Fuss-Free Vegan: Book Review and Recipe

We love comfort food in our house and have a go-to group of recipes we make often.  Recently I was given the opportunity to review a newly released cookbook focusing on everyday comfort foods.  Even more interesting, all the recipes are vegan.  I was so excited to have a look at it and make some of the recipes.  I’m always looking for more plant based healthy recipes.

Fuss-Free Vegan was written by Sam Turnbull, creator of the very successful It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken blog. She wanted the recipes in her cookbook to be hearty, satisfying, simple, scrumptious, quick, easy and most importantly trustworthy.  She uses real ingredients that can be found in any grocery store, making it easy to make these dishes for dinner tonight. Sam basically created vegan versions of comfort food favorites that are easy to make, easy to serve and easy to love!

Rice Paper Bacon
Rice paper Bacon

I tried four recipes from the cookbook.  The first recipe I tried was the Insanely Good Rice Paper Bacon.  Ok, well, I have to agree, it is insanely good, easy to make and…I already had all the ingredients I needed to make it in my pantry.  It is so creative and unique, I was quite blown away.  The sauce, alone, could be added to other dishes to give them that irresistible smoky flavour.

Another recipe I made was the Macho Nacho Popcorn Seasoning.  It is awesome and my panel of popcorn loving taste testers heartily approved of it.  I love nooch and vegan parmesan but had never experimented with turning it into a seasoning mix.  It can be used anywhere you want that awesome nacho flavouring –  tortilla chips, on top of tacos and other Mexican dishes, or on popcorn.  So easy and simple!

Umami Lettuce Wraps (photo by Sam Turnbull, used with permission)
Umami Lettuce Wraps (photo by Sam Turnbull, used with permission)

I love finding great recipes that use lentils, and this one is a keeper!  Again, using ingredients I already had at home, I made these delicious Oh Mommy Umami Lettuce Wraps.  Flavours of ginger, soy and sesame infuse the lentils along with optional hot sauce.  They are then served in fresh lettuce leaves. They were the perfect light, simple, kid-approved lunch, and they only took about 25 minutes to make.  The best part is, thanks to Sam, I get to share this recipe with you!

I also made the Easy Tofu Frittata.  Although the dish was colourful, and the flavours of mushrooms, spinach and red pepper were nice, my family really didn’t care for the texture.

I only made a small sample of what the cookbook offers. There are many unique and creative recipes. I’m looking forward to trying the creme brûlée, mushroom philly, the bbq veggie burger and several of the vegan cheeses.  Sam has a sweet, happy, fun style that makes this cookbook a very enjoyable read. Overall, Fuss-Free Vegan is a very approachable cookbook that offers great ideas for easy, vegan comfort cooking.

OH MOMMY UMAMI LETTUCE WRAPS

Serves 4

Sauce

¼ cup soy sauce (gluten-free, if preferred)

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

2 Tbsp agave or maple syrup

2 tsp sesame oil

½ tsp your favorite hot sauce (optional)

LENTILS
1 Tbsp light oil, like peanut or canola oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 cup red lentils

2 cups vegetable broth

½ cup walnuts, chopped

TO SERVE

1 head of butter lettuce or iceberg lettuce, leaves separated but kept whole

1 medium carrot, cut into match- sticks or grated

2 green onions, chopped

2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. For the sauce, in a small bowl, mix the ingredients together and set aside.
  2. For the lentils, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium – high heat.  When hot, add the onion, garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion softens and begins to brown.
  3. Stir in the lentils and then the vegetable broth.  Turn the heat to medium – low, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes, until all the broth is absorbed and the lentils are cooked.  Stir in the walnuts and about half of the sauce mixture, or to taste.
  4. To serve, take a leaf of lettuce, fill it with the lentil – walnut mixture, top with carrot, green onions, and sesame seeds, and spoon as much sauce as desired over it all.  Fold it like a taco and munch away.

Recipe from Fuss Free Vegan: 101 Everyday Comfort Food Favorites, Veganized. Copyright © 2017 Samantha Turnbull. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Thanks to Sam for providing a complimentary copy of Fuss Free Vegan to me for my review.  All opinions are my own.

 

Aquafabulous! – Book Review and Roasted Carrot Dip Recipe

Aquafaba (chickpea or bean water) is something most of us have and would typically throw away.  It is an amazing substance that can be a very useful and versatile ingredient that will have you eating more chickpeas and beans just to get and use the water!  I’ve been fascinated with aquafaba ever since I heard of it being whipped into white fluffy stuff and was excited to learn more about it and to review Aquafabulous! – 100+ Egg-Free Vegan Recipes Using Aquafaba by fellow Vancouverite Rebecca Coleman.

When the book arrived, I noticed how pretty it is and just love the colour and the cover picture – what a gorgeous Baked Alaska – and the beautiful pink Macarons on the back.  The title is, well, just so perfect to describe this “magical bean water”. It was interesting to read how Rebecca Coleman came to write this book and like many of us who try using aquafaba for the first time – we go from extremely doubtful to completely astounded!

Aquafabulous is a comprehensive guide to using aquafaba and shows how to use it to emulsify, bind, or thicken.  It includes valuable information on how to make it yourself from dried beans/peas, how to store it, and answers many questions that will come up when you start to use it. From the contents alone I quickly realized how incredibly versatile it is.  Aquafaba is a substitute for eggs and the book includes recipes that seem impossible to make without eggs (Scrambled “Eggs”, Frittata, French Toast, Omelet). The book includes over 100 recipes for breakfast, snacks, appetizers, salad dressing, mains, baking and sweet treats.

I chose several recipes to try.  First I made my own aquafaba, aptly the first recipe in the book. We use a lot of pulses so I typically buy them dry and cook them myself.  Following the directions I easily made my own aquafaba.

The next recipe I tried was Marshmallow Fluff.  Noted in the book homemade aquafaba does not seem to whip as well as canned aquafaba and unfortunately my Marshmallow Fluff  made with my own aquafaba was not particularly fluffy and separated before long.  It may have been helpful to include which recipes required canned aquafaba and which ones can be used with home made aquafaba although basic guidelines are given.  However, the taste was wonderful (absolutely no bean flavour) and with the addition of the vanilla bean seeds (a variation in the book) it was delicious.  It was so good I will definitely try it again using canned aquafaba. I was interested in the recipe as a possible lower calorie frosting, whipped topping for fruit or dessert than a comparable product like jarred marshmallow fluff, whipped cream or whipped coconut cream.

Marshmallow Fluff
Marshmallow Fluff

The next recipe I tried was the Roasted Garlic Mayo.  In a word – AMAZING! It was creamy, rich, and full of flavour.  It was so easy to make and my only regret was not doubling the recipe.  I can’t wait to try the other mayo recipes in the book.  When I added it to the Chickpea “Chicken” Salad Sandwiches (also in the book), it was divine.
Nutritionally, aquafaba is very low in calories and does not offer a source of any particular nutrient  The reason it whips and works the way it does remains a mystery but regardless, it is a very useful ingredient.  It has particular benefits for those who need or wish to avoid or reduce eggs. Replacing eggs with aquafaba may be helpful for those wanting to reduce saturated fat, cholesterol and calories.

There are many more recipes I would love to try from Aquafabulous, including this recipe for Roasted Carrot Dip.

Roasted Carrot Dip (reprinted with permission)

3​ large carrots, peeled and chopped​

3​ garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

4 tbsp​ extra virgin olive oil, divided

4 tsp ​toasted cumin seeds

​Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tbsp​ canned and cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed​

1⁄4 cup ​aquafaba​

1 tbsp​ tahini​

1 1⁄2 tsp ​seasoned rice vinegar​

​Tortilla chips, pita chips or crackers

Directions:

​Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Prepare a rimmed baking sheet by lining it with foil.

1.​In a medium bowl, combine carrots, garlic, 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil, 1 tbsp (15 mL) cumin seeds and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well to coat.

2.​Spread carrots in a single layer on prepared baking sheet and bake in preheated oven, stirring occasionally, until crispy around the edges, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

3.​In food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine roasted carrots and garlic, chickpeas, aquafaba, 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil, tahini and rice vinegar. Process until smooth, stopping the motor to scrape down sides of work bowl, as necessary. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if desired.

4.​Transfer to a bowl. Garnish with 1 tsp (5 mL) cumin seeds and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Serve warm with tortilla or pita chips or crackers.

Aquafabulous is a very unique book that has wonderful ideas. Thanks to Robert Rose for sending me a copy to review. All opinions are my own.

FinalCoverAquafabulous

Whole Bowls by Allison Day

 

Whole Bowls Cookbook by Allison Day

I was pretty excited to review “Whole Bowls” by Allison Day. As a nutritionist I tend to seek out other nutritionists or dietitians or those with a strong health focus. It is just my natural affinity.  I enjoy her blog, Yummy Beet, which is fun and friendly and has terrific recipes, all written with her easy going style.

Whole Bowls focuses on gluten-free vegetarian recipes, and many recipes are vegan. Included early in the book is a pantry guide, which includes information about the nutrition and benefits of many unique grains and seeds. The book offers ideas that any diet could include. I love how balanced the recipes are, with a strong focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes.

I found the recipes easy to follow, such as Eat Your Greens Salad with Chickpea Croutons and Green Goddess Dressing, shown below.  It is an example of the many recipes within recipes, such as various salad dressings, pesto (Cherry Hazelnut pesto anyone?) and hummus (with green peas!).  I appreciate that many recipes use everyday ingredients, which makes it easy and approachable for every kitchen. For this salad, I simply gathered various herbs and greens that were ready in my garden.

 

Eat your Greens Salad with Chickpea Croutons and Green Goddess Dressing
Eat Your Greens Salad with Chickpea Croutons and Green Goddess Croutons

Whole Bowls is beautifully photographed.  Each recipe includes a photo which makes it a lovely book to peruse and also gives you an idea of what the recipe (might) look like once made.  The photographs echo the theme of the book: lots of variety, colour, texture and flavour.  The writing is fun, with playful descriptions that will put a smile on your face — “lime kissed”, “kale is the belle of the ball”, “embrace your inner tree hugger”, or “this bowl will make you want to hippy hippy shake”.
Reading Whole Bowls is inspiring me to compose my own special bowls. Thanks to Foodie Pages for sending me a copy of this gorgeous book.  I am enjoying it and would not hesitate to recommend it.  Although I was given a copy, all opinions are my own.