Tag Archive for robert rose

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! 

Best of Bridge: Weekday Suppers

Ahhh modern life. I don’t know when it got so busy. I feel like most average households these days see both partners working, as well as a host of before- and after-school activities to manage. So we all struggle with getting dinner on the table, and avoiding take out or delivery services, which know aren’t as healthy and are way more expensive.

I have a variety of different methods I use to mange this nuttiness. i try to do some meal prep at least once a month, and create meals which I freeze for later. My Instant Pot has become my best friend (taking the place of my slow cooker, because, let’s face it, it does that too!), making things that used to take a lot of time to cook (beans) happen in a short amount of time. I also keep frozen pizzas and veggie burgers always on hand for a quick meal, and we have a stir-fry at least once a week. Quiche is another staple here; I have frozen pie crust in the freezer at all times. The bonus of quiche is that it makes for a great lunch the next day.Best of Bridge Weekday Suppers

The ideal weekday supper is healthy, comes together quickly (ideally 30 minutes or less), has simple, easily accessible ingredients, and isn’t super complicated in terms of technique. Ideally, it can be made with pantry ingredients… making use of what you have on hand.

All of those factors are what the Best of Bridge has built itself on. The recipes have traditionally been accessible, simple, quick, and most importantly, delicious. These are not cookbooks that are going to include the use of a sous vide machine or molecular gastronomy. But they do include solid, dependable, every day delicious recipes.

The most recent book in the franchise is Best of Bridge: Weekday Suppers. I recently met Emily Richards and Sylvia Kong, the most recent members of the Best of Bridge (and Robert Rose–my cookbook publisher) family while they were on their book tour. We had lunch a Nuba and talked cookbook talk.

Here’s the thing: Emily and Sylvia are just like us. They’re moms, they live in major Canadian centres (Emily just outside Toronto, and Sylvia from Calgary), they get the daily grind and hustle.

Modern Canadian life!

The book contains 175 recipes, and the idea is to get a healthy, yummy dinner on the table in a short amount of time. There are sections on dinner soups and dinner salads. Soup is an amazing weeknight meal, because you can make it in advance, it’s comforting and hearty, and makes a meal when served with crusty bread. I also love the idea of a dinner salad. There’s also a section on sandwiches, one on pasta (a total weeknight dinner staple), and chapters for various meats. But there’s also a whole chapter on vegetarian suppers, and oh joy! a section on dessert. Because in our house, we eat dessert every night, and I’m snobby about it not being homemade.

Mediteranian Frittata Best of Bridge

I have tried three recipes so far; the Mediterranean Frittata, Savoury Baked French Toast, and the Coffee and White Chocolate Blondies.

I made the frittata for a family that was not mine (for the sake of impartiality) and it was a big hit. It’s filling because it’s not just eggs; it gets bulked up with potatoes, and the saltiness of the feta and the olives gives it a really pleasant brininess.

Savory French Toast Bake Best of Bridge

I was intrigued by the idea of a savoury french toast. I’ve made stratas before, but they are mostly sweet. I’m a big fan of ‘brinner’ (breakfast for dinner), so I was really curious to try this one. Basically, you get french bread, and spread each piece with pesto, then top with ham (I omitted) and tomato slices. You stack that up in a baking dish, then cover the whole thing with eggs. Let it sit for 1/2 hour so the bread can soak up the custard, then bake. You finish by topping with cheese and broiling. It was good. Michael liked it (though he would have left off the tomatoes), I found it to be a little underseasoned, but I did leave out the ham, which would make it saltier.

Coffee and white chocolate blondies best of bridge

Finally, we tried a dessert. The Coffee and White Chocolate Blondies were super, super delicious, and were really quick to whip up with pantry ingredients I had on hand.

Basically, if you’re looking for quick, easy and delicious weekday suppers, Best of Bridge: Weekday Suppers is going to be something you’ll come back to again and again. It’s not fancy. It’s solid, dependable workhorse weekday dinners.

You can save the mollecular gastronomy for your weekends. 😉

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