2013 was the Year of the Vegan Cookbook. I like to stay on top of new releases, but I just couldn’t keep up this year. There were books to cover just about “I could never go vegan because I can’t give up ___ (fill in the blank)” that I’ve ever heard. Cheese, pizza, chocolate – you name it, there was vegan cookbook about it, making it easier than ever to adopt a vegan diet. There were cookbooks for seasoned vegans, cookbooks for newbies, cookbooks for vegans living with omnivores, cookbooks devoted to baking, cookbooks full of grilling recipes, cookbooks for gluten-free eating – pick a subject and 2013 had a vegan cookbook to cover it.
My top 10 list covers the books I’ve been using the most this year. There were other cookbooks that came out this year that might be list-worthy, but I don’t have them. Yet. People often ask me what my favorite cookbook is, and I can never give them an answer. They’re all different, and I love them all. There are standouts though, and these are the books that stood out for me in 2013.
Vegan Chocolate by Fran Costigan – Two of my favorite words in the English language are “vegan” and “chocolate”, so Fran Costigan already had me as a fan for her newest cookbook Vegan Chocolate before I even set eyes on it. After I set eyes on it, she had a fan for life. Vegan Chocolate is a beautiful hardcover book packed with the most gorgeous, mouthwatering photos of cakes, pies, cookies and other drool-worthy chocolatey treats that I’ve ever seen. Beware – you may be tempted to eat the book’s pages. With Vegan Chocolate, Fran proves that veganism is not about deprivation at all.
Isa Does It by Isa Moskowitz – Isa does it again! Isa has a reputation for writing cookbooks full of flavorful, foolproof recipes, but she’s outdone herself with her newest opus. Isa Does It is a beautiful 320 page hardbound book packed with hilarious stories, cute artwork and gorgeous photos – oh yeah, and a bunch of yummy recipes too! The dishes are easy to make and come together quickly using easy-to-find ingredients. This book is perfect for everyone: omnivores trying to eat less meat, new vegans, and seasoned cooks looking to add some creative dishes to their repertoires.
Betty Goes Vegan by Annie and Dan Shannon – The Shannons were awarded the VegNews Cookbook of the Year for their veganization of the classic Betty Crocker Cookbook, and rightly so. I can’t imagine that it was an easy task to veganize so many meat and dairy laden recipes, but the Shannons were able to do just that. The result is a cookbook full of classic comfort food dishes that even a hardened omnivore would appreciate. In Betty Goes Vegan, you’ll find vegan versions of recipes that were popular in 50s and 60s, such as Quiche Lorraine, Tuna Casserole and Corned Beef(less) Brisket with Cabbage. I can almost see Betty Draper serving up these dishes at a Sterling Cooper Draper Price dinner party. What makes Betty Goes Vegan truly unique are the personal stories and fun facts sprinkled throughout. The history of the famous Betty Crocker signature, the origin of Bisquick, and tips for modern-day Bettys are just some of the tid-bits you’ll find here. The Shannons playful personalities show through in their writing, making this a cookbook you might want to curl up along with a cup of tea with and read like a novel, instead of just relegating it to use in the kitchen.
Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats From Around the World by Allyson Kramer – Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats from Around the World is a follow-up to Allyson’s first book Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats. Allyson is an expert on gluten-free vegan fare. Some may think that a vegan diet is restrictive enough, and restricting it even further by removing anything containing gluten means that there’s not much left too eat – and what is left is bland and tasteless. Allyson blows that myth out of the water with her flavorful, creative recipes. With more and more people being diagnosed with celiac disease, and even more people discovering that they’re gluten sensitive, Allyson’s books are very needed in today’s marketplace.
Vegan Pizza by Julie Hasson – A coworker once told me that she could never go vegan because she would never be able to give up pizza. I told her that I eat pizza all the time and she said “yeah, but it’s not the same thing.” I agree with her. Most of the vegan pizzas I’ve eaten have been much more tasty and creative than the standard pies I ate as an omnivore. Julie Hasson has more inventive ideas for pizza creations that I could ever think up in her book Vegan Pizza. There are recipes for crusts, sauces, cheeses and, of course, pizza recipes to put it all together. Pizza recipes include Scalloped Potato Pizza, Thai Peanut Pizza, Bibimpa Pizza and even dessert pies such as Coconut-Caramel Pizza. No, it’s not the same thing – vegan pizza is much, much better.
The Cheesy Vegan by John Schlimm – Most people are reluctant to even consider going vegan because they’re hooked on cheese. Cheese is highly addictive, and I had a hard time giving it myself, but it is possible. There are a lot of great new plant-based cheeses on the market now, but if you’re feeling adventurous and would like to make your own, John Schlimm will show you how easy it is with his newest book The Cheesy Vegan. Cheese recipes include cheddar, mozzarella, swiss, feta and brie, as well as ricotta, bleu and cottage cheese. Once your cheese is ready, John will help you cook a delicious dish with it. Recipes range from breakfasts and lunches to side dishes and casseroles, and there’s even an entire chapter dedicated to mac and cheese.
Jazzy Vegetarian Classics by Laura Theodore – You’re probably familiar with Laura Theodore from her PBS cooking show Jazzy Vegetarian, which is now in its third season and can currently be seen on the Create channel on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Her new cookbook Jazzy Vegetarian Classics is the companion book to the show, and all of the recipes to the delicious dishes that Laura cooks up on the show can be found within its pages. On the television show and in her cookbooks Laura focuses on flavorful, classic meatless dishes that can be made without strange or hard-to-find ingredients. These are the kind of meals that you can easily serve to your omnivore friends at a dinner party, or your picky-eater family members at the holidays. Chances are that they won’t even miss the meat.
Vegan Slow Cooking for Two or Just for You by Kathy Hester – What could be better than coming home from work to find a hot dinner cooked and waiting for you? Maybe waking up to find a hot breakfast waiting for you, but really, there aren’t too many things that are better than that. (Well, other than cats, chocolate and snow days.) For that reason, I love using my slow cooker, and I also recommend using them to my health coaching clients who lead busy lifestyles. Kathy’s first cookbook The Vegan Slow Cooker is the book that got me to use my slow cooker on a regular basis, so I was pretty excited to start using Vegan Slow Cooking for Two when it arrived. I have heard people say that slow cooker meals all tend to taste the same, but that’s a not a problem with the dishes in Vegan Slow Cooking for Two. The recipes are so varied that you can cook from it for months and never feel like you’re eating the same thing twice.
Nut Butter Universe by Robin Robertson – If you take a look at my massive vegan cookbook collection (It really is massive. Seriously, I have a problem), the one name you’ll see the most is Robin Robertson’s. Robin churns out cookbooks at an impressive rate, and her no-nonsense cooking style has made her one of my favorite authors. This time around Robin wrote about one of my favorite subjects: Nut Butters. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of spicy peanut sauce, but I’m also a big fan of cooking with nut butters in general. I love swirling almond butter into my oatmeal and adding a few spoonfuls of cashew butter to my stews. I’ve also recently begun to use nut butter in the place of oil in baked goods such as muffins and banana bread. Nut Butter Universe is full of recipes like these and such much more. There are recipes for everything from soups and starters to main dishes and desserts.
Easy as Vegan Pie by Hannah Kaminsky, Cheers to Vegan Sweets by Kelly Peloza and Pies and Tarts with Heart by Dynise Balcavage – Okay, I realize a three-way tie at number ten actually makes this a list of my top 12 favorite cookbooks, but I just had such a hard time deciding! I haven’t done much baking this year, so I will admit that I haven’t made anything from any of these books yet, but I have sat down with all three and perused them from cover to cover. They’re all packed with delicious sounding recipes and gorgeous drool-worthy photographs – food porn at its finest!
What were your favorite cookbooks of 2013?