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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 six books by one of America's most prolific authors of vegan cookbooks.

Click below for these reviews:


Robin Robertson To say that Robin Robertson is an award-winning cookbook author is far from being an all-inclusive statement. Robin is an amazing cookbook wizard, a cooking diva, a recipe writer's role model, and a cookbook energizer bunny creating countless recipes for more than 30 years! When the dial went past 20, we lost count of the exact number of books she has authored. This impressive recipe creator was a professional chef, caterer, and cooking instructor.

Robin has a regular food column in VegNews where she often shares original recipes with an international flare. The following reviews recap some of the more recent cookbooks she brings to the vegan community.

In the introduction of her 1,000 Vegan Recipes published in 2009, Robin writes, "From a certain perspective, vegan cooking can be truly magical: you can make roasts without meat, sandwiches without cold cuts, cream sauces without cream, cheesecakes without cheese, and cakes without eggs . . . It's the wave of the future; a future that is already well begun."

Robin continues her fun in the kitchen with yet more cookbooks. Following are reviews of her most recent publications:

By Robin Robertson

Harvard Common Press, 2014

Paperback $19.95

(Original came out in 2003 - now revised and updated w/50 new recipes

What a bargain--more than 425 recipes for one low price)

Prolific author Robin Robertson unleashes her passion for irresistible vegan cooking with her newest extravaganza, Vegan Planet, her jam-packed revised and updated colossal edition with 50 additional recipes. Now with 425 recipes featuring comfort foods as well as recipes reflecting world cuisines, this treasure chest of recipes truly ought to be a handbook for the planet, vegan and otherwise.

Our review of the first edition of Vegan Planet in 2003 began as follows: "Another neatly-carved notch is added to Robin Robertson's well-seasoned mixing spoon with the release of Vegan Planet, the author's 10th published cookbook. A treasury of vegan recipes, a storehouse of ideas, a compendium of information--these words only begin to describe the outstanding work this vegan cookbook of 400 recipes represents." While those words are still fitting, we believe Robin has become one of the premier food writers and cookbook authors of our time.

Dr. Neal Barnard, President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, said about the recipes in his foreword of this revised edition, "… you'll find that not only are they mouthwateringly delicious, but these great-tasting foods can change your life." We agree.

Vegan Planet Over the years Robin has continued to display her joy for creating health-promoting, whole-food, plant-based recipes with a delicious flair. Yet her recipes are not complex or too intricate and off-putting for anyone new to the kitchen. The recipes are easy to follow and use mostly familiar ingredients found at supermarkets.

Vegan Basics briefly touches on vegan history dating back to Genesis 1:29 and mentions that today people are turning away from a meat-based diet for health reasons. Included in this well-developed chapter is a discussion of plant-based alternatives to a meat and dairy-centered diet and a host of recipes to introduce tofu, tempeh, and seitan. Readers will also learn about using the many components that comprise a wholesome vegan diet.

The recipe section is all inclusive with recipes for appetizers, soups, salads, sauces and dressings, condiments, vegetables, grains, pasta, legumes, stews, grills, stir-fries, stuffed foods, pizza, sandwiches, baked goods, desserts, beverages, breakfast foods, and international dishes.

In addition to the humongous number of recipes for every course and every occasion, the book offers bonuses in the form of sidebars and notes following many of the recipes. These sidebars offer party planning hints, nutritional information, how-to suggestions, cooks terms, thoughts on veganism, and a sprinkling of Robin's comments expressing her love of food and cooking.

Following the giant-sized recipe section are helpful mail-order resources, vegan organizations and websites, and measurement equivalents with metrics to make the book universal for international readers as well.

Though readers will find there is not one photo in the book, they will discover Vegan Planet is such an all-inclusive and compelling cookbook it could become THE only household vegan cookbook they will need. That said, check out Robin's many other innovative cookbooks, just for the fun of it!

More Quick-Fix Vegan:
Simple, Delicious Recipes
In 30 Minutes or Less

By Robin Robertson

Andrews McMeel Publishing LLC, 2014

Paper $16.99

Venerated cookbook author Robin Robertson totally gets it and really caters to her audience--people really do want to cook meals at home. and they want to be able to prepare delicious, healthy recipes that come together quickly. More Quick-Fix Vegan is her third quick-fix style cookbook that provides just what her readers have been asking for.

Robin has mastered the art of quick cooking and shares her favorite tips and kitchen time-savors to help her readers achieve the same pleasure and satisfaction she experiences.

More Quick Fix Vegan The banquet of recipes in this book is made for those new to the kitchen experience or new to the world of vegan cooking from scratch. And, of course, the book is perfect for anyone short on time but dedicated to tasty and wholesome home-cooked foods.

This author covers the basics in detail from shopping tips to what to stock in the pantry to handy kitchen tools. Some basic recipes Robin recommends to have on hand for enhancing a dish include Vegan Mayonnaise, Vegan Sour Cream, and Vegan Cream Cheese.

This volume includes a chapter on Meal Worthy Sandwiches. For families on the go, nothing beats a hearty sandwich--so quick to assemble and equally quick to chow down. Succulent choices everyone can enjoy feature Philly Uncheesesteaks or Smoky Tofu Caesar Wraps. Perhaps the Beans and Greens Burritos or Sriracha Eggless Salad Sandwiches might be tonight's choice for dinner.

For the pizza fans who love to get their hands on good food there's Three-Tomato Pizza or White Pizza with Artichoke-Arugula Pesto.

More Quick-Fix Vegan takes up where Quick-Fix Vegan left off and simply continues the foray into succulent dishes that are super easy to prepare. Some cooks don't mind spending the whole day in the kitchen, but even they would appreciate a cookbook that allows them the joy of easy meal preparation. The book is packed with so many delicious and tempting recipes that allow families to enjoy sitting down to meals together, in spite of busy schedules.

Quick-Fix Vegan:
Healthy Homestyle Meals
In 30 Minutes or Less

By Robin Robertson

Andrews McMeel Publishing LLC, 2011

Paper $16.99

Quick Fix Vegan Tuned in to the pulse of today's hectic lifestyles, Robin Robertson knows few people have the luxury of time that allows them to spend hours in the kitchen on food preparation. She designed Quick-Fix Vegan, a cookbook packed with tasty recipes to help the home cook bring great-tasting vegan dishes to the table in 30 minutes or less.

Even people who love to cook, have those days or weeks when they're simply too busy or possibly too tired to cook a fancy meal. Yet, they still want to eat well and eat healthfully. Many people have the concept that vegan cooking is always endlessly laborious. Robin says, "With these recipes in hand, that tired old excuse goes right out the window. In the bargain, you'll not only be eating healthy home cooked meals, you'll be saving money too, since cooking vegan is also economical."

Quick-Fix Vegan offers a brilliant section on quick-fix strategies. Here are just a few tips:

  • Wash and dry fresh fruits and vegetables, so they will be ready to chop or slice.
  • Keep the kitchen well organized and ready for preparing the next recipe.
  • Measure ingredients in advance for quicker assembly of the recipe.
  • Read and reread a recipe so you will be familiar with the process.
  • Don't be afraid to substitute ingredients or seasonings you don't have or don't like.
  • Keep a well-stocked pantry of essential ingredients and include things like prepared vegetable broth and canned beans.

For those who prefer to make some basics at home, Robin also provides excellent recipes for items like vegetable broth, homemade seitan, pizza dough, and pie dough.

From starters to main dishes to desserts, the home chef can quickly dish up mouth-watering meals. Some starter ideas include some innovative hummus variations like Moroccan Pumpkin Hummus, Spicy Black Bean Hummus with Orange, and Hummamole. Perhaps, a favorite choice might be Easy Artichoke Puffs or Chickpea and Spinach-Artichoke Crostini to start the nibbling.

Robin offers some enticing soups for hearty dining, yet they can be assembled with ease. Last-Minute Laksa, Island Black Bean Soup with Quick Mango Salsa, and Curried Cauliflower Soup with Roasted Cauliflower Rice are three choices that show off her innovative flair.

Almost Effortless Desserts feature a host of irresistible munchies for every dessert lover. The cookie monsters might want to bask among seven indulgent treats like Coconut Pistachio Cookies, Butterscotch Apple Cookies, or Molasses Ginger Cookies with Blueberries. And the parfait aficionados will be just as happy with creamy choices like Tiramisu or Apple Pie Parfait.

Quick-Fix Vegan is the winning choice for everyone who appreciates a cookbook of tasty recipes with the family's busy schedule in mind. Robin has all the tips and tricks needed to show the home cook the multitude of ways to prepare wholesome dishes in 30 minutes or less. This treasure of 150 mouth-watering vegan recipes also makes a very thoughtful gift.

Vegan Unplugged:
A Pantry Cuisine Cookbook
And Survival Guide

By Jon Robertson and Robin Robertson

Vegan Heritage Press, 2010

Paperback, $14.95

To non-vegans, it may truly sound like magic to invent 1,000 recipes, but not to Robin who practically did create magic when she developed the surprisingly delicious recipes for Vegan Unplugged, co-collaborated with her husband, Jon Robertson. This unique book is a must to have on hand when the power goes out and the can opener becomes the home chef's best friend.

Vegan Unplugged The book is also a guide to pantry cuisine as well as an emergency preparedness handbook for times when a natural disaster strikes. Putting a meal together can be a challenge without the familiar kitchen friends like the food processor, blender, stove, or refrigerator, but not with a home that's fully prepared.

Using a butane stove, gas grill, or camping stove, or even a wood fire, anyone can put together a tasty entrée like Ramen Fagiole with only a few items on hand like ramen noodle bricks, cans of diced tomatoes, and pinto beans. A few dried herbs and spices, like basil, garlic and onion powders, oregano, crushed red pepper, and a touch of salt and pepper and the meal comes together within minutes.

Even dessert is an easy fix with innovative creations like Ginger-Walnut Rum Balls assembled completely by hand with vegan gingersnap crumbs, confectioner's sugar, walnuts, dark rum, and maple syrup.

Being prepared is the key to faring well in emergencies. The book contains an extensive pantry list as well as suggestions for preparing meals away from home, in hotels, camping, at college, or when feeling too sick or tired to cook.

Vegan Unplugged is the ideal volume to have on hand along with the household emergency supplies. The helpful information is invaluable for those special times when the unexpected happens and the kids ask, "When's dinner?" Jon and Robin have lived through those times when a major hurricane like Isabel left them without power for a week. The book is packed with all sorts of tips to help the family eat well and fare well whether at home or on the road.

Vegan on the Cheap:
Great Recipes and Strategies That Save You Time and Money

By Robin Robertson

John Wiley and Sons, 2010

Paperback $17.95

Packed with energy and always thinking creatively, Robin had a highly fruitful year in 2010 with two new cookbooks published--Vegan on the Cheap and Party Vegan.

Vegan on the Cheap is the ideal cookbook for those looking for budget meals and recipes that are healthful, delicious, and still affordable. For $.50 to $2 per serving, this book offers 150 choices creatively assembled to bring satiety that fits the slim wallet.

Vegan on the Cheap For $1 per serving, four hungry folks can enjoy Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Cashews and Kidney Beans or possibly Salsa Tofu Burritos.

For just a little more at $2 per serving, Robin offers a familiar Szechuan noodle dish she calls Dan Dan-style Linguine, a hearty entrée featuring tempeh. The dish is flavored with tahini and peanut butter and spiced with hot chili oil and crushed red pepper and then tossed with linguine, bok choy, and green onions. Finished with chopped peanuts and chopped cilantro anyone can dine like royalty on a limited budget.

The author proves a vegan diet is cost saving in many ways. Plant foods are less expensive than meat-based foods. As example, dried beans are available at less than $1 per pound, while tofu is usually less than $2 a pound. People on plant-based diets have fewer visits to the doctor and are at lower risk for chronic diseases like heart disease and some cancers. When dining out, vegan options are less costly than meat-based dishes, especially when choosing ethnic restaurants.

The book covers a multitude of shopping tips to save money:

  • Buy frozen veggies, especially in the winter months
  • Stretch the times between shopping trips
  • Use store cards to buy items at lower prices
  • Grow your own foods
  • Don't buy costly organic items
  • Shop at ethnic markets
  • Don't buy foods out of season
  • Look for store sales
  • Buy foods in bulk sizes when possible

With its focus on saving money and still offering delicious recipes, Vegan on the Cheap is an outstanding vegan cookbook packed with recipes for enjoyable soups and stews, salads, noodle dishes, stir-fry meals, casseroles, pizza, burgers, and sandwiches. Also included are slow-cooker favorites and delicious desserts. Anyone watching the pennies and looking for tasty recipes to prepare at home will find this book a household treasure.

Party Vegan:
Fabulous, Fun Food
For Every Occasion

By Robin Robertson

John Wiley and Sons, 2010

Paperback $17.95

"This book is dedicated to party animals everywhere who don't serve animals at their parties," says Robin Robertson in Party Vegan. Fortunately for Robin, she grew up in a home where celebrations and parties were frequent and fun and party preps involved lots of cooking. She caught the party bug and became a chef and caterer to enjoy helping others celebrate special events.

PartyVegan The book offers a host of suggestions for planning a great party. Included are several theme ideas, fun reasons to create a party, menu planning, and all the details that go into having a successful event.

"We eat first with our eyes," is Robin's way of emphasizing the importance of making the foods look appetizing, whether for a buffet or sit-down meal. The book is heaped with 140 delicious recipes assembled in party theme menus for celebrations throughout the year.

Menus and chapters include each of the standard holidays in addition to unique occasions like Chinese New Year or an Effortless Potluck, a Picnic Lunch, or Just Desserts. The last pages of the book list the recipes by two categories--Make Ahead or Quick and Easy to help the party host plan which dishes can be prepared in advance.

Curry for Company is one example of the many enticing chapters featured in the book. Anyone tempted by Indian cuisine can enjoy preparing Curried Pakora Puffs for a tasty starter. The meal consists of Mixed Vegetable Curry accompanied with Spinach-Flecked Chapati, Mango-Mint Chutney, Coconut Basmati Rice with Cashews. For dessert, the menu concludes with Cardamom Rice Pudding.

Party Vegan is a fun book to include on the kitchen bookshelf for the many occasions throughout the year when special celebrations beg for delicious meals and menus with pizzazz. Newbies to planning gatherings of any variety will have plenty of guidance, tips, and suggestions from an experienced chef. With Robin Robertson's innovative recipes and multitude of party planning hints, everyone can plan a successful party.

Click here for past book reviews

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