

Meat is for PussiesThat’s right. Meat is for pussies . . . well, according to the book’s author, John Joseph. Joseph is the front man for the punk band, Cro-Mags, has been plant-based eating for 34 years, and is an Ironman triathlete.
John JosephThe cover may not be sporting the typical colorful photograph of the author preparing a veggie-packed meal in his or her immaculate farmhouse kitchen, but what the cover lacks, the contents make up for with colorful language. But this book isn’t geared toward stay-at-home moms, tree-hugging hippies or your grandma; it’s aimed at macho, “weight-lifter Neanderthals,” who spend their days in the gym flexing and calling vegetarians and vegans “pussies.” Like it or not, this is how a lot of men—especially in the fitness and gym world—talk to each other. “There are some preachy, judgmental vegans who attacked me for the title of this book,” he writes. “In my eyes I think whatever starts the conversation and shows positive results is a good thing.”

Joseph takes a no-holds-barred approach, lays it all out on the table, and tells it like it is. And I have to say, I absolutely love it. Over half of the book is dedicated to educating readers on the detrimental health impacts of eating animal products, the problems and issues associated with the food industry, and finally, fitness tips and workouts. Joseph also devotes the Appendix to discussing the environmental impacts of animal food production, calling out  “‘environmentalist’ celebrities [who] suport their cause by serving five-hundred dollar Kobe beef steaks at their fund-raisers.” It’s a superbly-written section that I think everyone should read.

One of the things I have to say I love about him, is that he shudders at being called the V-word . . . yep, V-E-G-A-N. But he has a great point. The word is often associated with “judgmental, self-righteous attitudes” toward meat eaters, or even toward celebrities who try a plant-based diet. I love when I read “. . . let’s not forget the philosophy at the heart of a plant-based lifestyle, which is compassion for all beings, and that means humans included. You will not change anyone’s heart if you agitate their mind with a  condescending attitude.” He sums it up perfectly: “Let’s drink our green juice, eat our lentils, and then move the fuck on. Let’s convert people by showing them by example what badass motherfuckers they can be on a plant-based regime, and leave the judgment at the door.”

Don’t you just love this guy?!

Chapter 13 is where you’ll find “Super Badass Recipes.” Joseph offers lots of juice and smoothie recipes, breakfast ideas, as well as lunch and dinner options. In addition to his own recipes such as, Waffles or Pancakes with Fresh Mixed Berry Compote, and Ironman Stew, the book also features recipes from ultramarathoner and endurance athlete, Brendan Brazier; some renowned vegan chefs; and Rip Esselstyn.

Because Joseph’s intended audience are gym-going, iron-pumping jocks, most of his recipes are high in protein. Many recipes feature Gardein products as well as soy-based products like tofu, yet none are short on fresh vegetables, herbs, and spices. I thought the Barbecued Tofu on page 202 sounded good, so I gave it a whirl.
Barbecued Tofu, Meat is For Pussies -- Epicurean VeganThis dish was so easy to make and really delicious. To me, it doesn’t have a BBQ taste, but rather a more sophisticated tangle of flavors due to the variety of spices such as ginger, garam masala, and pineapple juice. This is great for snacking on, making a sandwich with, or I think, chopping up into a salad.

All in all, I think this is a great book—and one that needed to be published. As the subtitle says, it’s “A How-To Guide for Dudes Who Want to Get Fit, Kick Ass, and Take Names.”  You don’t have to be a dude to like this book. It’s full of great information about nutrition, fitness and the environment, plus it’ll give you lots of colorful ammo for the next time someone tells you that you need protein to build muscle. I think the book is well-written, entertaining, and incredibly helpful; Joseph’s knowledge and expertise is clearly evident. You can find Meat is for Pussies on Amazon for around $15.

Disclosure: Although the cookbook was provided to me for free to review, that in no way influenced my opinion.

Review: Eat Clean Live Well by Terry Walters

Eat Clean Live Well Review -- Epicurean VeganI love books. I love to cook. So naturally, I love cookbooks. I probably own more than I need, too. But I will always welcome the opportunity to review a vegan cookbook. Eat Clean Live Well (Sterling Epicure, Nov. 4, 2014) by Terry Walters, author of Clean Food and Clean Start, is an all-encompassing guide to not only eating clean, but incorporating the same principals in day-to-day living.

EAT CLEAN LIVE WELL is about making the choices that give beauty and meaning to each day and allow us to live with intention, purpose and good health.” —Terry Walters

When I received the book, I was leaving to go out of town for a few days, so I lent the book to my  neighbor who loves to cook as much as I do. Even though she and her husband are not vegans, I knew she’d like this book because they consume very few animal products and shop the farmer’s markets every week. As I suspected, she loved the cookbook; so much so, she purchased her own copy. As a non-vegan, she appreciated the constructive approach Walters takes, by not preaching or judging meat eaters. She loved the practical advice Walters gives on how to incorporate easy, healthy lifestyle changes, without being over-the-top.

I couldn’t agree more. Walters, clearly knowledgeable on clean eating, makes it easy for readers to understand the importance of knowing where your food comes from, and in the process, support your local growers.

The book is broken up by season, beginning with spring. For each section, Walters provides clean living ideas and advice for that season, such as cleansing options (for both body and home) for spring. She then provides recipes using ingredients abundant during that season. The recipes are easy to follow with each section featuring appetizers, soups, vegetables, grains, legumes and desserts. All of the desserts use gluten-free flour and I also noticed that Walters uses maple syrup as a sweetener, rather than white or brown sugar. There are a lot of ingredients Walter uses that I rarely use, such as dried sea vegetables, certain vegetables like ramps and celery root, as well as the various gluten-free flours, however, that’s not necessarily a bad thing; I need to branch out, as long as I’m not stuck with a package of kombu for years because I only need one tiny piece. But this book makes it easy to slowly transition your kitchen into one packed with whole, in-season, non-processed foods. The true test, of course, are the recipes. Is the food any good?

Cauliflower Steaks with Ginger, Turmeric and OrangeCauliflower Steaks with Ginger, Turmeric and Orange, page 191
The roasted cauliflower with a ginger, turmeric and orange glaze, was absolutely delicious. Walters recommends serving the cauliflower over black lentils or wild rice; I just had green lentils.  The Husband felt that the lentils over powered the cauliflower. At first, I didn’t agree, but I could see his point halfway into the meal. However, he liked the cilantro on top, but this time, I felt the herb over powered the cauliflower. All in all, a winner, but I recommend serving with the wild rice and  as for the cilantro, you’ll have to decide. 

Sweet Potato Leek Soup with Sesame SprinkleSweet Potato Leek Soup with Sesame Sprinkle, page 174
An absolute winner. Not only is this soup incredibly simple to make, it is packed full of amazing flavor. The sesame sprinkle, made with toasted sesame seeds and a few seasonings is a must—it adds just the right amount flavor. I highly recommend this recipe.
Brown Rice Veggie PattiesBrown Rice Veggie Patties, page 196
These veggie patties, with brown rice, carrots, onion and white beans, are very easy to make and quite flavorful. They’re crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Walters suggests serving them as is, but we decided to top them with guacamole and red onion and serve with buns. Unlike a lot of homemade veggie burgers, these kept their shape when it came time to flip them in the oven and stayed together while eating them. I’d definitely makes these again.

Eat Clean Live Well Feast

This review then turned into a group affair. My neighbor hosted a dinner featuring recipes from the cookbook, so there were seven of us—which meant seven different opinions. Our other neighbors who came, were also smitten with the book and ordered a copy as well!  I brought another batch of the Sweet Potato Leek Soup with Sesame Sprinkle and every single guest loved it. So first up . . .
Arugula Salad with Creamy Lemon Parsley DressingArugula Salad with Creamy Lemon Parsley Dressing, page 243
Oh, my goodness. Amazing. The dressing is outstanding and melds perfectly with the avocado, dried cranberries and pepitas. The garlicky, lemony dressing was a hit with everyone.

Broccoli Salad with Dried Cranberries and Shallot DressingBroccoli Salad with Dried Cranberries and Shallot Dressing, page 181
While it came in as a close second behind the first salad, everyone agreed this one had a delicious combination of flavors. I loved the slivered almonds and tangy, yet subtle dressing.

Portobellos Topped with Cannellini Bean Mash and Brussels Sprout RibbonsPortobellos Topped with Cannellini Bean Mash and Brussels Sprout Ribbons, page 202
These definitely garnered differing opinions. When reading the recipe, my neighbor suspected that these could turn out a little bland, and unfortunately, we did find that they lacked a little something, such as lemon or a balsamic drizzle. They were still tasty, but some more seasoning or a tangy sauce would have topped them perfectly. We also agreed that the bean mash was a little too much, but the Brussels Sprouts were ideal. One guest felt that the bean mash texture turned her off and a few others didn’t care for the bean flavor, suggesting instead, to use mashed potatoes. These are certainly worth trying again, but maybe some seasoning tweaking might help.
Coconut Cacao Energy BarsCoconut Cacao Energy Bars, page 143
Incidentally, none of us neighbors/friends tend to be big dessert people, so we went with these bars that have dates and cacao nibs. Though incredibly easy to make, these unfortunately, didn’t wow us, as a dessert or as a snack. My issue, which I finally realized, is that I don’t like dates. Others just didn’t like the taste either. It’s not to say they were inedible, they just didn’t do it for us.

Despite this, I still highly recommend this cookbook. Other recipes I’m anxious to try:
Roasted Baby Artichokes with Tarragon Oil, page 56
Sarah’s Dandelion Thai Curry, page 58, 
Sprouted Lentil Salad with Dried Plums and Toasted Walnuts, page 70
Raw Chili with Sweet Corn, page 103
Watermelon Ice with Coconut Milk, page 138
Roasted Squash, Caramelized Shiitake and Shallot Lasagna, page 197
Applesauce Cake, page 207
On a side note, my neighbor had made the Fingerling Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts with Horseradish Dressing on page 246, earlier in the week and raved about it! She said she’d make it again and again, so I’m anxious to try it.

Overall, I am thrilled with this cookbook and it’s made me want to check out her previous cookbooks. EAT CLEAN LIVE WELL is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble for around $23.
Disclosure: Although the cookbook was provided to me for free to review, that in no way influenced my opinion.

The Winner is . . .

Simple Recipes for Joy CookbookCongratulations to Kat!

You’re the random winner of Sharon Gannon’s Simple Recipes for Joy! Also, well done on taking that step into vegetarianism. I think this cookbook will be ideal for you as you transition to a vegan way of life :-) Thank you to everyone who entered and hopefully, I’ll have some more giveaways coming up! Stay tuned.

Cookbook Review & Giveaway: Simple Recipes for Joy by Sharon Gannon

Simple Recipes for Joy CookbookI am delighted to share with you this fabulous cookbook, Simple Recipes for Joy: More than 200 Delicious Vegan Recipes by Sharon Gannon, founder of Jivamukti yoga and owner of Jivamuktea Cafe in New York City’s Union Square. You might be asking, What on earth is Jivamukti yoga?! Well, in 1984, along with David Life, Gannon created this type of yoga that combines hatha yoga and vinyasa-based-physical style yoga with adherence to five central tenets: shastra (scripture), bhakti (devotion), ahimsa (non-harming), nada (musis) and dhyana (meditation). Social activism, animal rights, veganism and environmentalism is also a major component to the practice.

“Jivamukti Yoga is a path to enlightenment through compassion for all beings. Jiva mutki is a Sanskrit word that means to live liberated in joyful, musical harmony with the Earth. The Earth does not belong to us—we belong to the Earth. Let us celebrate our connection to life by not enslaving animals and exploiting the Earth, and attain freedom and happiness for ourselves in the process. For surely, the way to uplift our own lives is to do all we can to uplift the lives of others. Go vegan!”

—Sharon Gannon

Don’t be too fooled by the whimsical cover; Gannon takes veganism, her yoga and her recipes very serious. The forward, by the crazy, sexy vegan herself, Kris Carr, is an informative, poignant and compelling opening that highlights the importance of adopting a vegan diet for the health of humans, animals and Mother Earth. Gannon’s passion and heart comes through in the pages of her introduction, where she discusses her path to veganism and why it is so imperative for us to go vegan to not just better our health, but to save the animals and the planet. If you’re a longtime vegan, you may find it gets a little redundant, but for a new vegan, it’s such an awesome resource, especially when you might need a hand in explaining to others the importance of a vegan diet. Packed full of facts and figures, Gannon’s introduction should be read by every meat-eater on Earth. In addition to a plethora of recipes, Gannon also includes an informative FAQ section, Cooking Tips, what makes a well-stocked kitchen, 30 Sample Menus and how to do a 21-Day Cleanse.

As the title says, many of these recipes are very simple. The seasoned vegan might scoff at some of the simplicity of a few recipes like the Vegan BLT on page 238, or the “Toasts” chapter, but the beauty of these recipes, is that it shows new, or thinking-of-becoming, vegans who might have the misconception that veganism is difficult. There are plenty of unique recipes, however, that will challenge your taste buds and maybe even introduce you to flavors and ingredients you’ve never tried before. I’m anxious to try the Maharini Dal on page 61, the Spaghetti and “Meat Balls” on page 104 and the  Hippy Carrot Cake on page 282. There’s something for everyone from tons of soup recipes, pastas, grains, sandwiches, desserts and lots more. With beautiful pictures throughout, this is a joyful and delicious cookbook to have.

So far, I have made . . .

Lemon-Lentil Soup, page 65
Oh, lentils! Love them! This soup, ladled over basmati rice is a flavorful, lemony dish that is easy to prepare.
Lemon-Lentil Soup, Simple Recipes for Joy
Caesar Salad with Tempeh Croutons, page 128
Fabulous! The dressing is tangy and delicious and I love using sauteed tempeh as croutons.
Caesar Salad with Tempeh Croutons, Simple Recipes for JoyCornbread, page 256
Made with coconut milk, this cornbread is moist, delicious and ever-so fluffy! And talk about simple—it was ready in no time at all. 
So, I’ll bet you want to win a copy for yourself, or for a friend, right? Well, all you have to do is leave a comment and tell me why Simple Recipes for Joy would be the perfect addition to your cookbook library. (It also wouldn’t hurt to like my Facebook page, while you’re at it.) The cookbook will be released September 16th and I will giveaway a copy Friday, September 19th, so get your comments in by midnight, MST on Thursday, the 18th. Good luck!