Vegan Planet

Books, Food, Healthy eating, Wellness / Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Every now and then on the blog, I’ll recommend a new book that I think is worth reading.

This week I’m reviewing Vegan Planet by chef Robin Robertson. I’ve owned this book for a few years now, after being introduced to it through friends in Portland, Oregon, and I absolutely love it! Every single one of the recipes I try is delicious.

The book features 400 recipes from around the world. Even the names are mouthwatering – Blushing Guacamole, Pumpkin Pie Pancakes, Sweet Potato and Peanut Curry. Since reading it, I’ve come to realise that vegan food is some of the tastiest fare in the world (much nicer than vegetarian, if I’m honest). The lack of meat or dairy products means that the flavours have to come from elsewhere and are usually far denser and fresher for it. Herbs, spices and unusual ingredients more than compensate for the lack of animal products, and make your palate sit up and take notice as if you’re new to eating again.

Bear in mind though this is an American book, so some of the ingredients aren’t as popular or easy to come by here, such as stevia or seitan, and the measuring units are in cups, but to me that all adds to the enjoyment and adventure. All in all, this book is an education. It teaches you about basic nutrition, food preparation, politics and human biology. If you’re vegan, vegetarian – or even a meat-eater – you won’t be disappointed.

Robin also has a website, and you can tweet her here @globalvegan.

Here are two sample recipes from Vegan Planet. I hope you enjoy them!

Belgian-Style Seitan Stew with Dark Beer

This adaptation of the hearty Belgian stew known as Carbonnade a la Flamande is made with seitan which absorbs all the flavours of the rich sauce. Serve over noodles and wash it down with more of the beer that was used in the stew.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound seitan, cut into thin strips
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar (or a natural sweetener)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dark beer
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the seitan and cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

2. Heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, cover and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes.

3. Stir in the sugar and cook uncovered until onions are caramelised, stirring frequently, about 10 more minutes.

4. Add the flour and stir 1 to 2 minutes to cook out the raw taste. Stir in the beer, molasses, mustard, vinegar, thyme, and bay leaf. Add the stock and salt and pepper to taste and simmer until the sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes.

5. Add the reserved seitan and simmer until the flavors are blended, about 10 minutes longer. Remove the bay leaf and taste to adjust seasonings.

Serves 4

Cranberry-Walnut Oatmeal Cookies

Bejeweled with bits of cranberry and studded with walnuts, these tempting oatmeal cookies will disappear before you know it. Other dried fruits and nuts may be substituted if you prefer.

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup corn oil
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar or natural sweetener
  • Egg replacer for 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup soy milk or other dairy-free milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

3. Lightly oil two baking sheets. In a large bowl, combine the oil, sugar, egg replacement mixture, soy milk, and vanilla, mixing until blended. Add the reserved dry ingredients along with the oats, cranberries, and walnuts and stir until well mixed. Drop by the spoonful onto the prepared baking sheets.

5. Bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Makes about 30 cookies

vegan planet

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