My First Rave: Review of Blissful Bites by Christy Morgan (& Broccoli Salad with Creamy Mustard Dressing Recipe)

[I should have just given up on the sticky notes, because I want to try Every. Single. Recipe. in this book!!]

Okay, so if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time at all, you know that I am decidedly not the type of gal to attend a rave. (Read: too old. And even when I wasn’t too old, I was too health conscious. And, well, even when I wasn’t too old or too health conscious, I was too nerdy.).  So when I say, “rave,” you probably know I’m referring to the verb rather than the noun; as in, “I simply can’t rave enough about this spectacular new cookbook that has quickly assumed a place among my all-time favorites!” (And believe me, with over 200 cookbooks cramming my shelves at the moment, that is saying a lot).

Full disclosure: as with most reviews I write here on DDD, this book was provided free of charge by Christy’s publishers and I was not required to write anything positive about it (or anything at all, for that matter). You may know Christy Morgan as “The Blissful Chef,” whose blog, ebooks and live cooking classes have been offering up healthy, delicious recipes to eager masses for several years now.  Christy also chronicles her culinary adventures (from LA to Texas and elsewhere), on her Facebook page.

Before we begin, however, I feel I must be entirely honest and admit that I was already somewhat biased in favor of the book even before receiving it. You see, I had done a review of one of her previous ebooks, Cooking with the Seasons: Summer Edition, last year, so I already knew I had loved those recipes and suspected I’d like these as well. Perhaps even more important, I was aware that Christy’s focus on traditional plant-based diets (vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic, low fat and raw foods)  jibed well with the ACD and I’d probably find lots of recipes I could eat within my dietary restrictions, with a minimum of adjustments to boot. 

Well, let me tell you, this book is aptly titled. I was literally blissed out as I leafed through this gorgeous tome, which provides not only a full explanation of Christy’s approach to food and eating; a complete list of pantry basics and tools plus various chef’s techniques (now you’ll know just how to chiffonade–perfectly!); over 175 recipes organized by seasons (as well as “anytime”); but also a full resources section at the back and a metric conversion table. The full-color photos offer mouth-watering illustrations of many of the recipes, and the book’s pages are printed on thick, sturdy paper, an important detail when you plan to subject your book to repeated, regular usage (as I most definitely do!).

I literally couldn’t decide what to make first, there were so many recipes that appealed to me–and that I was permitted to have on the ACD! Should I try the Orange-Pumpkin-Ginger French Toast? Or perhaps the Asian Millet and Quinoa Pilaf?  Maybe the Blissful Two-Bean Harvest Chili? Eventually, I settled on Kale Salad with Curry-Coconut Sauce, simply because I already had all the ingredients on hand.

[Damn these dark winter evenings. . . this photo totally does not do the dish justice!]

I’m going to preface this next comment by saying that the HH is a very picky omnivore.  In other words, he has no trouble whatsoever eating hocks, haunches, brains, kidneys, hearts–even intestines of animals, but will balk at “veggie” foods I serve, such as grated daikon radish (“What is that? Anemic carrot?“), chia seeds (“Looks like fish droppings“) or spirulina (“Isn’t that the water you cleaned your brush in for your watercolor painting?”). Needless to say, he wasn’t thrilled about eating a salad with arame (seaweed) as a major player.

Well, we both swooned over this salad. When I first read the ingredient list, I was a bit concerned about the quantities in the sauce–it seemed like SO much spice–but mixed with the still-moist kale and arame, it was perfect. A spicy, creamy, slightly nutty coating on firm, toothsome kale with light marine influences. I simply loved it, and the HH even requested it again!

Next up was the Broccoli Salad with Creamy Mustard Dressing. If you’re familiar with that once-ubiquitous broccoli salad from buffets a few years back, this dish will evoke memories of those times. . .but vastly improved. The piquant dijon is balanced by the sweet (I used stevia instead of the suggested maple syrup); the crispy, green and fresh with a creamy sauce and crunch of radishes. An aesthetically pleasing as well as flavorful mix of ingredients.

We also thoroughly enjoyed the Wasabi Sweet Potato Salad, which had been beckoning me from the moment I first spied the recipe. I adore sweet potatoes, of course, and have had them spiced in sweet potato fries, but never with something quite so hot as wasabi. Again, I wondered at the proportions of the spice mix in the ingredients, but should have trusted Christy.  The sum worked out to be greater than the parts, and I loved this salad as well (I had run out of the called-for cucumbers, so subbed radish instead; still worked wonderfully). I could have eaten the entire batch by myself!

[I swear, it's not tomato sauce! But even tastier.]

Next up was another ingenious, fantastic recipe: the Mama Mia Magnifico Sauce, ideal for those who are either allergic to tomatoes or can’t eat nightshade vegetables (eg, those with arthritis). I didn’t tell the HH that this sauce was tomato-free, and he had absolutely no idea.  When I finally let the cat out of the bag, he was genuinely surprised and commented that this was “as good as any tomato-based pasta sauce we’ve ever had.” I concur. I loved it on pasta, of course, but also used it the next day on a grain-free pizza crust, and later, defrosted, with crumbled frozen tofu for a sloppy joe lunch.  You’ll be amazed by this one!

And I just couldn’t resist one more. . . while I don’t eat many sandwiches (or much bread at all, for that matter), I have always made an exception for Reubens, one of the most satisfying combinations of protein, complex carbs and creamy dressing I can imagine in existence.  I couldn’t resist giving Christy’s healthified version a try.  The marinated tempeh and tangy Russian-style dressing complemented each other marvelously, and the use of avocado in lieu of standard melted cheese was a brilliant way to incorporate the smooth creaminess you’d expect without the dairy or any artificial ingredients.  The HH actually ate two of these (as open-faced sandwiches). With leftovers the next day, I enjoyed mine à la raw, wrapped in a crisp collard leaf, like so:

I literally can’t wait to cook through this entire book (counting the days until I can use maple syrup again. . . ), there are so many appealing recipes in it. 

If you’re looking for a cookbook filled with mouth watering, healthy and flavorful plant-based recipes that are also impressive to the eye, I’d recommend Blissful Bites as your first choice. I love that Christy focuses on whole foods ingredients, low fat and low sweeteners (and when she does use sweeteners, they’re all natural, like maple syrup or brown rice syrup).  If you’re on a restricted diet (as I am), this book will likely still offer up a plethora of recipes you can enjoy. 

Now, go out and find your Bliss(ful Bites)! (PS. Just checked–if you order through amazon.com, you can still receive it in time for Christmas with 2-day shipping!).

And Happy Hanukkah to everyone who’s celebrating tonight! :D

Last Year at this Time: Holiday Nog (Egg-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, gluten-free)

Two Years Ago: Warm Butternut Salad with Chickpeas and Tahini Dressing

Three Years Ago: Gastronomic Gifts VI: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Butter

Four Years Ago: Quick and Easy Tofu Masala

© Ricki Heller, Diet, Dessert and Dogs

 

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Comments

  1. the salad with the mustard dressing looks creamy and yum! and i love lettuce wraps. i want to try making a collard wrap soon :). i am counting down the days till i eat chocolate…

  2. Kinda sorta at work at the moment so I’ve done little more than scroll through the photos but my goodness that food looks delicious!

    • Thanks so much for your comment, and for reading! Yes, it was delicious, thanks. I loved everything I tried from the book. Can’t wait to keep cooking! :)

  3. i’ve just brushed my teeth and am off to bed, but that collard wrap reuben has my mouth watering! i’m crossing my fingers and toes that santa leaves me a copy of blissful bites under the tree this weekend!

  4. I am not familiar with the broccoli salad that has been doing the rounds (probably ignored the creaminess) but this looks great! All the recipes do.

    I am intrigued about the tomato sauce – is it carrot? And I am excited by that tempeh reuben sandwich – I’ve been buying tempeh a bit more lately and looking for inspiration so am glad you reminded me I must try one

    BTW that comment about HH being a picky omnivore reminded me that I was recently thinking that the term “omnivore” for someone who eats meat is often a misnomer as I think vegetarians and vegans often eat a more varied diet than the “omnis”

    • I guess the broccoli salad was a uniquely North American thing. . . raw broccoli in creamy dressing, with additional add-ins. Re: the “tomato” sauce, it does have some carrot in it, plus other veggies and herbs. The tempeh Reuben really was delish, too. :) And I loved what you said about omnivores. . . you are so right! My diet expanded enormously when I went veg.

  5. I tested for Christy and enjoyed every satisfying second. The book is brilliant and a true testament to all the work she put into it.

    Your review was so amazing I really started missing my bookshelf (currently on the other side of the planet).

    xo
    Lisa

  6. Ah, wonderful! I can’t wait to do my own review (and cooking) from Christy’s book. She is so very talented.

  7. It all looks and sounds great! Plus, I think there is a broccoli in the crisper – I had better go check!

  8. Oh, these all look great! Broccoli Salad, yummy. We can’t do soy so I will have to think of something to replace that for the wrap. Thank you for turning me on to this cookbook and Christy’s talent. Happy Holidays! Tracy

  9. Wowza! It all looks so good and I love the look of that leftover wrap – yummy!

  10. Christy’s book is also a favourite of mine. Great review!

  11. I have seen this book in Chapters but was a bit skeptical about it. No real reason but I was. Now, through you, that I see how yummy and gorgeous some of the recipes are, I have already called Chapters up to reserve the last one in stock in my city. It will be a great book for a fellow vegan friend of mine as a gift. I will wait for reorders for my copy after Christmas.

  12. Yum, that broccoli salad looks perfect! It’s so hard to find a good recipe for broccoli salad that is actually healthy and fresh! I will definitely be craving this after all the Christmas sweets I’m eating this week!

  13. Ok, you’ve sold me, I have to get my mitts on this book!! Always a good sign when you’re tagging each page!
    Dark greens are notoriously hard to photograph…it took me ages to get a picture of the kale chips on my blog that I didn’t hate…TRICKY to make them look pretty, but OH so tasty!
    I just added you to my blogroll btw!!

    • Thanks so much, Tessa! I think I could cook from this book for a long time! And thank you for the blogroll addition–much appreciated! I’ll be updating mine in the new year–will check yours out as well. :)

  14. you’re right, those all sound fabulous! except i was already hungry… maybe an idea for when i make it out of lab ;)

  15. Ricki you’ve been eating well! And you’ve inspired me to crack open her cookbook. I was honored to receive a copy, I just haven’t had the chance to dive in. Will be doing so once the holidays are over. What a rave review :)

  16. What a fabulous review. I would be dancing around the kitchen with glee if it had been my book! I will buying this book for sure. Exellent photos by the way.

  17. Oh my heavens, these dishes look incredible! And you know how rare it is for me to get excited by a whole heap of savoury recipes ;) A part of me would love to needle mum into having this broccoli salad at Christmas, but our family has never been into mayonnaise-y salad so I may have to wait for a day less focused on “tradition” to try it out :P

  18. I LOVE Christy’s book too! You should try the Taste of India Artichoke Dip, it’s my favorite so far. :)

  19. Great cookbook review! Sounds like there are lots of yummy recipes in it. :) I look forward to seeing what else you make from it.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] wait to see the epic food posts from my favorite bloggers! Speaking of epic food, did you see this review of Blissful Bites from one of my all time favorite healthy vegan bloggers Ricki of Diet, Desserts, [...]

  2. [...] sushi rice bowl. All are incredibly simple, fresh, and delicious. Recently, my dear friend Ricki reviewed the book, too, and spotlighted Christy’s fantastic broccoli salad with creamy mustard dressing. [...]

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