Tag Archives: review

Appetite for Reduction: A Review

I feel so refreshed. Rejuvenated. Reassured.

Like I’m running through fields of daisies on a sunny, blue-skied summer day.

errr….what? Okay, so maybe that’s a little bit dramatic. But really, as soon as I read the first two pages of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s new book, Appetite for Reduction, I just about took a huge sigh of relief.

As you may recall, my last cookbook purchase left me, to put it lightly, underwhelmed. I didn’t waste very long jumping on my computer and finding one to soothe my disgruntled feelings towards said book, and I knew Isa would have something for me. Truth be told, I don’t know why I didn’t just get it from the get-go, because when I saw the same author of my beloved Veganomicon had an even newer book out that had previously slipped under my radar, I was jumping in my seat with excitement.

I realize I could have been playing with fire; after all, Skinny Bitch was a “diety” type book, and here I was buying Appetite for Reduction – “125 Fast and Filling Low-Fat Vegan Recipes.” What am I trying to do here, watch my weight?!

Well, no. But I usually appreciate a health conscious book, and had faith that Isa (first-name basis) would have a much better attitude about it than Skinny Bitch. After all, this is the spunky, funny author from Veganomicon, you know.

Reading the preface, I knew I made the right decision. You can see for yourself – Isa isn’t pushing beliefs on anybody…

…and rather, being healthy to “enjoy food, enjoy life, and do what makes you feel good.” These recipes are not restrictions. They are not “diety.” And the message is not that you need to be skinny to be healthy. It is that different things work for different people, and everybody has her choice. And this just so happens to be what works for her, and boy am I glad…because the recipes she shares in this book?


I couldn’t find a single uninteresting recipe, and even though the vegan mastermind has written multiple books in the past, myself already owning two of them, I don’t feel like I’ve “seen them before.” There are classics. There are funky twists on classics. There are new creations and there are comfort foods. And they are good for you.

The feeling I get is that Isa isn’t necessarily trying to make these meals low-fat…but rather, realizing that excess oil, sugar and unrefined carbs are easily replaced – and so, if it’s a benefit to all involved and there is absolutely no loss in the final dish, why not “lighten up”?

It was difficult for me to narrow it down to a single recipe to make, but reading Isa’s explanation of each dish helped. For this Tempeh Helper recipe, she shared her nostalgic memories of Hamburger Helper as a child, and it flashed me back to being younger and helping with boxed dinners, too. With those memories in mind, I knew what I wanted for dinner.

Tempeh Helper! Creamy, “cheesy,” “hamburger”-y deliciousness.

…except, I imagine this to be way “more better,” as they say in these parts. Mo’ betta’ if you’re like me.

This recipe incorporated tempeh as the hamburg, and a nooch sauce as the cheesey sauce. The nooch sauce was way mo’ betta’ than the sketchy plasticy, yellow cheese that you get from hamburger helper, and of course the tempeh was much more animal friendly than some ground beef 😉 Not to mention the fact that there are fresh vegetables rather than freeze dried.

What I love most about this book? There is no calling for random, specific ingredients that one would rarely have, or random pre-made ingredients that you’d rather make yourself. This cheese sauce consisted of nutritional yeast (okay, now that I think about it, maybe that is a random ingredient…but I think a lot of vegans are at least in the know of it!) garlic powder, flour, water and a couple other seasonings.

Nowhere in the book was there call for vegan mayonnaise, but if you’d like to make your own, there is a recipe.

I can’t find a recipe calling for vegan cheese,

and nor can I find a recipe calling for vegan cream cheese.


When all was said and done, this was a delicious meal, and even my mom liked it. I don’t think she knows what tempeh or nutritional yeast is no matter  how many times I tell her, but sometimes ignorance is best.

After all, it’s only after I’m asked what tempeh is that I’ll say it’s fermented soybeans. If we’re taught all our life to avoid fermented products, how’s it look to someone else when I say I’m eating fermented soybeans?

But that’s irrelevant. Back to the matter at hand.

I can’t sing enough praise for Isa’s Appetite for Reduction, and believe it may be my new favorite. But still, to be fair, I’ll pick it apart in pros and cons, just like I did for Skinny Bitch.


  • Wide array of recipes, each feeling like they’re adding something to the pot. You won’t find recipes that have been published a thousand times before.
  • No calling for random, ridiculously expensive or hard to find ingredients.
  • No reliance on products like vegan cheese, vegan meat (except homemade seitan), vegennaise, tofutti, etc.
  • Majority are easy and quick to prepare.
  • Nutritional information, which could be a con for some people, I understand. However, the cool thing is that you aren’t just told calories, protein, fat, sodium, etc. This book also includes iron, vitamin c and other vitamins and minerals, too!
  • Inexpensive. And most of the recipes are, too!


  • Show nutritional information for each recipe (see above)
  • No dessert/snack/breakfast recipes, which isn’t too terribly unappealing to me seeing as how I’ve got plenty of other resources and not to mention the fact this is the same woman who authored Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar and VCTOW, but a healthy snack recipe or two are never overlooked in my book 😉
  • With 125 recipes, there’s 125 new recipes I want to make now, so it’ll take me a year to get around to making everything. (As you can tell, I’m really grasping at straws to find more cons here…)

Do you own this book? If so, what should I make next?!

What’s a childhood meal you remember helping to make?


Filed under review, Uncategorized

I’m Blue (Daba de Daba Di)

It wasn’t a conscious decision on my part…but the theme of the day was blue.

It started with moldy blueberry pancakes…

…packing a blueberry muffin Larabar…

…and then realized my blueberry-filled morning matched my blue hoodie…

…and by the end of the day, I felt like my hands, lips and toes were blue, too!

…Luckily, it just felt that way…which is sort of ironic to say because usually, with any luck, they won’t feel blue, either!

Anyways. You’re probably still confused by the “moldy pancake” mention, so I’ll enlighten you.

They’re buckwheat! Poor buckwheat has been getting neglected on my pantry shelf. And if I’m being completely real with you all, it’s because I wasn’t sure how well the flavor of buckwheat would go with a nut butter, and I don’t like passing on the peanut/almond/cashew butter in the morning.

There, I said it. I base the flavors of my breakfast off of how well I think the nut butter I have in mind will meld with it.

Finally I decided it couldn’t be that bad with some almond butter, and did it up with some blueberry buckwheat pancakes. I am ashamed to admit that I’d sort of forgotten about my love for buckwheat until I was organizing my recipe pages yesterday, and remembered my banana bread buckwheat waffles.

I decided to give blueberries a shot, as I don’t recall ever having them paired with buckwheat, but still topped it with half a grilled banana, almond butter and maple syrup. Real Vermont maple syrup, thank you. As you can see, we take our maple seriously. And you guys always thought I was joking about it.

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes

1 serving

  • 1/4 c. buckwheat flour
  • 2 T. oat bran
  • 1 T. wheat germ (optional)
  • 1/2 – 1 t. baking powder (to be honest I never measure)
  • 1/4 c. + 2 T. almond milk
  • 2 t. chia seeds mixed with 1 1/2 T. water and allowed to “gel”
  • 1/4 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
  • earth balance or butter, for frying
  • toppings, such as: maple syrup, almond butter, banana

Preheat a non-stick pan over medium heat.  Combine the dry ingredients. Mix in the almond milk and chia egg. Fold in the blueberries.

Grease the pan with a light layer of butter before spooning the batter in two portions onto it. Cook until the sides look like they are beginning to set, and then flip and cook about 3 more minutes on that side.

Top with almond butter, maple syrup and a grilled banana or more blueberries.

Ohhh, buckwheat – how could I neglect you all these weeks?

As for the new Larabar flavor that this sweet & charming young lady hooked me up with?

Well, I’m actually pretty surprised I broke into it right away. Usually things like this I hold onto because I can’t find them, so I have this warped sense of “but I need to cherish it!” similar to how all of our grandparents hold on to every. last. thing. due to the Great Depression.

Or something like that.

But no. There was no waiting. I was too excited. Ironically, I wasn’t even hungry for a snack today but since I’d opened it before leaving home I wanted to at least have a bit of it! So I did, and saved the other half for dessert.

Now. You’d be hard-pressed to find me a Larabar I dislike. Sure, I have my preferred flavors and all – but with how simple they are and given the fact that they’re date and nut based, I can’t say I hate any of them. Not even a little bit.

This blueberry muffin flavor was no exception. But! As with most things in life (gosh darn it!) there is room for improvement. Larabar, I would enjoy a. a stronger blueberry flavor, and b. a little lemon zest. I feel these things will bring your blueberry muffin Larabar to an entirely new level altogether.

Unfortunately, things like this tend to be easier said than done, and here’s where everyone at Larabar is throwing up their arms and asking me if I want to start making them. In which case the answer is surely!

Have you ever tried buckwheat before?

What’s your favorite Larabar flavor?

(and as for putting this song in your head after reading the title of this post? you’re welcome. don’t hate me. please?)


Filed under almond butter, banana, breakfast, buckwheat, cooking, foodblog, health, health food, healthy living, lunch, nut butter, pancakes, recipe, review, vegan

Skinny Bitch: A Review

Another prime snow-day activity?

Why, book reading, of course! …except, for me, that means cookbook reading. I should probably work on expanding my book-reading – my real book reading – but I find a new cookbook so exciting to read through!

most times.

This new book arrived just in time for the snowday. Prior to purchasing, I was apprehensive. Not because the title Skinny Bitch offended me, but because I was afraid that something bearing such a title would be too diet-y. Although I will say – the title certainly wasn’t inviting. I was never part of the “calling-my-best-friends-bitches” craze. I just don’t get it. Call me old fashioned, but if I’m calling someone a bitch they did something that damn well deserves it, not just some random woman on the street.

But I digress. For now. According to Amazon, Skinny Bitch

features seasonal produce (no fake meat or hard-to-find ingredients) and provides a versatility of tastes and cuisines, from Mediterranean to California-fresh. With almost 150 recipes, full-color photos, complete nutritional breakdowns, and simple “switch-outs” for quick variations, it will be the new “gotta have” on any healthy bitch’s bookshelf.Whether readers are looking to gradually add more meatless dishes to their meals, or want to go “all-out” vegan, Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook will be their “go-to” source for getting their “bitch” on—in the kitchen.

Bold, no? I actually stewed over purchasing this book for a couple of days – which should have been my first signal to just get a different one. But I kept coming back to that “no fake meats or hard to find ingredients” portion as well as the fact that in general, the reviews were pretty positive.

I’m not that impressed. Sorry. (but not really)

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I hate this book. But lets say this: I don’t often receive a new cookbook – scratch that, I’ve never received a cookbook – that I didn’t immediately want to make at least one thing in.

Nothing in this book immediately jumped out at me. Yes, it has some great recipes, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t intended to be an all-out bashing, because I don’t think it’s really terrible by any means. I was reminded that I ought to make Sloppy Joes and pizza soon. There’s some handy dressing recipes. But when I flipped the last page in the main dishes section, I had this feeling of “it’s done?”

And then there’s the title situation again, and calling people bitches. Barnouin actually goes into describing the title right off the bat, which I appreciated, but it still left me wondering why everyone uses bitch as a term of endearment these days. Honestly, this is probably not a big deal to everyone – I’m just not so outspoken in my ways that I feel “I’m right, you’re wrong, and I’ll tell you that, too.” so when other people are that way, I’m a little taken aback. I tend to go about life with the opinion that people should be able to eat, drink, sleep and do what they want, rather than be told what or how to do things.

The book does offer useful information in the beginning of the book, with information on fats, oils, fruits, vegetables, seasonal eating and organically purchasing food. The book also has a wonderful layout and is very aesthetically appealing – probably the “prettiest” book on my shelf – both the photos and the design.

But with that, also comes the fact that I don’t consider the claim of no fake meats or hard-to-find ingredients to be entirely true.

Have I ever mentioned that I’m not big on “fake” products – meats, cheeses, mayonnaise, etc? I’m not. I mean, I’ve got nothing against them, I suppose – but I’d rather not try to make food something it’s not. I’m fine without cheese and meat, so I’m fine without recipes calling for fake meat and fake cheese. There’s no denying the fact that whether you’re vegan or you can’t have dairy, these products do sometimes come in handy. There’s also no denying the fact that when a craving hits, it hits hard – and sometimes you want some damn cheese. I do too! And that’s when “fake” cheese is handy. But when the majority of the recipes in the book call for some sort of fake cheese, vegennaise, “Match” meat, Earth Balance or otherwise – I’m not impressed. Not only is there a little bit too much product placement for my liking (it’s nearly a walking billboard for Match meats, Vegennaise and Earth Balance) there’s also entirely too much reliance on these products in my opinion.

Ways around this? Well – teach me how to make cashew cheese! Teach me how to make seitan! Teach me how to make my own Vegennaise, or have me use silken tofu instead! And not only that – but I’ve never even heard of Match meats, I probably don’t want to try them and having more than one recipe involving them is too many.

Overall, I sort of feel like this book, while valuable in some aspects, comes across as a little too bold. I don’t like people thinking I’m (almost) vegan because I want to be skinny – because that’s not the case. I want to be healthy, at my healthy weight – not my skinny weight. Unfortunately, I think that at least in my area, there are entirely too many stereotypes around being vegetarian or vegan. Like we’re doing it for vanity – when really, the reasons are anything but. I wish wish wish this stereotyping could be eradicated – but lets put it this way…what would someone think if I told them I got the recipe from Skinny Bitch? Would they think I want to be skinny, or would they think I want to be healthy? Nor do I want people to think that I have this elitist attitude solely based on how I eat or look.

Long story short…


  • useful information in the beginning – chapters on pantry staples, organic produce, why buy organic, info on oils, supples, etc.
  • wonderful design and photos
  • recipes are diverse – not stuck on any one cuisine
  • has nutrition information (which is also a con, depends on how much that influences you. I sort of prefer books without, but you may prefer with!)


  • very reliant on products such as Vegennaise, Earth Balance and fake cheese
  • not a lot of the recipes are ones that are all too new and unique – to myself, at least
  • has nutritional information (see note above)
  • Seems there is more emphasis on being skinny than being healthy
  • all of the recipes seem pretty lengthy utilizing many ingredients, not short and sweet. to add to this, cook times are not given which makes it seem even more nerve-racking.

To wrap up this incredibly long review – buy this book if you don’t necessarily want to learn new techniques such as making your own cheeses, but maybe want to ease into a new diet of veganism or vegetarianism. Or, maybe I’m just spoiled, having already read through Veganomicon and Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. Now those are some great cookbooks.

Of course, that’s just my opinion. The next person is, well, quite likely to have the complete opposite opinion – so if you swear by this book, by all means – do tell!

I’d like to bake cupcakes today, and was hoping to make a recipe from this book to give it a go…but there’s only two recipes to choose from. The first is out – I have no strawberries or tofu. The second is out because I don’t  want to use a half cup of Earth Balance and a cup of sugar…that adds up to $$.

Oh, well. I have someone to save me.

Do you feel sometimes like you’re stereotyped based on how you eat?


Filed under Uncategorized


Apparently, I’m ready to start my own dirty-girl competition.


Yeah. Needless to say, I needed to go shopping.

Other confession? I’m awful with lists. Sure, I’m great at making them. I’m just terrible at not losing them. Or not remembering to bring them. And without some sort of reminder, I have a hard enough time remembering what happened yesterday, let alone whether I’m out of “salad lettuce” or not.

You know where I’m going with this. I forgot my list when I went to the store after work. It’s okay, though – it’s sort of become a game to me. The “Lets see what I can remember!” game.

It also meant I had to go up and down every aisle in the packed-to-bursting Hannaford’s to trigger memories of what I needed. I totally forgot I needed brown sugar until I saw it in the produce aisle. Don’t ask me what it was doing there, I’m just glad it was.

As a side note: if you go shopping between now and Christmas you might be clinically insane. It’s a madhouse out there, and I’m lucky I’m still alive. In fact, when I pulled in, there were a bunch of firetrucks throughout the plaza with their lights flashing. No one stopped me from going in and no one else seemed too concerned…so you know, just doing my grocery shopping while firefighters and trucks are running around, NBD.

I had to save the squashes and mushrooms and lettuces from the potentially-burning building, you know.



I went to the co-op before going to the big store, though. I’ve found I much prefer the Rhapsody tempeh over Lightlife, and also needed some bread. Obviously, I wound up walking out of there with more like $37 worth of groceries and not just tempeh and bread, but that’s a story for another day.

This weekend is my mom and I’s holiday baking extravaganza, so I knew I wouldn’t get a chance to bake bread. I intended to get a fresh loaf from a local bakery, but when I saw these was way more intrigued. See, I’ve been on more of a “bread as a side” kick, so thought these Ozery Bakery pita-type wraps would be good to stuff.


I’m sure the idea is to mimic the Arnold sandwich thins, but with less preservatives and…well, way better taste. I like that they’re not too thin – after buying them I started regretting my decision, thinking it wouldn’t be “enough bread.”


Luckily, that was not the case at all. I had one lightly toasted, smothered with hummus and then packed with tempeh bacon, herb salad, roasted reds and tomato slices.


And now I’m sipping tea while pondering whether I really want to tackle that homework I intended to do tonight. I actually intended to get out of work early so I could hit the store and get home sooner than usual – but by the time I could leave work and battle the crowds, I didn’t get home until I usually would be, anyway!

What kind of bread is your favorite – thick and hearty, wraps, pitas, bagels, english muffins?


Filed under bread, dinner, lunch, review

Always Room for Something New

There’s always room and opportunity to try new things – usually, it’s just a matter of whether we want to venture out from our usual routine and just go for it.

I’ll be the first to admit it – I’m one to get stuck in food ruts. It doesn’t help that by now, I tend to know what kinds of foods I like ad what I dislike.

But busting out of ruts? Quite fun! I mean – it doesn’t mean your diet needs a complete makeover. Just twists to your favorites; thinking outside of the box!


Cranberry-Orange oatmeal? First thought – no thanks. I like bananas in my oatmeal, not citrus fruits. Upon completion? Oh my God, I must have this again tomorrow.


  • 1/3 c. quick oats
  • 1/8 c. oat bran
  • 2 t. chia seeds
  • 1 c. almond milk
  • 2 T. homemade cranberry sauce
  • zest of half an orange
  • juice of one orange

Microwaved, and topped with:

  • a drizzle of maple syrup
  • orange zest
  • cranberry-orange nut sauce
  • walnuts
  • almond butter

and then, there’s mixing up lunch.


I realize this doesn’t look appealing – but rather than being all about sandwiches lately, I’m all about using the bread as a side to some sort of comfort dish. Like Italian Sweet Potato Gratin.

I’m not sure if this has more to do with the passing of a sandwich craze, or the fact that my bread isn’t big enough to create any sort of reasonable sandwich.


And sometimes, instead of bread – some sort of cracker for dipping into hummus. Or pretzels. because Gabriela said it best – pretzels trump crackers when it comes to hummus dipping. My favorite is Snyder’s.


I’m loving hot apple cider lately as a warm-me-up beverage. I can’t have more than one cup of coffee lately, and though I love tea – sometimes something sweet is nice!


I’ve raved before about Sahale Snacks, but these cashews are a new flavor to me…and definite winners.

I had the thought the other day to try and make a nut butter from one of their nuts – but I don’t think a bag could last that long!

I’m always bringing snacks like this to keep at work in case I get a minor case of the munchies – but lately they’re coming in more handy than usual. I dream of having the luxury to sit down and calmly eat a banana and peanut butter these days – there’s just no time before another customer walks in the door! Today I about shoved a half a banana + peanut butter in my mouth all at the same time because customers suddenly flooded us.

Of course, I realized after that that was a really bad idea because then I just had a mouth full of banana and peanut butter. Attractive.


New fruit? Check. I’ll eat anything that is buy-a-5lb.-bag, get one free.

Please don’t offer me a five pound bag of avocados. Blech.


And you know you’re really a little wacky when you spend your evening debating salad blends. A good wacky, though. This fresh herb salad caught my eye, and sounded interesting. Why not try? I really enjoy it…just one problem:


The dill is too overpowering! I guess that’s sort of the point, though. It is, after all – an herb salad.



Yes, my mushroom obsession is still in full-swing. Not only to they taste pretty good in a salad – does anything smell better than mushrooms and onions sauteeing in a bit of olive oil?

Okay – maybe if there were garlic in that equation it would smell better, but for some reason I just wasn’t feelin’ that tonight.


And for a brand-spankin’ new dessert courtesy of Foodzie?


An Effie’s oatcake. I wasn’t sure what to expect because I don’t know that I’ve ever had a oatcake – but these are far superior to any sort of cracker/packaged cookie I’ve had previously. I was going to spread jam on it per suggestion, but I’m glad I tried it plain first. Even though I am a self-proclaimed “dipper” doing such with these oatcakes would just hide their delicate flavor and texture given to them by real butter. The oatmeal adds a lovely nutty flavor, too. If these oatcakes are this good – I can only imagine what their nutcakes taste like!

What about you – what’s something new you’ve tried/done/made lately?


Filed under breakfast, dinner, lunch, oatmeal, review