Today’s post comes from my good and faithful (and super talented) friend Christina. I’ve been punishing myself by staring at a huge and growing pile of cookbooks I need (and honestly) want to review. Because my travel schedule and editorial assignments for others have me married to this computer, I’ve enlisted her help in getting me through the madness. At least it’s a delicious task.
While the last review of ¡Viva Vegan! was fair and the recipes are on my list to play with, in addition to the ones I’ve flagged to try myself, the pictures of these next few trials are more up my alley. There are elements that simply put make any dish work! This is her 1st one out a new book.
Do share your thoughts in the comment area. Thanks and smooches! B-
The Get Healthy Go Vegan Cookbook by Neal Barnard, MD and Robyn Webb was the third cookbook I delved into this month. Admittedly, it picked up the tail-end for a reason. Why? I am a pretty visual person and the book cover was, well…shall I say, not as appealing as the other books. Instead of the amazing food porn with which I have become accustomed, I found myself faced with Dr. Bernard, younger version of Bill Nye look-alike, eating some vegetable Sloppy Joe looking item. All due respect to the doctor, but the book didn’t scream, “Open Me!” or “Go Vegan!”.
Even so, I flipped through the pages like a good doobie. The result? I was totally put in my place almost immediately. After I passed the first section of the book, a basic introduction of vegan cooking, the health-benefits and nutrition behind it, Neal Barnard, MD and chef Robyn Web’s recipes showed themselves truly as a “jump-start” a diet. Wait… I have never been very successful with diets. So, why was this book becoming really appealing? The frequently used phrase “healthful foods”. A play on words? Sure, but the slight twist is a much more realistic way of wording about how we all should be eating, thus making “dieting” sound viable. And so…I kept flipping through the pages.
Whether a lover of appetizer/snack foods, main dishes, soups, salads, or desserts, one thing is for sure. The Get Healthy Go Vegan Cookbook recipes anything but intimidating; in fact, the dishes appear quite comforting. They are user friendly with familiar foods, don’t send the cook searching for off the beaten path (and often pricey) supplemental ingredients and include accessible and tasty seasonings. Page after page, the pairings of ingredients and flavor profiles are met with practicality, sensibility, and allure. Added bonuses? Each recipe is complemented by nutritional information, serving suggestions, and preparation time. And, you’ll be pleased to find that, at the end of the recipe section, there are sample menus, a three-day menu plan, a vegan cook’s shopping list and metric conversions. Score!
While I have been testing three to four dishes per book for Bren, I found it difficult to narrow down my choices. But, in silent protest, I did. The first? Minty Black Bean, Jicama and Cucumber Salad.
Even though autumn is knocking at our door, this salad is fresh and invigorating. The crunch of the jicama and the cucumber and the al dente bite of the bean sing together next to the brightness of the mint and rice vinegar. Interestingly, I thought the star of this salad was the jicama. The healthy legume, which is cultivated in South America offers a versatility that allows for even the persnickety eater to enjoy its starchy crunch. It is a perfect addition to salads, salsas, and vegetable platters. Just remember, when choosing which jicama to take home from the store/at the farmer’s market, select the medium, firm root, and be sure it is dry. Wet or soft areas may not very flavorful, not to mention may be a sign of the root’s deterioration.
Can’t find Jicama? Water chestnuts can stand in as a substitute. Convenient, right?
Minty Black Bean, Jicama and Cucumber Salad
- 1 medium jicama, peeled and chopped
- 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1 small white onion, finely chopped
- 1 (15-oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed*
- 2 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients, cover, and refrigerate several hours (to marry flavors) before serving.
*I used Eden’s Soy Black Beans
*Pictures by Christina Arpante. Edited by Bren Herrera