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.
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
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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