Have you ever contemplated going vegan?
It’s a lifestyle that avoids all animal products, including meat, eggs and dairy. If that seems like a big step, Kathy Freston is ready to help with her new book, “The Book of Veganish; The Ultimate Guide to Easing Into a Plant-Based, Cruelty-Free, Awesomely Delicious Way to Eat, With 70 Easy Recipes Anyone Can Make” (Pam Krauss Books, 288 pages, $22).
Freston helped Oprah Winfrey and 378 staffers go vegan for a week back in 2011, and her vegan book, “The Lean,” was a New York Times bestseller. The latest book is aimed at helping young people navigate a journey into being as vegan as they want to be.
Freston, who has been a vegan for 12 years, wants you to know that it’s fine to get a little bit vegan at your own pace. In fact, she thinks of these dietary choices as ones that you are adding — not taking away from — your meals.
“It’s really hard for someone who grows up eating meat to just become vegan overnight. I know it would have been for me. It worked best to be curious and nudge myself forward, with no pressure and no rules, just exploring and learning,” she said in an interview.
The book is a guide, covering everything that a teen or 20-something might need to know, from how to balance a diet to how to eat vegan without blowing the budget. It’s also peppered throughout with personal testimonials from 18- to 24-year-old vegans on how they solve their dietary dilemmas, how they cook in dorm rooms, and why they are committed to this lifestyle.
“It’s really exciting to me to see how deeply they have thought this thing through, and the solutions that they have found. They enjoy tradition, but are bold and brave about making changes, and they are innovative with their meals,” said Freston.
The book has a selection of 70 quick and accessible recipes created by veteran cookbook author Robin Robertson.
“Everything is easy, hearty, delicious and the ingredients are readily available,” said Freston.
Autumn Quinoa Salad
Note: This hearty quinoa salad is chock-full of cozy fall flavors. To save time, cook the quinoa in advance. From “The Book of Veganish,” by Kathy Freston.
• 1 1/2 c. quinoa
• Salt and ground black pepper
• 2 green onions, minced
• 1 carrot, shredded
• 1 c. frozen green peas, thawed
• 1 (15.5-oz.) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
• 1/2 c. unsalted roasted peanuts
• 1/2 c. dried cranberries
• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
• 2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add the quinoa and salt to taste. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the water has been absorbed, about 12 minutes.
Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the green onions, carrot and peas, and set aside to come to room temperature.
Add the beans, peanuts, cranberries, oil, vinegar and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper and toss to combine.
Variation: Substitute cooked brown rice for the quinoa, or a different type of nut in place of the peanuts.
Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 590 Fat 21 g Sodium 200 mg
Carbohydrates 84 g Saturated fat 3 g Total sugars 23 g
Protein 21 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 13 g
Exchanges per serving: 4 starch, 1 ½ carb, 1 ½ medium-fat protein, 2 fat.
Peanut Butter and Cranberry Protein Bars
Makes 8 (2- by 4-inch) bars.
Note: Homemade protein bars are less expensive than commercial, and you can also customize them to include all your favorite ingredients. From “The Book of Veganish,” by Kathy Freston.
• 3/4 c. walnut pieces (or other type of nut)
• 1 1/4 c. old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking or instant)
• 1 c. dried cranberries or other dried fruit (or a combination)
• 1/2 c. vegan semisweet chocolate chips
• 1/2 c. pure maple syrup
• 3 tbsp. peanut butter
• 1 tbsp. vegan butter, melted
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan.
Place the walnuts in a dry skillet and toast over medium heat until light brown and fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes, shaking often. Transfer them to a food processor.
Add the oats, dried fruit, chocolate chips, maple syrup, peanut butter, vegan butter and vanilla to the food processor, and pulse until crumbly. Continue to process until the mixture is well combined. Add a little water, a tablespoon at a time, if the mixture is too crumbly to stick together. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool, then refrigerate until completely cold. Cut into 2- by 4-inch bars. Wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap for easy transport.
Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 330 Fat 16 g Sodium 45 mg
Carbohydrates 48 g Saturated fat 4 g Total sugars 32 g
Protein 5 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 4 g
Exchanges per serving: 3 starch, 1 high-fat protein, 1 ½ fat.
Robin Asbell is a cooking instructor and author of “Big Vegan,” “The Whole Grain Promise” and “Great Bowls of Food.” Find her at robinasbell.com.