Monday, June 1, 2015

Cookbook Review: Gluten-Free & Vegan for the Whole Family

I received a review copy of Jennifer Katzinger's new cookbook, Gluten-Free & Vegan for the Whole Family: Nutritious Plant-Based Meals and Snacks Everyone Will Love. As I browsed through it, I bookmarked several recipes that I wanted to try.

First, Walnut Almond Milk. Making homemade nut milks is easy and, depending on the price of nuts in your area, probably cheaper than buying cartons at the store. I made a double batch and stored it in an old kombucha jug. The milk is creamy with a touch of maple sweetness, perfect to use in recipes and on your morning cereal.

I used the milk in this Quinoa Porridge. Quite a tasty breakfast. Gently sweetened quinoa is topped with fresh fruit, nuts, and coconut. As usual, quinoa didn't keep me full and I was hungry again two hours later. But that's quinoa's fault, not Katzinger's.

I made Nut Butter Energy Bars for Jackson and Olivia's breakfast and after-school snacks. They're no-bake and I wondered if they'd fall apart, but they held together quite well after spending an hour firming up in the fridge. They're chock full of healthy stuff like flax meal, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds, but sweet and craveable thanks to almond butter and maple syrup.

The nut milk also went into this Blueberry Parsley Smoothie. Katzinger is a genius to throw parsley into this recipe. She calls for a good amount, but you don't taste it at all. Parsley, typically used as a garnish in this country, is such a nutritional powerhouse! It's full of vitamins K and C.

To break in my new popsicle mold, a Mother's Day gift, I made the World's Healthiest Popsicles. I can see how they would earn that title, as they're made from avocado, spinach, blueberries, banana, cocoa, and maple syrup. That's about it. Yet they taste like fruity/chocolaty indulgence. I may or may not have let the kids have these for breakfast one morning. I noticed that all of Katzinger's dessert recipes are naturally sweetened with either maple syrup or dates. I like that.

The Kale Chips were addictively good. Olivia and I ate the whole recipe -- which uses two big bunches of kale -- in a day. The flavorful coating is made from pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, and seasonings. I love how Katzinger throws all different seeds and nuts into her recipes. Such a good nutritional profile.

Finally, the Raw Kale Salad. I wanted to keep this one all for myself! But I shared with Tony and he gave it an enthusiastic thumbs-up, as well. Big, bold flavors from shallots, avocado, red bell pepper, and an Asian-inspired dressing with ginger and sesame oil.

Overall, I love this book. Even though we're not gluten-free, I was pleased with the big flavors and the consistent theme of using whole foods and natural sweeteners. Family-themed cookbooks are interesting to me because, you know, all families are different. Who's to say my family will like what your family likes? For example, many of Katzinger's recipes called for mushrooms. Apparently her family likes them. My kids think they are Satan's fungus. But I was able to pick out many recipes my own family would enjoy, and the rest are sure to please as well, with a little twerk here and there.

I helped sell yearbooks after school this week, so Olivia got to hang out in the parents' resource room, with its little kitchen play area. 

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