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. 
Cornbread
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!

Product Review: Field Roast Hand-Formed Burgers

Field Roast Hand-Formed Burgers -- Epicurean VeganI was thrilled to have the opportunity to try out these Hand-Formed Burgers from Field Roast. Each package comes with 4 hand-formed burgers all ready for the grill (or in my case, grill pan).
Field Roast Hand-Formed Burgers -- Epicurean Vegan

To start, here’s what’s in ‘em.
Field Roast Hand-Formed Burgers -- Epicurean Vegan
One of the reasons I really enjoy Field Roast products (besides the absence of strange, unpronounceable ingredients) is that they don’t taste like real meat. That’s right. Sometimes, when meatless products taste too similar to the real deal, it grosses me out. But with Field Roast, even though the texture is very, very similar, the taste is all its own. With lots of vegetables, fruits and seasonings, Field Roast products taste fresh and flavorful. (Even our meat-eating friends and family have enjoyed Field Roast). These burgers are really no exception. We don’t use the grill that often (so I’m sure there’s a wasps’ nest inside of it by now), so I opted to use my trusty grill pan. I lightly sprayed the surface with cooking spray and over medium heat, I sauteed the burgers, about 3-4 minutes per side.
Field Roast Hand-Formed Burgers -- Epicurean VeganWe didn’t get too fancy with all the toppings, as I didn’t want to mask up the flavor of the Field Roast, especially since this was the first time I was trying them. I went with the traditional lettuce, tomato, mayo and ketchup.
Field Roast Hand-formed Burgers -- Epicurean VeganSO DELICIOUS! The three of us loved these burgers and would certainly buy these (although the fat content is a lot higher than I’d like). They stay moist, not dried out like a typical “veggie burger.” And of course, the flavor is outstanding; just the right amount of seasonings. These burgers can also be crumbled up and used as a ground “beef.” I have another package left and I’m torn over what to do: we have a neighborhood BBQ on Tuesday, so do I save the other package for that, or crumble them up for a new recipe?! Oh, the dilemma! You’ll probably find out soon. Since we had gone all traditional with these burgers, I couldn’t resist making some oven-baked fries to go with them . . .
Field Roast Hand-Formed Burgers -- Epicurean Vegan
The Husband’s neatly sliced burger . . .
Field Roast Hand-Formed Burgers -- Epicurean Vegan I just went for it . . .
Field Roast Hand-Formed Burgers -- Epicurean VeganOverall, another excellent product from Field Roast that makes my vegan life even easier (and tastier). Thanks, Field Roast!

 

Green Buffalo Food Company

GBF

So how green is your garden? Right now, ours is pretty white . . . and brown. It was certainly a nice surprise when Green Buffalo Food Company asked me to review one of their fresh produce boxes, delivered right to my door, no less. I’ve mention GBF before and how their box of organic fruit and veggie goodness had saved me (more than once) when it came to making dinner. GBF, based in Fort Collins provides locally-grown, certified organic fruits and vegetables to homes in Northern Colorado. (To see if your zip code is within their delivery routes, click HERE). You can opt for weekly or every-other-week delivery, choose from several different sizes of orders, AND customize your order, which takes the mystery out of that “mystery vegetable” that many CSAs include in their orders.

Recently, Grant Farms, one of the country’s largest CSAs, located north of Fort Collins, filed for bankruptcy and left thousands of its customers without their produce. A few years ago, myself and two other neighbors shared an order from Grant Farms and after one season, we decided that not only was it too expensive, but we always ended up with an unbalanced box of produce. I love kale, but even I can’t go through 5 bunches of it in a week! I love the idea of customizing my fruit and veggie order so that I know exactly what I’m getting—and we support a local farmer in the process. Not only that, it’s delivered right to my door.

I was given the option, via email, to customize my box, but I was pleased with what was already on the list. I received GBF’s Fresh Front Range box:

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Gorgeous, huh? This box, a mix of both fruits and vegetables, is $33.99. I received: (all organic)

2 Cameo apples

2 Red Delicious apples

2 large avocados

1 lb bag baby carrots

1 bunch cilantro

3 kiwi

1 bunch leaf lettuce

2 red onion

3 Navel oranges

2 green bell pepper

2 lemons

2 (delicious!) heirloom tomatoes

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As always, I was impressed with the quality and size of the produce. It can be difficult to find organic produce in stores that are not half the size of conventionally-grown produce, and frankly, ugly as hell. No homely runts here.

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Everything is packaged carefully and in the summer, you can even expect ice packs tucked inside to keep the produce fresh. Green Buffalo also strives to live up to their name by committing themselves to being eco-friendly by recycling their shipping cartons, having efficient driving routes, and composting any unusable produce to The Growing Project. They are also committed to making the community a better place by donating leftovers to the Larimer County Food Bank.

Green Buffalo Food boxes start at $24.99 for The MiniA typical box includes 2 apples, 2 avocado, 1 head of broccoli, 3 bananas, 1 carrot, 1 grapefruit, 2 pears, 1 leaf lettuce bunch, and 3 baby bok choy. And don’t forget, you have the option to change anything in this box, as well as add anything, ala carte style! GBF has eight different box options to choose from, so you’re bound to find one that fits your needs.

I also received a one-page newsletter with recipes, specials of the week, and other veggie news. There are no upfront costs, no membership fees, no cancellation fees, or contracts to sign. You are only charged on the day of delivery and you can cancel or make changes to your order anytime up to 2 days before your delivery date. You can Get Started and easily maintain your account online—it’s that easy!

Green Buffalo Foods have been such a pleasure to work with and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them. I think we all know how important fruits and vegetables are to our diet—especially organically-grown ones, and GBF really takes out the guesswork. Check out their great blog for recipes and much more. Also, be sure to visit their Facebook page for updates and contests!

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Product Review: EcoTools Cosmetic Brushes

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I haven’t been cooking or baking anything exciting lately, so sorry for my lack of recipes since Thanksgiving. So I thought I’d throw in a product review. I found these earth-friendly and sustainable cosmetic brushes at Walgreens (of all places) and thought I give them a try. They’re by EcoTools and they have a pretty large line of cosmetic accessories. Unfortunately, I couldn’t peruse their site because they seem to be having problems with pages loading. As soon as they’re back up and running, I’ll update the link. Not only was I drawn to the fact that are made from the ever so sustainable bamboo plant, natural and recycled materials and 100% cruelty-free, but because they were very reasonably priced. The 6-piece brush set was $11.99 and the single brush was $7.99. The five brushes also come with a cotton and hemp bag that has a zippered pocket and folds over.

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The brushes are incredibly soft (which of course, is true for any new cosmetic brush) and I thought they all worked beautifully. In case you’re not sure how certain brushes work, the back of the package will enlighten you . . . which never hurts.

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Like with all cosmetics brushes, I recommend washing them at least once a week with a mild liquid soap and lay them flat to dry, never standing up, as the water will rot the handle. Walgreens also carries a few of the products from EcoTools’ Alicia Silverstone line. (Again, the link is down, so I’ll update when it’s up and running). In the meantime, you can at least check out their homepage. :-)

Product Review: Edward & Sons Brown Rice Snaps

I discovered these crackers a few months ago, and I’ve been buying them ever since. They’re made by Edward & Sons and come in a variety of flavors including vegetable, toasted onion, and black sesame. I’ve only been able to find the vegetable and toasted onion ones at the store, but you can order the other varieties HERE. Of the two, the vegetable flavored one is my favorite. These are vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, and 96% organic. Ingredients: Organic Brown Rice Flour, Organic White Rice Flour, Organic Expeller-Pressed Sunflower Oil, Carrots, Garlic, Onions, Red Bell Peppers, Tomatoes, Sea Salt, Citric Acid, Green Bell Peppers. Dehydrated vegetable powders. It ain’t easy finding a tasty vegan and gluten-free cracker, but it looks like Ed and his sons have done an excellent job!

They’re ideal with Daiya cheese!

Quick and Easy Lunch: Chunky Chickpeas and Rice

Quick and Easy Lunch: Chunky Chickpeas and Rice -- Epicurean VeganNot eating wheat, it can be tough not being able to make a quick sandwich. Scouring the pantry, I found Chunky Chickpeas from Tasty Bite.

Quick and Easy Lunch: Chunky Chickpeas and Rice -- Epicurean Vegan

We’ve taken these camping because they’re so easy—just pour into a pan and heat. At home, you can heat the packet in the microwave for 90 seconds. In this case, I decided to combine the chickpeas with some cooked rice and diced mushrooms. So easy! During the last few minutes of cooking the rice, throw in some mushrooms. Then heat the chickpeas in the microwave (according to the package instructions) and stir into the rice. Voila. Lunch is served.

The ingredients in the packet are simple: water, chickpeas, onions, sunflower oil, garlic, ginger, coriander, salt, cumin, and spices. There’s even 9 grams of protein per 1/2 a packet. I don’t remember how much the packets are, but I know they’re just over $3. (The Bombay Potatoes variety is awesome)!

Product Review: Red Chile Beer Bread Mix

The Husband and I picked up this $6 bread mix, made by Mannons Foods, a while back and I finally got around to making it. Seeing as the Broncos played (and WON) today, and we were headed over to our friend’s house to watch, it seemed like the ideal thing to bring. And on top of that, I made it with our favorite local brew, Fat Tire from New Belgium. Oh yeah, and the bread mix is made in Colorado, too!

All I had to do was combine the mix with 12 ounces of beer, pour it into a greased loaf pan and bake it for 50 minutes. That’s it.

It smelled incredible as it baked, too. So what’s in the magic bag? Check out the ingredients:

Bleached Enriched Flour, Sugar, Baking Powder, Chile Peppers, Onions, Salt, Garlic & Jalapeno Peppers. 

The mix can be used as a batter on veggies, too. 1/8 cup of the dry mix contains 100 calories, no fat, and 2 grams of protein.

I let it cool for about 5-10 minutes before removing (quite easily) from the pan.

I wrapped it foil and about an hour later, it was still warm. It sliced very easily.

We were all very impressed! The bread was moist and had so much flavor. The Red Chile was not overpowering, nor was the beer taste. It would be great paired with soup, or even drizzled with some agave. You can find all kinds of products from Mannons Foods and have them shipped directly to you.

Product Reviews: Nate’s Savory Mushroom Meatless Meatballs & Gardein Chipotle-Lime Crispy Fingers

The other night just seemed like an appetizer night. Every once in a while we’ll peruse Whole Foods, or Sunflower Market for some vegan appetizers for dinner. We had never tried Nate’s Savory Mushroom Meatless Meatballs before and anything that says “savory mushrooms,” we’re all over it. I’ve had Nate’s Zesty Meatless Meatballs, and we weren’t that impressed. They had no flavor—even with marinara sauce and cheese on them. I was willing to give these a try, however.

There are three methods of cooking them listed on the back: stove top, oven or microwave. We went with the oven: 375 for 10 minutes. They come with zero saturated fat, no trans fat, no cholesterol, 8 grams of protein, and only 4.5 grams of total fat. So onto the taste . . . they weren’t good. Not only did they have NO FLAVOR, the little taste that they did have, was not good at all. They tasted very fake. All three of us tried one and none of us liked them. Bummer. We were hoping for more. You’re better off making your own.

Now, on to better news . . .

These were outstanding! I usually have a problem with fake chicken products that taste too much like the real thing—it really grosses me out, but for some reason, these don’t do that to me—and the consistency and taste are pretty close to real chicken. We all loved these, especially with the vegan ranch dip. Gardein makes many varieties, and the Chipotle Lime flavoring is just right—not overpowering. We baked them at 450 for 20-25 minutes. They have 6 grams of fat (0.5 grams of saturated fat), no cholesterol and 16 grams of protein. These would be ideal cut up for a “chicken” salad.

The guys wanted onion rings and vegetarian tamales as well. I made some hummus to go on pitas and crackers and it was a fun and delicious (minus the “meat” balls) appetizer night.