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Vegan for the Holidays


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Vegetarians in Paradise
Vegetarian Reading



Each issue the VIP birds will endeavor to soar to the highest literary peak to peck out the most unique, informative, and accomplished book that contributes to vegetarian enlightenment. In this issue we present a book by Marie Oser, food writer, columnist, and cookbook author who instructs her readers in the preparation of nutritious gourmet meals using soy.



SOY OF COOKING

By Marie Oser

John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1996

Trade Paperback $16.95



Soy Cooking Marie Oser refers to herself as a "Soy Specialist." She's earned the title through countless hours in the kitchen conjuring up the soy delectables presented in her book. Reading a Forward by Neal Barnard, M.D. and an Introduction by Suzanne Havala, R.D., both of whom authored books on health and nutrition, we recognize that Soy of Cooking is a book that earns a special place in the genre of vegetarian cookery.

The all vegan recipes have no daunting lists of obscure ingredients and no frighteningly long, complex processes to intimidate today's busy folks. We found the recipes easy to follow with clear instructions that guided us to success with each dish we tried.

The offerings begin with Sensational Starters and include soups, salads, entrees, side dishes, pizza, pasta and no less than 33 Delectable Desserts. Of great merit is the nutritional analysis that appears at the end of each of the recipes. Whether you're watching the fat, calories, protein, or sodium you'll be informed in an instant.

To really know a cookbook, we feel it necessary to actually prepare some of the recipes. Here's what we made and our comments:

We began with Dilled Artichoke Dip. The directions were perfect and the dish was a success, full of flavor, and a great starter. Next we relished the Colorful Garden Mix salad with Raspberry Walnut Dressing. Great dressing that we'll probably be craving on a regular basis! For our entree we chose the Lentils 'n' Sausage and served it as Marie suggests with pasta. We were pretty full by then and didn't venture into dessertland. We decided to save that for another day; however, this day we were enjoying complete satiety, wallowing in the flavors we had just comsumed. We took note that even though we prepared the meal together, none of the recipes kept us chained to the stove for hours.

For those living in areas where health food supermarkets are unavailable, Marie thoughtfully includes a helpful resource guide to assist anyone wanting to mail order ingredients.

In past years we would focus solely on the recipes in every new cookbook we purchased. Now, however, we read the text. We want to know what each author desires to pass on to the reader. In Soy of Cooking,Marie Oser has done thorough research on the facts she presents about soy playing an impressive role in cancer prevention. She cites information by Neal Barnard, M.D. who promotes a healthy lifestyle with a vegan diet. She discusses John McDougall, M.D., and Dean Ornish, M.D. who each have had success in reversing heart disease and other serious health conditions. Marie mentions The New England Journal of Medicine, The Journal of the American Medical Association, and the Journal of the American College of Nutrition which all agree that a plant based diet offers health benefits to the body. Just peruse the bibliography. You'll find it awesome.

The author offers a helpful list of soy foods and their impressive calcium content for those concerned about getting enough calcium. Another soy food list offers the isoflavone content, the phytochemical in soy that researchers found acts as a cancer preventive.

The Soyfoods Pantry, her glossary, called A Quick Guide to Ingredients, and her extensive and detailed chapter on herbs and spices are wonderful features to introduce new and experienced cooks to plant based ingredients that may be unfamiliar.

Oser Marie's section on Techniques presents a treasure of information. Do you wonder how to cook fresh chestnuts or struggle with peeling them? She comes to the rescue with a cut-to-the-core technique. If you want to do baking without fat, Marie suggests replacing the fat with unsweetened applesauce and prune puree. For baking yeast breads she suggests using a mild flavored miso in place of the fat. Those are valuable tidbits of information! Check out the rest of the Techniques section for more of these jewels.

Soy of Cooking is a clean, easy-to-read, vegan cookbook with over 170 down-to-earth, do-able recipes to keep you soyful in the kitchen. It's not a graphic masterpiece with fancy layouts or colored inks, but it does have 16 pages of beautiful color photos of several dishes in the center of the book. Each of these pages is enough to whet the appetite. We're convinced that Marie Oser is indeed a "Soy Specialist," and her book would be an invaluable addition to everyone's kitchen bookshelf.


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