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Plant Power by Nava Atlas
review by Marla Rose
Strange as it might sound, it’s not every day
you get a vegan cookbook that is as much a celebration of produce as
this latest opus from artist, prolific author and all-around vegan
pioneer and goddess Nava Atlas.
Although vegan cookbooks share the common thread of cutting out meat
and animal ingredients, not many seem to centered around the exciting
variety of beautiful plants themselves as the cornerstone of the
recipes, though that seems to be changing for the better.
With Plant Power: Transform Your Kitchen, Plate, and Life with More than 150 Fresh and Flavorful Vegan Recipes,
Nava Atlas has moved fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and more front
and center, allowing us to enjoy not only the many health benefits but
also the dazzling and enticing flavors, textures and colors (remember,
she’s an artist) of our meals.
With sumptuous food photography from the talented Hannah Kaminsky
and a classic layout with modern touches, this a a gorgeous cookbook
that you will also want to keep front and center in your kitchen as
well. No matter where you are - someone who eats healthfully or someone
who could stand to boost the intake of plants - this is a cookbook that
will help to take you there, not requiring any exceptional kitchen
skills, just a desire to eat fresh, simple foods. Plant Power
is also a cookbook that will appeal to parents, people seeking more
nutritious meals and also, thankfully, those of us who don’t want to
spend all day in the kitchen; even without relying on processed
ingredients, Nava achieves this with straightforward recipes and an
approach that embraces some shortcut “convenient” foods (like salsa,
marinara, etc.) rather than ”convenience” (a.k.a., junk) foods.
Beginning with a to-the-point section on “why vegan,” Nava moves on to
tackling nutrition basics and then a very helpful, big section on
setting up a vegan pantry, also covering topics like storing produce,
strategies for meal planning, and getting kids on board with eating
plant-powered meals. Actually, this sizable introductory chapter (75
pages!) would be a really great small book in and of itself for people
trying to shift into creating a more plant-powered life.
In the second part of the book, we dive into the recipes. With eight
sections covering everything from protein options to breakfast and a
whole lot in between (pasta and pizza, soups and stews, wraps and
more), Plant Power offers a
lot of options, all tending toward vibrant, colorful dishes, and with
variation options as well as suggestions for completing the meal with
smart complements. With everything from enticing tutorials on making
quesadillas to a page dedicated to simple ideas for dressing up grains,
we are also learning how to improvise in the kitchen and add flavor as
we go. Nava is a pragmatist about time, realizing that most of us are
too busy to spend too much time in the kitchen, so she offers recipes
like the Classic Veggie Chili which comes with three great ideas for using leftovers. With the Coconut Curried Vegetable Stew, Pinto Bean and Quinoa Sloppy Joes
and an exquisite section on pizzas (which also includes a recipe for a
gluten-free crust), we’re given meal ideas that make great a dinner but
also carry over well into lunch the next day. The instructions are
simple and clear, very workable for anyone’s cooking skills.
One section that is more slim is her sweets section. There are three
chocolate recipes (as well as an appreciated paragraph about the
importance of Fair Trade chocolate) and the rest are seasonal fruit
combinations and serving ideas. As this is a book that aspires to bring
plants more center on our plates, this decision makes perfect sense.
I highly recommend Plant Power. A beautiful, helpful cookbook that would be an asset to any kitchen, Plant Power
would be a really nice gift or a great addition to one’s own
collection. Cheerful, helpful, and, most important, filled from front
to back with accessible, delicious-looking recipes, this is a cookbook
that reminds us that plants are where it’s at.
Thank you to Nava and her publishers at HarperOne for permission to reprint the following recipe:
Hummus Wraps with Grains and Greens
This hummus wrap is
chock-full of flavor and a good use of leftover grains of all kinds.
Once you have your grain cooked, the wrap comes together in minutes.
The recipe also doubles easily. Serve with a simple potato dish, and/or
fresh corn—these wraps go with most anything! Or, pair with a soup. I
especially like this with Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup.
Makes: 2 wraps
Two 10-inch wraps, at room temperature
1/2 to 3/4 cup hummus, homemade or store-bought, or as needed
2 tablespoons hemp seeds or 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
1/2 cup or so cooked quinoa, brown rice, or black rice
A big handful or two of mixed baby greens, shredded lettuce,
baby arugula, or baby spinach
1 medium ripe fresh tomato, thinly sliced
1/2 medium firm ripe avocado, peeled and sliced
Strips of sun-dried tomato, as desired, optional
Place one wrap on a plate. Spread with about 1/4 cup hummus and sprinkle with hemp seeds, if desired.
Arrange half the quinoa down the center of the wrap. Put a big handful
of leafy greens next to it on one side and half the tomato slices on
the other. Sprinkle half the avocado strips here and there, followed by
a few strips of sun-dried tomatoes, if desired.
Tuck two ends over the fillings; then, starting from one end, roll
tightly, making sure that the ends are kept tucked in and that
everything remains snugly inside.
Repeat with the second wrap. Cut each wrap in half and eat out of hand.
Per wrap: Calories: 400; Total fat: 13g; Protein: 15g; Carbohydrates: 65g; Fiber: 13g; Sodium: 500mg
from Plant Power: Transform Your Kitchen, Plate, and Life with More
Than 150 Fresh and Flavorful Vegan Recipes by Nava Atlas. ©2014,
published by HarperOne, reprinted by permission. Photos by Hannah
2013, 2014, Vegan Street