Im­pro­vise Meals You Love— from What You Have!—plant­packed, Gluten-free, Your Way!

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight Cooking -

Heather Crosby, The Ex­per­i­ment Soft­cover $24.95 (332pp), 978-1-61519-340-0

If you are new to the kitchen or to a gluten-free, ve­gan, or veg­e­tar­ian diet, Heather Crosby can be your culi­nary guru. The Yumuniverse blog­ger beat her own path to wellness with a wheat-free, meat­free reg­i­men while nour­ish­ing her in­ner foodie with a deca­dently de­li­cious, un­fussy style of cooking.

Her se­cond cook­book, Yumuniverse Pantry to Plate, is a guide to craft­ing healthy meals with ease. Her breezy writ­ing style en­gen­ders con­fi­dence for be­gin­ner cooks and for those who hes­i­tate when tack­ling a new recipe. Crosby’s phi­los­o­phy is to stock the kitchen with essen­tials and sea­sonal veg­gies, fruits, and nuts and then quickly cook up sat­is­fy­ing dishes when­ever it’s meal­time. The em­pha­sis on us­ing up what is in the pantry also avoids un­nec­es­sary mar­ket trips for busy, hun­gry house­holds.

There’s an equal help­ing of stan­dard recipe for­mats and recipe tem­plates that al­low for many fla­vor and tex­ture op­tions. Im­pro­vi­sa­tional tem­plates start with “what you need no mat­ter what,” then out­line riffs with many in­gre­di­ent vari­a­tions, fla­vor choices, and mix-ins. It’s a fun and em­pow­er­ing ap­proach, en­livened with the au­thor’s zippy names—amaze­balls, Mm­maki, Bites and Tots— and full of al­lur­ing recipes like Chipo­tle Cream, a fla­vor-packed sauce made from cilantro, cashews, lime, and smoky hot chipo­tle, or Deca­dent Pe­can Milk Hot Co­coa swirled with Med­jool dates, maple syrup, grated choco­late and home­made co­conut cream-based but­ter­scotch. Plen­ti­ful, play­ful il­lus­tra­tions and pho­tos add to the book’s piz­zazz.

The au­thor re­ally likes her break­fasts; there are loads of recipes for vari­a­tions on tra­di­tional morn­ing eats and baked goods, and some more sur­pris­ing op­tions for break­ing the fast like scram­bles of buck­wheat, quinoa, and rice with veg­gies, or break­fast cook­ies packed with nuts, seeds, ground tea, and cof­fee. For what­ever time of day, how­ever, this cook­book is full of un­com­pli­cated in­struc­tion and de­li­cious ad­vice for mak­ing ev­ery­thing from “crave-wor­thy, on-the-go” snacks to heartier meals.

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