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!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Uncookbook Review: Rawlicious

For years I've worked on amassing quite the collection of raw cookbooks but, without a dehydrator, I couldn't fully release their potential. I finally bought a great little used Excalibur 3500 Deluxe Series 5 Tray Food Dehydrator from a classmate who simply didn't have room for it anymore and I was ecstatic to finally try out so many of the recipes I've had to pass on over the years. There were so many recipes I wanted to try from raw cookbooks I've owned for years but, true to the blogger within me, I decided to venture into new territory and try out the small collection of new raw books I had sitting on the shelf.

The first book I grabbed was  Rawlicious: Delicious Raw Recipes for Radiant Health by Peter and Beryn Daniel. The forward is by a favorite of mine in the raw food movement Victoria Boutenko who literally wrote the book on green smoothies and changed my life in the process. Unfortunately, aside from the forward, I was underwhelmed by this book. It is a very very basic introduction to raw foods with recipes as simple as macadamia nut, cashew and Brazil nut butter where the only ingredient is a couple cups of nuts and a blender. Not even a blend of nuts - cashew butter equals cashews plus a blender, that's it. Not exactly rocket science. There was nothing too inventive or imaginative about the salads or soups. The breakfast options were elementary and the gourmet meals section was filled with extremely dressed down versions of pastas and pizzas I've come across in other raw food books. Perhaps I have been too spoiled by Juliano and raw food goddesses like Ani Phyo who push the boundaries and turn fruits and vegetables into works of art. It's very hard to go from make rich creams, cheeses, multiple types of bacons, pizzas, sandwiches and warm raw soups to Egg Mayo and Sushi rolls. I'll have to pass on Rawlicious  this time around. But I look forward to seeing what these authors have in store for the future.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Put Your Top On! (Healthy Top)

Have you ever seen those ultra-expensive gourmet whipped creamed canisters that turns whipping cream into whipped cream with a touch of a button? I'm a bit obsessed with them but for over $100 I'm stuck making whipped cream the old fashioned way. Well not completely and totally the old fashioned way - I'm not about to sit over a chilled bowl with a whisk for 20 minutes but I will break out my kitchen aid mixer and a chilled bowl. For the longest time the only vegan option for homemade whipped cream was soy based but as of last year Mimic Creme came up with a soy-free, gluten-free almond and cashew based whipping cream called Healthy Top that I love!

Each 16 ounce container makes about 4 cups of whipped cream and the calorie count isn't horrific either. I used this yummy fluffy cream to make the Agave Whipped Cream in my Flax Seeds Waffles with Agave Cream recipe (pictured below) from Quick and Easy Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Food . I'm starting to see this stuff pop-up everywhere from health food stores to your run of the mill conventional grocery stores and, of course, you can always fine it online.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Cookbook Review: Chloe's Kitchen

From the moment Chloe Coscarelli won The Food Network’s Cupcake Wars I’ve been meaning to try her award winning cupcake recipe but writing a cookbook of my own kept me from trying all the new recipes that I wanted to so until her new book Chloe's Kitchen: 125 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Making the Food You Love the Vegan Way came out I did not have the pleasure of trying any of her recipes. 

I didn’t have a ton of time on my hands when I tested out recipes for this book so I tried to pick things that looked like they were relatively quick and easy and contained ingredients I have on hand in my kitchen. I started with Black Bean Baby Cakes with Pineapple Salsa. I figured this recipe would be fantastic no matter what. You really can’t mess up a black bean patty and the pineapple salsa paired beautifully with the baby cakes. The Mandarin Peanut-Crunch Salad with Crispy Wontons wasn’t on my short list of recipes to make since it had many ingredients that weren’t immediately on hand but the picture of a beautiful, bright, green and orange salad topped with curls of crispy wontons kept calling me back and I finally had to give it a try. It was delightful. The flavors were fresh and sweet and the crunch of the wontons were perfection. One of the stand-out recipes for me that made my taste buds a bit more excited than the others was Chloe’s Falafel Sliders with Avocado Hummus. I’m always looking for something new and innovative in a cookbook and I think this was one of Chloe’s shining moments. I, once again broke my quick and easy rule and spent a day in the kitchen putting these things together. Since Chloe said they freeze well I doubled the batch so my time in the kitchen wouldn’t be in vein and I’m glad I did. The flavor combination of falafel with avocado hummus was outstanding. I even shaped a couple falafel’s into sticks and dipped them in hummus for my 7 month old to try and she loved them as well – so they’re a hit for the whole family (and my dog loved the leftovers that she threw on the floor). 

Outside of the Falafel Sliders with Avocado Hummus, I didn’t go head over heels for any of her recipes but I have to say that I really really liked everything I tried. Chloe makes consistently good food that isn’t too “out there” and uses simple ingredients that can be found at any grocery store. Her recipes are great bases for you to let your imagination run wild and for that reason I applaud this book. I think this book is a fantastic introduction to veganism for just about anyone.
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