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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 review a fun book that encourages teens to cook their own nutritious, easy-to-prepare vegetarian meals.

Munchie Madness

Vegetarian Meals for Teens

By Dorothy R. Bates, Bobbie Hinman, and Robert Oser

Nutritional Information by Suzanne Havala

Book Publishing Company, 2001

$9.95 Paperback

"Don't judge a book by its cover," the old adage says. Wrong! Do judge this book by its cover with its array of appealing vegan foods rolling down a runway from a bright golden star into someone's mouth. The crudely wild lettering style of the book title tells one immediately that this is not a boring recipe book attempting to interest teens in preparing vegetarian meals.

Munchie Madness The book opens with an introductory essay, "Notes from a Vegetarian Teen," by Laura Holzapfel, daughter of Cynthia Holzapfel who is senior editor of Book Publishing Company. Laura gives three major reasons why her family chooses to be vegetarian: cruelty to animals, the effect of hormones from meat on people, and the impact of the meat industry on the environment.

"This book was designed to help ease the transition from meat-eater to non-meat eater. It takes some of the most common recipes (and some more exotic), and shows you easy ways to make them deliciously vegetarian," Laura writes. "Think of how much good you can do yourself and the environment by not eating just one more hamburger," she adds.

To make sure that teens take a wise approach to vegetarianism, the publisher has enlisted the aid of Suzanne Havala, one of the country's leading authorities on vegetarian nutrition. Havala's other works on this subject include The Complete Idiot's Guide to Being Vegetarian and Vegetarian Cooking for Dummies.

In just 20 pages Havala introduces her "Vegetarian Nutrition: a Primer for Teens" quoting information from the American Dietetic Association showing a vegetarian diet is not only a safe choice, but also a healthy one. In subsequent pages she discusses protein, calcium, iron, and B12 that are all nutritional concerns for vegetarians.

She counsels teens on fats with the admonition that vegetarians should obtain most of their fat from whole foods like nuts and seeds with slight amounts of olive or flax oil. Havala presents a vegetarian food pyramid and follows it with a chart explaining each part of the pyramid.

Teens who face weight problems may benefit by focusing on the brief section dealing with weight control and exercise. Havala points to junk food as one of the most likely causes of obesity. She encourages young people to replace the junk with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, reduce meal portions, and eat healthy snacks, and, of course, engage in active exercise.

Havala discusses the difficulties teen vegetarians will face in the social world and advises them to be tolerant of non-vegetarians and not to be "diet police" to other people but to be positive role models setting examples for others to follow. She encourages them to take an active role in planning family meals and to be adventurous in experimenting with food. Practical tips on dating, dinner invitations, and restaurant survival are offered in this section. She also makes suggestions on ways her readers can become involved in local and national vegetarian organizations.

The "120 quick and easy recipes," all vegan, are divided into seven sections from Smoothies & Shakes to Main Dishes down to the finishing touch with Cakes, Pies, Candies, and Pudding. Each of these divisions has its own unique black and white graphic arrangement and heading type styles. For instance, the entire Smoothies section has a radical layout display with the recipes type-set on a slight angle.

Smoothie temptations include Banana Cappucchino Froth, Cookie and Cream Frappe, and Chunkie Monkey Shake. Finding the items in the kitchen might take longer than mixing up any of these recipes.

Breakfast items get right down to the basics with vegan ingredients for familiar recipes that include pancakes, waffles, Scrambled Tofu, Blueberry or Date Muffins, and even Breakfast in a Crockpot.

Salads, Spreads, Dressings, and Dips rolls out easy recipes for Mexican Salad in a Burrito, Yogurt Tahini Sauce, Hummus, and Warm Chili con Queso Dip. The Tempuna Salad uses tempeh to create a mock tuna salad. Recipes like the Tempuna Salad and Miso Dressing are prefaced with informative paragraphs explaining tempeh and miso, ingredients that may be unfamiliar to vegetarian newcomers.

The Soups section presents a half-dozen recipes that are old standbys, including Lentil Soup, Miso Soup with Tofu, and Minestrone.

Main Dishes go international with ethnic favorites like Pizza with the Works, Vegetable Lo Mein, Enchilada Casserole, and a Veggie Reuben.

The authors wrap up the recipes ever so sweetly with a dessert section to tempt the teen cook with such treats as Chocolate Tofu Cream Pie, Carob Chip Brownies, Banana Nut Bread, and Nut Carob-Fudge Sundae.

For the ever-hungry, busy teen on the prowl for easy snacks and lunch ideas Munchie Madness offers Quick Lunch Ideas and Quick Snack Ideas that include information on foods like vegetarian jerky, non-meat hamburgers, trail mixes, and instant soups.

The book is well indexed, an important tool for all users. A resources list of organizations, books to read, and food suppliers as well as information about the authors completes the volume.

Any cookbook with more than two authors might be thought of as a work produced by committee, a work that might have less-than-desired results. In the case of Munchie Madness, the process works well. The combined talents have created an appealing volume with simple recipes and a format that should engage young people.

There are no color photographs or fancy graphics - we didn't miss them a bit. Attractively laid out with unique headings and humorous line drawings by Lenny Cramer, a teenage vegetarian himself, the book avoids long blocks of text, breaking pages up with drawings, sidebars, boxes, and clever type configurations.

Munchie Madness has definite teen appeal, and even non-vegetarian moms can glean some ideas for meals. The message is that it's not difficult to cook vegetarian, and it can be quite healthy if one understands the basics of nutrition.

Munchie Madness, one of the few good cookbooks with a nutritional focus for vegetarian teens, is a must for the kitchen bookshelf of any vegetarian family.

Click here for past book reviews

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