Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Review: The Part-Time Vegan by Cherise Grifoni

Title: The Part-Time Vegan:  201 Yummy Recipes That Put the Fun in Flexitarian
Author: Cherise Grifoni
Publisher: Adams Media
Format: Softcover, 247 pages
Price: $15.95
ISBN: 978-1-4405-1226-1


My family is vegetable-challenged.  I grew up eating only a few basic vegetables:  corn, green beans, broccoli, salad, onions, peppers, potatoes, cucumbers, carrots and celery.  One of those isn't even a vegetable.  My husband ate a larger variety of vegetables than I did, but not in ways I enjoy.  I've tried branching out as an adult, and I have added more veggies to my own diet.  However, most of my children only like corn and green beans.  I keep telling them corn isn't a vegetable, especially to the child who ONLY likes corn.


Obviously, there is a reason that my early attempts at converting my family to vegetarianism (and even veganism) have failed.  Besides my husband's love of MEAT, we have a veggie-aversion in our kids.  So why did I review this book?  Because I figured the best person to teach us to enjoy veggies in new ways is someone who specializes in veggies.  Since I can never be more than a part-time vegan or vegetarian, the title appealed to me.  I can definitely be a FLEXitarian!


The Part-Time Vegan is a humorous cookbook written for the simply-curious, the vegan-aspiring, or anyone who just loves new recipes.  If you are vegetable-challenged, like me, then this cookbook offers some delicious recipes to help you enjoy veggies (and grains) in new ways.  The book begins with a chapter entitled Veganism 101, which explains what Vegan eating is all about, ingredient staples to have on hand, and where to find them.  It then moves on to the recipes, all served up with humor and helpful hints.  Click the book cover above (or this link) to view a sample of the cookbook.


There are no beautiful photographs of the recipes in this book, other than on the cover, but each recipe has a helpful icon by the title to let you know if it's high-protein, high-fiber, quick-preparation, or one that easily flexes to include meat.  I love getting that helpful hint as I first glance at a recipe.  If I need a protein meal, I know which ones to skip over.  If I need a quick-fix meal, I know where to look, as well.  The instructions are clear and easy to follow, and the ingredients can be bought in your local stores (unless you live in a little, one-horse town).  No seaweed, cactus, or rare glowing mushrooms grown at the peak of a volcano (sarcasm on the side).


Each chapter title-page has a table of contents on the back, listing exactly what recipes you will find in that section.  But the index at the back is even more helpful, since it is categorized by ingredients.  I can look up corn or couscous and find all the related recipes.  That's usually how I cook.  I decide I want to make something with a certain ingredient and then I start looking for a recipe to fit that ingredient.  The book also includes ready-made dinner menus with recipes for an appetizer, main course, and dessert that have been selected to complement each other.


My family isn't ready for the recipes using meat-replacement protein sources like TVP, seitan, tempeh, and tofu.  We just aren't.  But there are still plenty of recipes to interest us:

  • Purely Vegan Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread (at the top of my list and first recipe in the book!)

  • Cajun Gumbo

  • Spicy Southern Jambalaya

  • Baked Sweet Potato Fries

  • Garlic and Soy Sauce Green Beans

  • Sweetened Roast Squash

  • (You're) Hot Artichoke Spinach Dip

  • Baked Zucchini Fries

  • Easy Apple Butter

  • Whole Wheat Brilliant Blueberry Muffins

  • Caribbean Red Beans and Rice

  • Five-Minute Vegan Pasta Salad

  • Black Bean and Barley Taco Salad


The first recipe I tried was the Baked Sweet Potato Fries, because they seemed simple and I figured my children would enjoy fries.  I was  a little confused by the recipe at two points: the beginning and the end.  It didn't tell me whether to peel the sweet potatoes or not.  I assumed not.  The recipe also didn't tell me whether the finished product should be crispy or soft.  It said crunchy, but I didn't know if that was supposed to be from still-crispy sweet potato, or from being cooked-until-crispy.  Because I also have a temperamental oven, I initially assumed they were undercooked and cooked it longer, but then they ended up soft, and not crispy.  Not knowing the expected result, I didn't know if I should cook them even longer, or stop.   They were good, just not crunchy.  SOME of my kids even ate them!


The second recipe we tested was Easy Broccoli Snack Attack. I really liked this recipe.   It was quick, zesty, easy to prepare, and can work with frozen broccoli or even fresh broccoli (as I used).  However,  it is NOT going to replace chips or popcorn when my kids are craving those.  I could convince myself to eat it instead of popcorn, but not the kids.  Of course, my weakness isn't salty, crunchy snacks ... it's the sweet chocolate snacks.  Thankfully, The Part-Time Vegan does include some chocolate recipes, but I'll have to shop specifically for those recipes as I do not have a vegan-stocked pantry.


For those of you with large families, like mine, you'll need to double these recipes.  Most of the recipes serve 4.  A few only serve 1 or 2.  There are some recipes that serve 6 or 8, but they were not main dish items.  Just be aware that you'll need to pay attention to how many it serves and multiply as needed for your family.


I enjoyed reading The Part-Time Vegan and I'm enjoying the recipes, as well.  It may take awhile, but I am determined to find new recipes my veggie-phobic children (and I) will enjoy.  I guess I'd better add avacado, sweet potato, squash, fresh green beans, and zucchini to my shopping list.  If I can get them eating even ONE new vegetable, I will have succeeded ... and so will Cherise Grifoni.


This book was provided free, by BookSneeze, in exchange for an honest review.  No other compensation was received.


April E.

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