My debut book review is actually of a cookbook. Doing so feels like a good segue from blogging about food, and I have read through this book, perusing recipes, about dozens of times already, in addition to reading the introductory text. I’m talking about Lindsay S. Nixon’s Happy Herbivore.
This is Lindsay’s first cookbook, but the second one I read. I love that her recipes make cooking and eating vegan EASY as well as tasty. Clearly I’m not the only one–she’s shot to cooking stardom from her start on her blog, and just look at the raving reviews quoted throughout this book. Sure, there are the occasional recipes that taste a little odd if you’re not used to vegan food. But most people will tell you that if you’re trying to go vegan, don’t start with making substitute versions of your favorite dishes. Make dishes that are vegan originals, not substituted versions of non-vegan dishes, and enjoy those. Then when your palate has adjusted, you can try recreated versions of old favorites. Because, honestly, vegan mac and cheese or lasagna will NEVER taste the same as the original. But you can eventually find healthy versions that are delicious on their own. Basic facts about switching to a low-fat vegan diet, as well as the reasons for/ benefits of such a switch, are covered at the beginning and end of this book. In between are the recipes that are making her famous. With good reason.
I’d admit that so far I prefer Everyday Happy Herbivore, her second cookbook, to this one. But I still liked enough of the recipes in this to go out and buy a copy, and I’m slowly working my way through them all. Well, OK, not all of them. This isn’t a gluten free cookbook. She’s kind enough to label recipes with various icons, one of which is “gluten-free.” So I can tell at a glance which ones will likely be safe for me. This being her first cookbook, I noticed that a lot more of the recipes have gluten in them. I can tell by the second one she was making more of an effort to eliminate gluten from recipes, or at least to present the recipes in ways that are easy to substitute.
So far I’ve tried the Tofu Scramble, which is pretty much the same as the one in EHH, but very good. My husband always complains I don’t make enough of it. The Aztec Corn Soup was also good; the quinoa gave it a different texture, but not bad, and I liked the taste. The Garden Chowder was tasty; I served it with biscuits. And the Mexican Cabbage was a little strange–I like cabbage, and I like some Mexican food, but the combination was a little strange. It wasn’t bad, and it was very filling. Just odd.
I’m looking forward to trying many more of these recipes, though. Especially Hippie Loaf, perhaps with a side of Maple-Glazed Vegetables, Dirty Mashed Potatoes, and/or Veggie Slaw. I’m also looking forward to Tamale Casserole, Bean Cakes, and No-Heuvos Rancheros. The ingredient lists seem reasonable to me, shopping at a normal grocery store, and the assembly is usually much simpler and easier than a lot of other vegan cookbooks I’ve come across. This isn’t gourmet. It’s just good (as well as healthy).
If you’re in the market for a good cookbook, whether vegan or not, I would recommend this book, and anything else by Lindsay.