Saturday, October 13, 2012

Book Review - The Quick and Easy, Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Food Cookbook

The Quick and Easy, Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Food Cookbook is the book I reviewed.  I must admit that when I saw the name of the cookbook I was skeptical. While I was excited about the quick and easy part and felt comfortable with the vegan part, the low-cal part made me hesitate. I am fortunate enough to never have had a need to focus on low-cal foods in my diet.  I definitely have never been a calorie counter.  But I was willing to give it a whirl since Kimmy recommend this book to me.  She knows my lifestyle and my food preferences so I put my trust in her when agreeing to review a cookbook for MOFO.  

Taking my job as reviewer seriously, I read the book cover to cover.  Reading the intro chapters I did do some eyeball rolling when I read the chapters about serving sizes and calculating how many calories you should consume, outlining typical diets in certain calorie ranges and being physically active. Being a die hard reader (I usually always read books cover to cover with the exception of cookbooks! ), I did not lose heart.  The chapter “What’s That?! A Guide to Your Vegan Pantry” was fascinating to me.  The author discussed staple vegan foods in a detailed yet succinct manner.  Being new to the world that is vegan, I wanted to know what all these “foreign” items were and this chapter did not disappoint.  I now have a better understanding about items such as Silken Tofu, Tempeh, TVP, Vital Wheat Gluten, Masa Harina, Nutritional Yeast, Bragg Liquid Aminos, Liquid Smoke. With this basic knowledge, I found myself excited to experiment with them.  Oh yes, a little knowledge can be dangerous.  So, I proceeded to the recipes to see where I could be culinarily dangerous!  

The middle of the book had colored photos of some of the recipes.  I must admit that I am a lazy cookbook person, I very rarely make something that does not have a picture unless I have tried it before. Again, I was skeptical of reading through recipes without photos but I persevered as I had an assignment to complete! 

The book is organized by topic and has a great index in the back.  As I went through the book, I marked “potential” recipes that I wanted to try.  After going through the entire book, I was pleasantly surprised by how many recipes I had marked.  Not only did it have to sound delicious to me; it had to be quick and easy!  Yes, this book does live up to its title.  Now, the challenge was to pick one for this review. 

I chose the Southwest Scramble.  I picked this because it was nutritionally a great bang for the buck and gave me the opportunity to use tofu & nutritional yeast with ingredients (veggies & beans) that I already loved.  I also used the Tofu Express to press the tofu to remove the excess water.  If you are a tofu lover and don’t have this gadget - it is a must!  This dish was awesome!  It had so many flavors and textures that excited my palette that I was more than thrilled that it made six servings.  Not only did I eat it for dinner but I enjoyed the leftovers throughout the week.  

Another useful feature in this book, is that  there are a lot of recipes that use the same ingredients and overlap with one another.  For example, the tzatziki sauce can be used on the gyros, the zucchini fritters and the fried green tomatoes.  I like the versatility in that!  Needless to say, I am not done with this cookbook.  As a matter of fact, I am going to make the zucchini fritters today. I am going to bake half the batch and fry the other half (options for preparing them both ways is given) to see which way I prefer them.  And, I will also whip up some of that delicious tzatziki sauce to dollop on the fritters.  Yes, I am one saucy girl! 

Thanks sister!!! Great review! 

OK readers, this is a US only one again. I promise, I have a couple coming up that can be shipped internationally soon! Post a comment telling what you hate about "diet" foods by midnight MST Sunday 10/14/12 for a chance to win your copy. The winner will be announced Monday 10/15/12. Don't forget to check back then to see if you've won!

As an added bonus, the publisher just sent me (and gave me permission to post) this simple scramble recipe from the book!

Naked Tofu Scramble

Makes 4 Servings

When I first transitioned to being vegan, I liked my tofu scramble heavily flavored with all sorts of herbs and spices. Now I also enjoy a more dressed-down version with just a hint of flavor from bell pepper and a couple of simple spices.

1 tablespoon canola oil
½ cup chopped bell pepper, any color
One 14-ounce package firm tofu, drained, pressed (see Cook’s Tip on page 39), and crumbled
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Warm the canola oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the bell pepper and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the crumbled tofu and cook for 1 minute, then add the garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, and salt. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until the desired texture is reached. Season with black pepper.

Per serving: 98 Calories | 7 g Protein | 6 g Total fat | 1 g Saturated fat | 0 g Monounsaturated fat | 4 g Carbohydrates | 1 g Fiber | 2 g Sugar | 35 mg Calcium | 1 mg Iron | 626 mg Sodium

Recipes from Quick and Easy Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Food: 150 Down-Home Recipes Packed with Flavor, Not Calories, copyright © Alicia C. Simpson, 2012. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. 


  1. I dislike foods specifically made for dieting because it suggests to people that dieting is the right way to go. If you eat healthily you shouldn't have to diet. Low cal meals are nice because they teach people more about portion control, which most Americans seem to lack knowledge of. I've been wanting this book for quite awhile. It sounds great!

  2. I hate "diet" foods because they've usually removed the fat (BAD, BAD FAT!) and replaced it with crap like chemicals and loads more sugar. Honestly, I think the whole fear of eating fat is ridiculous, as is the whole "a calorie is a calorie is a calorie" nonsense. You can't convince me that 100 calories of pork rinds and 100 calories of bananas is treated the same by your body. No way.

  3. I hate diet foods because healthy living is a lifelong endeavor, not a month-long fad. Once you lose the weight you wanted, then what? Most programs teach you little to nothing about nutrition, food justice, and the like - and then you're on your own again.

  4. I agree with the other comments: I eat healthy for the most part, but I never skimp on oil. And when I bake, I use sugar, lots of sugar. I hate when treats taste "healthy.".

  5. I hate that some things are marketed as "diet" foods when they are so devoid of nutrition. For example, "healthy" frozen dinners or 100 calorie packs of cookies. On the other hand, I have seen how hard it is for some people who struggle with their relationships with food and with their own ignorance of nutrition.

    But the fact is that lowering calories systematically appeals to a certain type of person and can be effective. A book that helps someone do this while actually cooking their own food, as opposed to a box that just dictates the numbers, is pretty cool.

  6. I avoid commercially processed "diet" foods because they have nothing to do with eating healthy. They are not satisfying and certainly not filling. I watch co-worker after co-worker eat their lean cuisines for lunch with no apparent satisfaction as I happily eat my veggie/grain/bean filled leftovers. Those same people are hitting the sugary treats about an hour later. Diet foods don't work-if people would stick with healthy plant based foods they wouldn't have to worry about their weight!

  7. Pay attention to who is buying "diet" foods at the grocery store. It's usually not slim, healthy-looking people (they are usually over in the produce department).

  8. I hate that diet food almost never looks like the food on the cover of that book! That sandwich looks delicious - and worth losing a few pounds for ;)

  9. I dislike "diet" foods because of the use of weird artificial/processed ingredients as filler to get the overall calorie count down. I didn't go vegan to eat more processed food!

  10. Great review! Makes me want to buy the book.

  11. I hate making diet foods because my kid and husband are super picky and then won't eat what I make. Bah!

  12. I hate all of the weird chemical ingredients in "diet" food...whole foods al the way!

  13. Thanks so much for the recipe...perfect Sunday breakfast!
    Worst thing about "diet foods" is the list of unpronounceable ingredients often found in them. I'd much rather have a giant veggie wrap full of fresh healthy colorful crunchy veggies and a bit of homemade hummus than an artificially sweetened, artificially preserved and artificially flavored laboratory mutant. Leave the chemicals in the petri dish, not on my dish! :)

  14. I hate the fad of diets. There's always a new one coming out that is the sure fire way to lose weight, bleh.

  15. I dislike the imitation food nature of "diet" products, such as artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, and unnatural oils. Makes more sense to eat less of an original version rather than eat a diet version.

  16. I hate diet foods that are unhealthy and full of artificial stuff. I prefer natural things and making things from scratch.

  17. I hate diet foods because I hate the concept of diets! There are fad diets all over the place. The worst diet food is that brand that makes "no calorie" stuff. They sell it at my local health foods store, and it's mostly salad dressings and sauces. But I always shudder to think what chemicals it is made out of if it has no calories. Yuck.

  18. I have known too many people who "diet" to lose weight (not necessarily to be healthier) only to go back to their bad eating habits once the diet/weigh loss is over. I truly believe that if you don't have any major medical issues, make healthy food choices and exercise portion control and get some physical activity daily, you will be in good shape. That being said, it is not easy to always make healthy food choices, exercise portion control and exercise regularly. However, once you get in the habit, you do miss it when you stray back into the danger zone! I think most diet food are not always healthy and many are just not delicious! I agree with the above post about focusing on fresh food and just say "no" to the diet foods that are full of chemicals and are just gross!