Editors' Note: Since this story was written, the title of the cookbook has been changed to The Nut Gourmet.
Zel Allen, co-publisher of Vegetarians in Paradise, has signed a contract with Book Publishing Company for the publication of the Nutty Vegan, a cookbook scheduled to appear in 2006.
The Nutty Vegan will feature nuts and seeds in over 150 recipes. "The nuts and seeds are not sprinkled on as an afterthought, but instead they are an integral part of the food item," says Zel. "Though nuts are certainly the centerpiece of each recipe, most of the recipes contain only limited amounts of them in order to maintain good health."
The idea for a nut cookbook first sprouted when Zel was researching information for her popular Highest Perch articles that focus on an individual fruit, vegetable, grain, nut, or seed. While gathering data on different nuts, she became aware of scientific studies that touted their health benefits. "Encouraging results of the health studies I examined inspired me to create the ultimate cookbook that focuses on nuts as the featured ingredient in each recipe," she says.
The Food and Drug administration responded to these studies by permitting nut processors and sellers to make the following statement:
"But the book is not just about health," Zel says. "It includes tasty dishes that I have created in my own kitchen. I really feel that nuts have received a bad rap because people feel they're too fattening. The purpose of this book is to not only tout the benefits of nuts, but also to offer exceptional dishes that can be created using nuts and seeds."
As a mother of four children and as a former professional caterer, Zel has spent considerable time in the kitchen. Her special interest has been in creating novel recipes. Unique creations like Cashew Stuffed Mushrooms and Hot Karachi Pea Dip will be spotlighted in the book's appetizer section.
Quinoa with Pistachio Pepper Sauce, Onion Pine Nut Rice, and Walnut Lentil Pie are three items in Zel's grains repertoire. Main dish delights will offer Pineapple Boat's a Comin', Tempeh Arizona, Tofu Cioppino, and Curried Christmas Timbales.
Meal starters will include salads like 24 Pecan Salad, Wasabi Pistachio Vegetable Aspic, and Summer Fruits under Cover. Dessert lovers will be able to feast on Green Satin Mousse, Apple Date-Nut Pie, and Nutty Chocolate Frozen Bananas.
Sprinkled throughout the book are brief Nutty Notes that include interesting tidbits about nuts. These entertaining features provide unique historical notes, folklore, unusual ethnic dishes, and oddities about nuts.
Cracking some of the tougher nuts can become a monumental project to the novice. "Tips and Tricks in Working with Nuts" is an extensive chapter that helps guide the nut lover in the most successful techniques for everything from cracking, toasting, and garnishing, to blanching, sprouting nuts and seeds, and using nuts as thickening agents.
"Cracking the Nut Code for Shopping and Storing" provides many helpful suggestions on purchasing and storing all varieties of nuts. While some nuts have longer shelf lives, others are more perishable and require special storage requirements. Learning the difference between healthy raw nuts and those roasted in hydrogenated oils will provide the reader with valuable information for making wise shopping choices.
The home cook will appreciate the chart that provides equivalents for nuts measured in pounds compared to cups in the section called "Nut and Seed Measurement Equivalents."
"All the recipes have been tested on me, and I really have enjoyed some fantastic meals," says VIP co-publisher Reuben Allen, "I've been sampling these nutty recipes for the last few years, and my clothes still fit. So many people envy me because I have this great live-in gourmet cook."
Click here for the latest information about the The Nutty Vegan.