Several weeks ago my friend Seth showed me his video featuring Nathan Winograd, one of the creators of the All American Vegan cookbook, speaking at World Vegetarian Festival 2011. Nathan's speech was very interesting and I got curious about the whole All American Vegan project and their new cookbook. Nathan and Jennifer Winograd have been vegan for over 20 years (That's pretty impressive!). They both work in the animal rights movement, promoting the No Kill philosophy not only when it comes to farm animals, but also cats and dogs. They try very hard to end the systematic killing of animals in the American shelters. Thanks to Nathan, Tompkins County in New York became the first No Kill community in the U.S. history, saving not only healthy animals but all treatable sick and injured animals as well. That is wonderful! I have been volunteering at various cat and dog shelters for years and I care very much about the No Kill Movement. Nathan and Jennifer believe that if we end the killing of dogs and cats, the animals that are closest to us, we can get people to care equally about the welfare of other animals as well. I was very happy to receive a copy of their cookbook for a review.
The All American Vegan cookbook is not just a cookbook, it is so much more. It is a wonderful book full of awesome recipes, vegan substitutions to meat, eggs, and dairy, helpful baking and cooking tips, and other useful and fun information (such as important moments in vegan history, trivia, list of animal-derived ingredients, the No Kill Movement in dog and cat shelters, new vegan menu planner, and things vegans should never say when discussing veganism with non-vegans).
This book is written in a fun, informative, and easy to read way. I can see this book becoming the new vegan resource book for newbie vegans. I have been vegan for over 5 years and still learned a lot of new stuff while reading the All American Vegan.
The main mission of this cookbook is to make vegan versions of the most popular foods that Americans like. By veganizing traditional American comfort foods (such as tuna melt, lasagna, hamburger, pizza), fast foods, desserts and everything that people used to like growing up in the USA, they eliminate the biggest barrier preventing people from giving up the consumption of meat, diary and eggs-not wanting to sacrifice taste. Food is closely tied to family traditions and one of the issues that many new vegans have is that they feel alienated when celebrating holidays with their family or having weekend dinners together. Food is tied to memories and many people like comfort foods because it can wake up some of their memories and traditions that they used to love. Take that away from them and they can become bitter and sad. By veganizing their favorite foods they don't have to give up their favorite, familiar foods and will be more likely to stick to a vegan diet.
Let's face it, not everyone who wants to go vegan is a vegetable, seeds, quinoa, and other health foods lover. Yes, there are many people who become vegan for health reasons first and eat a balanced, plant based diet that is mostly raw or has minimum processed mock meats, fried foods, sugar, white flour and other ingredients that I used in most comfort foods. But many new vegans want to eat the same way they used to, minus the cruelty of animal products. I am personally in between. I love comfort foods, especially veganized versions of traditional Czech and American dishes and sweet baked goods, but I also love "healthy" foods such as kale, quinoa, fresh vegetable juices, seeds, nuts, legumes, beans and most fruits and veggies. I was not always like this though. I had to slowly build my desire and taste buds for "healthy", unfamiliar foods. I wish I had this cookbook when I first became vegan, it would make my life much easier when I cooked for my American non-vegan family. A lot of the recipes from this cookbook are something that I made in one way or another over the years. Some things are new to me and I was happy to try them and I am planning on making many more soon.
I am like a kid sometimes when it comes to books and cookbooks. I love pictures, not just photographs but illustrations, too. The inner child in me jumped for joy after opening this cookbook because it is full of beautiful, cute and funny illustrations. And the recipes are great! Imagine a vegan diner style recipes in a fun package :-)
Some of the recipes that you will not want to miss: Cinnamon Rolls (page 70), Danishes (page 72), Glazed Donuts (page 74), Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich (page 86), Corndogs (page 95). Matzo Ball Soup (page 104), Parmesan (page 126), Coconut Cream Pie (page 131), Golden Cream Filled Spongecakes-aka vegan "Twinkies" (page 136), Thanksgiving Menu featuring Stuffed Not A Turkey with maple Glazed Root Vegetables (pages 152-159) and the recipes that I tried bellow.
This is a lovely Banana Cream Pie (page 130) with Chocolate Sauce (page 146). This no-bake pie was amazing! Creamy, silky banana with smooth and decadent chocolate sauce. It was not overly sweet or heavy and it was made pretty quickly with no baking required.
I made Coconut Whipped Topping (page 148) but unfortunately I experience a major kitchen fail with the topping. Not because of the recipe, but the quality of my coconut milk. I usually buy one brand and make coconut whipped topping with great results, but this time I wanted to save a dollar and bought a cheaper brand that was full fat, same as the other brand, but for some reason the fat did not solidify in the fridge. That resulted in liquid topping instead of nice and fluffy whipped cream. Lesson learned there-stick to what you know that works, saving a few pennies on an ingredients that will ruin your recipe is not worth it. I did not throw the liquid coconut topping away, I made an ice cream out of it. I added orange flavoring and froze it. That created a nice orange-coconut ice cream.
Let's have breakfast! Blueberry Muffins (page 71) and a cup of hot tea, that is all I need to have a good breakfast. These muffins were very good. I used fresh blueberries. The recipe calls for maple syrup and I used mixture of half maple syrup and half agave nectar to cut down on the cost and they turned out great! Moist, sweet and dense. I will be making these again soon.
These Peanut Butter Cups (page 140) are a perfect vegan alternative to Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I could not wait to try this recipe. The recipe calls for sturdy paper candy cups but I wanted more authentic look so I splurged on peanut butter cups candy mold and candy brushes. It was much more work but the results were worth it! And the taste was very close to the non-vegan peanut butter cups. Very good!
Fried No Chicken (page 96) was way better than the KFC chicken that I remembered from when I was a teenager. It was almost scary how realistic my seitan "chicken" tasted. The spices and herbs made this crispy fried no chicken a very flavorful experience. I wish I made some mashed potatoes and gravy at the same time, that would be perfect!
I love creamy soups so I made Cream of Mushroom Soup (page 103). Mmmmmm. Creamy, buttery and silky mushroom soup with a nice touch of thyme. I served it sprinkled with more thyme and a handful of croutons and it was awesome!
Some of my favorite quotes from All American Vegan:
"If it is edible, it can be made vegan."
"Some people may be uncaring, but most people are concerned about animals and will support efforts to improve their lives. make it easy for people to do the right thing, and they will."
"Quite simply, we can more effectively persuade people to be vegan if vegan food becomes as familiar, widespread, and appealing as the competition."
"Veganism can accommodate your palate and your appetite too."
"Had animal products not been available, our ancestors would have experimented with other sources that served the same purpose and end they were seeking and today those ingredients would be in widespread use instead."