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Vegetarians in Paradise
VegParadise Media Reviews

Wellspring Healthy Cooking:
Your Instructional Guide to Restored Health

Lifestyle Center of America, 2003

3 DVD set includes fifty 4x6 recipe cards, $59.95

People transitioning to vegetarianism invariably face two dilemmas, what to eat and how much time they will have to spend in the kitchen preparing meals. The Wellspring Healthy Cooking DVD set is designed to ease those concerns with a program that helps viewers through the process of preparing simple totally plant-based meals.

Packaged in three individual DVD's this cooking program includes 16 half-hour presentations that bring the viewer into the kitchen to watch Linda Kennedy and Diana Wildermuth in a step-by-step preparation of vegetarian dishes. Kennedy is culinary director of the Lifestyle Living Center based in Sulphur, Oklahoma. The center has as its focus restoring health and preventing chronic diseases.

The pairing of the two women works well with Kennedy playing the role of mentor and Wildermuth acting as a surrogate for the vegetarian newcomer who wants to learn the process. As she guides Wildermuth through the preparations, Kennedy offers numerous tips such as how to remove a pit from an avocado and how to steam vegetables. She stresses there are so many dairy alternatives available that it is not difficult to prepare a vegan meal, although she uses the phrase "plant-based" more than the word "vegan." Wellspring Healthy Cooking

In preparing the recipes Kennedy is constantly stressing the need for fiber and the importance of reading labels. For example, her discussion of cereals includes her advice, "Whole-grain cereal is the way to go. Make sure you get over 3 grams of fiber and under 3 grams of sugar in prepared cereals." By reading labels carefully, the consumer will recognize which products are also high in oil, sodium, and sugar.

Three of the 16 segments are devoted to breakfast items that include some dishes many people would not think of to start the day. Scrambled Tofu, Burger Cashew Gravy, and Chili are featured in one breakfast segment. Kennedy feels breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that people should get most of their calories in the morning. She and her husband only eat two meals each day: breakfast and a late afternoon meal.

Those wondering how to prepare a vegan sandwich will be surprised by the variety offered in two of the instructional sessions. The two cooks feature pita bread sandwiches with an assortment of fillings that could include everything from Hummus to vegetarian meat slices. They even offer a recipe for Better Mustard.

Italian food lovers have choices like Vegetable Lasagna and Garden Veggie-Pizza or Quick Minnie Pizza while Mexican food lovers can enjoy Fajitas and a Mexican Casserole.

Dessert aficionados can revel in Dessert Delights and a special pie segment featuring a non-dairy Pumpkin Pie smothered with Cashew Cream.

Using tofu is still another focus of the cooking presentations. Kennedy explains the differences between silken and water tub varieties and shows how each can be used in the preparation of nut milk, sour cream, sauces, mock cheese, and dressings.

This instructional set also features sessions covering salads and salad dressings, soups, condiments, "cheez's" and spreads, steamed vegetables, and side dishes.

The two cooks feature a complete meal in the last segment called Fun Foods. The meal consists of Tofu Broccoli Salad, Barbecue Kabobs (that are really baked), and Golden Macaroons (made with shredded coconut and carrots) for dessert.

Wellspring Healthy Cooking is an invaluable resource for anyone who is interested in easy-to-prepare vegetarian food. Watching the two chefs, the viewer picks up specific cooking tips in the process of preparing the recipes and realizes that these preparations are so easy, even a novice will be able to find success in the kitchen.

Having the packet of recipe cards is a valuable addition to the DVD kit and eliminates the need for the viewer to take notes. As an added bonus, the reverse side of each card has a nutritional analysis of the recipe. Each of the segments is relaxed with the two cooks working comfortably together in the kitchen. Photography, graphics, and music combine to give the production a highly professional gloss.

Somewhat annoying is the repetition of the opening and closing and credits on each segment. Apparently the segments may have been individual films that are now combined into a DVD package. This reviewer had one problem with the menu for each DVD. There should have been greater contrast between the colors used to indicate which segment was chosen. Pale yellow and white do not clearly differentiate between the segment that is selected and the others.

In some cases Kennedy needed to more specific about the ingredients and products used in the recipes. Was the silken tofu soft or extra firm? What are some of the thickeners that are available, and what do they contain? In spite of these minor lapses, VIP found the production a valuable asset for both the new vegetarian and the experienced cook who want to prepare wholesome vegan meals.

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