The Lusty Vegan – Recipe and Giveaway

TLV Cover Full Size Lo-ResI’m happy to be hosting The Lusty Vegan blog tour today!  The Lusty Vegan is a project I’ve been close to, as I do freelance work for the book’s publisher Vegan Heritage Press, and I designed the cover! I enjoy working on projects like this because it combines my love of vegan cooking with my background in design.


Chia Pudding

The Lusty Vegan is part cookbook, part lifestyle book for vegans and those who love them. It was written by Ayindé Howell and Zoë Eisenberg, both of fame. Ayinde and Zoe are both longtime vegans, but neither has ever dated another vegan. After comparing notes, they realized the need for a manifesto to help vegans and omnivores navigate their cross-cuisine love life. The book shares tips—both culinary and romantic—for vegans who want to satisfy the appetites of their omnivorous counterpart, and for non-vegans who want to impress their plant-based partners.


Cajun tofu and dirty quinoa

Dennis and I went vegan together many years ago, so things have been pretty easy for me, but I remember my vegetarian days when I dated meat-eaters, and this book would have really come in handy back then. That doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the book at all though, as Ayindé’s recipes are quite incredible.


I have a copy of The Lusty Vegan for one lucky reader. Follow the instructions at the end of the post to enter. Be sure to also check out my interview with Ayindé Howell and Zoë Eisenberg on Chic Vegan.


Sausage with Biscuits

Breakfast Andouille Sausage with Biscuits

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes | Serves 2 to 4


You can prep the sausage a day or two in advance, and the biscuits are pretty quick as well. They can also be made in advance and frozen, then defrosted when you need them.




  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons vegan butter, very cold
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk



  • 3/4 cup Lightlife Gimme Lean vegan sausage
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon gumbo filé powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Grapeseed or safflower oil
  • 1/2 cup julienned green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup julienned red onion
  • 1/2 cup vegan cheese shreds


Optional Toppings

  • Vegan butter
  • Raspberry jam (or you favorite flavor)




  1. Biscuits: Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a fork, mix in the cold butter until it becomes the size of small peas. Slowly add the milk, gradually stirring until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.


  1. Place the dough onto a floured surface, and knead 15 to 20 times. Pat or roll the dough out to a 1-inch thickness. Cut the biscuits with a large cookie cutter or the top of a juice glass dipped in flour. Repeat until all the dough is used. Brush off the excess flour, and place the biscuits onto a lightly floured baking sheet. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown.


  1. Sausage: In a large bowl, break up the sausage. Add the Cajun seasoning, paprika, minced garlic, black pepper salt, file powder, chili powder, red pepper flakes, and cumin. Mix well. Take 1/4 cup of the sausage mixture and form into a 1/2 inch thick patty. Repeat until all patties are formed. It should make 4 patties.


  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1/4 cup oil until hot and shimmering. Fry the patties for 3 to 5 minutes on each side until golden brown. Transfer the patties to paper towels to cool. Reserve the oil in the skillet.


  1. Reheat the skillet with the oil from the sausage over medium heat. Add the bell pepper and onion and sauté until caramelized, 5 to 7 minutes. Use a spatula to push the onions and peppers into four piles large enough to cover the sausage patties and sprinkle the top of each veggie pile with 2 tablespoons of cheese, allowing it to melt. Using a spatula, place the vegetables and melted cheese on top of each sausage patty. Serve with hot biscuits topped with butter and jam, if using, on the side.



From The Lusty Vegan © 2014 by Ayinde Howell and Zoe Eisenberg. Used with permission from Vegan Heritage Press.


Follow the instructions below to for a chance to win a copy of The Lusty Vegan. US residents only, please. Contest ends a midnight on October 29th. Good luck!


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Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson – Recipe and Giveaway

Vegan Without BordersI don’t know how she does it, but Robin Robertson has managed to write yet another amazing vegan cookbook! Vegan Without Borders is her newest opus, and it’s a gorgeous hardcover book full of delicious recipes and mouthwatering recipes.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn Vegan Without Borders, Robin has used her culinary know-how to veganize traditional meals from the around the globe.   Like her other cookbooks, she uses easy-to-find ingredients and the dishes are not difficult to make, so it’s easy to cook up world cuisine at home. I’ve cooked with other books that have forced me to either drive around all of northern New Jersey looking for ingredients or place an online order for way more of a spice than I actually need, and I’ve also spent hours in the kitchen cooking up meals that took less than half an hour to eat, so I appreciate the ease of  Robin’s recipes.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVegan Without Borders is organized by continent, starting in Europe with Italy, France, Spain and Portugal, Greens, Eastern Europe, and the British Isles. From there we visit The Americas, with recipes from the U.S., Mexico, the Carribbean, and South America. The next stop is Africa, with recipes for such tasty dishes as Falafel Pie, Spicy Couscous with Carrots and Chickpeas, and Vegetable Tagine. Next up is The Middle East with recipes for traditional dishes like Za’atar Roasted Cauliflower and Stuffed Dates. Next up is India with recipes for dals, curries, and chutneys. The final stop is Asia, with recipes from China, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Southeast Asia Islands.


SproutsI wish I could tell you that through Vegan Without Borders I’ve taken a culinary tour of the the globe, but the truth is that I haven’t been able to get past the Europe chapter yet! I cook Asian and Indian-inspired dishes quite often, and I rarely cook European cuisine, but the dishes in the book’s first chapter have been calling to me. So far I’ve enjoyed Roasted Ratatouille with Basil Pisou, Farinata with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Olives, Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Walnuts, and – my favorite dish from the book to date – Seitan Jagerschnitzel.


I have a copy of Vegan Without Borders for one lucky reader. Follow the instructions at the end of the post to enter.


Seitan Jagerschnitzle

Seitan Jagerschnitzel

Serves 4


Thinly sliced seitan absorbs the flavor of the rich mushroom sauce in these German “hunter’s cutlets.” You can use any kind of mushrooms you like, but I prefer using a variety of different kinds to add interest and flavor dimension to the dish.



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 seitan cutlets or 8 ounces seitan, thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small yellow onion or 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms (single variety or assorted), thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed or whole
  • 1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme (optional)
  • 1½ cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon browning sauce (optional) (Kitchen Bouquet or Gravy Master are vegan)
  • ½ cup vegan sour cream


Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the seitan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove the seitan from the skillet and set aside on a plate. (Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.)


Return the skillet to the heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, mushrooms, wine, soy sauce, caraway seeds, paprika, and thyme, if using. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes.


Stir in the broth and bring to a boil, stir in the cornstarch mixture, decrease the heat to a low simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce has thickened and the mushrooms are tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the browning sauce, if using, and then stir in the sour cream. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Return the seitan to the skillet and continue to cook until the seitan is heated through.


From Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson/Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC.


I have a copy of Vegan Without Borders for one lucky winner. Follow the instructions below to enter. US residents only, please. Contest ends at midnight on Sunday, October 26th. Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway


The Forks Over Knives Plan

The Forks Over Knives PlantIf you’ve seen the film Forks Over Knives, then you’re already familiar with the concept behind The Forks Over Knives Plan, which is, in a nutshell, eating a plant-based, whole foods diet for optimal health. This is not a fad diet, nor is it a deprivation diet – it’s a scientifically proven way of living that can both prevent and reverse disease.


The Forks Over Knives Plan was put together by two doctors – Alona Pulde, MD and Matthew Lederman, MD – who realized that prescribing medication to their patients was just masking symptoms rather than curing diseases. After years of working with people who were ill with chronic diseases, they came to the realization that food is truly the best medicine. I’ve done enough studying and reading to know that the American health care system is in dire need of an overhaul, but some of the statistics in The Forks Over Knives Plan really shocked me. Did you know that every fifty three seconds someone in the US dies of heart disease? Or that cancer takes the lives about 1,500 Americans day? 10% of the population now has diabetes, and obesity has doubled in children in the past thirty years. Nearly 70% of people in the US are on prescription medications, but instead of getting healthier, Americans are just getting sicker.


Quinao and Millet with KaleThe Forks Over Knives Plan is based on the works of T. Colin Campbell, PhD; Caldwell Esselstyn, MD; Dean Ornish, MD; John McDougall, MD; and Neal Barnard, MD. Thanks to the research of these pioneers, there is scientific evidence that a whole foods, plant-based diet can prevent and reverse a whole host of chronic diseases that includes heart disease and diabetes. It also improves mental clarity, helps people reach their ideal weight, improves mood, and aids in better sleep, among other positive “side effects”.


The actual plan behind The Forks Over Knives Plan is a four-week diet and lifestyle overhaul that will help you transition to a whole foods, plant-based diet. The first week focuses on breakfast, and starting the day out with a healthy meal that will be sustainable throughout the morning. There’s also advice on how to read food nutrition labels, how to keep a well stocked plant-based kitchen, and how to shop without breaking the bank.


South of the Border PizzaWeek two focuses on lunch, meal planning, and the food mood connection. Week three deals with dinner, bulk cooking, and cravings. The fourth and final week is all about bringing it all together and fine-tuning this new plant-based lifestyle. The book concludes with 100 delicious recipes by Darshana Thacker and Chef Del Sroufe. As I’ve said before, this is not about deprivation. Recipes include Tuscan White Bean Burgers, Sweet Potato Lasagna, Quinoa and Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie, and Chocolate Raspberry Parfaits.


I found that some of advice in The Forks Over Knives Plan is practically and greatly needed. I’ve seen books about dietary changes that don’t address the psychological and lifestyle issues that people face, such as handling cravings or dealing with friends and family members who might not be on the same journey. The authors also offer tips on how to make the mental switch from “diet” to “lifestyle”, how to answer annoying questions like “where do you get your protein”, and what to do when eating out.


SpaghettiThe Forks Over Knives Plan is an excellent resource for those who are looking for help transitioning to a plant-based diet, and it’s also great for those who may already be vegan but would like to eat a little more healthfully.


You’re in luck because I have a copy of The Forks Over Knives Plan for one lucky reader. Follow the instructions below to enter. US residents only, please. Contest ends at midnight eastern time on Sunday, October 5th. Good luck!


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OATrageous Oatmeals Recipe and Giveaway


I’m super excited to be hosting Kathy Hester’s OATrageous Oatmeals blog tour today! Not only was I a recipe tester for OATrageous Oatmeals, Kathy also included one of my recipes in the book! Kathy’s here with a recipe for Veggie Oat Taco Mince, and she also has a chance for you to win a copy of the book at the end of the post.


I will admit that I used to really dislike oatmeal. I found it to be mushy and paste-like, and I couldn’t understand why anyone would purposely consume it. I’m not sure when or why I started forcing myself to eat it. It may have been because I was away from home and the only vegan breakfast food I could find was the oatmeal cup at Starbucks, or maybe it was when I first received my slow cooker and I was trying out different breakfast dishes. I found that adding fruit and nuts in with oats in the morning made it much more palatable. From there I began experimenting, and since then I have become a fan of oatmeal.


Kathy’s book OATrageous Oatmeals will make an oatmeal fan out of  any just about anyone. If only I had had this book years ago! As you would expect, it does contain quite a lot of breakfast dishes, such as Lemon Raspberry “Cheesecake” Oatmeal, Caramel Delight Oatmeal, and  Peanut Butter Pie Oatmeal, but there are also recipes for smoothies, soups, stews, dinner dishes, and desserts. Oats aren’t usually thought of as a savory food, but Kathy has gotten really creative her recipes, including dishes such as Cauliflower Oat Pizza Crust, Cajun Stuffed Bell Peppers, and Steel-Cut Oat Bean Chili. Leaving no oat unturned, Kathy  has included a few recipes for oatmeal pet treats, and there are also a couple of recipes for skin care products.


Without further ado, here’s Kathy with a recipe from the book!



Veggie Oat Taco Mince

by Kathy Hester from OATrageous Oatmeals


gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free option*


Steel-cut oats mimic the mouthfeel of vegan crumbles while being completely free of processed ingredients. They also add heartiness to the veggie and bean mixture. This is the perfect way to sneak in some veggies for the picky eaters in your house. My picky eater, Cheryl, loves this!


Makes enough for 8 tacos


  • 1 cup (237 ml) water
  • 1/4 cup (20 g) steel-cut oats
  • 1/4 cup (27.5 g) minced carrots
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil (*or use water to make no oil added)
  • 1/2 small onion, minced (about 1/4 cup [50 g])
  • 1/4 cup (37 g) minced green pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 (14 oz [500 ml]) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) chopped green chilies
  • 1 cup (67 g) minced kale (or other green)
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 2 tablespoons (2g) to 1/4 cup (4 g)
  • cilantro, to taste
  • salt, to taste



  1. In a saucepan, bring the water, oats and carrots to a boil, then turn the heat to low. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the steel-cut oats are cooked through but still chewy. While the oats are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, then add the green pepper, garlic and spices and cook for another 2 minutes.
  2. Once the oat mixture is cooked, add it to the saute pan and mix the oats in with the veggies. You want to keep cooking until the oats dry out some and begin to separate. Keep cooking until it starts to look like crumbles.
  3. Mix in the kidney beans, green chilies and kale. Cook until the kidney beans are thoroughly heated. Right before serving, add the lime juice, cilantro and salt. Serve in hard or soft taco shells, or in burritos. They are also amazing on top of nachos.


Per 1/8 recipe: Calories 87.8, protein 4.0 g, total fat 2.2 g, carbohydrates 14.6 g, sodium 108.8 mg, fiber 4.3 g


Feel free to leave out the beans and replace the chili powder and cumin with basil and thyme. You can also leave out the green chilies and green pepper and replace with either sliced mushrooms or sun-dried tomatoes.


by Kathy Hester From OATrageous Oatmeals by Kathy Hester printed with permission of Page Street Publishing (I encourage you to use your affiliate link)


I have a copy of OATrageous Oatmeals for one lucky winner. Follow the instructions below to enter. US and Canadian residents only, please. Contest ends at midnight eastern time on October 1st. Good luck!


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Book Review and Recipe: Plant-Powered for Life by Sharon Palmer, RDN

plant-powered-for-lifeSharon Palmer is on a mission to help you fall in love with plants. In her new book Plant-Powered for Life she conjures up images of farmers markets full of fresh, crisp vegetables, produce bins overflowing with juicy ripe fruit, and fields of fresh leafy greens. Even the most die-hard carnivore wouldn’t be able to surrender to plant-based temptation. Alongside those images of fresh produce are visions of aromatic spices, pots of freshly cooked beans, and bowls full of warm whole grains. I had just finished a rather large lunch when I settled in on the sofa with Plant-Powered for Life, which had just arrived in my mailbox from The Experiment the day before, and I wanted to jump back up, head to the kitchen, and start cooking.


Black Bean BrowniesPlant-Powered for Life is a health and recipe book in one, but it’s not your typical health or recipe book. Most books on vegan health are full of scientific facts and (some might say) rather boring data, with recipes tucked in at the back of the book. And there are those vegan cookbooks with that have nutritional tips sprinkled through their pages, but the facts are usually overshadowed by the food. In Plant-Powered for Life, nutrition and food find balance. In the first chapter, Ms. Palmer, who is a registered dietician, suggests you set a plant-powered goal at the beginning of the book. It can be something as simple as adding more vegetables into your diet or something more life changing, such as going vegan. In each of the book’s 52 chapters, a tip to help achieve that goal is given, with little nuggets of nutritional or culinary wisdom thrown in. This isn’t heavy reading – each suggestion is just a page or two long – and the passages are written with a love of fresh food that will inspire you to head out to the farmers market and then into the kitchen.


French Lentil and Cherry Tomato SaladEach chapter in Plant-Powered for Life has two or three recipes that pertain to the subject at hand. For example, the chapter that suggests adding more legumes to your diet has recipes for Caribbean Calypso Beans and French Lentil Salad with Cherry Tomatoes. The chapter dedicated to eating well on the go has recipes for Curried Tofu Papaya Wraps and Bombay Carrot, Beet and Bulgur Salad ­– both of which hold up well to travel and make for excellent workday lunch options. As the book title implies, the recipes are all for whole, unprocessed foods, with a little bit of tofu and seitan thrown in.


Arugula Salad Pizza

Plant-Powered for Life also has an ingredients glossary for those who may be new to plant-based cooking, recipes for vegan basics such as dairy-free sour cream and egg-free mayo, and a guide to seasonal produce, so you know always know what’s in season.


If you’re hoping to change your diet, you can do so with Plant-Powered for Life, simply by following a new tip each week and giving the corresponding recipes a try. If you’re looking for mouthwatering plant-based recipes, you’ll find that here too. Whatever your reason for picking up Plant-Powered for Life, be prepared to fall in love with plants.


Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup

A traditional Mexican dish, tortilla soup is a spicy blend of tomatoes, vegetables, and crisp tortilla strips. This easy plant-powered version—you can whip it up in no time—throws protein-rich black beans into the mix. Best of all, this dish relies on preserved goods, such as canned tomatoes, frozen corn, and canned beans, so you can make it year-round from your pantry. And it’s a great complement for a simple sandwich, burrito, or vegetable salad for lunch or dinner.

Makes 10 servings (generous 1 cup each)



Tortilla Strips:

  • Three 6-inch (15 cm) corn tortillas
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon chili powder


  • 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced 1 small jalapeño pepper, finely diced 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup (164 g) frozen corn
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 4 cups (948 ml) water
  • 1 tablespoon reduced sodium vegetable broth base
  • Two 14.5-ounce (411 g) cans diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • One 15-ounce (425 g) can black beans, with liquid (or 1-3/4 cups cooked, with 1/2 cup water)
  • 2/3 cup (37 g) plant-based cheese, optional
  • 2/3 cup (60 g) chopped green onions, white and green parts



  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C).
  2. Slice the tortillas into thin strips. Place them on a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, then sprinkle the chili powder on top. Bake for about 5 to 8 minutes, until brown and crisp. Remove from oven and set aside. Turn off the oven.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the soup by heating the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic, bell pepper, jalapeño, zucchini, corn, crushed red pepper, and cumin and sauté for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Add the water, broth base, tomatoes, and black beans. Stir well and cover. Simmer over medium heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
  6. Ladle about 1 cup of soup into soup bowls, and garnish with a few tortilla strips, 1 tablespoon of plant-based cheese, and 1 tablespoon green onions. Serve immediately.
  7. Store leftover soup (without garnishes) in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat the soup and garnish with the tortilla strips, cheese, and green onions.



Substitute cooked or canned white beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, or kidney beans for black beans, or use a combination.


Recipe from Plant-Powered for Life: Eat Your Way to Lasting Health with 52 Simple Steps and 125 Delicious Recipes, copyright © Sharon Palmer, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.

Photo credit: © Heather Poire


Book Review: Vegan Finger Foods

Vegan-Finger-FoodsFinger foods are, well, food you eat with your fingers. Sometimes called “tapas” or “small plates,” and they can even be appetizers. The recipes in Vegan Finger Foods by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes are perfect for serving at parties, taking with you to potlucks, or to eat yourself as a light meal or snack.


Tempeh SkewersVegan Finger Foods explores the many types of bite-size munchies – from elegant to casual and savory to sweet. The book’s recipes are divided into 4 chapters: Veggie-Centric Finger Feasts, Stuffed and Dipped, Bread-Based Bites, and Sweet Little Somethings. Veggie-Centric Finger Feasts is a chapter where vegetables are the main star. There you’ll find recipes for such veggie-based treats as Rainbow Root Veggie Chips, Marinated Mushrooms, and Kale Cucumber Cups. In Stuffed and Dipped, you find recipes for all kinds of snacks that are stuffed with a tasty filling as well as delicious dips and sauces. Some standouts in this chapter are the Baked Mini Frittatas, Baked Buffalo Tofu Bites, and the Nacho Sauce Dip. The Bread-Based Bites chapter is full of recipes for crackers, breads, scones, and sandwiches. In Sweet Little Somethings, you’ll find lots of recipes for sweet treats, such as Better Buckeyes, Vanilla Cream Tartlets, and Brownie Nut Butter Cups.


Potato SkinsVegan Finger Foods arrived in April, shortly after I had major surgery, and I couldn’t quite make it into the kitchen to start cooking yet. I had originally planned on making some of the dishes in Vegan Finger Foods for a little birthday party I had in June, but I still didn’t really have the energy for it, so I set it aside for when I was feeling better. Once I started to feel like my old self again, I decided to tackle the book, and it’s a good thing I waited, because I just couldn’t stop myself from cooking more! Everything I made was eaten at home for dinner rather than served as party fare, and I discovered that the book’s recipes have a great amount of versatility to them. Rather than making The Jamaican Jerk Tempeh Skewers on toothpicks and serving them as an appetizer, I made them on large bamboo sticks and had them as the main dish for a dinner outside. Nacho Potato Skins are usually served as a snack or party dish, but I swapped the russet potatoes for sweet potatoes and served them for dinner, alongside a large salad. I made the mayo-based Pantry Raid Ranch Dip and used it as a sandwich spread rather than a dip.


Baked Jalapeño PoppersTwo of my favorite recipes in Vegan Finger Foodswere the Baked Jalapeños and Corn Fritters. Back in my cheese-eating vegetarian days, I probably ate my body weight in jalapeño poppers, but I haven’t had them in at least 13 years now. In this much healthier recipe, jalapeños are filled with a rich “cheese” made with cashews and white beans, and coated in a crunchy “batter” made with cornflakes and panko breadcrumbs. The Corn Fritters come together so quickly and easily that it would have been silly of menot to make them. Instead of making 16 small fritters as the recipe suggests, I made 6 larger ones, and I had to stop myself from eating them straight out of the pan.


Corn FrittersI know I say this often when reviewing a book, but there really is something for everyone in Vegan Finger Foods. Whether you’re planning a big bash and are looking for delicious finger foods to create a buffet with, hosting a tapas dinner party, or are just looking for some tasty munchies to enjoy by yourself, you’ll find what you’re looking for here. The book is also full of Celine Steen’s gorgeous photos, which will have everyone drooling.



Book Review: Salad Samurai

Salad-Samurai-CoverI was once at a book signing Terry Hope Romero was doing in my hometown in NJ where someone approach her and ask about making salads. Terry said that she’s not a big salad person, and she doesn’t eat them very often. So last year at Vida Vegan Con, I was quite surprised to learn that she was working on a cookbook devoted solely to salads. But she said the book would be about “salads that don’t suck”, and that made a lot of sense to me. When Lisa Simpson decided to go vegetarian many years ago, Homer and Bart paraded around the living room chanting, “You don’t win friends with salad! You don’t win friends with salad!” but if Lisa had a copy of Salad Samurai back then, I’m sure she would have won quite a lot of friends, because the salads recipes found within its pages most certainly do not suck.


Pepperoni Pizza SaladI’ve received quite a few new vegan cookbooks to review recently, and Salad Samurai is definitely the standout in the bunch. It’s full of drool-worth photos, creative recipes, and the book design is gorgeous, which, as a graphic designer, I really appreciate. Terry starts the book out with some basics, such as meal planning, recommended kitchen equipment, how to press tofu, and a glossary of ingredients that might not be familiar to the vegan newbie. The first few recipes chapters are full of recipes for dressings and salad toppers, including marinaded tofus, homemade croutons, and even a hemp seed parmesan.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe salad recipes in Salad Samurai are divided by season, which makes total sense, since produce is seasonal. I most certainly wouldn’t want a butternut squash salad in the middle of July, just as a dish featuring blueberries wouldn’t appeal to me in the dead of winter. It also makes it possible to continue with the healthy habit of eating daily salads through the cold months, when lettuce is probably the last thing on your mind. Some of the really creative dishes include Pepperoni Tempeh Pizza Salad (which is on my list of recipes to make this week), Grilled Goji Seitan Salad, and Chimichurri Chickpeas & Chicory.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe first recipe I tried in Salad Samurai was the Asparagus Pad Thai Salad. The combination of rice noodles, baked Lemongrass Tofu and Toasted Shallot Dressing cried out to me when flipping through the book’s pages and I wasn’t disappointed. This dish had a crisp, springtime flavor to it, and was hearty enough for dinner. After that, I made Pesto Cauliflower and Potato Salad. This dish was a refreshingly light spin on the classic potato salad, which can often seem heavy and a little too dense for summer meals, when it is traditionally served. I took this salad on a weekend picnic along with vegan sandwiches, and it was the perfect side dish.


Buffal-Caesar-SaladBackyard Buffalo Ranch Caesar Salad was next on my list. There was a bit of buzz in the vegan blogosphere about this salad, so I had to find out what the hubbub was. This salad seems simple, but the combination of spicy tofu, creamy cashew dressing, crunchy croutons, and fresh vegetables is out of this world. Backyard Buffalo Ranch Caesar Salad is the reason I haven’t tried more recipes fromSalad Samurai – I just keep making this one.


Salad Samurai is a great book for everyone who loves fresh veggies and wants to go beyond salads full of limp lettuce, mushy tomatoes and bland vinaigrette. With Salad Samurai, you most definitely will win friends with salad.




Rethink Food Book Review

ReThink-Food-Front-Cover-243x300As a health coach, I’ve read a lot of books on vegan health and nutrition. After a reading a few, the info gets repetitive and all of the titles tend to blend together in my brain. I have to admit that I’ve sort of skimmed through the ones I’ve received recently to see if there’s any new info. Sometimes I’ve just read certain chapters relevant to what might be going on with a client or myself.


The newest vegan health book to be sent my way is Rethink Food 100+ Doctors Can’t be Wrong, which was compiled by Shushana Castle and Amy-Lee Goodman. It features over 100 essays and articles about health and nutrition, and it’s actually perfect for people who want to skim and skip around, as each piece is just a few pages long. Of course, if you want to read it cover to cover, you have that option too.


The experts featured in Rethink Food include people you may have already heard of, such as Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Michael Greger. In addition to doctors, Rethink Food also features articles by registered dieticians, such as Jill Nussinow, and athletes, such as former NBA champion John Salley.


Rethink Food begins with the authors’ owns stories to give us an idea of how they became interested in using food to heal. Amy-Lee’s sister developed debilitating juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 9, and was cured years later after removing dairy from her diet. Her entire family later converted to a plant-based diet. Shushana’s mother was in need of eye surgery to improve her deteriorating vision, but she ended up fixing her sight herself by adopting a vegan diet.


What I love about Rethink Food is that is that the essays are organized by topics. The first chapter is called Diseases: The New Normal, and it contains articles the problems with the current medical system and the modern day Standard American Diet. From there, the book goes into What’s Missing in Med School (hint: nutrition education) and a Walk Through the Body. Other chapters include specific topic of interest such as nutrition for athletes, women’s issues, men’s issues, digestive disorders, building strong bones and joints, and dealing with cancer. The book ends with hope for the future and how to take the next steps in dietary change.


Whether you’re already vegan and have certain ailments you’re dealing with, or you’re thinking of adopting a plant-based diet and need a little swaying, Rethink Food is the book for you. With the info found within its pages, you’ll learn how reverse your symptoms and regain your health. You’ll also learn how to prevent disease, and you’ll gain knowledge that so much of today’s medical establishment is lacking.


Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson

Vegan Planet CoverEven though I have a giant cookbook collection and I consider myself a kitchen veteran, I have to admit that I’m usually slightly intimated by really thick cookbooks. You know the ones – they have 500 or 1,000 recipes and the binding is so big that that you need a large can of chickpeas to keep them open on your counter while you’re cooking. They are usually so full of recipes that it’s difficult to choose to know where to start or what to choose to make, and I have a hard time making choices.


Tahini Rotini with Broccoli and Lemon

When Robin Robertson’s revised edition of Vegan Planet arrived, I let it sit for a while before I picked it up and read through it. I quickly realized that even though the book is about 2 inches thick, there was no reason to be intimidated by it. While it is chock-full of over 425 recipes, the book is well organized, the recipes are easy to make, and the ingredients are easy to find.


Spinach Frittata

Vegan Planet originally hit bookshelves in 2003, when there were very few vegan cookbooks on the market. It was known as the “bible of vegan cooking” as it was the most comprehensive book on plant-based cooking on the market at the time. A lot has changed in the past 11 years, and there are now vegan cookbooks devoted to just about every subject possible available. Vegan Planet still remains a comprehensive guide to the world of vegan cooking, and this revised version contains new recipes, updated classics, and refreshed favorites. The book’s revisions include an expanded range of recipes using the whole grains that are now readily available, greens that have become popular in recent years such as kale and chard, and information on concerns over cooking with oil.


Asian Noodle Salad with Peanut Sauce

There’s something for everyone in Vegan Planet! The book begins with a chapter on vegan basics, which includes both nutritional info and cooking tips, making it perfect for those who are new to this way of cooking. There are plenty of flavorful and creative dishes to please the vegan pros as well. As we’ve come to expect from Robin, the dishes are global in nature, but nothing is too “foreign” that omnivores wouldn’t know what they’re eating. The recipes include just about any type of dish you could have a hunger for, including Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili, Easy Mac and Cheese, Jerk-Spiced Portobello Steaks, and Strawberry Topped Cheesecake. If you’re in the mood for pizza, just open up to the New World Pizza chapter. If you have a hankering for pasta, check out the Universe Pasta chapter. If it’s sweets you crave, check out Dessert Heaven.


Vegan Planet is perfect for those who are veg-curious and want to add more-plant based meals into their diets, new vegans looking for thorough information, and veteran vegans who want to add new dishes into their repertoire.



More Quick Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson

morequickfixvegancoverAs a health coach, I meet a lot of people who say they don’t know what to cook. Either they just don’t know how to throw together a vegan meal, they’re too tired after a long day at the office, or they just don’t have the time to cook a balanced meal. I usually give those clients a copy of Robin Robertson’s cookbook Quick-Fix Vegan, which is chock-full of vegan recipes that take 30 minutes or less to make. Luckily, Robin has just released a sequel of sorts – More Quick-Fix Vegan so I have even more gift options for my clients.

PolentaAs the name implies, More Quick-Fix Vegan is full of healthy and delicious recipes that come together in a flash. Since I had abdominal surgery is March, For about a month I was living off of Chipotle veggie bowls and Amy’s frozen dinners, but I’m feeling better and I’ve been able to start cooking again, but I can’t stand in the kitchen for too long. More Quick Fix-Vegan has been a lifesaver, because I’ve been able to prepare creative meals that don’t take too long to prepare, and there’s been a wide variety in what I’ve made. Lemon Dijon Pasta Shells, Spicy Ginger-Lime Portobellos and Broccoli, General Tso’s Tofu, Stroganoff-Inspired Pasta and Polenta with Kale and Cremini Mushrooms have all been on the menu – and they’ve all been way better than take-out or frozen dinners!

Dinner-stroganoff-1More Quick Fix-Vegan is filled with 150 recipes that can be made in half an hour or less. Robin also shares tips and tricks for planning and preparing quick and economical meals. The book starts with chapter devoted to basics – from pantry basics to basis recipes such as vegetable broth and vegan mayo. There are also tips for saving time, menu planning and ingredient shortcuts. Chapters include Souper Soups and Stews, Big Bowls, Pasta for Dinner, “Pantry Makes Perfect” Recipes, and Meal-Worthy Sandwiches. There’s even a chapter devoted to quick-fix desserts!

General-Tsos-TofuWhether you’re cooking for your family, your partner, or just yourself, you’re sure to find recipes to please in More Quick-Fix Vegan. The recipes are full of flavor and omnivore-friendly. More Quick-Fix Veganis perfect for beginner vegans who need inspiration in the kitchen, those who are trying to add healthy, meatless options into their diets, and seasoned vegans who are looking to add some new dishes to their repertoire!

Dr. Fuhrman