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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
Vegetarian Reading

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 that contributes to vegetarian enlightenment.

This month we feature a book that is a boon to busy moms and dads who need suggestions for simple, kid friendly recipes to feed their families.

Vegan Family Favorites

By Erin Pavlina

VegFamily, 2005

Paperback, $19.95

Occasionally the busy moms and dads who commandeer the home kitchen have the good fortune to contribute their family favorites to a cookbook that may find its way into home kitchens across the globe. Vegan Family Favorites is an endearing collection of triple-tested recipes contributed by dedicated readers of VegFamily Magazine, an online publication that specializes in vegan parenting information and serves the needs and interests of young families.

VegFamily editor Erin Pavlina compiled 174 recipes that zero in on kid-friendly foods that the grown-ups can enjoy, too. Though many of the recipes are from Erin's own kitchen, the majority of them are readers' contributions. A warm, fuzzy feature is the decorative box at the bottom of each recipe that displays the originator of the recipe. In some instances the box includes a dedication.

Not a coffee table book or a gourmet volume that will sit on the shelf and gather dust, this is a down-to-earth cookbook very likely to become dog-eared and spotted with kitchen spatters from everyday use. Because the recipes contain familiar ingredients and minimal preparation, they are ideal for active households with moms and dads on the go.

VegFamily The treasured recipes follow the brief introduction with a chapter on Breads and Muffins that offers wholesome choices like Lee Busch's Maple Morning Muffins made with oat bran and whole wheat pastry flour and features cinnamon, applesauce, and maple syrup. For the holidays, add Shari Noda's Festive Holiday Nog Bread to the menu--it's a snap to prepare with ready-made non-dairy soy nog.

Start the morning with Soraya Hussain's Celebratory Autumn Porridge heaping with chopped fruits and nuts, or treat the banana lovers with Gone Bananas Pancakes by Teresa Mattson.

The lunch bunch might cheer for the Carrot Dogs by Stephanie Williams, a clever cook who replaces the carnivore's hot dog with a healthy, beta carotene-rich steamed carrot in the bun. P B & J Crunch by Motherwytch sneaks some nutritious pumpkin seeds and wheat germ into the old standby, while Erin Pavlina offers a her tasty version of the revered Reuben Sandwich with vegan pastrami and vegan mozzarella cheese.

On those chilly days when the family yearns for a bowl of soup, prepare a kettle of curry flavored South African Butternut Squash Soup by Patty Ruback or turn out a smooth puree of Winter Veggie Chowder by Camille Landry in as little as 30 minutes.

Gear up for party time with an array of fast and fabulous dips and spreads. Toss Susan Macaluso's six-ingredient White Bean Paste with Roasted Red Pepper into the blender and it's ready to serve in minutes. Other party favorites include Orna Klement's Mushroom Walnut Spread, Wanda O'Keefe's Black-Eyed Pea Dip, or Hank's Almond Pate by Stacey Taylor.

Roll up your sleeves and thumb through the Entrees and Main Meals chapter to dish up a few of the old standards. Falling into the category of familiar comfort foods vegan style are Black Bean Burritos by Kathy Flake, Dee-lish Meatless Chili by Michelle Newton, Shepherd's Pie by Emily Kearney, and Zucchini and Eggplant Lasagna by Erin Pavlina. These are only a few of the numerous recipes in this chapter.

No matter how full the kids are, they will always find room for sweet treats like Jessica Cory's Apple Crisp, or Cheryl Snyder's Awesome Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies. For that special birthday celebration it would take a resolute soul to resist Erin Pavlina's tantalizing Cherry Coffee Cake with its cherry pie filling and sweet crumb topping. Feed the biscotti lover Orna Klement's Chocolate Walnut Biscotti and the nut butter aficionados the Nutter Squares by Brendelyn Beck.

What makes this book so special are recipes that have proven results with children and adults and yet, offer speedy preparation with ingredients the typical vegan household is likely to have on hand.

A handy reference tool that appears after the Dessert section is the Recipe Quick Lists chapter that categorizes recipes by specific interests: Fast Preparation; Few Ingredients; Great for Potlucks; Impressive; Kids Can Help; and Kid-Friendly. Following are Sample Menus along with Guides and Cooking Tips. Professional baker and founder of Allison's Gourmet, Allison Rivers offers an outstanding section on Vegan Baking Tips. Hints like having ingredients at room temperature for cakes and cookies, having chilled ingredients for pie crusts, using parchment paper, and putting cakes into the oven immediately after mixing are invaluable suggestions.

Without doubt Vegan Family Favorites is a must-have volume for families with young children. Even novice cooks will feel encouraged by the success they have when preparing these simple-to-assemble recipes. Hunt no further to find the ideal gift for a family with a new baby or a new home. And hat's off to Erin Pavlina for the book's innovative concept--it's a winner.

Reviewed May 2006

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