I’ve known Desiree Nielsen for quite a few years, so I was pretty tickled to learn that she’d gotten a cookbook contract a while back. I’ve been looking forward to the publication of Eat More Plants, which happened in October of last year.
It took me a while to get a copy (thanks, Cassandra!), and then Christmas got in the way of recipe testing, but better late than never, right?
When I test a new cookbook, I like to make a minimum of 3-5 recipes, and try recipes from different parts of the book.
I’ll talk more about the recipes I tried and how I liked them in a bit, but first I want to address the first third or so of the book, which is all reference material.
Desiree is a registered dietician, and her knowledge is vast. I haven’t eaten meat since 2016, and there were plenty of patches in my life before that where I was vegetarian, so I think I know quite a bit about the plant-based lifestyle. The first 80 or so pages of this book are all information, and I learned stuff. If you are thinking of heading in a more plant-based direction with your diet, reading this first part of the book could be invaluable. Desiree talks about how to successfully be plant-based in a healthy, balanced way. She talks about protein, fibre, and how to get the essential vitamins and minerals you need, but on a plant-based diet.
It’s worthwhile to note that this book is 100% vegan and gluten free. I’m not gluten free (I’m not even 100% vegan), but I have quite a few friends who have multiple allergies, and the best way for me to feed them is by cooking gluten-free vegan. I find it hard. I find the gluten-free part harder than the vegan part, obviously (given that I wrote a vegan cookbook myself). So I’m always really impressed when gluten-free vegan recipes actually taste good.
On to the recipes!
Here’s what I made: Chipotle Tofu Mole, Harissa Carrot Salad, Seedy Crackers, Avocado Panna Cotta, Healthy Breakfast Cupcakes with Salted Chocolate Frosting, and Chickpea Panisse with Edamame and Lemon.
Generally speaking, I liked them all. The solid winners for me were the Panna Cotta (I’ve made quite a few vegan panna cottas, and it’s a challenge to get the texture just right). This dessert was the perfect, silky texture, but also had a citrusy punch. It was really good. I also was super impressed by the Breakfast Cupcakes (recipe below!), which, to be honest, I would not eat for breakfast. These were dessert for me. But I find, in general, that gluten free vegan baking is hard. The final result is either dry and chalky or falls apart because it’s got nothing to bind it. These cupcakes were moist and delicious. I’m unsure about the tahini frosting. A lot of people find tahini bitter. My friend that taste-tested these for me loved them, though, frosting included.
The Tofu Mole was delicious, and I loved the Harissa Carrot Salad (I’m obsessed with harissa at the moment). The Chickpea Panisse was a new idea for me–it’s like making polenta, but with chickpea flour, which is better for you because it’s higher in protein–but for me, the dish didn’t come together. Maybe needed a sauce?
Overall, I recommend this book highly, especially if you are, or are looking to be, gluten free vegan. It’s a very challenging diet, and Desiree’s expertise makes it much, much easier.
There’s also a great section in the book where she meal plans for you for 21 days, if you want to do a reset now that it’s the new year. It’s kind of like having your own personal dietician.
And now, a recipe!
Healthy Breakfast Cupcakes with Salted Chocolate Frosting
(Excerpted from Eat More Plants by Desiree Nielsen. Copyright © 2019 by Desiree Nielsen. Published by Penguin an imprint of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.)
- 1½ cups (375mL) almond flour
- ½ cup (125mL) gluten-free all-purpose flour
- ½ cup( 125mL) cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon (15mL) ground flaxseed
- 2 teaspoons (10mL) baking powder
- ½ teaspoon (2mL) ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon (2mL) cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon (2mL) salt
- ¾ cup (175mL) unsweetened soy milk
- ¼ cup (60mL) extra-virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup (75mL) pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon (15mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon (15mL) liquid from canned chickpeas (Aquafaba)
- 1 teaspoon (5mL) pure vanilla extract
Salted Chocolate Frosting
- ½ cup (125mL) raw tahini, room temperature
- ¼ cup (60mL) pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup (60mL) cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon (1mL) salt
- ⅛ teaspoon (0.5mL) cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚f (180˚C). Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners or nonstick silicone muffin cups.
2. Make the Healthy Breakfast Cupcakes in a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, all-purpose flour, cocoa, flaxseed, baking powder, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt to combine.
3. in a small bowl, whisk together the soy milk, olive oil, maple syrup, lemon juice, chickpea liquid, and vanilla.
4. Add the soy milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix until well blended.
5. Scoop ¼ cup (60 mL) of batter into each muffin cup. Bake for 35 to 38 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
6. Let the muffins cool in the tin for 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a rack to cool fully. The muffins will firm up as they cool.
7. Make the Salted Chocolate Frosting in a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, maple syrup, cocoa, salt, and cinnamon until well blended. Spread on cooled cupcakes and serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
8. The cupcakes will keep in a resealable container in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. Bring iced cupcakes to room temperature before enjoying for best flavour.