Tuesday, 6 September 2016

"Easy. Whole. Vegan." by Melissa King | Cookbook Review

Easy. Whole. Vegan. by Melissa King
Publishing Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: The Experiment
Pages: 224
Links: Goodreads | Indigo | Book Depository | Amazon | Kobo

Melissa King was vegetarian for a long time before she became vegan and gluten-free, and the lifestyle permeates much of her life. The writer, photographer, and recipe developer for the blog My Whole Food Life, who is also a wife and mother, decided to switch to a plant-based, whole-food diet when a nutritionist suggested it could help her daughter, who had a host of serious medical issues. The new diet transformed her daughter and her family and now they swear by whole foods.

I've heard so many stories like Melissa's, about how embracing a vegan or plant-based diet has cured people of their ailments. It seems that natural foods, sans added chemicals and hormones, are best for us! Who would've guessed. Although I'm not vegan myself, I like to eat mostly vegetarian and vegan foods, and I find that I feel best when I eat plant-based foods. So I'm always excited to try new vegan recipes and cookbooks!

After we learn Melissa's family's story, she walks us through some common ingredients in a vegan pantry. I always find these sections useful because a vegan kitchen by nature has different staples than a "regular" kitchen does. One important distinction is that vegans need egg substitutes when baking! And did you know there are several ways to substitute an egg, including with chia and flax seeds?

I made a few recipes from the cookbook and the first one I want to mention is the Blueberry Muffin Smoothie (p.198), because it is SO GOOD. *Ahem* So. Good. I'm definitely a smoothie lover, but this is by far one of the best smoothies I've ever had. It feels like a hearty breakfast smoothie with just the right amount of sweetness. And I can't get over the shade of purple it was - the picture doesn't even do it justice. This is going to be a staple in my diet from now on.

Clockwise from top left: Maple Vanilla Bakes Oatmeal
Squares (p.33); Avocado and Chickpea-Stuffed Cucumbers
 (p.66); Caramelized Onion Soup (p.89); Blueberry Muffin
Smoothie (p.198)
The Maple Vanilla Baked Oatmeal Squares (p.33) were up next. I was excited to try these because based on their appearance, I thought they'd be granola bars, but they actually weren't. That would've been fine, but I found the texture really strange - I'm not really sure how to describe it, but I guess I'd say it was kind of soft and kind of like hard foam. That said, I know some vegan recipes take some adjusting to because they don't always use common ingredients. And these squares do taste good and would be great for on-the-go snacking!

I made the Avocado and Chickpea-Stuffed Cucumbers (p.66) as an appetizer for a get-together, and let me tell you, they went fast! These little bites pack a refreshing punch and are perfect for the summer weather we've been having.

The final recipe I made was the Caramelized Onion Soup (p.89). It was incredibly easy to make, as you just chop up your onions and gather a few other ingredients and then stick everything in a crock pot for a few hours. I found it nice though a bit bland, however, so I recommend using some pepper if you feel the same way. Since I'm not vegan, my quick fix was to eat it the traditional way, with some bread and melted cheese on top, and I found that it was great that way.

Overall, this is a useful cookbook if you're interested in going vegan. It provides good information how to adjust your pantry's staples and you'll learn vegan alternatives to common animal products. I have mixed feelings about the recipes I tried, but there are plenty more delicious-sounding recipes in the book, and the recipes I did enjoy were ones I loved.

*I received a NetGalley copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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