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Vegetarians in Paradise

Vegetarian Books


Each issue the VIP birds endeavor to soar to the highest literary peak to peck out the most unique, informative, and accomplished book or books that contribute to vegetarian enlightenment.

This month we review two books that deal with two different aspects of vegan cooking. One features healthy and delicious recipes while the other clearly demonstrates how the grill can be used to make tasty meals.


For a review of Grills Gone Vegan, click here


COOKING VEGAN: healthful, delicious and easy

By Vesanto Melina and Joseph Forest

Book Publishing Company, 2012
Paperback $19.95

Registered dietitian Vesanto Melina and professional chef Joseph Forest are no strangers to each other or vegan cooking. Their relationship dates back to 1991 when they jointly taught a series of vegetarian cooking classes to lively audiences and gained national recognition. In 1996 they collaborated on their first book, Vegetarian Cooking. Now they have combined their skills to create a primer for both new and experienced vegan cooks.

Cooking  Vegan Cooking Vegan is divided into two main parts. Part 1 is labeled Making Sense of Vegan Food Choices, while Part 2, the dominant part of the book, features the Recipes. Much of Part 1 relies on Melina's knowledge of nutrition. In the chapter Vegan Nutrition she explains the need for protein, healthful fats, carbohydrates, fiber, minerals, and vitamins. In the section on vitamins, for example, she points out, "A vegan diet is an excellent source of vitamins, and meeting most recommended intakes is easily achieved. Vitamins D and B12, however, are not readily available in a vegan diet and require special attention."

Since public perception is that a vegan diet does not provide enough protein, she emphasizes protein-rich plant foods and provides a valuable chart that shows recommended daily protein intakes for vegan adults. Vegan athletes are given special attention with protein recommendations, while a list of Plant-Powered Athletes demonstrates that people following this lifestyle will have sufficient or more than enough strength and energy to be powerful competitors.

Newcomers to vegan cooking will find all they need to know under these subheadings in the chapter Vegan Ingredients.

  • Whole Grains: The Staff of Life
  • Legumes: Protein Powerhouses
  • Soyfoods
  • Good Fats from Whole Foods (avocado, coconut, nuts, seeds)
  • Good Fats from Oils
  • Cooking and Salad Oils
  • Other Good Oils for Special Use
  • Sweeteners
  • Herbs and Spices
  • Nondairy Milks
  • Thickeners

The chapter concludes with a complete Shopping List of all the items a new vegan cook is likely to encounter and use. Especially useful are charts that focus on cooking beans and grains.

In the chapter Vegan Cooking the authors emphasize that all five senses: hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and touch are involved in the cooking process. They also pay particular attention to tastes. Western science recognizes five tastes (bitter, salty, sour, sweet, and umami). Umami is a flavor similar to monosodium glutamate. Eastern cooks add astringent, and pungent. In a two-page chart they give detailed lists of foods in each taste category.

Neophytes to the vegan lifestyle are guided in creating nutritious meals by following the Tempting Menus That Meet Recommended Intakes. Four basic menus include Children and Family Favorites, North American, Super Simple, and Raw. Those desiring ethnic favorites will find Asian Fusion, French, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, and Middle Eastern. There's even a special Holiday Menu.

Vesanto Melina Slightly more than three-quarters of the book is devoted to the 156 creative recipes that cover a gamut of enjoyable dining experiences. Those living outside the U.S. will find it easier to prepare the dishes because of the helpful metric equivalents that appear in each recipe. To make sure readers are taking a healthy approach to vegan eating, the authors have thoughtfully supplied extensive nutritional information appearing at the bottom of each recipe.

Breakfast and Beverages spotlights smoothies like Banana-Blueberry Power Drink or cereals like Design-Your-Own Muesli.

Satisfying Sandwiches and Palate-Pleasing Pita Pockets are two unique charts to show how dips and spreads recipes can be used to create a variety of delicious vegan sandwiches.

The authors begin the Soup chapter with a recipe for creating a vegetable stock and then proceed to tease the reader with tasty concoctions like Tuscan Minestrone, Mediterranean Lentil, and Shiitake Mushroom-Miso Soups.

Easy-to-prepare salads can be enticingly exotic with Spicy Marinated Tofu, Fiesta Quinoa with Lime Dressing, and Kale and Red Bell Pepper Holly Ring. The nine salad dressings feature toppings such as Tomato-Herb, Coconut Almond, Lemon-Tahini, and Cucumber-Dill.

Almost three-dozen entrees offer a variety of international flavors and cooking styles. The main course could be Dahl-icius, a delicious Indian-inspired dish that centers on dried lentils cooked with exotic spices like mustard seeds, ginger, curry powder, and garam masala. Pesto Pizza flaunts the flavors of Italy by spreading a homemade pesto over the crust and topping it with fresh tomatoes. Complementing some of the entrees are splash-ons like Marinara Sauce, Miso Gravy, or Spicy Peanut Sauce. The headnotes in the Sauces and Gravies chapter make excellent suggestions on how best to use these.

Joseph Forest Side Dishes are mostly vegetables and grains presented in unique ways. Coconut Saffron Rice with Cardamom and Lime, Stewed Tomatoes, Potato Subji, or Roasted Root Vegetables would provide flavorful accompaniments to the entrees.

Those who want to end the meal with panache will have difficulty choosing among the more-than-two-dozen Sweet Treats. They might find it difficult to resist delectable Figgy Pudding, Cranberry-Pecan Muffins, Apple Spice Cake, Almond Butter Balls, and so many more enticing desserts.

The book concludes with two informative charts: Dietary Reference Intakes for Minerals and Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamins as well as a page of Notes and References.

Cooking Vegan is much more than a cookbook. It is a basic guide for approaching the vegan lifestyle sensibly with an emphasis on sound nutrition. By combining their knowledge and skills, Vesanto Melina and Joseph Forest have created a cooking manual that can be used as a foundation by someone new to the vegan path. The easy-to-prepare recipes and the health information make this book a boon to all vegans.



Grills Gone Vegan

By Tamisin Noyes

Book Publishing Company, 2013
Paper 19.95

After achieving success with Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day and American Vegan Kitchen, where does author Tamasin Noyes take her further cooking adventures? To the grill, of course! And what an adventure she offers her fans in her newest cookbook Grills Gone Vegan.

Grilling class is in session and the teacher is ready! Tamasin, the ultimate fount of grilling knowledge, covers the territory like the pro she is. Readers will learn about utensils and unfamiliar grilling implements as well as gas versus charcoal grills for outdoor cooking and electric grills and various grill pans for use indoors.

Grills Gone Vegan Flavor is what most cooks aim for, and Grills Gone Vegan is a foodie's encyclopedia of tips for achieving that ultimate perfection in smoky infusions, irresistible marinades, and flavoring rubs that make grilled foods so compelling. While the chapter on Remarkable Rubs, Marinades, and Sauces is placed at the end of the book, it really is at the heart of what provides the essential flavorings that can be used interchangeably in these awesome recipes. The author also shares neat tips on how to create those picture-perfect grill marks shown on summer magazine covers.

Most of all, Tamasin clearly demonstrates that grilling does not mean burned animal flesh. People who prefer plant-based meals will find a plethora of delicious ideas for tasty barbecued foods in this book.

Cooks can choose from the 23 innovative starters that also double as "small plates." Starters like Cajun Mushrooms make the tongue sizzle with smoky flavor and a touch of spice, while Rosemary Flatbread provides rich and mellow satiety to enjoy with any of the appetizers.

While most people wouldn't dream of using the grill to prepare a soup, this author grills corn to create Roasted Corn Chowder, and barbecues bell peppers for her Red Bell Pepper Gazpacho. Even the Asian Street Soup has its turn on the barbie.

The book is packed with bold-flavored sandwich recipes like Smoky Buffalo Tofu Wraps, Mexican Seitan Sandwiches, and an unexpected surprise--Reuben-Inspired Breakfast Sandwiches. An open jar of mango chutney provided the inspiration for the spectacular Portobello Burgers with Mango Chutney Marinade that are grilled after bathing in a sweet and sour sauce.

Mouthwatering Main Dishes dishes up a grill-full of tempters like Panzanella with Tempeh, a venerated Italian bread salad recipe enhanced with healthy arugula, tempeh, and zucchini.

Tofu fans will love Tofu Italiano, Red-Eye Tofu Steak, or Grilled Tofu with Red-Hot Chimichurri Sauce photographed in tempting brilliant colors between pages 92 and 93. Quinoa-Stuffed Poblanos, flavored with vegan chorizo and topped with Avocado Sauce, will bring happy diners to the dinner table.

Tamasin Noyes Even desserts receive Tamasin's novel approach with breakthrough flavors on the grill. Fresh fruits make ideal grilling companions and conclude a tasty meal with easy-to-prepare treats like Creamy Cinnamon-Nutmeg Dip with Fruit Skewers, Maple Glazed Grapefruit, or Grilled Nectarines with Five-Spice Granola.

Beautifully assembled full-color photos of mouthwatering dishes are sprinkled throughout the book to add delicious visual flavor and plenty of enticements.

Grills Gone Vegan presents a handy compendium without boundaries. The author clearly demonstrates that grilling is not limited only to cooking outdoors during the summer months but explains how easy and enjoyable it is to turn to this cooking method summer, winter, spring, fall, and even in rainy weather. Grilling lends such flexibility it even provides the ideal cooking method when the power goes out.

Grilled foods were eaten as far back in time as in the prehistoric era, but, guaranteed, they were no equal to the recipes found in Grills Gone Vegan. The grill provides the ideal opportunity for friends and family to gather around and wait with anticipation until those Sausage Bites come to the plate still sizzling. Tamasin says, "If there is anything in life more satisfying than nurturing others through cooking, I haven't found it."


Click here for past book reviews


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