Vegan dietitian Vesanto Melina has teamed up with chef Joseph Forest to write a new cookbook, Cooking Vegan, which is a follow up to their first cookbook, Cooking Vegetarian.
I was already a fan of the veg nutrition books, Becoming Vegan and Becoming Vegetarian which Melina wrote with Brenda Davis. I refer to them whenever I have a nutrition question or feel like I need to brush up on my nutrition knowledge. Needless to say I was very excited to review Cooking Vegan!
Not surprisingly, the first part of Cooking Vegan is the best overview of vegan nutrition I've seen in a cookbook. Vesanto Melina manages to cover all the crucial topics without getting long winded or preachy. Her straightforward writing about a diet so often driven by ideals is refreshing.
The recipes that follow in Part 2 avoid the problem I occasionally have when reviewing vegan and vegetarian cookbooks.
While the dishes I try from many vegan cookbooks are usually delicious, they are often nutritionally unbalanced, either lacking in crucial nutrients or having an excess of sodium or calories per serving. That's OK for desserts and other special occasion dishes, but it makes the cookbooks not so good for day-to-day use.
Cooking Vegan on the other hand is full of recipes that are not only tasty, but healthy and balanced enough for everyday cooking.
I also like that the authors not only list the nutritional content of the recipes but also tell you the percentage of calories made up of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
The Gooda Cheez recipe was my least favorite of the dishes I tried. I'm always looking for good vegan cheese substitutes since store-bought vegan cheese is so expensive and full of unnatural sounding ingredients and almost zero nutrition.
Gouda was one of my favorites back in my cheese eating days, and that was the problem. For me, the texture, color, and flavor of this vegan version were all wrong. When I served it to tasters without calling it vegan Gooda cheese, most of them liked it.
Next, I tried the White Bean, Olive & Thyme Spread. My tasters loved it and inhaled it along with any cracker-like food I had on hand. Quick and simple to make, this spread will make you forget that hummus even exists.
The last dishes I made, Thai Pasta Salad and the Spicy Peanut Sauce, were a big hit with my tasters. My only complaint was that the peanuts in the leftover salad turned rubbery overnight. Serving the peanuts as a garnish on individual servings rather then mixing them into the salad will prevent them from getting soggy when the salad is stored in the fridge.