As I sat down to begin this review, I took a quick survey on the blog and realized that this is my 9th blog post either reviewing one of Nava Atlas’s books or posting one of her recipes. Obviously, I love this woman’s work.
But now I think it’s only fair to disclose that, over the past few years, I’ve actually become friends with Nava, too, and so I may not be the most biased reviewer. But given my previous effusive posts about each of the other books I reviewed in the past, it’s clear that Nava’s cookbooks have been an inspiration to me for a very long time.
Plant Power is much more than a cookbook, however. The first part of the book is devoted to an inclusive look at what it means to become “plant-based,” and how to accomplish that goal. There’s nothing prescriptive in this book; just straightforward, engaging, and well-written information. Whether you’ve been an avowed vegan for decades or you’re just plant-curious, there’s plenty for you to love in this book.
After sharing her own story and journey to a plant-based diet, Nava discusses the following topics:
- The Benefits of a Plant-Powered Life;
- The Top Myths About Plant-Based Diets (think “plant-based” automatically equates with “healthy”? Think again);
- Plant-Based Nutrition Basics (including the age-old, “How do you get your protein?”);
- Setting Up Your Plant-Powered Pantry;
- Produce: Stocking Up and Storing (I thought I knew everything in this area, and even I learned something new here!);
- Non-Produce Staples for the Refrigerator;
- Kitchen Tools;
- Meal Planning Basics and Strategies (with some great ideas–I’m determined to give this one a try);
- Top Ten Make-Aheads to Get You Through the Week (that you can do all on the weekend and be ready for the rest of the week);
- Plant Powered Food Shopping Savvy (great money-saving tips, too);
- Organic Produce (what is it, and should everything be organic? No!);
- Five Easy Ways to Eat More Leafy Greens (number 3 was my favorite); and
- Plant-Powered Families, Couples, and Singles (a great guide to incorporating more plants whatever your stage in life or marital status).
As you can see, this is a pretty comprehensive look at what it means to be “plant-powered”!
The second portion of the book presents the recipes, with everything from a full chapter on protein-rich recipes to soups and stews; pasta and pizza; wraps, sandwiches and burgers; salad and vegetable entrees; to breakfast, lunch, snacks and healthful sweets; there are even entire chapters on “Asian Express” and “Tortilla Specialties”!
Flipping through the book, I came across dozens of recipes I’d like to try, but for now, the ones on my “to-make” list include Spanish Style Rice with Red Beans and Olives; Coconut Cream of Orange Vegetables Soup; Vegan Pasta Alfredo with Two Stroganoff Variations; Gluten-Free Poured Pizza Crust (no rolling or patting!!); Spicy Eggplant in Garlic Sauce; Quinoa and Red Lentil Burgers; Composed Asian-Flavored Salad Platter; and Homemade Chocolate Energy Bars. As with all of Nava’s books, the recipes are accessible, easy to follow, and provide new and interesting combinations of favorite tasty ingredients.
I had a hard time choosing just one recipe for this post, but eventually settled on the Chickpea and Kale Sandwich Spread, mostly because (a) it was quick and easy; (b) I had all the ingredients on hand; and, (c) well, kale.
Wow–was this ever an incredible winner! The spread is reminiscent of chickpea-based “tuna” spreads, though much milder in flavor and rather addictive. It’s easy to eat as part of a sandwich (here spread on my Grain-free Flatbread, a recipe included in the Candida Kick-Start recipe packet), or simply on the end of a fork. It would be great stuffed into celery sticks, hollowed-out cucumber logs or sweet peppers as well. I shared the spread with a couple of colleagues and they both went wild over it. In fact, there wasn’t any left by the time the HH got home from work that evening!
Plant Power is a gorgeous, high quality, beautifully produced volume, dotted with photos on almost every page by the insanely talented Hannah Kaminsky. It would make a really thoughtful gift for anyone in your life who’s contemplating the switch to a plant-based diet–or anyone who simply loves to eat delicious food.
Order your copy of Plant Power here.
Visit Nava’s website here.
Follow Nava and VegKitchen on Facebook, twitter, and Pinterest.
Chickpea and Kale Sandwich Spread from Plant Power by Nava Atlas
©2014 (Harper Collins Publishers); Reprinted with permission
Chickpea and kale are a tasty team, and this combination makes a great spread for bread, a filling for a pita or wraps (along with some tender lettuce and sliced tomatoes), or layered on a sturdy flatbread and served open-faced. It also might be a great choice for teens who are on board with healthful food options–pack some in their take-along school lunches.
2 medium kale leaves (any variety), rinsed well
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cups cooked or one 15 to 16 ounce (400-450 ml) can drained and rinsed chickpeas
2 Tbsp (30 ml) nutritional yeast (optional but highly recommended) [see notes at end for ACD]
1/3 cup (80 ml) vegan mayonnaise or tahini [see notes at end for ACD]
2 tsp (10 ml) yellow mustard [see notes at end for ACD]
1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh parsley leaves or 1-2 Tbsp (15-30 ml) fresh dill leaves
1 to 2 scallions, green parts only, cut into large pieces (optional)
1 to 2 Tbsp (15-30 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) good quality curry powder, or more, to taste
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) ground cumin, or more, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Fresh green sprouts (optional)
Combine the kale and carrot in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped.
Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until the chickpeas are evenly chopped and everything is nicely blended–don’t overprocess; leave the mixture a bit chunky.
Transfer to a serving container and serve at once, or cover and refrigerate until needed. Makes 4 to 6 servings
Per 1/2 cup (120 ml): 220 calories; 7g total fat; 13 g protein; 29 g carbohydrates; 9g fiber; 208 mg sodium (less if homemade beans are used).
NOTES: To make this ACD-friendly for Stage One and beyond, replace the nutritional yeast with 1 Tbsp (15 ml) mellow miso paste; use homemade vegan mayo (sweetened with stevia); and use about 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) mustard powder in place of the mustard.
Suitable for: ACD All stages (with substitutions at bottom) or ACD Stage 3 and beyond (made exactly as written); sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, nut free, vegan, low glycemic.
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Johanna GGG says
I only have one nava atlas book but I do love the recipes in it and this dip looks fantastic – I would love to get this book – though cookbook shelf space is so limited (and I have just put out some books so am loathe to create more piles around the house) but I want to try the dip meanwhile
This recipe reminds me of one of your recipes from several years ago that was for sandwich spread based on chickpeas – I still use it!