Product Review: 1,001 Low-Fat Vegetarian Recipes, Fourth Edition, by Sue Spitler, Agate Surrey (Note: they are not paying me or anything for this…I just really like this book and thought Id share!)
Although I am more of a fly by the seat of pants kind of cook, I do like the occasional recipe. Trying to find a cookbook that I like is often a challenge; I am not just a vegetarian but I am a weight-loss maintainer as well. Many vegetarian books are not weight-conscious and use copious amounts of cheese or milk or oils to make things taste good (and do not include nutrition information). I have no problem with cheese or oils but I am not one of the lucky ones that can eat them at every meal and not watch the scale creep up like the yodeler from The Price Is Right ‘Cliff Hanger’.
First, the “low fat” title is a little misguided in a good way. Their recipes are just generally healthier, and not full of high fat foods. Mostly, they just choose ingredients that are naturally lower in fat. The fats that they do use are the good kind (avocado, olive oil, walnuts). They do specify reduced fat cheese, reduced fat peanut butter, etc. However, if that’s not your thing, you can easily use the full fat version. Low fat diets are NOT good for you and healthy fats should be a part of your diet. The book follows that rule more than anything.
Second, they don’t use weird ingredients that I have to travel to a remote village in South America to find. Most of the ingredients are things I normally buy. If it is a different spice or vegetable, it’s easily found at the local grocery store.
Third, it’s a good mix of proteins. I am not a big fake-meat eater, so I don’t like cookbooks that use tvp or fake-chicken strips for every single recipe. I don’t mind the occasional fake burger crumble recipe, but I prefer less processed protein sources. Also, some people watch their soy intake and don’t want every recipe to include tofu. This book has a good mix of bean, tofu, tempeh, grain, and other protein rich recipes, even within the different categories (salads, entrees, side dishes, etc).
Fourth, the recipes are easy and quite flexible. I’ve used orange juice instead of lemon, tempeh instead of tofu, left out ingredients I just didn’t have, used almond milk instead of regular, dried herbs instead of fresh, and threw jalapenos in everything. I have yet to screw any of these recipes up. They are definitely easy to add your own touches to and not worry that it won’t come out great.
There are two things I don’t like about it-one, most of the servings are for 4-6 people. I can let it go because most cookbooks are, and I’ve halved every recipe I made without affecting the taste of any of them. The second thing is that there are no pictures. I am a big believer in picture-cookbooks so I know what I’m getting myself into. I do realize that in a book with 1001 recipes, this would be difficult (especially since some of them are dressings or sauces). So, I can forgive.
I think this cookbook would be a great addition to any household. For meat eaters, this is a great way to try a few veggie recipes without having to buy all new ingredients and being completely out of your comfort zone. For weight-conscious, it’s a great way to get out of the grilled chicken-steamed-veggies rut and the nutrition facts are right there. For the vegetarian (especially the new veggies), using a few of these recipes will help you not fall into the mac-and-cheese or pizza diet that is so easy to get trapped in.
This just goes to show you can’t judge a book by its (low-fat) cover. I emailed the publisher to tell them how much I liked their book, and I’ve been given permission to post a few recipes here! I’m quite excited to show that the recipes are really everything I say they are. Be on the lookout for one tomorrow!