So, it shouldn’t be any big surprise that I’ve purchased yet another cookbook. In my defense, I did enter countless giveaways to try and win today’s featured cookbook. Alas, luck was not on my side. But no matter — I love buying vegan-friendly cookbooks and supporting the works of any cookbook author whose cooking approach supports my values.
I first discovered the Yum Universe website from Matt Frazier of No Meat Athlete. I was instantly charmed by Heather Crosby’s voice and approach to whole foods, plant-based, healthy living. Her beautiful and somewhat rustic photography is easy on the eyes, too 😉
I happened to discover this website just as Heather was promoting the release of her first cookbook “Yum Universe.” Heather’s cookbook isn’t just a cookbook. It’s also a guide. For anyone who is interested in moving towards a way of eating that is not only plant-based, but also allergy-friendly and holistic, this cookbook is perfect.
Heather uses the first half of the cookbook to:
- tell her story and how she found her way to healthy living and eating
- talk about the “why” of choosing plants
- discuss her choices on avoiding gluten
- talk through the soy and oil controversies
- provide guides for getting enough protein, vitamins and minerals (vitamin D, calcium, B12 etc) as a plant-based eater
- help you establish a plan for shopping, prepping, cooking, organizing, and storing your plant-based meals
- list helpful kitchen gadgets and utensils in a plant-based kitchen
- provide shelf-life information for plant-based flours and ingredients, as well as notes on which foods store in the refrigerator, freezer, or both
- establish cooking and baking swaps for plant-based ingredients as opposed to animal-based
- learn the soaking and cooking times for beans
- explain definitions for cooking terminology such as al dente, fold, score, sift, etc.
- help plant-based eaters navigate social situations
- find freedom, abundance, and joy in cooking and eating plant-based
One thing I will say is that while Heather’s cookbook and recipes are vegan-friendly, it doesn’t appear that she identifies as a “vegan” as some of her recipes do contain honey. (We vegans can easily swap out honey for agave or maple syrup.) She is an animal lover, however, and recognizes the right our animal friends have towards living their own beautiful lives.
I hope you don’t find that little tidbit of information a turn-off to this cookbook. If you did, you would be missing out on Heather’s plant-iful and easy recipes that are delicious, nutritious, and beautiful.
Her recipes section is broken down into:
- breakfast and brunch
- baked goodness (breads, flatbreads, and crackers)
- sides and small plates
- toppings, spices, and sauces
- soups, stews, and chili
- salads and dressings
- lunch and dinner
- spreads, dips, and condiments
- desserts and treats (always my favorite section!)
Not only does she provide the usual necessary information for cookbook recipes such as ingredients and cooking/baking instructions, but she usually adds a few tips at the end for recipe variations, shortcuts, omitting oil, etc.
I made three recipes in the book that are more “beginner”-type recipes that include very simple ingredients and cooking processes that show just how easy transitioning and maintaining a plant-based diet can be. I made “The ‘Training Wheels’ Green Smoothie”, “Creamy Quinoa & Kale Salad” and the “Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies.” You know me — I had to do something with chocolate 😉
The green smoothie was super light and refreshing; I would even be willing to make this my go-to green juice. The cashew sauce used in the salad recipe was meant to make multiple servings, but I went ahead and used all of it, so…my salad and dressing looked a little bit more like a kale and quinoa creamy soup. But hey, it was delicious so no harm done in my book. As for the cookies, I probably could have baked them a little longer to take on more of a brown, baked look and crisp up, but I love soft cookies. Even though they don’t have that “baked good” look, they passed the test: The hubby took them to school the next day and all his omnivore co-workers raved. Yay!
I’m really looking forward to cooking from this cookbook as it is the first cookbook I will have in my collection that is plant-based, whole foods, gluten-free, soy-free, and offers options for low/no oil. While more “junk food vegan” goodies will always have a (small) place in my kitchen (um, did you see this post?!), the longer I live a vegan lifestyle, the more I am gravitating to a more whole foods vegan diet. Not that I feel lethargic or have food issues, nor am I shaming anyone who chooses to eat a diet of more processed vegan foods, or anything like that, but I want to live a long and vibrant life for as long as possible so that I can do my part — whatever it may be — to be a thriving example of a happy, healthy vegan and help the animals for as long as I have the health to do so.
Thank you to Heather Crosby for this beautiful cookbook. I have no idea if she’ll even see this review, but if she does, I wanted to give her the shout-out I feel inspired to express. And thanks to you guys and gals for reading this blog post. I hope you look for this cookbook and add it to your own collection 🙂