Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook

veganomiconVeganomicon, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero (Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule, Vegan with a Vengeance : Over 150 Delicious, Cheap, Animal-Free Recipes That Rock) may be the perfect all-purpose vegan cookbook: not only does it contain a wide selection of vegan comfort foods (hummus, numerous baked, marinated, and curried tofu and seitan recipes, mac and cheeze), but it also incorporates many low-fat, soy-free, and gluten-free vegan recipes (great for those of us like me who are allergic to soy, avoid gluten, and are on a low-fat diet).

If you’re looking to move beyond bland tofu, Veganomicon offers international recipes from the Middle East (curried carrot dip, Mediterranean-style cashew-cucumber dip, lentil salad, chickpea-quinoa pilaf, lentils and rice with caramelized onions and spiced pita crisps), India (saag, samosa, red lentil cauliflower curry), Italy (risottos, polenta, pastas), Greek (moussaka, phyllo pie, baked lima beans), Asian (nori rolls, stir fries), and Latin recipes(mole, chili, quinoa salad with black beans and mango). To round out the list, there are numerous breakfast ideas, breads, desserts, dressings, sauces, and even sample menus to get you started.

The writing style is hip, funny, down to earth, and most importantly, easy to follow. There are several great guides to varieties of grains, legumes, and veggies, cooking instructions, and cooking and prepping guides. There is a liberal sprinkling of Jewish humor throughout, which I appreciated. In addition, there are numerous updates of Jewish comfort foods such as cholent, tzimmes kugel, latkes, blintzes, borscht, and kasha (trust me, finding dependable, delicious updates of vegan Jewish recipes is not always easy; try Rabbi Gil Marks’ Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World if you’re looking for a year’s worth of Jewish vegetarian delights from around the globe).

My only gripe would be that there is no nutritional info, and the “low-fat” flag is based on a recipe containing two tablespoons of oil or less. However, for anyone following a very-low-fat diet such as the Eat More, Weigh Less: Dr. Dean Ornish’s Life Choice Program for Losing Weight Safely While Eating Abundantly (10% of calories from fat, no oils, nuts, olives or avocados), two tablespoons is two too much, but it’s a minor observation.

Overall, this is a great addition to your kitchen, especially if you’re new to veganism and are longing to move beyond the blah processed vegan foods out there. Many of the recipes are time-consuming, but the end result justifies the means. Also, the authors have thoughtfully flagged recipes that call for hard-to-find items.

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