Monday, December 15, 2014

The Forks Over Knives Plan
Review and Giveaway

This is the book you want to get that special someone, who could use a gentle nudge and some friendly day-to-day hand-holding while transitioning fully to a healthful and delicious, whole-food, plant-based diet. In The Forks Over Knives Plan, husband and wife physician team Alona Pulde and Matthew Lederman meticulously lay out a step-by-step guide to the life-saving plan featured in the groundbreaking documentary, Forks Over Knives.  

Part One explores the many benefits of adopting a whole-food, plant-based diet, and explains how and why it creates and supports vibrant health. Part Two outlines a comprehensive four-week plan and walks readers through each stage of the transition, including a pantry purge. Fear not, vegan friends, this is no slouch into vegan eating plan. This is eating healthfully and deliciously and regaining our health starting right now and being fully supported in the process. Culminating in 100 easy-to-prepare recipes by Del Sroufe and Darshana Thacker and colorful eye-appealing photos by Tina Rupp, the journey to delectable, whole-food, plant-based eating is made delightfully simple and fun! From breakfast right through to after-dinner dessert, readers are treated to taste-tempting recipes like Multigrain Pancakes with Fresh Berries, Beets and Barley Salad, Polenta Curry, and Chocolate Raspberry Parfaits. Here are just a few of the dishes I made from the wonderful recipes in The Forks Over Knives Plan:

Potato-Vegetable Chowder—Who doesn't love a great chowder? This one is seasoned with thyme and is creamy, nurturing, and delicious.

Close your eyes, and imagine you are tasting a spoonful of this wonderfully warming soup.

The Penne with Tomato-Mushroom Cream Sauce was a snap to put together and oh, so delizioso!

This hearty Lentil-Vegetable Stew really hit the spot on one of the coldest days of season so far.

Tonight, I'm going to prepare Roasted Stuffed Winter Squash, so I thought I'd share this lovely recipe with you, too. It sounds so perfectly warming, tasty, and filling on such a chilly day! The recipe is from The Forks Over Knives Plan: How to Transition to the Life-Saving, Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet by Alona Pulde, MD, and Matthew Lederman, MD copyright ©2014 by Monica Beach Enterprises, LLC. It is reprinted here with the kind permission of Touchstone, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Photo ©2014 by Tina Rupp
Roasted Stuffed Winter Squash
Winter squashes, such as acorn and butternut, can be tricky to work with because their tough skin is hard to peel. Preparing squash this way -- stuffed with a savory filling and roasted -- puts that sturdy shell to good use. The rice should be quite moist after it cooks in step 3; it provides good contrast to the squash and helps the stuffing mixture stay together without becoming chewy or dry during baking. ~ Darshana Thacker

Makes 4 stuffed squash halves

2 medium acorn squash
½ cup wild rice medley
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth, plus more as needed
½ medium red onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1½ teaspoons dried rosemary
½ cup finely chopped carrot
½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
½ cup small broccoli florets
½ cup small cauliflower florets
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt
3 tablespoons pine nuts

1. Cut each acorn squash in half through the stem. Trim the stem and remove and discard the seeds (keep the skin on).
2. Bring a large saucepan or pot of water to a boil. Add the squash halves and cook until the squash is slightly soft when pierced with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the water and drain well. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
3. Meanwhile, bring 1½ cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the wild rice medley and cook, covered, over medium heat for 25 minutes. (Alternatively, follow the cooking instructions on the rice package, using a bit more water than called for so that the rice is moist after steaming.) Remove from the heat and set aside.
4. Use a spoon to scoop out the inner edges of each cooled squash half to create a wider and deeper hollow for the stuffing; leave about half of the squash flesh attached to the peel. Reserve the scooped-out squash flesh for the stuffing. Set the squash shells aside.
5. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
6. In a skillet with a lid, combine the vegetable broth, onion, garlic powder, ginger, and rosemary. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, covered, until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Add the carrot, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, black pepper, and salt to taste, cover, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes more.
8. Add the reserved squash flesh and wild rice. Use a wooden spoon to mix the stuffing together; it should be a bit creamy. If all the liquid has dried up, add about ¼ cup broth or as much as is needed to make it slightly creamy. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Remove from the heat.
9. Arrange the acorn squash shells on a baking sheet and divide the stuffing evenly among them. Sprinkle the pine nuts on top.
10. Bake until the pine nuts are browned and the stuffing is heated through, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for a few minutes before serving. Serve hot.
Congratulations to everyone involved with the creation of The Forks Over Knives Plan, which was recently chosen as an Apple Best of 2014 selection!

The best review I've read for this book appears on The Forks Over Knives Plan Amazon page. Reader Lani Muelrath writes: "The new Forks Over Knives book is like a visit with the kind plant-based doctor you wish you had. The doctor who is keenly interested in your health and well-being, assumes you actually ARE interested in taking practical steps – instead of pills – to be healthier. The doctor who believes you do have the drive to make better choices. The doctor who appeals to and honors your intelligence about it all." And in the words of T. Colin Campbell, PhD, author of The China Study, The Forks Over Knives Plan is "a smart, user-friendly 'how-to' book on using whole, plant-based foods." Enter now to win a copy for yourself or someone you love by leaving a comment below, and then follow the Rafflecopter prompt to complete your entry.* Earn additional entries by following any of the other prompts in the Rafflecopter box. Good luck! 

*Sorry international friends, this giveaway is open only to U.S. residents.  

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Vegan Casseroles
Review and Giveaway

A truly great cookbook is filled with easy-to-follow recipes that ensure perfect results every time, while at the same time inspiring home cooks to experiment, explore, and elaborate. Julie Hasson's terrific new book, Vegan Casseroles, is that and more.

Aside from the occasional holiday noodle kugel I enjoyed at my grandmother's house, I don't think I ever ate anything resembling a casserole as a kid. I know my mom never made one. (Not even with the help of Hamburger Helper.) So the word 'casserole' intimidated me. I thought it was some kind of fancy-schmancy style of cooking, rather than the simple, hearty fare that it is.

Because I never thought of a lasagna as a casserole, it was one of the very first one-dish meals I ever endeavored to make. Since making a lasagna for the first time can be an intimidating cooking endeavor (it was for me!), this only added to my trepidation concerning the mysterious "casserole." After years of trial and error, I came to believe that my "famous" Spinach Lasagna was as close to culinary perfection as a home cook could get. But Julie's Zucchini Basil Lasagna is over-the-top delicious and one-up on my recipe! It is not only sublimely delicious, it also comes together in a snap! For a hint of "meatiness," I added neat Italian Mix to the zucchini filling and perhaps a bit extravagantly, I also melted some Daiya Mozzarella Shreds over the top. I have since made this dish without the additions, and even though I'm not a huge zucchini fan, it was super yummy.

Take a perfect golden cornbread recipe and a deliciously smoky sloppy Joe recipe,  and voila! you get Julie's scrumptious Sloppy Joe Cornbread Casserole. Instead of TVP, I used neat Original Mix made with pecans, garbanzo beans, gluten-free grains and spices. It's a wonderful, gluten- and soy-free alternative to textured vegetable protein. This dish is as down-home, comforting, and nurturing as any meal I've ever enjoyed. And it was even more delectable reheated for lunch the next day!

After not consuming any sweets for more than three weeks, the recipe for Cranberry Apple Crumble was calling to me. And WOW! was it ever-so-yummy right out of the oven! The intoxicating aroma that spread throughout my house in waves of heavenly bliss beckoned me to taste that first forkful of deliciousness. It was worth the wait! And while it would have been amazing topped with a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream, this dessert was sublime all on its own.

The next recipe I'm going to sink my teeth into is Mujadara, an ancient Arabic dish made with rice, onions, and lentils. (The earliest recorded Mujadara recipe dates back to the year 1226.) I'm sharing Julie's Mujadara casserole here, so you can make it, too! The tantalizing recipe from Vegan Casseroles © 2014 by Julie Hasson is reprinted here with the kind permission of Running Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group.
Photo ©2014 Felicia Perretti
Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow or sweet onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
½ teaspoon sea salt
¾ cup brown lentils
¾ cup uncooked brown or white basmati rice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups steaming-hot vegetable broth, or 4 cups steaming-hot water with 1 to 11/2 tablespoons vegan chicken base, such as Better Than Bouillon, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Minced fresh parsley, for garnish

Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sprinkle with the salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring as needed. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes, or until the onions are a deep brown color.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.

Scoop the caramelized onions into the prepared baking dish. Stir in the lentils, rice, cumin, and hot vegetable broth. Cover the baking dish tightly with a double layer of aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour, if using white basmati rice, or 75 minutes if using brown basmati rice, until the rice and lentils are tender and have absorbed all of the liquid. Add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with minced parsley.
If you'd like to create flavorful, one-dish-wonderful meals you'll want to enjoy over and over again, get yourself a copy of Vegan Casseroles!  And if you'd like to win a copy for yourself or someone on your gift list, simply leave a comment below telling me about your memory of the first casserole you've ever eaten, and then follow the comment prompt in the Rafflecopter box. (This step is mandatory for entry.) After you leave a comment, you can earn additional entries by following any or all of the other Rafflecopter options. I'll be selecting one lucky winner at random.* Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Sorry international friends, this giveaway is open only to U.S. residents.