The first recipe I ever made from Somer of Vedged Out was her glorious Cheeseball, and I think you all know how that ended (hint: true love forever). So, after the amazing cheeseball incident, I would say that I immediately had 100% faith in Somer's food sensibilities. Anyone who can make a vegan cheeseball recipe like that is a friend of mine.
The Abundance Diet really offers up some seriously satisfying abundance!
(That's me on a giant mountain of copies of The Abundance Diet, in case you can't tell)
So far though, I've mostly explored the dinners in the book - to immense satisfaction and delight! All the recipes in The Abundance Diet are vegan (obvs!) and gluten-free and refined-sugar-free, and many of them are also oil-free, if that's something you're interested in. However, they are absolutely not flavor-free! The recipes I've tried have been creative, delicious, satisfying to eat and pretty to look at, and as popular with Mr VE&T as they were with me.
Here's what I've made so far:
Chipotle Corn Chowder
I am a big fan of corn soup, and every summer I make sure to make a few of my old favorite recipes before corn season is over. Well, it looks like I have another new favorite to add to my annual corn chowder list! This soup is oil-free, but does have fat from soaked and pureed cashews. The soup is also thickened with a bit of tapioca starch, which gives it a lovely creamy thickness without any odd flavors. The end result is a super creamy and surprisingly sweet (from the corn!) chowder with a perfect kick of heat (from the chipotle powder) and the perfect amount of chunky veggies throughout. Wholeheartedly recommended without reservation!
Homestyle Mexican Casserole
Um. We ate this entire casserole in two days. Supposedly it's 8 servings, but I guess we were hungry... and enthusiastic. This oil-free casserole comes together quickly, with a quick sautee of beans, veggies and spices, and then a rich cashew & nutritional yeast-based cheese sauce is mixed in, and the whole thing pops in the oven. Absolutely delicious: great combo of crunchy veggies and creamy sauce, perfectly spiced, and satisfying to eat.
OH YES. I made a double batch of this casserole for a small family dinner party. There were 7 of us there, 4 of us were vegans (one of whom prefers to eat gluten-free), and then the other half "omnis." This dish was a universal HIT and the entire casserole dish was wiped clean of every remaining crumb. When I was a little girl, my grandma had a casserole dish that she used to make for all sorts of occasions called "Chicken Ole." I had forgotten all about the legendary Chicken Ole, but half way through dinner, my cousin Lisa said "This tastes like Grandmommy's Chicken Ole!" -- and it really did!
This dish was just wonderful and not like anything I have eaten in my last 15 years of veganism. I'm really grateful for that. This casserole took a little while to assemble and cook, but the end result was so special that I will absolutely make it again and again. Inside the casserole are green chiles (from a can) stuffed with Somer's Fresh Vegan Mauxerella. I had to add a little extra tapioca starch to the mauxerella, and cook it a little longer than suggested... but it eventually came together. Then, there is a thick, eggy batter with chickpea flour poured over all the chiles and baked. I baked it a bit longer than the recipe suggested, just for a slightly firmer and less eggy consistency. I totally missed the point that you were supposed to pour the enchilada sauce on it and put it back in the oven (read the recipe, dummy!), but it was great with the sauce poured over it too. Hands down, a new family favorite.
Blueberry Peach Tart
(~ and Somer's All-Purpose GF Flour Blend)
Woo Hoo! I also made this dessert for our family dinner and I just used whatever summer fruit I had on hand: some white nectarines, some plums, and some blueberries. At the book's suggestion, I made a double recipe in an 8-inch springform pan for a larger group, and the result was perfect. This recipe is sweetened with dates and dried apricots (no added sugar) and is also gluten-free. I added about 1 cup extra oats to made the crust/topping mixture a bit more hefty, and we all loved it. This dish also came home from the party completely cleaned out. Not bad for two un-charted recipes brought to a dinner party, huh?
Creamy Vegan Ranch Dressing with Kittee's Buffalo Cauliflower
My sweet pal Kittee (who is actually the one who e-introduced me to Somer) recently posted an appealing recipe for baked Buffalo Cauliflower. A bunch of folks made it and raved about it, and I wanted to join the party. No regrets, folks! These are tasty and easy and perfectly spicy and fun. I'm already eager to make them again. I didn't really grow up eating Buffalo wings -- buffalo this and buffalo that is really only something I've learned about in the last couple of years. But I know that you are supposed to have some cooling ranch dressing to go with your spicy yums -- so I blended up a half batch of Somer's Ranch Dressing. Big hit! Mine turned out super green, because I only had fresh herbs and not dried herbs.
Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Lasagna
This lasagna is one of our new favorite dishes of all time. Like any lasagna, it took a little while to make this -- but like any lasagna, it also fed us for several days. The recipe calls for jarred pasta sauce, which is a nice time saver -- of course you can make your own if you are feeling industrious. It also called for lentils and quinoa to stir into the pasta sauce, but somehow I was all out of quinoa (vegan faux pas!). So, I used half red lentils, and half green lentils -- and we loved it so much that I might just make it that way from now on. The lasagna uses grilled eggplant and zucchini and red onion slices instead of noodles and in the end it sort of tastes like a ratatouille flavored lasagna that is absolutely great. As you can see on top, this recipe also calls for the Fresh Mauxerella cheese to be dabbed around the top.
Mmm. Mr. VE&T is totally in love with this lasagna, and has requested that this be the only dish that we ever eat for the rest of time.
Lightened Up Laksa
This soup was really wonderful -- the broth was warming and flavorful and peanutty+coconutty, without feeling heavy. The little tofu cubes are baked while you make the soup, so they really have a great toothsome texture. The recipe called for some rice noodles, but I just happened to have this odd little bag of black bean noodles that I never knew what to do with -- and this was a perfect use for them. I'll probably just make this same soup recipe 10 more times until I've used up all those weird little noodles! I absolutely loved all the different flavors and colors and textures in this soup - and I also loved the broth on its own. I actually liked this so much that I had the leftovers for breakfast the next day.
Apple and Chai Spice Muesli
Yum! I really liked this recipe a lot. It's a simple, make-ahead oatmeal that made four generous servings. I don't have "chai spice," so I used Somer's suggestion to stew a few tea bags in my almond milk first, and that worked great. There was a pleasant, but not overbearing chai flavor to the oats, which also have shredded apples and walnuts mixed in. This was really easy to mix up the night before, and then I had breakfast all squared away for four days. I heated mine up in the microwave before eating it, and that was especially yummy.
Here's another quick and satisfying breakfast. Somer's Pudla recipe is provided alongside an homage to Kittee, the Pudla queen. I followed the recipe pretty well, except that I can never control myself and added way more greens than suggested. I also used collards instead of spinach, cuz that's what I had. The batter makes enough for 4 seriously satisfying veggie pancakes, so I just kept the batter in the fridge, and made myself one each day for four days. I like having a savory, hearty breakfast - especially if I can have a little piece of fruit or something to balance it out. I'll definitely be making this again and again.
We have a new family member!
Here's the truth. I have a number of other cookbooks to review and I had to forcibly stop myself from making everything in this whole book! If, like me, you are a great fan of Appetite for Reduction and you've already made every recipe in AfR 100 times, then I think you will also really love Somer's wonderful new book. The recipes are low-cal, satisfying, unique, and delicious enough to serve to company. There's a huge smoothie section, a breakfast chapter, salads & dressings, soups & stews, dips & snacks, main dinners, desserts, and even a bonus chapter on juicing.
I am really nuts about this new book!
GIVEAWAY!Happily! Somer & her publisher have offered to let me host a giveaway so that one lucky U.S. reader can win a copy! You can't have my copy, because I have already bonded with it and written inside it and dripped on it. So, you'll just have to win your own copy! Or win one and also buy copies for all your friends!
To enter the Giveaway - please just leave a comment on this blog post (and make sure I can contact you from your comment - or I will pick a different winner). I'll choose a winner in one week. Good luck!