books

Book Rec: This Cheese is Nuts

This Cheese Is Nuts By Julie Piatt Plant Based For Me

Happy Holidays! We kicked off the season-of-stuffing-your-face at my house with our annual Harvest Fest potluck. It's a tradition that my old roommate and I started nine years ago. I took this opportunity to make two recipes from the book This Cheese is Nuts. It's a vegan cookbook with recipes for everything from cream cheese to aged hard cheeses. I made the Provolone and the Cashew Cheddar. Since I was crunched for time I did not store them in the fridge overnight (if you want them to truly harden this is necessary), but otherwise I followed the recipes. You just soak cashews overnight, dump the ingredients into a serious blender (I like my refurbished Blendtec), mix until smooth, then heat on the stove top for about two minutes until it thickens. You can serve them hot, keep them in the fridge overnight, or place them in the freezer for three hours like I did.  

I wouldn't call them cheese, but they are delicious spreads. I might be biased because I am excited about the general idea of homemade vegan cheese so I asked my husband for his opinion. He liked the provolone one better (it might be because of the white truffle oil), but overall he said he didn't like them enough to seek them out again. 

Fast forward a few days... I made the Botiija Olive Rosemary Cheese Spread for a work party.  It was a flavor explosion. A++. However, I did not follow the recipe exactly because I could only find dried botija olives so I added two extra olives plus a tiny bit of water until the consistency was right.  Someone mentioned that it would be a really good stuffed mushroom filling. 

Next up on my list are the Mozzarella and the Cream Cheese. I will update this post once I have made and eaten them. Oh, the things I do for you guys!  

I'm going to be straight with you. This Cheese is Nuts has proven to be a delicious and welcome new take on non-dairy cheese, but there are barriers to entry when it comes to executing the recipes.

The first one is money. Most of the recipes require a hardcore blender (i.e. a Blendtec or Vitamix) which are not cheap. I bought mine refurbished from Blendtec so it was about half of the original retail price. A good portion of the recipes also require a dehydrator. It looks like you can get one for about sixty bucks on Amazon.  

The second barrier is ingredients. You can definitely buy things like agar powder (gelatin substitute) and botija olives online, but not a lot of grocery stores carry them. You have to love cooking and be a bit adventurous to make some of these recipes. 

Overall, the cookbook is groundbreaking in a lot of ways and it could significantly help improve non-dairy cheese options. I think the next few cookbooks that are less intimidating and more approachable on the same topic will probably become very popular and widely used. 

If you're not feeling up to the task of making your own "cheese" do not hesitate to try the Kite Hill or Follow Your Heart non-dairy cheeses which are available in a lot of grocery stores. (This is not a paid endorsement!) 

hit me up with your questions about non-dairy cheese! nom nom nom. subscribe here.   

Cookbook Rec: Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen

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Chloe seems like a sweetheart and I appreciate the trailblazing she did to bring fun, approachable vegan food to the masses. She partnered with a hospitality group to open a chain of vegan restaurants (picture "fast casual" with cute branding), but things went south (drama) and she exited the business in the past year. I have a feeling this isn't the last we will hear from her. I mean, I hope not considering she isn't even 30 years old yet. 

I liked this cookbook because it would be useful for someone who lacks variety in their veggie cooking. Chloe will teach you a few new ways to eat staples like avocado, cauliflower, and sweet potato (Italian-style). The simplicity of the recipes is appreciated, but in some ways it felt like they could have been jazzed up a bit. Maybe my expectations are too high. In other words, I think this could be a good cookbook for you, but it isn't my number one favorite. Maybe she will change my mind as I continue to try more of the recipes.  

Here are the recipes I made from the book: 

Butternut Bruschetta with Caramelized Onions- A little awkward to eat with your hands, but tasty. Probably won't make it again.

Smashed Avocado and Roasted Beet Crostini- Delish. I will make it again because it's a "throw it together" kind of recipe. 

Lemonade Cauliflower- I will make it again. Cauliflower roasted with pure maple syrup and fresh lemon juice/zest.

Bowties in Garlic Cream Sauce (with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Mushrooms)- Tasty. It proves that you can make creamy pasta sauce without cream. Not sure if I would make it again.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins- I will probably make them 30 more times before I die. She won Cupcake Wars with a vegan cupcake so she definitely knows her way around a baked good.

Pesto Mac 'N' Cheese- I liked this one better than the Bowties in Garlic Cream Sauce. Is it exactly like the Kraft mac 'n' cheese you grew up with? No, but it's delish. My recommendation is to make half the cheese sauce for one box of elbow pasta. 

You can purchase your own copy of Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen here. 

Book Rec: Skin Cleanse: The Simple, All-Natural Program for Clear, Calm, Happy Skin

Book author Adina Grigore. #glowing

Book author Adina Grigore. #glowing

I read a lot of magazines growing up and that includes a few beauty articles that promised candy and pizza were not to blame for crappy skin. That's BS and we all know it. Adina Grigore is more than qualified to tell you what's what about beauty products and eating habits. She has sensitive skin, a background in nutrition, and is the founder of an all-natural skincare line (the face cleanser is literally three ingredients).

Adina's writing style and advice is straight forward like the kind you get from a friend who only tells you the truth. She tries to balance it out with the occasional joke. After delivering news that might upset some readers she starts the next paragraph by writing that she realizes "you might have just thrown the book across the room and left it there for a week." I did not throw the book myself, but I was on an airplane at the time. 

I definitely recommend her new book for the nutritional guidance, revealing information about beauty industry standards, and simple DIY beauty recipes. Plus, she loves and highly recommends eating plants! 

Her book is available at all major retailers. 

Get started on your path to happy skin by following the free journey on Plant Based For Me.

Cookbook Rec: Nom Yourself

Mary Mattern, author of "Nom Yourself"

Mary Mattern, author of "Nom Yourself"

Recipes are useless if you can't trust the author. A few years ago I made a cake with a recipe from a popular website and I realized that the author had forgotten to add sugar to the list of ingredients before putting the cake in the oven. Crisis averted! 

I have not had any issues with the recipes created by Mary Mattern for her book "Nom Yourself: Simple Vegan Cooking". I completely trust her and I love how laid back her instructions are. It fits my cooking style which is one cup of Julia Child plus two teaspoons of Amelia Bedelia.

I made the Cannellini Caprese Crostini for dinner this past week. Loved it.   

I made the Cannellini Caprese Crostini for dinner this past week. Loved it.   

The book includes recipes for a wide range of dishes from breakfast to dessert along with some short anecdotes (Jeremy Piven likes her quinoa recipe! HA!). I've made ten of her recipes so far. The most surprising was the chocolate pudding made with avocado. The fresh orange juice and the cacao cover the taste of the avocado which just leaves you with the creamy consistency from the avocado. Voila- healthy chocolate pudding! 

There are two recipes that are crowd favorites (my fiancé and our guests love them): the Balsamic Garlic Portobello Chop with Chive Mashed Potatoes & Zucchini and the Pear Kale Slaw. I can't gush about her cookbook enough. She has me feeling all "Make Vegetables Great Again." The secret is that vegetables were always great, but some people just didn't know it. 

"Nom Yourself: Simple Vegan Cooking" is currently available at all major retailers.

Remember, you deserve to be happy, healthy, and energetic. 

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Book Rec: Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ

I won't lie to you... There are some gross parts in this book, but it won't be anything you haven't encountered before unless you are rich enough to employ a butler who wipes your bum for you. That ain't me babe. I've done all of the work myself. Author Guilia Enders is a PhD student in Gastroenterology and she manages to keep the subject light enough that I giggled a few times while learning about the cutting edge science research on how we process and react to food in the body. Think of it as a supplemental users guide to the gut. If you own one you aren't required to read this, but it will definitely help!