You probably know by now that I’m not vegan. I believe in eating a mostly plant-based diet, and particularly (almost religiously) in eating a lot of vegetables. Most important to how I approach health, wellness, and all around living a good life is by eating real, whole food most of the time (80twenty). The less processed, the better.
Sometimes though, getting yourself or the people that you love to start eating more plant-based foods means easing into it with baby steps. Being a student of naturopathic medicine, there are many viewpoints on diet, nutrition, and the most healthful ways to eat. If I polled my classmates, I’m sure we’d have people in every camp from vegan to paleo and everything in between, each being certain of their truth. Heck, I’m pretty certain of my own truth at times. But the reality is, there is no truth. The only thing that I’m certain we would all agree on is that we all need to eat more vegetables. I’ve said this before, but here it is again for good measure: Every body is different. (You see how I separated the word everybody to read every body? That was intentional.) Despite my own high horse at times (Oy! Sorry again B!), we need to listen to our own bodies. When we pay attention regularly and choose foods mindfully, we give our body what it needs—a drink of water after a soccer game, a big salad the day after an indulgent meal, or a bite of fruit when we’re light-headed and dizzy. These are perhaps the most obvious, but I share them here because I think most people can relate to examples like this. We make eating so complex, but it’s really this simple all the time. I’m not trying to imply that if you think your body is telling you to eat double stuf oreos every day, you should. I’ll be the first to admit that when you’re craving treats and desserts, sometimes you’ve gotta check in with yourself to see if it’s really what you need and want. But sometimes, you’ve also just gotta go for it and say to yourself, “to my health!” Truly.
I say this because although health can be greatly (and I really do mean greatly) affected by what we put into our bodies, it is also greatly affected by how we choose to relate to food and the stress that we put on ourselves to achieve certain food-related goals. As such, sometimes the best gift we can give ourselves is permission to eat what we want without any restrictions or judgment. Of course, it’s best if we try to honour our bodies by choosing to eat it mindfully, and in so doing, enjoy every bite and be able to tell when we’ve had enough. We do the best we can. Like many of you, I was a full-fledged member of the “clean your plate club” as a kid, so I’m still working on that last one.
But I digress. This is not a post about diet, eating, and wellness. Well, not directly anyway. This post is about Miriam Sorrell’s new cookbook that I was given to review as part of the Mouthwatering Vegan blog tour. The book boasts 130 vegan recipes from breakfast to dessert, and everything in the middle. Miriam really does an excellent job of creating recipes that even the most die-hard carnivore would love, which is why I started to write about all this diet related “stuff” anyway. I might ruffle a few feathers here, but I”m just going to say it. Being vegan doesn’t necessarily mean being healthy. Case in point: we’ve all heard of vegans and vegetarians who don’t eat any vegetables. But being vegan or eating more vegan meals can mean being healthy. For starters, there is more opportunity in the day to eat more real, whole, plant-based foods, which is always a good thing. (Can we agree on that, classmates?) Using Miriam’s approach to making traditional meat, dairy, and egg-based dishes with plant-based foods is a great start to this way of eating, especially if you or someone you know is a little more resistant to it.
What I love about Miriam’s book is that she really pushed the envelope around creating vegan foods and meals that would be accessible to even the most die-hard carnivore. She takes meals that may be regular features in the lives of non-vegans and make them vegan including things like quiche, wacky hot dogs, mince and ale pie, and even the perfect Christmas Roast. So, if you are looking to get some more plant-based foods into a carnivorous loved one—to open them up to the possibility of eating differently—this book just might be your ticket.
The recipes that didn’t appeal to meal are those that require store-bought, pre-made, highly-processed products like vegan ground meat, vegan margarine, and TVP. They don’t appeal because I’d rather eat food that’s closer to it’s natural source like beef from a grass-fed cow and real, organic butter. With the amount of processing and the types of ingredients found in these products (most are GMO corn and soy-based), I just don’t think it’s healthy for me, or the planet for that matter. You might feel differently.
But don’t fret, there is also a great selection of recipes for those of us who just like good, real, whole-foods too! For example, you might be inspired and intrigued by recipes like the the bountiful coconut chocolate bars or chocoholics cheesecake, the spicy greek and indian pinto bean dip, the range of uniquely flavoured pestos (e.g., pesto inferno, the parsley, black olive and walnut pesto, and the peanut, parsley, and chili pesto, to name a few), and the polenta garden pizza (with Miriam’s own homemade mozzarella!!). In fact, there is a whole chapter dedicated to homemade vegan cheeses and dairy alternatives which I’m totally into! They’re almost entirely nut-based and you make them yourself, giving you control over the quality of the additional ingredients that go into the recipes.
The book definitely has something in it for everybody, but I think it’s best audience would be found in those that are making the transition to eating less meat, vegans wanting to impress (or convert) their carnvore friends, or those who are just looking to broaden the scope of what is traditionally seen in a vegan diet. The Mouthwatering Vegan really does show you that just about anything is possible when you’re eating plant-based.
I kept it simple today with a slight adaptation of Miriam’s Wild Rice Salad. I replaced the mushrooms with kale because that’s what I am feeling on these hot summer days and I made a few smaller changes here and there. This dish is full of veggies, whole grains, and healthy fats. As Miriam says herself, ‘this salad has far too many benefits to mention.” It’s increidbly simple to pull together and its taste is glorious. I really try to give you the good stuff at 80twenty and this is no exception. Make it, friends. You’ll be glad you did.
For more Mouthwatering Vegan recipes and to check out the rest of the this blog tour, visit previous blog tour posts at The Vegan Cookbook Aficionado, Veg Coast, North Van Vegan, and tomorrow’s stop at Crave by Random House.
- 1 cup (250 mL) mixed wild rice (I used a mix of black and red rice and wild rice)
- 2 cups (750 mL) water
- 2 medium spring or green onion, finely chopped
- A large handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 1/2 small red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, finely chopped (I used a mix of 3-4 baby bell peppers of different colours)
- 2-3 packed cups of baby kale, roughly chopped
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and finely chopped
- 2 tsp (10 mL) raw sesame seeds
- 20 walnut halves, chopped
- 5 raw or marcona almonds, chopped
- 1 Tbsp (15 mL) grated fresh ginger
- *Note: I set aside some extra nuts and seeds for garnish.
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 tsp (5 mL) unsweetened coconut oil
- 1 Tbsp (15 mL) olive or flaxseed oil
- 1/4 tsp (1 mL) turmeric
- 2 1/2 tsp (12.5 mL) rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) pomegranate juice
- 2 Tbsp (30 mL) maple syrup (She used teriyaki sauce)
- Sea salt to taste
- Combine the rice and water in rice cooker and cook until done (about 45 minutes to an hour). Alternatively, combine the rice and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer until the rice is cooked, about 1 hour. Drain, rinse, and set aside until cooled.
- While the rice is cooking, make the dressing. See below.
- Combine the cooled rice with the remaining salad ingredients, minus the avocado, in a serving bowl.
- Drizzle on the dressing. You may not wish to use it all, so pour with caution and taste for salt and sweetness.
- Serve topped with chopped avocado and a sprinkling of nuts and seeds.
- Place the dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake well to combine.