New Books for the Vegetable Lovers on Your Gift List



Several new books have been released in the past few months that make the switch to a plant-based diet a lot easier.

For beginners, there’s The Vegan Cheat Sheet by Amy Cramer and Lisa McComsey. There’s a ton of helpful advice an tips for new and experienced veg*ns alike on how to overcome the challenges they may face when dining out — either in someone’s home or at a restaurant — as well as for dining in. There’s information included on choosing wisely at the grocery, converting favorite recipes and even a good selection of what they term “no brainer” (quick and easy) recipes.

Even longtime veg*ns (or those who’d like to eat healthier) can find useful information in menu planning and shopping lists. There’s also a nice section that addresses the myths of the vegan diet, including the protein question and others related to its viability as a lifestyle.

Also good for new vegans is this year’s revised edition of Becoming Vegan, Express Edition by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina, updated from the original published in 2000.

At the intermediate level is the latest cookbook from the Urban Vegan, Dynise Balcavage. I say “intermediate,” because Pies and Tarts With Heart is a straightforward good pie cookbook that just happens to be vegan. Sure, some of the ingredients required may not be in your pantry, but even if you have a crust you already like, there are some great filling recipes that may be new to you.

The recipes include sweet and savory and are divided by chapter into various types, such as cream pies, nut pies and even crustless pies, along with toppings and a very helpful section on crust basics. Also, while the photography that accompanies each recipe is mouth-watering, the subjects are realistic, which will help the home cook know exactly what to expect.

In the advanced category is Extraordinary Vegan by Alan Roettinger, a former personal chef. The photography in this book is sparse but beautiful. Most of the recipes tend toward the exotic and extravagant (or "extraordinary"), though there are a few basics. But overall, it wouldn’t be surprising to see any of these dishes (carrot cardamom rice with saffron, sauteed spinach with roasted garlic and aleppo pepper) on the menu of a swanky restaurant.

It’s not that the recipes are difficult to prepare (they're not); they’re just at a creativity level that’s beyond what most people (or perhaps just I) make at home. Some people may have a little difficulty acquiring the ingredients, too. All that said, the book is an excellent source of inspiration for anyone who may have gotten a bit bored in the kitchen. Or for when you need to convince dinner guests and other friends that vegan food can be exciting.

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