We may say that “diet is a four-letter word”, but let me get one thing straight: This dietbook/cookbook is not about deprivation. Nor is it anything to cuss at, unless, of course, you are like me and get kind of angry when you eat something really good and might drop an F-bomb in misguided delight. In which case, you may cuss—a lot. It’s no secret that we were Tosca Reno fans before, but The Eat-Clean Diet Vegetarian Cookbook: Lose Weight and Get Healthy – One Mouthwatering, Meal a a Time! takes our Tosca love to the next level.
Vegetarian or not, the recipes in her new vegetarian cookbook are just plan delicious without being overly stuffy, complicated or difficult to make. The healthy foodie in me loved her use of fun ingredients like black quinoa, coconut milk and hemp seeds, but the practical holy-goodness-it’s-6-p.m.-and-I’m-starving side appreciated many meal ideas that were quick and easy. (Not to mention that there’s prep and cook times for each recipe, along with nutritional facts and a focus on getting the right balance of macronutrients!)
Although Tosca herself isn’t a vegetarian, she spent hours researching, testing and tasting foods for the cookbook, and it shows. In addition to the 150 recipes that cover everything from breakfast to salads to snacks to one-pot meals to holiday dinners and everything in between, there’s a lot of really good info in the book. Whether you’re a full-time vegetarian or vegan or just part-time (or even on occasion), you’ll learn something new. There’s a section on how to make sure you’re getting enough protein and vitamins and minerals, along with tips on dehydrating and pickling foods. One of my absolute favorite parts of the book though is the symbols. It doesn’t sound exciting, but it is. If a recipe is vegan, lacto-ovo, ovo vegetarian, lacto vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten-free, kid-friendly or quick and easy (or has the option of being that way with a quick substitute or omission), there’s a symbol to tell you so. No matter how you eat, it’s a super easy way to find what you want fast. Love it!
I tried three different recipes from The Eat-Clean Diet Vegetarian Cookbook: Kale-Wrapped Leek and Sweet Potato Mini Quiches, Sweet Potato Picnic Salad (because I am, apparently, obsessed with sweet potatoes in addition to kale) and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Backpack Kisses (which I nicknamed Nut Kisses—because I’m mature like that). The verdict? Delicious, delicious (with slightly different proportions) and M-effing amazing. (See? I told you I get angry when food is good.)
First, the Kale-Wrapped Leek and Sweet Potato Mini Quiches (p. 33). Go ahead and just double the recipe. It takes awhile to make these (you have to roast veggies and the kale, and then cook the quiches together), and from all your hard work, you’ll want to have left0vers. In my house, the 12 mini quiches the recipe made went super quickly. Oh, and, I used Trader Joe’s pre-made pesto sauce to save time instead of making Tosca’s Cilantro and Pumpkin Seed Pesto. Still tasted awesome. And with 68 calories and 5 grams of fiber per mini quiche, I’ll be making these again!
Next up, the Sweet Potato Picnic Salad with 128 calories and 2 grams of protein per one-cup serving. With just sweet potatoes, apple, celery, scallions, golden raisins, parsley and a vinaigrette made of cider vinegar, olive oil and spices, it’s a sweet and savory twist on potato salad that is a fabulous side dish. When I made it, I didn’t think there was enough dressing to cover all of the potatoes (the two pounds she calls for is A LOT), so I doubled the vinaigrette portion. Maybe I just had freakishly large potatoes though. Either way, it took me about 30 minutes to put it together, and while it was my least favorite of the three recipes I tried, leftovers didn’t last long in the fridge. And I’d totally make it again (just with fewer sweet potatoes).
Lastly, the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Backpack Kisses were a hit. And not just because I made 6th-grader-esque jokes about them. The mix of peanut butter, oats, dried fruit, protein powder and touch of honey (just two tablespoons in the whole thing) are dense, savory, sweet and just plain good. I subbed the hemp seeds and flaxseed for milled chia seeds, which seemed to work out perfectly. My only complaint? The recipe says it makes 33 kisses that are 75 calories and 3 grams of protein apiece. But, um, those are waaay too small. One batch for me was more like 15 kisses total. So apparently I like my Nut Kisses a bit bigger (you knew I was going there, right?). Either way, they’re a wonderful snack and a fab pre-morning-workout snack. And look how cute they are! No-bake deliciousness!
So, yeah, I’m not a vegetarian these days, but all three of these recipes are now in my healthy cooking arsenal. And I can’t wait to [insert angry expletive here] make some more!
Are you a vegetarian? Like to go meat-free a few times a week? What are a few of your favorite clean vegetarian recipes or cookbooks? —Jenn