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Vegan-Ease by Laura Theodore

I’m so thrilled and honored that I was asked to review Laura Theodore’s latest cookbook, “Vegan-Ease: An Easy Guide to Enjoying a Plant-Based Diet.” I’ve been a fan of Laura Theodore, a.k.a. The Jazzy Vegetarian, for a long time! I’ve listened to her radio show and watched her cooking show and checked out her other cookbooks — you name it. As someone that has been involved in some capacity with the arts since childhood, I’ve always appreciated she incorporates her own passion for jazz music into her calling to share delicious, healthy vegan food with the masses.

After going through this cookbook page by page, I literally got out pen and paper and made a list of all the great features of Vegan-Ease so that I didn’t forget to talk about all the things I like about it (and you will, too!).

First off, I love the clever title, teehee 😉 So often people make the mistake of assuming eating a plant-based diet requires too many expensive or complicated ingredients (neither of which are in Laura’s recipes in Vegan-Ease!), or that you have to give up some of your favorite dishes — not true! Eating a plant-based diet, especially in 2015, is…easy! Furthermore, I love that she uses the word “enjoying” in the full title. After all, no one is going to eat anything that they don’t enjoy. Yet again, people mistakenly assume a plant-based diet isn’t enjoyable; they assume it’s nothing but boring, tasteless tofu and vegetables, and while I love both tofu and veggies, any vegan can tell you there’s so much more to enjoy in the plant world. I mean, geez, I’m a chocoholic and regularly enjoy more than my fair share of goodies!

Secondly, Laura has given every recipe an “ease factor” of 1-3 based on the amount of ingredients used in each recipe and the length of cooking time. So no matter how stocked your pantry is or how much time you have, you can always flip to a recipe to determine what to cook — I love that!

Speaking of pantry-stocking, Laura lays the groundwork for what items to keep on hand and what utensils to have in your kitchen to help you always be prepared for joyful, plant-based cooking.

This cookbook is also highly educational with sections on why a plant-based diet is a good choice, how to get adequate nutrition on a vegan diet (sources of vitamins D and B-12, calcium, protein, etc.) and every recipe has nutritional information. There are even little “Chef’s Notes” that help you save time in the kitchen, suggest recipe substitutions (such as swapping out tofu for chickpeas in a breakfast scramble), and provide general “good to know” plant-based diet tips. I’m telling you, Laura Theodore must be some sort of cooking guru 😉

4 ingredient cookies RI5A9723One of the things I really can’t stand in cookbooks is a lack of food photos. It’s silly, I know, but I’ve heard this complaint before from other people, so it’s not just a pet peeve of mine. And even though our food doesn’t ever come out looking like the food in the photos, we can’t deny we “eat with our eyes.” At any rate, I’m happy to report there’s a photo for almost every single recipe in Vegan-Ease! Yay!! Thank you, Laura! And man, there are a lot of recipes — appetizers, beverages, breakfasts, quick breads, soups, salads, sandwiches, pasta, pizza, desserts, and even holiday recipes — to name a few.

And just so you aren’t ever sure what recipe to serve to whom or for what occasion, there’s a section on meal-planning (whether you are serving your own family or hosting a whole plant-based dinner party) and a menu section that literally plans out your menu for any theme-type of dinners you want to have, such as “Holiday Dinner”, “Burger Deluxe”, “Fabulous Fiesta”, “Gluten-Free, Soy-Free” and more.

In a nutshell, no matter how new you are to a plant-based diet, no matter what course you want to serve, whatever questions you have about plant-based nutrition, Laura has everything you need in this new cookbook. You can tell she’s put a lot of time, thought, and focus into making the transition to a plant-based diet as tangible as possible.

And as your reward for taking the time to read about “Vegan-Ease: An Easy Guide to Enjoying a Plant-Based Diet”, Laura has graciously allowed me to share her recipe for Four Ingredient Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies!

These cookies, as the title suggests, only uses four simple, wholesome ingredients and have an “Ease Factor” of 1. They are quite scrumptious and hit the spot for that cookie craving without sending you into a sugar coma. I can vouch for this as I ate quite a few in one sitting 😉

Four Ingredient Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

four ingredient chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

Makes 16 to 18 Cookies

2 large, ripe bananas
1¼ cups rolled oats
1⁄3 cup raisins
1⁄3 cup vegan dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
Put the bananas in a medium-sized bowl and mash with a potato masher or large fork until smooth. Add the oats, raisins and chocolate chips; stir to combine.
Using a cookie scoop or large spoon, drop a heaping tablespoonful of the cookie batter onto the lined baking sheet, gently flattening it with a rubber spatula or clean fingertips. Continue in this manner with the remaining cookie dough.
Bake for 13 to 17 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and cookies are almost set. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, cookies will keep for about 3 days.

Recipe © 2015 Laura Theodore, published by Jazzy Vegetarian, LLC, reprinted by permission.