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Vegan for the Holidays

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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 a book that features the creation of natural desserts that can be made to accommodate a variety of diets.

Practically Raw Desserts:
Flexible Recipes for All-Natural Sweets and Treats

By Amber Shea Crawley

Vegan Heritage Press, 2013
Paperback, $19.95

Being schooled at both the famed Matthew Kenny Academy and the Living Light Culinary Institute doesn't guarantee an amazing career. But talented chef Amber Shea Crawley turned her education into a dazzling cookbook of Practically Raw Desserts with mouthwatering color photos.

Practically Raw Desserts In this era of so many people struggling with food sensitivities and allergies, finding delicious desserts that don't contain offending ingredients can be a challenge. Chef Amber's innovative touch approaches dessert recipes so creatively they can work for everyone.

For those trying to reduce or eliminate refined sugar and avoid allergens, like gluten, dairy products, eggs, wheat, soy, refined flours, yeast, starches, gums, corn, and peanuts, Amber says, "I've got you covered in this collection of decadent--yet healthful--pastries and sweets."

The recipes are inventively presented with a number of options for the home cook:

  • Make It Raw
  • Make It Baked
  • Make It Easy
  • Substitutions
  • Variations
Beneath the ingredients in each recipe is a brief list that identifies whether the recipe is grain-free, oil-free, nut-free, no added sugars, lower fat, lower sugar, or whether the recipe contains these qualities as variations. This customizable approach means almost everyone can indulge in a sweet treat, in spite of challenging health concerns.

Included is a detailed ingredient guide that covers all the familiar pantry items needed to prepare a tasty dessert, as well as the typical tools and basic appliances used in the recipes. Sidebars cover special techniques like soaking nuts and seeds, substituting with stevia, and using alternative sweeteners.

Back to Basics includes easy, money-saving techniques for homemade versions of costly store-bought items like nut and seed milks, flours, butters, date syrup, and instant applesauce. These special ingredients are key to preparing delicious desserts like the beautiful Russian Tea Cakes or Banana Butter Brownies pictured on pages 48 and 69.

A Girl Walks into a Bar is the innovative title of the chapter on bars, brownies, and blondies that features Marzipan Buckeye Bars complete with a gorgeous photo. This irresistible two-layer bar takes a mere 20 minutes or less to prepare and is an ideal make-ahead treat conveniently stored in the freezer to enjoy at a moment's notice.

Amber Crawley The classic 1970s old-fashioned Pineapple Upside-Down Cake is a dream to prepare in a food processor or stand mixer and will make a sensational appearance on any table. The topping, placed into the bottom of the pan, is quickly made with a sprinkle of coconut palm sugar covered by fresh or thawed frozen pineapple. The cake batter, is then pressed over the pineapple. Then the home cook can make it raw or baked, and serve it refrigerated or frozen.

Chef Amber's amazing selection of homemade desserts means readers don't have to travel to Austria, Mexico, India, or even Florida, to enjoy specialties like Linzer Torte, Dulce de Leche, Keer, or Key Lime Pie, complete with a host of variations.

Even chocolate lovers will not be left wanting with decadent treats like Midnight Mocha Cookies, Ultimate Raw Brownies, Chocolate Hazelnut Torte, Dark Chocolate Truffle Tart, Velvety Chocolate Mousse, or Dark Chocolate Sorbet.

Practically Raw Desserts opens a sweet new world for people with food intolerances who have been unable to enjoy traditional desserts. The book is a stunning festival of treats displayed in numerous beautiful, full color photographs. One taste is convincing enough to recognize the talents of a special chef who has mastered the art of indulgent sweets. The book is a must for every kitchen, and especially for those who have felt excluded because of food allergies and sensitivities. The recipes are well crafted to be easy, flexible, and doggone delicious.

Click here for past book reviews

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