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Meet my friend Kristin of the blog Cook, Bake, Nibble.

I loved Kristin the instant I started reading her blog (and then subsequently meeting her in person), I mean the girl is sweet as pie, super funny and one of the most talented chefs around.

So it’s no doubt I was beyond flattered when she asked me to review her new eBook, Crash Course In Gluten-Free Living.

Wow this book is amazing.  A well-researched guide on living gluten-free, Kristin covers it all!  This book shares Kristin and her sister’s story of their digestive issues and how going gluten-free helped heal them.  There is tons of information on baking using gluten-free flours which I was most impressed with as well as tips and tricks on leading a gluten-free life outside of the home which can sometimes be a challenge.

And of course, there are the recipes!  Featuring many of Kristin’s creations (which I can say first hand are amazing!) to recipes from bloggers such as Angela from Oh She Glows and Elana from Elana’s Pantry this ebook features hearty mains, delicious desserts and many veg-friendly recipes.

I chose to make Kristin’s Sweet Potato Cocoa Chili.  Since sweet potatoes and chocolate are my favourite flavours this sounded perfect!

Sweet Potato Cocoa Chili

Ingredients

1 medium onion, diced
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 cup bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic
2 cups peeled and cubed sweet potato or yam
2 heaping tbsp tomato paste
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
1 14- oz can tomato sauce
2 cups vegetable stock
2+ cups water (more if you are cooking beans in chili)
3 cups beans, dried & soaked (or 2 cans ) I used black beans & kidney beans
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp coriander
cayenne and red pepper flakes to taste
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Sea salt, if desired

Directions

1. Heat 1 table spoon of olive oil to medium high heat in a large pot. Add
diced onions and sauté until softened, about 4-5 minutes .
2. Add bell pepper, stir and sauté for another 5 minutes or so, add garlic and
stir for 1 minute.
3. Reduce heat to medium, stir in tomato paste. When incorporated, add
diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and stir.
4. Add stock and 2 cups water, bring to a boil. Add beans and stir.
5. Add spices, cayenne and red pepper flakes to taste and cocoa powder.
6. Stir until combined. Bring to a boil again and reduce to a simmer.
7. If using cooked/canned beans , then simmer 30-45 minutes until flavours
meld. If using soaked beans, simmer rapidly for 1-1 1/2 hours until beans
are fully cooked. Stir every 15- 30 minutes to as sure beans are not sticking to bottom of pan. Add extra water as needed- I needed two extra cups .

Served with a sprinkle of lime juice and chopped cilantro, if desired.

Dani’s note – I served this with a gorgeous kale salad since it was Kristin who made me learn to love kale with her massaged kale salad recipe.

I love this chili, the cocoa added such a nice flavour and this meal is full of fibre.  To purchase this amazing book, please visit here for more information.

Well done Kris, it is obvious how much talent and passion you have for cooking!  I am blessed to know you!

When the kind folks at Vega sent me a copy of Thrive Foods, the newest book by Brendan Brazier, I was beyond thrilled.  I mean, me and Brendan?  We could be BFF’s we have that much in common – we’re both vegan, we’re both Canadian, we’re both sporty and we both love making energy bars out of dates.

And more then anything we love our food whole and pure!

Having read and loved Brazier’s two other books, The Thrive Diet and Thrive Fitness I had high expectations of Thrive Foods.  Part informative book and part recipe book, it did not disappoint.

The opening chapters of the book discuss the basics of nutrition.  Information that everyone should, but does not necessarily know.  Filled with important facts and scientific back-up, Thrive Foods is informative without being preachy and is written in a way that everyone can understand.

There are a few sections dedicated to the environmental impact of our foods.  This sort of thing fascinates me, for example according to Thrive Foods, “if everyone in the US stopped eating beef for one year, that would be like not driving a distance equivalent to 9,007,489 to the moon.”  Um, way to blow my mind!

And the best part…200 plant-based, whole food recipes by Brazier and some of the best vegan restaurants and chefs in the world such as Tal Ronnen, Thrive Juice Bar and Candle 79!  I was beyond thrilled to see recipes from some of my favourite restaurants in Toronto, such as Live Organic Food Bar and Fresh.

One of the tastiest recipes I tested was the Zucchini Pasta with Chunky Tomato Sauce.  The pasta sauce was fantastic and any opportunity I can get to use my spiralizer I will take.

Zucchini Pasta with Chunky Tomato Sauce
recipe from Thrive Foods by Brendan Brazier

Ingredients

4 medium zucchini
1 tsp + 1/2 tsp sea salt
20 sundried tomatoes, soak in warm water until soft (about 30 min)
1/2 cup tomato soak water
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 medium clove garlic
2 heaping tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 heaping tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp hemp oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or chopped Brazil nuts
Pinch of red pepper flakes

Directions

1. Trim the ends of the zucchini.  Using a hand-held vegetables peeler (or spiralizer), carefully strip the zucchini, layer by layer into noodle-like pieces and gather into a colander (for best results, discard the watery center section that holds the seeds)
2. Toss squash strips with 1 tsp of sea salt and place the colander over a large bowl to catch excess moisture.  Let rest of 30 minutes.
3. After 30 minutes, wash the squash thoroughly with warm water to remove any excess salt, and let drain for 5 more minutes.
4. In a food processor, blend together the sundried tomatoes, 1/2 cup soak water, fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil, oregano, raisins, hemp oil and 1/2 tsp of sea salt into a chunky paste.
5. Add the nuts and pulse a few times to chop the nuts finely (but do not blend)
6. Toss the sauce with the zucchini strips and sauté over medium-low heat to 1-2 minutes to warm through. 

Variation – Skip the sauté step and serve room temperature as a delicious raw dish.

A fantastic meal from a fantastic book!  The addition of the raisins to the pasta sauce was my favourite part.  It gave the thick sauce just a hint of sweetness. 

You can order your copy here, I definitely recommend having this book in your collection!

To find out more about Brendan Brazier and Team Vega, check out their website and say in touch on Facebook and Twitter.

*Note to Canadian readers – Thrive Foods is the same book as Whole Foods To Thrive

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