Main Street Vegan Academy – Cookbook Review and Giveaway!

<<<<UPDATE>>>>. The giveaway has ended – huge congrats to Karen for winning!!

Yes – you read that right.  Free stuff.  Right at Christmas no less!  So you know what, read on, enter, and get yourself something you know you want anyway 😉

Book Layout

I’m the owner of dozens of vegan cookbooks (easily), and have reviewed quite a few in the past few years as well.  I like to start by checking out the layout.  Some go right to business – the recipes and only the recipes.  Some start with tips on how to veganize your kitchen – great for newbies or people looking to increase plant-powered meals in their lives.  Some still go into the explanations of why a vegan diet is great – health, environment, animal ethics, etc.  Everyone starts at a different point – or have different reasons for wanting a book of all plant based yumminess.  You may be a long time vegan looking for something fresh and new.  Or an athlete looking to get leaner and stronger.  In a new relationship with a non meat-eater.  Or an animal activist who just can’t be a part of animal husbandry and cruelty.  Or an omnivore who just knows they want to increase their intake of wholesome plant-based eats.

Whatever your reason, a glance at the book layout can help you decide if this is the book for you.

Since this book is coming from Victoria Moran – the founder of Main Street Vegan Academy, and JL Fields – my fav down to earth vegan recipe creator – you know it’s full of no-nonsense advice, and they did so in their “Coaching Corner” comments sprinkled throughout the book.  These consist of additional research materials or advice from academy grads.

The first two chapters are informational, and go into things like debunking typical vegan myths, and how it’s okay to be on whatever journey you are to being more plant-based.  For many of us who choose to eat this way (or explore what it may mean), it’s common to be confronted by our meat eating family and friends with questions like “where did you get your protein”, and “how can you be healthy”, and “plants have feelings too”.  And just as frustratingly, there’s nothing worse than the “vegan police” who like to tell you that you aren’t “vegan enough”.  These chapters are loaded with information in a non-confrontational way (which is extremely important to me in a mixed-dietary and non-judgemental household), and are a great read.  For those that don’t care and/or are well educated, it’s easy enough to skip past it.  I wouldn’t though.  As a vegan for 14 years, I still found great resources and well articulated perspectives.

Chapters 3-8 are tons of yummy recipes.  Everything from breakfasts to salads, soups, main dishes, one-pot dishes (my FAV in a busy family), and desserts.

The final chapter is called Vegan Outside the Kitchen, and is personally my favorite.  It focuses on things like dining out and how to talk to kitchen staff without being a condescending asshat, to taking veganism off your plate and into your fashion and beauty habits.  This is the Gandhi chapter of “be the change you wish to see in the world”.

Recipes

So – as you can see from this picture – the sticky notes represent the dishes I want to make.  Some I choose because I have everything I need to make it.  Some because they’re flavor profiles I know I love, and some because they offer new ideas, techniques, and flavors.

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I made Cheesy Broccoli Rice (because – who doesn’t love that?!?!) and Nutmeg Chocolate Chip Bars (always on the lookout for a dessert for school lunches for my youngest).  The rice was SO easy – all in the rice cooker (and those who know me know I’m an appliance cooking junkie – and JL is the queen of appliance recipes – serious – check out her other books Vegan Pressure Cooking and The Vegan Air Fryer – I have both and you won’t be disappointed).

I also made Veggie Mac, because it provided exactly what I was looking for – a new way to make a classic comfort food. And that, my friends, is the recipe I want to share with you.  Nothing like a cheezy, noodley, pot of goodness with all kinds of sneaky veggies in it.

Veggie Mac – by Brill LoSacco, VLCE from New York

Ingredients

  • 2 cups peeled and diced potatoes – Russet or Yukon Gold
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup cashews (or 2/3 cup soaked raw sunflower seeds for a nut free option – which I did)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • juice of 1 lemon (or 2 tbsp lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni (regular vegan or gluten-free, depending on your dietary needs)

Directions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat for the pasta
  • In a small pan, combine potatoes, onion, carrots, and water.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover, and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
  • Once the large pot of water comes to a roiling boil, throw in the tablespoon of walt and the pasta.  Cook according to package directions until al dente.  Drain.
  • Combine cashews or soaked and drained sunflower seeds, garlic, tahini, mustard, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, salt, and garlic powder into a high-speed blender or food processor.  When veggie mixture is finished cooking, add it (water included) to the blender.  Blend until completely smooth.
  • Toss the sauce with the pasta back in the large pot.
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making the sauce
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final dish!  Just look at that creamy lusciousness!

My (and my kids) thoughts:

I love a good creamy pasta dish – which is the main reason I picked this one.  I loved it sprinkled with tons of pepper.  I think I’d love it with peas added next time (though I’m a pea junkie and try to find ways to add them to pretty much everything!).  I can see adding crumbled tempeh for a more chili-mac type dish for a full meal, or as a side dish to some yummy BBQ tofu.

We are a nut-free home due to allergies, so I was happy this recipe came with a nut-free option.

My youngest – R – the pickiest eater of the bunch (mainly because she has life threatening peanut and tree-nut allergies, so new food spooks her), thought is was “ok”.

M loved it – even took a break from his video games to try it – he was only taste testing – and then proceeded to keep the bowl, telling me he loved it.  Big praise from the biggest meat eater in the house.

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with his “um, this is mine” face

And then there was A – my eldest and most likely to eat like me – her exact words for this (and the other dishes) was “dude, this is lit”.  High praise indeed.

And – awesome leftovers for the week’s lunches!  Not to mention all the other sticky notes to make meals for the week (Friday is already scheduled the One Pot Rice and Beans dish!).

Last Notes

Many of the recipes in this book call for nuts in some fashion.  Cashews for creamy dishes and peanut butter for some, just off the top of my head.  Most don’t have a nut-free option for the recipes.  For someone like me, that can be pretty limiting.  With a child with a life threatening allergy and a no tolerance nut rule in the house, if they can’t easily be converted and I see that many recipes with nuts, I may not splurge on it.  I’ve been cooking since I was 8, so it’s pretty easy to know how to modify a recipe, but for others, it may not be so.

That said – there’s a wide variety of recipes in this book, and I know it’ll be a mainstay in my home for many years.

Giveaway

Now it’s the part you’re waiting for, right?  HOW DO I GET ONE??  Well, you can do a few things.  You can buy it here.  You can beg someone who loves you to buy it for you.  Or – you can win one from me!

You may be wondering how!  Super simple.  Comment below that you’d like a copy.  Honestly, that simple.  I’ll use a random number generator to pick a winner on the day after Christmas.  That way – if you didn’t get what you wanted, you still can get something totally groovy JUST FOR YOU.  Yep.  That’s how much I love you.

So – leave a comment below letting me know you’d really like a copy of this book, and on 12/26/17 I’ll draw a winner.  You’ll promptly get a book send directly from the publisher.

Peace friends!  And happy eating!

~Crissie

A Jazzy Gift Giveaway!

It’s present time!!!

Okay, so the food highlighted in this post all come from a new cookbook – The Jazzy Vegetarian Classics: Vegan Twists on American Family Favorites.

And one lucky reader will get their very own copy to make fun and awesome (and healthy!) vegan eats!

The book is by Laura Theodore who is much more than a cookbook author.  She’s the host of the Jazzy Vegetarian TV show on Public Television, hosts a weekly podcast called “Jazzy Vegetarian Radio”, and has been featured on several major networks and publications.  Oh, and on top of all this, she’s an award winning jazz singer!

complete with my sticky notes as I figure out what I'm going to make!
complete with my sticky notes as I figure out what I’m going to make!

This book is certainly jam packed with awesome recipes and tips, but there are two things that set it apart for me.  The first is that she has an entire chapter dedicated to menus.  Most people don’t eat a single thing at a meal, and when you’re having guests, a full menu from beverages to dessert are important. It’s also nice to take some of the planning out of making a meal!  Laura put together 10 sample menus (all with recipes from her book, naturally), that can inspire different gatherings.  The Lunch Brunch, Portable Picnic, and A Taste of Italy have been my favorites.  The second thing she does is pair each menu with a jazzy playlist!  I think that’s a fun a whimsical addition to a “simple” cookbook!

Okay, so on to the grub!  I made several recipes from this book including Red Quinoa, Avocado, and Chickpea salad, Coconut-Encrusted Tofu Cutlets, Paprika Roasted Cauliflower, Easy Vegan Paella, and Cinnamon-Maple Mini Muffins.  Everything turned out great and the family enjoyed.

Reprinted here (with permission) is the recipe for the muffins.  They were a big hit with my kids, and didn’t last long!

Cinnamon-Maple Mini-Muffins

Makes 12; Nut Free

Ingredients

*1 cup whole-wheat flour

*1 tsp baking powder

*1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

*1/8 tsp sea salt

*1/2 cup raisins

*1/3 cup + 1 tsp nondairy milk

*1/3 cup maple syrup

*1 tbsp exta-virgin olive oil

Directions

*preheat oven to 375 F.  Oil a 12 cup mini-muffin tin.

*combine dry ingredients, then fold in the raisins.

*stir in the wet ingredients, and mix until just incorporated.  The batter will be quite thick.  Don’t over mix or the muffins will be tough.

*divide the batter into the prepared tins.  Bake 25-30 minutes, until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

*let cool for 15 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temp.

these were simple and tasty, and an easy additions to our lunches for the week!
these were simple and tasty, and an easy additions to our lunches for the week!
the Easy Vegan Paella was one of my favorites. I'd always been intimidated by paella, but this was very yummy - and easy - with the perfect crusty bottom.
the Easy Vegan Paella was one of my favorites. I’d always been intimidated by paella, but this was very yummy – and easy – with the perfect crusty bottom.
these paprika roasted cauliflower bites never made it to the dinner table....D and I ate them all in the kitchen.
these paprika roasted cauliflower bites never made it to the dinner table….D and I ate them all in the kitchen.

these paprika roasted cauliflower bites never made it to the dinner table....D and I ate them all in the kitchen

So, if you’re interested in this musically inspired cookbook, please just leave a comment on this post indicating you would like to be entered into the drawing.  A winner will be picked and announced in one week (4/20/14).