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Taste & Travel - - Contents -

A roundup of the lat­est healthy ti­tles BY EMILY KENNEDY.

AS AN OMNIVORE, one way I’ve been try­ing to ex­pand my culi­nary hori­zons is by eat­ing veg­e­tar­ian, and even ve­gan.

All you veg­e­tar­i­ans (or veg­e­tar­i­ans by as­so­ci­a­tion) will likely have al­ready cooked from a veg­e­tar­ian or ve­gan cook­book be­fore; but, if you’re a meateater like me, you may have shied away from such plant-only pub­li­ca­tions in the past.

Look­ing back at my own hes­i­ta­tion to pick up var­i­ous veg­gie cook­books, I find it so silly — af­ter all, I could al­ways have added some chicken or sausage to the dishes!

So, this time I eased into veg­gie fare. Start­ing with the first meal of the day, I found a sim­ple break­fast in Good Veg (The Ex­per­i­ment) — from UK chef Alice Hart, who does a good job at mak­ing veg­e­tar­ian dishes easy enough to fold into your reg­u­lar ro­ta­tion, and com­plete in a way that could sus­tain any ex­tended non-veg­e­tar­ian fam­ily.

The Co­conut Chia Straw­berry Bowl is a great make-ahead break­fast, mainly com­posed of two in­gre­di­ents: chia seeds and co­conut milk. Chia seeds are a fan­tas­tic “su­per­food” — low in fat, high in fi­bre and hosts to a mi­cro-party of healthy nu­tri­ents. The seeds don’t have much of a taste on their own, so they swell and fill with the flavours you sur­round them in. Al­though filed in the chap­ter “Morn­ings,” this dish also func­tions as a sum­mer dessert in the style of tapi­oca pud­ding.

For a sim­ple mid­day meal or sum­mer starter, try the Sum­mer Herb Broth with Can­nellini and Pis­tou. The Pis­tou — a pesto-like paste of almonds, gar­lic and fresh sum­mer herbs — was de­li­cious spooned and swirled into the soup; how­ever, I was left to my own de­vices on how to use up any re­main­ing. With­out a home gar­den, so many pur­chased fresh herbs also posed a chal­lenge of how to use them up while still fresh.

Falafel For­ever, by Dunja Glin (Ry­land Peters and Small) has myr­iad op­tions for ap­pe­tiz­ers, most no­tably in the “Fried” and “Baked” chap­ters, with just as many dif­fer­ent saucy serv­ing sug­ges­tions. I en­joyed the Greek-Style Falafel Frit­ters, with a sim­ple Tzatziki Sauce.

Hav­ing been a long-time fan of Sarah Brit­ton’s blog, My New Roots, I de­cided to jump into the mains of her new cook­book, Nat­u­rally Nour­ished (Ap­petite). Al­though this Cana­dian au­thor stud­ied nu­tri­tion, her recipes don’t give any nu­tri­tional break­downs, in­stead stick­ing to the cook­book style of keep­ing num­bers for mea­sure­ments only.

Veg­e­tar­ian dishes are tricky to cook ahead of time — those fickle fresh in­gre­di­ents just don’t want to co­op­er­ate with a busy week! But Brit­ton brings a “rollover” ap­proach to al­most ev­ery recipe:

“I’ve come up with a way to eat well ev­ery day with­out spend­ing much time cook­ing at all, us­ing what I call rollovers. A rollover is an in­ten­tional left­over that rolls right on into the next day, or even weeks.”

I stum­ble upon this piece of wis­dom in the chap­ter “Sim­plify Life in the Kitchen” (who wouldn’t start there!?), which also in­cludes a list of what Brit­ton keeps in her freezer, and how long these items can be kept in the “food time ma­chine.”

I served the One-Pot Cleans­ing Kichadi — a fra­grant, slightly sweet In­dian dish based on rice, lentils and beans — to a gath­er­ing with my neigh­bours who tell me they fought over the left­overs the next day! I en­joyed the “rollover” my­self that week with the sug­gested poached egg.

Brit­ton’s book is also a good re­source of recipes for any­one fol­low­ing a gluten-free or dairy-free diet.

Now, if you’re not yet sold on the veg­e­tar­ian cook­books, I’ve got one more op­tion for you:

Six Sea­sons: A New Way With Veg­eta­bles (Ar­ti­san). In his first cook­book, Amer­i­can chef and farmer, Joshua McFad­den, high­lights the evolv­ing at­tributes of veg­eta­bles through­out their grow­ing sea­sons, ex­tend­ing the very no­tion of “sea­sons” be­yond four and into six: spring, early sum­mer, mid­sum­mer, late sum­mer, fall and win­ter.

What’s es­pe­cially nice about this book is you can open it to the sea­sonal sec­tion you find your­self hun­gry in, and you’re on your way. For mid­sum­mer, I tried the Ri­ga­toni with Broc­coli and Sausage — Yes, sausage! Al­though the book’s recipes are led by veg­eta­bles, McFad­den in­cor­po­rates meats in many dishes.

Cook­ing from just one of his dishes will leave you with an ed­u­ca­tion that lasts, as McFad­den’s in­struc­tions il­lus­trate tech­niques that seem im­per­sonal in many other cook­books. One that stuck with me, for ex­am­ple, was salt­ing boil­ing wa­ter: “…salt un­til it tastes like the sea.” Why didn’t any­body else tell me that’s how salty it should be?

I’ve found that ex­plor­ing the veg­e­tar­ian and ve­gan land­scape is very much like try­ing a new cul­ture’s cui­sine. I’ve dis­cov­ered so many new tech­niques, in­gre­di­ents and flavours I never thought of com­bin­ing be­fore. In a way, like McFad­den’s six sea­sons, I’ve found veg­etable-led recipes pro­vide an ex­ten­sion to my reper­toire, in­stead of a lim­i­ta­tion.

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