Tuesday, March 20, 2012

book review: Let Them Eat Vegan! by Dreena Burton

I am excited to share Dreena Burton's fourth cookbook, Let Them Eat Vegan!:  200 deliciously satisfying plant-powered recipes for the whole family.

This book definitely lives up to it's name.  This paperback book is big and full of fantastically healthy recipes.  Many recipes are wheat free, soy free, and gluten free.  If not, Dreena has more than likely given substitutions to transform them to accommodate for these dietary restrictions.  What I really love about this book is that all of the recipes are made from whole foods...not the vegan junk that is convenient (like vegan cream cheese, vegan mayo, etc.) but heavily processed and not good for you.

The cover of the book catches your eye immediately.  There are bright and beautiful pictures in the center of the book too.  Beyond the recipes, Dreena includes different sections to help you feed your vegan family.  I especially liked reading Plant-Powered Lunch Box and Let Them Eat Greens!  I'm always looking for healthy tips on what I can put into my boys' lunchbox and how I can incorporate (or sneak!) greens onto their plate.  She also includes sections on helpful tools to have and pantry items that are good for a beginner to have on hand. 

The chapters in this book are as follows:

Breakfast Bites and Smoothies - From muffins to pancakes this chapter even includes a section titled Let Them Drink Smoothies! which gives you the 101 on preparing green smoothies with a variety of ways to personalize them.

Salads That Make a Meal - not just green salads, there are bean and quinoa salads here too.

Proud to be Saucy and Dippy - Dreena admits to being a bit saucy, and loves to add sauces to enhance her dishes.  This chapter doesn't disappoint with 30 entries!

Vegan Soup for the Soul - I love a good bowl of soup.  Some of the soups in this chapter are simple and kid-friendly, while some are more sophisticated to have at a dinner party (she also offers suggestions to make these appealing to your children as well).

Side Stars - Another full chapter packed with favorites like Creamy Polenta as well as some creative additions like Almond Roasted Cauliflower.

Your Main Squeeze:  Casseroles, One-Pot Wonders, and Tarts - I love this chapter!  Most of these recipes are so simple, just toss all of the ingredients into your casserole dish and pop into the oven.  Some require you to whip them up in the food processor before popping them into the oven, still quite simple.

When Burgers Get Better - Veggie burgers made easy and tasty!

Good Pasta Belongs on a Plate - Not the Wall! - So true!  There are some creative pesto recipes and a comforting play on macaroni and cheese called Mac-oh-geez! which I love.

C is for Cookie, That's Good Enough for Me - Dreena is the queen of cookies.  This chapter boasts over 25 cookie recipes including classics like Sugar Cutout Cookies and Gingerbread Folks to Pecan Date Nibblers which uses dates as the primary sweetener.  All of Dreena's cookies are made without refined flour and sugar.

Let Them Eat Cakes, Pies, and Puddings - A lot of entries in here including several raw options, some sauces, and even vanilla yogurt!

Dreena Dazs - A full chapter on ice cream! Need I say more?

I've made a lot from this book already and I have yet to be disappointed.  And...I am happy to share a recipe, not found anywhere online yet, that you and your family (kids included of course) are sure to love.

Cocoa Cookie Dough Balls - Makes 14 to 16 dough balls

1/2 cup raw almonds (see note for nut-free option)
1/2 cup + 2 TBS rolled oats
A few pinches of sea salt (about a scant 1/8 tsp)
1 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 TBS nondairy chocolate chips or cocoa nibs (optional)
A few teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, unrefined sugar, or a combination of both, for dusting/rolling (optional)

In a food processor, process the almods until fine and crumbly.  Then add remaining ingredients and (except the optional chocolate chips) pulse or process.  Once the mixture starts to become crumbly, process fully for a minute or two.  It will appear as if nothing is happening at first, that the mixture is just whirring around in crumbs, but soon it will start to become sticky.  When you see it start to become a little sticky, add the chocolate chips and process again.  Continue to process until it forms a ball on the blade.  Stop the machine and remove the dough.

Take small coops of the dough (1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons in size) and roll in your hand.  Repeat until you have rolled all of the dough.  Toss or roll the balls in the coating, if using,, and refrigerate.  Eat and repeat often.

Allergy-Free or Bust!  For a nut-free version, replace the almonds with just 1/4 cup of raw pumkin seeds, and add another 1/4 cup of rolled oats.

If This Apron Could Talk:  Make a double batch and freeze half.  They thaw very well.

Kid-Friendly:  These are excellent to pack in school lunches, with a nut-free option for you if nuts aren't permitted in your school.

Savvy Subs and Adds:  Replace vanilla with 1/2 teaspoon almond extract or orange oil.


Let Them Eat Vegan! is a great book for the beginner vegan and just as great for the more seasoned vegan cook.  Her recipes read as if she's right there in the kitchen with you, answering the questions before you've even asked them.  Her quirky, funny, witty, and caring personality shines through in her writing.  Don't hesitate to add it to your collection!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this review Christine! I especially love seeing how dog-eared your copy of LTEV is looking - that's the best! Hope it continues to serve you and your family well - and happy! many thanks...