One of the hardest parts of being a new vegan (or even an old seasoned vegan) is trying to keep up with all the new products out there. I must have spent over $50 looking for the "right" vegan cheese my first year being a vegan and I have over 50 vegan/vegetarian cookbooks in my arsenal but not all the recipes are the greatest. I’m the first born so I’m used to being a Guinea Pig and now I’m your Vegan Guinea Pig. So here are my recommendations and critiques. Let me know what you think!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Skinny Bitch in the Kitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin

If you haven’t read the book that precedes this “Skinny Bitches” then you are missing out. It is the top selling vegan book of all time, most likely because the title gives no hints of what is really inside. I loved the book so much I got it on audio book and paperback so I wouldn’t have to waste one moment of idle time without it. The follow-up cookbook companion to the book, however, falls miserably short. As I turned each page my anticipation and joy changed to pure boredom. On three separate occasions I thought to myself “Is it too late to return this book?” “I mean, I haven’t even really put a dent in it yet, you think they’ll notice?” The honest woman within me is the only reason that this book is still sitting next to me right now.

Where could everything have gone so terribly wrong? Well, I’ll tell you. If you’re looking for creativity you will not find it in Skinny Bitch in the Kitch. When I was in the bookstore I got excited when I saw recipes like Eggplant Parmesan and Cheezy Cream of Broccoli Soup. But once I got home and read further I discovered that this book should really be called “So you have a bunch of vegan cheese sitting in your refrigerator…here’s what you do with it.” Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with faux cheese, I have plenty of recipes in my own cookbook that use it. But it seems like every single one of the recipes in the book calls for it (aside from the smoothies of course). Then there are lackluster recipes that make you question if they can really be considered recipes at all. Case in point the recipe for Spicy Mixed Nuts. Hmmm…Spicy Mixed Nuts, they must have been up all night thinking about that one.

Many of the other laughable recipes include Macaroni and Four Cheeses which, you guessed it, uses every single type of faux cheese that your local natural foods store has to offer: vegan cheddar, vegan Monterey jack, vegan cream cheese and of course vegan parmesan cheese. Would it be too much to ask Rory and Kim to make their own cheese sauce like the rest of us? Another recipe that sends me to the floor laughing is their Chef’s Salad. You’ve got your standard issue lettuce then it all goes downhill from there: vegan cheddar cheese, vegan Swiss cheese (didn’t even know that existed), vegan ham, vegan turkey, vegan ranch, vegan egg salad. The only whole vegetables in this entire salad are the lettuce, a tomato and 2 tablespoons of Italian parsley.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are a couple recipes in Skinny Bitch in the Kitch that do hold tiny bits of promise. The Crabby Cakes with Remoulade sauce, Garlicky White Bean Spread on Crostini, Spicy Sushi Rolls with Avocado and Cucumber, Summer Garden Pasta, and a good portion of the Sauces are all pretty good. Outside of these and a few other notable recipes you could get more bang for your buck by taking an omni cookbook you used to like and putting the word vegan in front of everything that comes from an animal (i.e. ground beef is now vegan ground beef, Swiss cheese is now vegan Swiss cheese, chicken nuggets is now vegan chicken nuggets…actual examples from the book verbatim).

If you really want to take a dive into the world of the Skinny Bitches I recommend picking this one up from the library and not wasting your $14.95 ($17 in Canada and £8.99 in the UK just in case you were wondering)


  1. I really enjoyed your blog entry! Especially the bit about the omni cookbook lol! Thank you for taking the time to write it out. I hope chemistry is going well.

  2. My sentiments exactly. I got it from the library and I'm glad I did. I'd be pissed if I'd spent money on it.

  3. I received it as a christmas present, and was disappointed in it. It just didn't have a lot of fresh ideas, and I don't care for being cussed at so much and talked to like I am an idiot.

  4. Sorry Divine Love it's back! The text was mysteriously shrunken...maybe a certain someone didn't like my review ;)

  5. I got this book and was equally disappointed. However, this book wasn't intended for veteran vegans, it's meant for the average American meat-eater who can't comprehend a diet without meat and dairy. BUT--how is anybody ever going to lose weight, as this book is intended to do, if people just replace meat and dairy with junky mock meat and cheeses?

  6. I bought this and DID promptly return it, so you are a better woman than I am. : )


  7. Hey K, No worries this book is right back on the shelves of my local barnes and noble. I returned it shortly after writing this blog. I this book was going to be a bestseller I wanted to make sure I had nothing to do with it getting there.

  8. I got a free copy of this book at a library convention and I'm glad I didn't pay for it either. I think this is "transitional food"; which is for people who still like the taste of McDonalds and want a substitute. A better book in my opinion is 7 Secrets which shows you how to make burgers, cheese sauces, etc healthfully from scratch. Too much processed junk in most of these recepies.

  9. sorry - I like it! I have only made one recipe with fake cheese. I have however tried the choc chip cookies, shepards pie and meatloaf. I fed all three to my meet loving family and they loved it! I used Quorn products that are NOT junky but quit nutritious. I am not 100% vegan but I do devote 3 or 4 days a week to it. And though not a seasoned vegan I CAN imagine life without meat and dairy. I found the book humorous as did my mother whom I shared it with.


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