I was given these two books to review from the Book Publishing Company, publishers of many notorious vegan tomes which have changed the way people think about vegan lifestyles. Cooking Vegan and Stevia are no exception to the quality and level of expertise found in many of their other books. I find both to be helpful and informative additions to any home library, especially those of us with an interest in cooking and plant based nutrition.
Cooking Vegan is a good buy for people who are vegan curious or just beginning the transition into veganism. It’s especially helpful for those with any concerns about veganism being nutritionally adequate for people from infancy onward. The book is co-authored by Vesanto Melina, MS, Rd as well as professional chef, Joseph Forest. Together they make a pretty hefty case for veganism.
The book is really a wonderful read, brimming with great information from start to finish. The first 60 pages are dedicated to the nutritional benefits and a guide to being vegan. Chapter 1 is all about vegan nutrition, breaking down recommended daily intakes of protein, carbohydrates, fiber and calcium as well as which foods happen to include the most of each. Chapter 2 is dedicated to vegan ingredients, including a very in-depth pantry guide covering what to stock up on and how to use the ingredients. Chapter 3 is all about the science of cooking and why plant based foods work as they do, and Chapter 4 is a helpful sampling of vegan menus.
The rest of the book is filled with many variations of omnivorous favorites as well as more creative dishes by Chef Joesph Forest. The recipes cover everything from Breakfasts and Beverages to Sweet Treats. And although the chapters that include recipes are full of tasty and easy dishes, my favorite part of the book is that each recipe includes a very in depth nutritional profile, including: vitamins, minerals and even fatty acids along with the standard fat, calorie, and carbohydrates breakdown. Now that’s a lot of great info to know about what you are putting into your body.
I think this book is an excellent choice for those wanting to learn more about the vegan diet specifically and it holds a good deal of basic recipes to try out as well. My only wish is that the book included some photographs, but the abundance of informative text more than makes up for that. For anyone looking to incorporate more plant based recipes, or just more fruits and veggies into their diet, this book is a perfect fit. Packed full of dietary advice and information, this book is a great addition to just about anyone who wants to learn about the benefits of a plant based diet.
Stevia:Naturally Sweet Recipes for Desserts, Drinks and More! is pretty much the best guide I’ve read on this amazing herb. It’s not an entirely vegan book, but it does have recipes that don’t contain any animal products. The part of the book I found most helpful was the history and the different varieties of stevia available. The book goes into great detail about the differences between powder and liquid and even dried whole leaf stevia–did you know they vary in sweetness? It’s true.
Since I have stevia plant in my garden, I was excited to see the inclusion of information on growing your own stevia plants; however, I was disappointed to see there was not as much in depth information on this as I had hoped. There is, though, a great deal of information on using the extract and dried versions of stevia (especially helpful for those of us who grow their own), which is what this book is all about, and probably what I personally need most help with. The book also talks in depth about the nutritional benefits of stevia and its safeness for consumption compared to other sweeteners. All in all, it’s a well rounded guide to an herb which is greatly gaining popularity and notoriety in the minds of health conscious individuals.
The recipes included in this book all make great use of stevia as a sweetener, and features recipes for beverages, muffins and breads, cakes, cookies and bars, custards, crepes, puddings and pies, sauces and toppings, and frozen desserts. As I mentioned before, many of the recipes are not vegan, but this book is designed to introduce people to using stevia as a sweetener, and they do generously include many recipes such as Tofu Pumpkin Pie, and the entire gelatin section is vegan, which is a pleasant surprise.
If you are trying to find a suitably nutritious and tasty zero calorie replacement for cane or beet sugar, then trying out stevia is probably for you. And this book will cover all the bases for your naturally sweet lifestyle. Since I’ve received Stevia from the publisher, I have been happy with all my sweetening efforts using the versatile and healthy herb.