The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook
by Isa Chandra Morskowitz and Terry Hope Romero (Authors of Vegan with a Vengeance and Vegan Cupcakes take over the world)
Veganomicon comes to us from authors of two already very successful vegan cookbooks, which is always a good sign. Their experience in creating a cookbook shows from the first pages, actually from the cover itself. Not overwhelmed with food pictures, the cover already gives a hint as to what to expect from the book’s pages – actual knowledge and information on how to cook, how to prepare ingredients, how to stock your kitchen, and the obvious, how and why to eat plant a based diet. Isa’s second name is Chandra, which means Moon in sanskrit (as in Ardha Chandrasana, half moon pose if you are a yogi), and that, of course, caught my eye!
The book was published back in 2007, which for many vegans may actually be a whole lifetime ago. Luckily for vegans, vegetarians and raw foodies everywhere, each year marks progress in making vegan mainstream, or at least out of the underground and into the light. The last 8 years have brought us great vegan products, sold now not only in Whole Foods Market and the like but in your local supermarket. Great vegan festivals have taken place, good books have been written, and awesome blogs have been sprouting every day (you know, like this one). But this book is just as relevant as it was 8 years ago and I greatly recommend it to all new and seasoned vegans.
How did I come in contact with this cookbook? By browsing the Barnes and Noble isles, as I have with most vegan, raw and yoga books I read. When I first discovered raw foods about two years ago, I felt absolutely baffled by the new information, and absolutely terrified to give raw food a try, without knowing if I’ll be able to make it through one day. But that is a whole another story for a whole another day. However, I do know very well how to be a beginner at something. And although I haven’t eaten meat in about 12 years now, I can fully sympathize with a new vegan or vegetarian.
This Meme may cause you a seasoned vegan/vegetarian to laugh out loud (or cry out loud, either way), but it sure is true for way too many people in the world. “What in the world do you eat?” may be the one most common question plant eaters get (after “Where do you get your protein?”). And that is exactly the place the authors of this cookbook are coming from!
Well, I love it already. Our authors received a question from a witty named _Cautious of Carrots_reader who’s first statement is “I don’t know where to begin”. Starting from the very basics, the reader admits they do not know how to cook and prepare veggies so they don’t taste like napkins. And the truth is, many people have been and currently are exactly at that place.
Many vegan cookbooks begin with an introductory section that addresses why to eat vegan, what to sock up on and what kind of gadgets and tools to use in the kitchen. Moskowitz and Romero go a step further and dedicate a section to how to cook a vegetable, a grain, and a bean respectively. These tips in itself with get every newbie on their feet and cooking independently without following recipes step by step. With the introduction of this book (that spreads over 45 pages), you will get the tools to give cooking a try and even experiment with what is already in your fridge with eatable results.
This book promises over 250 recipes, which is quite a number. And the authors surely do not disappoint, the recipes vary from snacks and dips, to brunch, to dressings, to one pot meals, and the list goes on. Going way beyond breakfast, lunch/dinner and dessert options, this cookbook holds recipes for every occasion and from various cooking cultures. Latkes, Jamaican Pies, Asian dishes, and Italian staples are all covered. Allow me to take a moment and say I love that. I immediately get a feeling I will not get stuck in the same flavor category. I personally feel my food always has a specific under-taste to it, a unique touch every cook really gives to it’s food. That is why I like to eat out, and at my friends’ houses and get bored of my own hand at any chance I get (which are not many). I cook most of my meals on most days and am always looking for inspiration to add a new touch to my dishes. When browsing cookbooks, I similarly search for cookbooks that promise variety!
Variety is a spice of life. If there is a topic to apply this statement to, it’s food. When you already limit your cooking and eating habits, as us plant-based, gluten-free loving, raw food enthusiast, healthy foodies do, variety may feel like something hard to come by. It is not true, but it does take effort and research. If you are searching for a well-rounded cookbook, give this one a try.
Lasagne Marinara with Spinach
Broccoli Potato Soup with Fresh Herbs
Jamaican Yuca Shepherd’s pie with sweet potato, kidney beans, and plantains
Cookbook at a glance:
- 250 recipes – that’s a lot!
- variety of flavors
- variety of dishes (brunch, cookies and bars, sammiches, just to name a few)
- simple tips on how to cook a whole food group (vegetables, grains, beans)
- additional recipe categories (under 45 minutes, Low fat, Supermarket friendly)
- Menu tips and suggestions (Menus for the Masses)
- a cooking/prepping/shopping tip included with a recipe
- pretty and easy to read layout
- people who wrote this are real, hard core cooks, and this is clear form their recipes (very well developed and a great use of spices)
- only one section with pictures in the center – I like pictures!
- small picture section considering how many recipes there are – you will need to use your imagination
- no food pictures on the cover – you may not notice the book among the other drool-worthy covers out there
- it’s pretty big – and although that is great, it can feel overwhelming (do not fear. take your time to read it)
- lot of recipes take a long time to make (that is my personal opinion, and cooking style – I like it quick and simple)
- some ingredients may be new and even vegan-specific (anise extract, agar, tamari)
- it’s a bit pricy – $30.00USD at Barnes and Noble
A note about the Cons. First of all, I understand the authors sacrificed space for pretty drool-worthy pictures and filled it with valuable information instead. This is a good choice. However, if you are an image driven individual and not a fan of many words, you may want to consider a simpler and smaller cookbook, filled with pictures, instead (at least to start with).
However, I stand by my claim that this is a great cookbook to have at your house to peak into any time you are stuck for ideas, have a dinner party or holidays coming up, or are introducing plant based recipes to your diet step by step. You will get more than enough tools to make a transition to a plant based or high plant based diet a reality. And the investment is worth it, as this book holds more recipes and information than most $10.00 cookbooks out there, and you will really need to make one investment to get you started and going for a long time.