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At Home In the Whole Food Kitchen

Stunning Visuals, Great Vegetarian Recipes

While vegetarian cookbooks bring to mind 1970’s era books with black and white hand-drawn illustrations of children eating wheat germ cookies, this era has passed.  I have noticed a recent emphasis on form as well as substance, and Amy Chaplin’s “at home in the whole food kitchen” is a great example of this trend. 

The first thing that grabbed me was the visuals – stunning food photography, heavy paper, clean lines and lots of white space.  I was hooked before I realized that the recipes are all vegetarian and mostly vegan.  Colours leap off the page in pictures of Shaved Fennel Beet Salad with Blood Oranges and Crushed Hazelnuts; Concord Grape Lime Infusion; and Roasted Fig Raspberry Tart with Toasted Almond Crust. 

This is more than just pretty pictures.  The book contains a great deal of information about the whole foods promoted within.  I learned about soaking foods to neutralize the phytic acid, a natural substance found in whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds which interferes with the absorption of minerals such as zinc, magnesium, iron and calcium.  Soaking makes these foods more nutritious and aids in digestion. 

The recipes are not same old, same old.  I am interested to try Dill Roasted Plum Tomato Tart with Pine Nut Crust and Millet, Squash and Sweet Corn Pilaf with Tamari-Toasted Pumpkin Seeds.  I will eat my vegetables with Herbed Spelt Berry Salad with Peas and Feta; Vegan White Bean Artichoke Aioli; and Roasted Red Pepper Macadamia Pate. 

Amy Chaplin was a long-time executive chef and is now a private chef in New York.  She knows her way around a kitchen.  These recipes have big flavour.  You may be alarmed by the amount of aromatics (onion, garlic, leeks) but do not cut back.  Fair warning though, many of the recipes take planning to execute and can be time-consuming. 

I made the Roasted Fall Vegetable Cannellini Bean Stew, which was hearty and filling but was very thick and worked better in rotis the next day.  I also tried Beet Chickpea Cakes with Tzatziki – slightly sweet from the beets but mainly savoury and garlicky, this was an easy and delicious dinner served in mini-pitas.  Last I tried Almond Butter Brownies with Sea Salt.  Dates, almond butter, maple syrup and cocoa added great flavour and made these brownies into a healthy treat.    

The upshot is, I really liked this book and I will use it, for the soups, salads and even the vegetarian mains that I am trying to work into the rotation of family meals.  While I’m not quite ready for chia seed porridge, this is a great inspiration to increase anyone’s uptake of delicious and nutritious whole foods.