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Cookbook Review: Vegan Meal Prep

Meal prep is having a hot moment. I’m guessing it all started way back with the mason jar salad, but it’s only continued to grow in popularity, especially with those loving the Keto or Paleo diets. 

I am, personally, a big fan. The reality of my life is that, like many of you, I’m busy. I work, I have a kid and I attempt to have a social life. That doesn’t always leave time for cooking elaborate meals, so I tend to focus on dinners, especially, that come together in under 30 minutes: stir fries, pastas, tacos, veggie burgers.

The other reality of my life is that, if I don’t pre-plan, I often don’t eat at all, or I don’t eat healthy. I’ve been known to survive on peanut butter sandwiches, or Tim Horton’s bagels. So planning a week’s worth of meals in advance seems like a smart thing to do. 

What I dislike about most meal prep plans is the lack of variety. You make a bunch of stuff at the beginning of the week, and then you eat that same thing all week. As a girl who gets bored easily, this can be a challenge. I look at that salad I’ve been eating all week on Thursday, and suddenly a peanut butter sandwich is looking good. So, I appreciate the time meal prepping saves me, and I appreciate that it means I eat healthier, but I hate being bored.

I recently got a copy of Robin Asbell’s Vegan Meal Prep cookbook, published by Robert Rose

The first thing I love about this cookbook is that it has 5 weeks of meal prep plans, and not one meal is the same during the week. Boredom problem: solved! 

The meal preps are laid out: every meal you’ll eat for the week, as well as a comprehensive shopping list, and a list of tasks to do on prep day. 

One thing to love about this cookbook is that it’s for real eaters. They might be vegan, but this is not delicate diet food. You won’t been eating a plate of leaves and twigs. The recipes are hearty; stews, soups, pastas, handfuls of sandwiches. You will not be going hungry on this meal prep plan. 

I also love how Asbell incorporates savoury ingredients into places you’d not expect them. Sweet potato, for example, is a heavy hitter in this book, and I’m really okay with it! They show up in breakfasts, desserts, and of course in the regular ways, too. Quinoa also plays a starring role in many sweet as well as savoury dishes. What I’m saying is, Asbell is creative, and doesn’t rely on tofu as the main ingredient. 

I made quite a few recipes from this book: Sweet Potato Chickpea Cakes, Matcha-Glazed Pistachio Blondies, Blueberry Breakfast Squares, and Korean Mock Duck Lettuce Wraps

Sweet Potato Chickpea Cakes

Sweet Potato Chickpea Cakes: reminded me a lot of a fritter or a falafel, only made with sweet potatoes. Now, again, I’m a big fan of the yam, so I have no problems with this! I ate this all week on the side of a salad, and enjoyed them. I’d make these again. 

Matcha Glazed Pistachio Blondies

Matcha-Glaze Pistachio Blondies: I have a bit of an issue with the name. To me, a blondie needs to include having the fat (usually butter, but we’re being vegan here) melted down on top of the stove with sugar. So I don’t know if I’d technically call this a blondie, but whatever you wanna call it, I really liked the recipe. It was quite tasty, and the matcha glaze gave it a nice punch at the end. 

Blueberry Breakfast Squares: for some reason, in my head, I expected these to be more of an oaty granola-bar texture, but it tasted more like a banana bread with blueberries. 

Korean Mock Duck Lettuce Wraps

Korean Mock Duck Lettuce Wraps: let me just say, before reading this cookbook, I’d never heard of mock duck. I live in Vancouver, we have a huge Asian population and tons of Asian supermarkets, but this one got by me. I found it in a can at my local Asian supermarket, and it is basically seitan, but it’s been marinated and cooked in such a way to resemble duck. I enjoyed this recipe, though it was the most expensive of all the ones I tested. One thing to watch out for with this recipe is that store-bought kimchi may not be vegan. They often add fish sauce or the like to add to that salty, funky flavour. You may want to make your own

So, wanna eat better? More healthy? Save time? Then, yes! Vegan Meal Prep is for you! 

Lasagne Soup {Vegan}

Okay, who doesn’t love lasagne?? 

I mean, if a cartoon cat can’t resist it, who am I to say no? 

Yeah, lasagne is one of those classic comfort foods; layers of soft noodles, tomato sauce, and cheese…. it’s the stuff of dreams. 

Lasagne Soup LivB Vegan on a budget

You know what’s not dreamy about lasagne? Making it! Especially if you do everything from scratch. If you make the tomato sauce, include vegetables, make the middle cheesy/creamy layer, have to deal with massive, floppy, half-cooked noodles… yeah. It’s a huge pain the tukus. 

So, while I do love a good lasagne, I very seldom make it. Because it’s a lot of work. 

So, while I have been testing out recipes from @itslivb‘s new cookbook, Vegan on a Budget these past couple of weeks, I was excited to try her recipe for Lasagne Soup. 

She intros the recipe by saying: “two years ago I made a video on my YouTube channel called “Vegan Recipes for Lazy Days,” which included this recipe. The video was a huge hit and people all over the world discovered the wonder that is this soup. It tastes like lasagna but requires only one pot and 30 minutes to make. It’s basically magic.” So I was intrigued… the recipe is vegan, plus it’s not nearly the amount of work to make a regular lasagne, PLUS all the good lasagne feels? 

I was in! 

I made a big pot of it in my Staub on top of the stove (though I’d love to adapt this for IP), and the week I made it, I was sick. I was miserable and I had a head cold. So ate some for lunch, and it was so good! Really satisfying and wonderful for my cold. Michael was home that day from school, because he also was not feeling well, and he tried some, and he also really enjoyed it! 

So yay! When you get a thumbs up from the resident teenage ominvore, that’s a winning recipe.

Image credit: Brilynn Ferguson

Famous Lasagne Soup 

(Recipe courtesy of Liv B’s Vegan on a Budget by Olivia Biermann © 2019 www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. Available where books are sold.)

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup (250 mL) finely chopped mushrooms
  • 21/2 cups (625 mL) Marinara Sauce (page 12) or store-bought
  • 31/2 cups (875 mL) vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) dried brown lentils
  • 8 lasagna noodles, broken into pieces
  • 1 cup (250 mL) baby spinach
  • 1 batch Vegan Ricotta (page 20) or
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) vegan cheese shreds
  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Method

  1. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the oil, onion, bell pepper and mushrooms; cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent.
  2. Add the marinara sauce, vegetable broth, lentils and lasagna noodles; stir to combine. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes, stirring frequently, until the lentils and noodles are tender.
  1. Add the spinach and stir to combine. Ladle into 4 bowls and top each with a spoonful of ricotta or vegan cheese shreds. Garnish with fresh parsley and freshly ground black pepper, if desired.

 

 

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