Note: In 2011, the author published Piece of My Heart, which has since been wrapped up in this book.
This book is a unique mix of recipes, nutritional information, and a brief look at industrialized foods. The author lived two decades as a vegetarian/vegan before modifying her diet to include some animal-based foods. Trained as a chef and having spent considerable time educating herself on human nutritional needs, her knowledge comes through in a clear, organized manner in this book.
The author starts off by acknowledging that the choices we make in what we eat are deeply personal. She doesn’t tell one what to eat in this book, but presents plenty of information for those curious about what they are eating and where it comes from. For those that have read The Omnivore’s Dilemma or In Defense of Food, both authored by Michael Pollan, this book would make an excellent companion book because of its recipes and additional voice concerning nutritional eating.
I enjoyed the author’s personal story about her transition from vegetarian to vegan to veganish – allowing some carefully selected animal-based products in to her diet. Even more so, I enjoyed the sections that explained why preparing certain foods certain ways brings out more nutrition. For instance, I knew so little about cooking/baking with nuts before listening to this book. Now, I am tempted to try making my own fresh nut milk at home. Also, I didn’t realize that mincing certain herbs really does release more of their flavor and nutrients into whatever dish you are making – I tend to chop my herbs big but now I think I will take the extra time to mince.
There were several foods that I was not familiar with, and this excited me because I do enjoy exploring food. One example is the sea plant kombu which is an edible kelp. This book suggests using it in cooking beans to assist in reducing the often resultant flatulence and to increase the nutrient value of the bean dish. Just on a side note: I couldn’t figure out how to spell kombu and contacted the author via her website. She swiftly got back to me with the info! Awesome!
This book is definitely worth listening to again or purchasing a visual copy. I especially liked the variations in recipes; often a vegan or vegetarian version would be given followed by an omnivore’s version. Plus, some sections, such as the dressings, one could learn the basics and then modify to accommodate tastes or what is in season. Excellent addition to the cookbook shelf!
Narration: Tiffany Williams did another great job with this audiobook (she also narrated The Cast Iron Cookbook). This is the 4th cookbook I have listened to narrated by her. In this book, since there were sections that were more conversational, we had more of her voice. Her enthusiasm for the subject comes through. She maintains a clear, steady voice for the recipes, paced evenly so that one could follow the recipe while they cook.