I can’t help but get excited every time a new plant-based cookbook comes out. It doesn’t matter how many I already have and that I really, really don’t need any more–I get excited anyway. Such was the case when I spotted The PlantPure Nation Cookbook on the shelves at Barnes & Noble recently. Two seconds later, it was in my hands and I was drooling over the full-color photos on its glossy pages. It was one of those cookbooks that I could have rushed home with and started cooking my way through right away, but alas I couldn’t buy it that day. Imagine my pleasant surprise when BenBella Books offered to send me a copy to review!
I’d heard some buzz about the PlantPure Nation film while at Vegetarian Summerfest last year, but didn’t know much about it until recently. According to the website, “PlantPure Nation will help to launch a strategy that engages millions of people everywhere to bring the message of plant-based nutrition to family, friends and neighbors.” The film is directed by Nelson Campbell, son of T. Colin Campbell, and ” tells the story of three people on a quest to spread the message of one of the most important health breakthroughs of all time.” It shows the difficulties involved in getting legislature to take notice of the benefits of plant-based eating and also chronicles the changes experienced by several people who adopt plant-based diets for health.
The PlantPure Nation Cookbook is the official companion cookbook to the film and features whole food, plant-based, oil-free recipes by Nelson Campbell’s wife, Kim Campbell. It’s a beautiful book that includes recipes for all major meals along with tasty snacks, salads, sides and of course a dessert section! Recipes for sauces and spice blends are included as well so you can “DIY” instead of buying if you want to.
As with just about every cookbook I ever get, this one immediately sprouted a forest of little paper bookmarks denoting recipes that I just had to make. I started with the No Knead Whole Wheat Bread.
It’s an incredibly simple recipe that turns out a loaf of sweet, soft bread without the need for, well, kneading! Mine fell a bit after rising, probably because the cover I had on it got a bit stuck, so I’d forgo covering it next time. I used maple syrup instead of the agave the recipe called for and only put a pinch of salt in. I found the inside to be a little sticky at first, but after a day or so it firmed up quite well. It’s amazing as toast or as a “bun” for veggie burgers!
As a side note, when looking up the best way to store fresh bread I came across the suggestion of wrapping it in a clean towel and sticking it in a paper bag, then putting the bag inside the microwave (when not in use, of course). It acts like a bread box and keeps the bread fresh for several days!
Next up, because I’m such a sucker for beans and rice, I had to try the Gallo Pinto.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a bean and rice dish that looked so darn pretty. Of course, it didn’t stay that way for long because it smelled amazing and had to be eaten. With gusto. The final texture is pleasing–a combination of firmness from diced carrots and crunchiness from celery. It’s also got some minced jalapeno that gives it a nice spicy kick. I could see wrapping it in corn tortillas with salsa like a taco!
Speaking of, I couldn’t resist trying the Enchilada Bake when I stumbled across it.
I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to eat this. It’s pretty much the Mexican version of lasagna, something I’ve wanted to make for ages but never got around to. With its layers of flaky corn tortilla, spicy beans and vegetables, enchilada sauce and vegan “cheese,” how can you resist? There’s also a special addition that I loved–a layer of spinach on top of the beans! I actually used dinosaur kale that I picked up at the farmers market, but the concept is the same. For the sauce, I cracked open The Forks Over Knives Plan instead of using a prepared one, and I whipped up my favorite “no-cheese” sauce from Forks Over Knives–The Cookbook. The result was warm, creamy and spicy, but I do wish I’d made more enchilada sauce since it turned out a bit dry. Oh well–next time!
And since no test of a cookbook with a recipe for Curried Potatoes in it is complete until said curry has been eaten, I had to try that, too.
It’s simple, it’s tasty and it’s spicy enough to send your tongue straight to the moon, or at least to make you need to blow your nose. It calls for Thai red curry paste, something I usually have around but don’t use often. I’d forgotten just how spicy it is! I think you could substitute some curry powder and turmeric and have it be equally as good if you didn’t want dragon breath afterward. The potatoes take up a lot of the flavor of whatever you put in.
These are just a few of the recipes I had a chance to try out. There’s also Cornbread, which uses only cornmeal and is low in sugar; Sweet Tahini Dressing that goes wonderfully on all manner of food and an apple cinnamon oatmeal that’ll knock your socks off.
After trying all of these recipes, I have to say that The PlantPure Nation Cookbook is one of my favorite whole-foods, plant-based cookbooks. The recipes aren’t complicated and most of the ingredients are easy to find. It’s pretty easy to flip through the book and come across a dish that you can make with what you already have on hand and get it on the table in a reasonable amount of time. It’s a book that someone who has never cooked plant-based before could pick up and be comfortable with, which I think is important given how many myths there are about how “hard” it is to go vegan and stick with it.
The main thing I dislike about the book, though, is its apparent reliance on extremely salty condiments. Ketchup, mustard, vegan Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce turn up quite a bit, sometimes in combination within the same recipe. There are a few dishes that call for multiple cups of jarred salsa or for coating things in prepared buffalo wing sauce. All that adds up pretty fast in the salt department. I would have liked to see recipes for these staples along with the other tasty sauces and dressings included in the book. With a little creativity, though, you can swap out or cut down on the saltier ingredients.
One dish that I haven’t tried yet, but that I can’t wait to make, is the New England Chowder. It’s pretty standard fare in vegan cookbooks, and the PlantPure Nation version uses cashew cream to give the soup its traditional texture. A few mushrooms and some broken up nori stand in for the clams to make a tasty bowl of comfort food that you can try right now. Yep, right now. Even if it’s midnight, go for it. Then scroll down to see how you can get a copy of the cookbook for yourself!
New England Chowder by Kim Campbell
reprinted with permission from BenBella Books
Yields: 6–8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes
This chowder has the flavor of traditional clam chowder. I use sushi nori sheets to get that sea flavor and mushrooms in place of clams. It’s creamy and full of flavor, and the texture is perfect.
2 quarts and 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable stock, divided
1 onion, diced
3 leeks, washed well and white and green parts cut small
3 celery stalks, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 large Yukon gold potatoes, diced medium
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups Cashew Cream (below)
10 ounces button mushrooms, chopped (QV note: I’m betting oyster mushrooms would be awesome, too!)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 sushi nori sheets, torn into small pieces (kitchen shears work great)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons vegan bacon bits, for garnish
- In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, add 1/2 cup of the vegetable stock and sauté the onion, leeks, celery, and carrot until tender. Add the red pepper flakes and cook briefly.
- Add the remaining 2 quarts vegetable stock and the potatoes, bringing them to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium and cook the potatoes until tender.
- In a separate bowl, combine the water and flour and whisk until smooth. Add to the soup mixture.
- Add the Cashew Cream, mushrooms, lemon juice, nori pieces, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper. Simmer until the flavors are well blended and the consistency is creamy, stirring frequently.
- Garnish with vegan bacon bits.
Kim’s Hint: Most grocery stores carry sushi nori sheets in the Asian section. I tear the sheets into small pieces. This will add that sea flavor to your soup.
Yields: 8 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 0 minutes
This recipe is for a creamy, cashew-based milk that can be used in various dishes as a thickener and overall flavor enhancer. When traditional recipes call for heavy cream or a soy creamer, I like to use cashew cream. Use this cream sparingly, though, as it is a high-fat plant food.
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water to cover for
2–3 hours, then drained
2 cups water
- Soaking the cashews in water for a few hours will reduce blending time. If you are not using a Vitamix, I highly recommend soaking the cashews so they blend into a smooth and creamy texture.
- Place the cashews and 2 cups fresh water (do not use the soaking water) in a Vitamix or other high-powered blender. Blend on high until smooth and creamy.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
The fantastic folks at BenBella are providing a copy of The PlantPure Nation Cookbook to one lucky QV reader! To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me what first got you on to eating a plant-based diet (US and Canada only, please). Check out the form below for other ways to earn entries! One winner will be chosen on Tuesday, May 12th using RANDOM.org. Good Luck!
This giveaway is now closed. Thanks for entering!