This book is gorgeous. She includes some recipes from her other cookbook, such as how to make yogurt cheese and her special mixture for Power Flour, but there are plenty of new recipes as well. Each recipe is accompanied by a glossy full-page coloured photograph and includes the nutrition stats per serving. She also includes information about herbs and different kinds of fats and unusual ingredients as two-page spreads throughout the book, so it’s nice to have her tips and snippets of information between the recipes.
There were a couple of things that bothered me about this book. First, the ingredients that Tosca Reno uses are not always easily found. Some of them can only be bought at specialty food stores, and many of them are quite expensive. Second, many of these recipes involve a considerable amount of time and effort to do the prep and then to allow the food to cook, which is rather daunting (and impractical, for many people). Third, there are some editing errors which made me squirm. For one thing, the scone recipe says that it makes six scones; however in the directions, it says to cut the scones into eight triangles. That kind of inconsistency bothers me (as it should, considering one of my jobs is to edit typos in a weekly newspaper). Is the nutritional value for one scone considered an eighth of the recipe or a sixth of the recipe?
Another editing error that frustrated me was that for the baked rice dishes, which I was really keen on making, it doesn’t say whether the amount of rice in the recipe is cooked or uncooked. I have yet to make these dishes because I’m worried that if I precook the rice and I’m not supposed to, it will be soggy; however, if I don’t cook the rice and I am supposed to, it will be hard. Tough call!
Lastly for editing errors, in the vegetable lasagna recipe, the ingredients call for zucchini, yet there is no mention of zucchini within the directions for the recipe. This same problem occurred in the Spicy Bean Spread recipe. It irks me when recipes are not laid out specifically. I think they need some new editors at that publishing company (want to hire me?).
On the plus side, every recipe that I tried from this cookbook is a keeper. Tosca Reno knows how to cook! Her Spicy Fava Bean Spread is my new favourite hummus recipe (though I use mixed beans rather than fava beans because I couldn’t find fava beans anywhere). I drink her Oat Tea every day, as well. It is made with hot water, oats, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla extract: the perfect caffeine-free tea with tons of flavour. The Oat Tea tastes great alongside one of her Delicious Date Scones- these scones baked beautifully and they call for no butter or margarine or oil (she uses applesauce in place of the fats), and only 2 tbsp sugar. I think that it, too, will become my go-to recipe for date scones. It’s one of the easier recipes to throw together, which I liked. The Mediterranean Chickpeas were also very colourful and very tasty.
Tosca Reno is incredibly inventive with her recipes. One recipe she has is a Stacked Vegetable Lasagna: it is made without noodles; instead, layers of tons of different vegetables are placed in the dish and act as noodles. Rather than using shredded mozzarella cheese, the boyfriend indulged in my vegan excitement and we topped it with cheezy sauce, making it a vegan lasagna! It was possibly one of the most unique dishes I have ever come across, and it was fantastic. The only problem was that there was a huge amount of liquid in the bottom of the dish from all of the fresh vegetables. I also had tons of vegetables left over, so I chopped the rest up small (rather than slicing them lengthwise, noodle-style), tossed them with the marinara sauce and cheezy sauce, and topped the “casserole” with leftover crumbled homemade garlic toast. It was delicious! I think that the next time I make this dish- and there will definitely be a next time- I’ll try cooking the vegetables before I layer them, to try to get some of the excess water out. The boyfriend and the roommate, who are both the carnivorous type of guys, really liked this vegan lasagna (you know it’s good when!).
Stacked vegetable lasagna with garlic toast
Vegan lasagna gets a thumbs up!
University papers and exams have been getting in the way of my desire to cook, but there are a number of other recipes in this book which I can’t wait to try out: Banana Date Breakfast Bread, Saffron and Pomegranate Rice Pilaf, Smashed Homestyle Mustard Potatoes, and Super Simple Corn Muffins, to name a few. Is your mouth watering? Because mine sure is.
The overall verdict: this is a gorgeous book to add to your collection! A lot of these recipes- the ones that take considerably more time and effort- would be really nice for special occasions. They are all full of flavour and very nutritious!
*Disclaimer: I received this book from Bordeaux International to review.
Day Nine of the 200 Reps Challenge
20 Triceps Dips (targets the triceps)
20 Reverse Crunches (targets the lower abdominals)
Repeat this set ten times for a total of 200 Triceps Dips and 200 Reverse Crunches!
For the Triceps Dips:
1. Sitting on the edge of a bench (or a chair, or a bed… anything will do), place your hands beside you on the bench so that they grip the edge. Place your feet flat on the floor as far away as you can from the bench.
2. Slowly raise yourself off of the bench and lower yourself towards the floor, bending at the elbows. Keep your back straight so that it is right beside the bench and not leaning forward or back. You can go low enough that your elbows and shoulders are at roughly the same height.
3. Use your arms to push yourself back up so that you could sit back down on the bench if you wanted to (but don’t- you’re not finished yet!). This is one rep.
TIP: Your back should be close enough to the bench throughout this whole movement that you can almost feel the bench grazing your back as you slide down. This will prevent any unnecessary stress on your joints.
For the Reverse Crunches:
1. Lie on your back on a mat on the floor with your head and back resting on the floor; bend your legs at the knees and raise them so that they are in the air (your calves should be parallel to the floor with your butt slightly lifted off the ground). Your arms should be flat on the floor at your sides.
2. Using your abdominals, lift your butt off the ground. Your pelvis should tilt towards your chest and your lower back can also rise slightly. Your legs will probably straighten out a little bit. Return to starting position. This is one rep.
TIP: Don’t let the rocking motion carry you through this exercise via momentum- make sure your abs are doing the work, or you won’t be getting any kind of workout at all!