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I Heart Trader Joe's Vegetarian Cookbook review

Posted Nov 09 2012 9:30am
People often think of Trader Joe's as a place to find well-priced, interesting, specialty items — and it is — but you can also get nearly everything you need to maintain a vegetarian or vegan diet, if you know where to look. We used to live two blocks from a Trader Joe's, and stopped in often for our favorite items. We liked to get their hummus and peanut butter, and I was especially fond of the frozen mangoes, and tomatoes with green chilies. I also used to buy large bags of cashews, bags of avocados, and I admit that we often have a couple packs of frozen, cooked brown rice in the freezer for "emergencies". When I was offered a copy of Kris Holechek Peters' new cookbook, The I Heart Trader Joe's Vegetarian Cookbook, I was really curious to see the range of recipes Kris assembled that could be created with food from Trader Joe's.

The cookbook is vegetarian with a vegan version of every recipe, though a great many of the 150 recipes are already vegan. There are also many clearly marked gluten-free recipes.

We decided to try two recipes for this review. Though there were a lot of appealing possibilities like Thai Lentil Simmer, Tahini Broccolini, and BBQ Bowl, my husband was craving tomato soup, and I was fixated on the polenta fries, so we chose our test recipes accordingly.

The Tuscan Tomato Soup was easy to prepare and very satisfying with its rich flavor and creamy consistency. The simple ingredients, which included tomatoes, onions, potatoes, beans, and lots of crunchy celery, added up to a pleasant meal on a chilly evening.

To accompany the soup we opted for polenta fries. I have always made my own polenta, and I don't recall ever buying a tube of prepared polenta, but to make the recipe I picked up one of Trader Joe's shelf-stable tubes of organic polenta. I have to admit that we enjoyed the (oven) fries so much, and they were so easy to prepare, that I recently bought another tube of TJ's polenta to keep on hand in case the urge to have polenta fries pops up unexpectedly in the near future.

The cookbook relies on combinations of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs, packaged grains and beans, and convenient prepared foods, to create quick and tasty meals that are both economical and healthy. I think fans of Trader Joe's will find the cookbook handy. The recipes are fairly simple and straight forward — perfect for new cooks or those looking to change their diets to vegetarian or vegan.

Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of the cookbook and no one has attempted to influence my review. I wasn't paid for my review, and I purchased all the ingredients myself. Bummer.
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