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Reviews of *Blissful Bites* and *Everyday Happy Herbivore*

Posted Feb 06 2012 10:23am
BenBella Books recently sent me two beautiful cookbooks to review. I've spent the last several months happily trying out many of the recipes they contained, and today I'm going to share my thoughts on them. Just so you know, I haven't actually read either of these volumes cover-to-cover, but I've spent quite a bit of time flipping through, reading sections, and trying out the recipes.

Blissful Bites: Vegan Meals That Nourish Mind, Body, and Planet by Christy Morgan - The first thing that caught my attention about this book was the beautiful photography and design. The colorful aesthetics just drew me right in. The arrangement of the book is also really well-thought out: before each section there is a list that divides the recipes up into seasons, there is a very helpful index, LOTS of pictures (this is a major plus for me), inspirational quotes, helpful tips, and more. The recipes incorporate a wide variety of tastes and preferences--there are options for gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free, raw, etc. There are also lists of the chef's and testers' favorite recipes, which is a fun feature. The recipes themselves include both comfort classics and unique creations. These are the ones I tried: Mac 'n' Cheese Kale Salad (100), Pan-fried Tofu with Carrot-Orange Sauce (198), Goddess Mint Dressing (88), Spring Kale Salad with Sweet Miso Dressing  (88), Strawberry Shortcake Smoothie (41), Zucchini "Pasta" with Mint-Cashew Pesto Sauce (92), Barley Malt-Glazed Tempeh (195). I had mixed results with the recipes themselves, but most of them I found to be quite creative and flavorful. There were a few that I really didn't care for, but I imagine that everyone has different tastes. The great thing about this book is that there is really a great variety of recipes, so there something that will appeal to just about everyone. I definitely have a bunch more that I plan on making! There are some recipes that call for unfamiliar ingredients (at least to me), but I actually really enjoy trying new things. It's one of my favorite aspects of cooking. There are also a lot of flavor combinations that I never would have thought of. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking to mix-up their everyday cooking routine, wants ideas of how to cook more seasonally...or just loves delicious vegan food! (P.S. There is a bit of new-agey type stuff in this, but nothing too distracting.)

Everyday Happy Herbivore: Over 175 Quick-and-Easy Fat-Free and Low-Fat Vegan Recipes by Lindsay S. Nixon -   This cookbook has really grown on me since I first got it. At first I flipped through it and saw the lackluster photography and simple recipes and thought "meh." But then I actually tried some of the recipes. In fact, I made quite a few of them: Pineapple Sponge Cake (256), Chickpea Tenders (182), Tropical Bliss Smoothie (14), Garlicky Spinach (222), Tex-Mex Shepherd's Pie (157), Cajun Chickpea Cakes (188), Lemon Jam Biscuits (61), Rainbow Greens (235), Granola Bars (23), Butter Bean Cookies (241), and Sweet Potato Dal (114)…and I have to say, for the most part I really liked them. There were a few that were a bit "blah," but none that I really disliked. In fact, there were even a few that surprised and impressed me. I think the fat-free baking is something that I am still kind of warming up to. The baked goods I tried from the book are very different than regular ones, but none of them were inedible. :) I do eat fat, but I think that most of us probably don't have trouble getting more than enough of it. For that reason, it's nice to try recipes that are lighter, but still full of flavor. It's the kind of food that I feel good about eating. Several of the recipes are very simple, but there is a nice mix, and I even found some of the dishes that sound really simple to be quite creative and delicious. There are also lots of helpful tips sprinkled throughout, and I thought the section on making one's own Sauces & Gravies to be quite useful. It's nice to have a handy source to reach for when I need to mix up my own Cajun Seasoning, for example. Over all, I think the book has a very unintimidating and approachable feel. It's perfect for the cook with simple tastes who is craving some fast and healthful food.

Disclaimer: I received these books free from BenBella Books in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated in any other way and all thoughts expressed are my own.
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