Vegan book for all
Looking for some healthy recipes that are simple to cook and taste great? You will love Melissa Costello’s latest entry into the cookbook scene. She calls her book, “The Karma Chow Ultimate Cookbook,” “gourmet goodness without the guilt” and a “trusted kitchen resource.”
I agree. Her recipes are fun and creative and tasty.
But wait, it’s vegan! That’s right, no meat, no dairy. Anyone who knows me knows that I enjoy both meat and dairy.
Plant-based meals are easier on the cholesterol and promote heart health. So, even if you enjoy steak and cheese (together or separately), keep on reading because you will want to add this book to your cooking arsenal.
Consider Costello’s vegan cooking as yet another “country” you might want to try, just as you would venture into Indian or Italian or French cooking.
Costello is the perfect guide to sample this heart-healthy approach to cooking and eating and may have you using wholly plant-based dishes not just as sides, but also as main courses once or twice a week.
She is a certified nutritionist and the founder of Karma Chow and the personal chef to fitness guru Tony Horton. According to her own introductory statement, all of the recipes in the book have been taste-tested.
All “different” ingredients such as Bragg’s amino (a soy sauce substitute) are explained in the front of the book where she also gives a fulsome explanation as to how she became a vegan and carefully outlines the equipment and ingredients you will want to have on hand if you pursue a vegan kitchen. She also offers great ways to substitute eggs in recipes you may be using already and provides an alternate flour table for those who have to go gluten-free as well.
Costello says her conversion from meat eater to vegan “happened naturally.”
“I grew up eating meat … I never really enjoyed it, but ate it because it was there. It (her conversion to vegan) started out for health reasons and then became ethical, for me. Now I don’t so much label myself as a vegan, but more of an intuitarian, which to me means that I eat what my body needs.
“I have been eating clean for so long, that my body really lets me know what it needs. This takes time. I may, every once in a while, eat an egg from my friend’s backyard chicken, or some wild-caught salmon. It’s very rare, but sometimes my body asks me for it, so I don’t want to deprive my body. I learned that the hard way by being so restrictive and then my body felt deprived.”
Her common-sense approach to eating good food and not leaving one feeling deprived shows in the recipes she offers. This is what puts her recipes and this book far ahead of the pack of other vegan recipe books.
I have seen that she is not caught up in the latest fad or trend, such as the trend to use coconut oil exclusively.
“I love to cook with coconut oil, sesame oil and olive oil at lower heats. There is a lot of controversy with ingesting oils today, because they are processed, but I tend to disagree with this school of thought and feel that oil is a very important part of our diet. I love to use nut and seed oils on my salads, such as almond oil, macadamia oil, walnut oil, flax oil, etc. I also love avocado oil. If you cook at lower heats, extra virgin olive oil is great to use.”
She also honors her Italian heritage, featuring recipes that use beans and lentils, long staples in a meat-free Mediterranean kitchen, instead of exclusively showering us with recipes from the near and far east.
Of course, she offers recipes for Thai lettuces warps and Indian spiced yam soup, but she also offers staples that will appeal to those who like a plainer approach side with dishes such as pumpkin pie waffles, and Un-shepherd’s pie. She knows instinctively as well as through her studies that food needs to appeal in aroma and texture, as well as flavor. Her recipes excel in all of those areas.
The local health food store and many of the larger grocers carry the specialty items she lists; if you can’t find them here, use the lists of places she provides where you can order the times such as online.
If you are worried about the larger issue of the cost of switching to a plant-based diet, she suggests: “Shop local and at farmers markets. Eat whole foods, not processed foods. The processed foods tend to cost more than buying whole foods such as fruits, veggies, grains, nuts and seeds. Buy in bulk, because that will also save money.”
Costello has a regular blog www.karmachow.com which offers advice on healthy eating and cooking. She offers both inspiration and instruction that are useful for those who are not vegans as well as those who are committed to only a plant-based dietary regime.
“Labeling ourselves can harm us more than help us, as mentioned above when I talked about labeling myself a vegan. I also share a lot of delicious recipes and help people to understand that eating healthy doesn’t have to be hard, or taste bad. It can be satisfying and accessible!” Costello said.
Costello is already working on her next book.
“It’s a food-based cleanse book that teaches people who to eat healthy for the long-term in a preventative way. I also included some daily exercises to help people work through any sabotaging habits that may be stopping them from staying healthy. I call these behaviors SAP (Sabotaging Addictive Patterns).
“It’s revolutionary in the sense that it takes us to the deeper emotional level versus just giving a meal plan. You also get to eat a lot of food, which most people wouldn’t really consider a cleanse. I am a big believer in food-based cleansing and NOT depriving yourself, for optimal energy and vitality.”
One of the biggest problems I had reviewing this book was deciding which of the recipes I would share with you: Thai lettuce wraps? Or the stuffed mushrooms? The spiced yam soup? Un-Shepherd’s pie? Pumpkin pie waffles? Soba Noodle Stir fry? There were only one or two that I was neutral on using.
I selected the lentil soup because it’s a dish I love and I like the recipe she provides. Lentil soup is hearty, good for these extended winter days, and familiar to most of us, which makes it an ideal bridge between the seemingly rarified food world of vegans and the world of those who have meat and dairy in their diets. Try this and then go out and get her book and try the rest.
Joan Leotta, For The Sun News
The Conway Kiwanis Club will hold its 50th annual Pancake Supper and Breakfast Feb. 21 from 5-8 p.m. and Feb. 22 from 7-9:30 a.m. at Conway High School. The club uses proceeds from this event to fund community service projects.
The Kiwanis Club of Conway was chartered July 23, 1945, and has been dedicated to serving the youth of the community ever since.
The club meets every Tuesday at noon at the Conway Recreation Center. Visitors are welcome.
The Conway Kiwanis Club has two major fundraisers a year, including the Pancake Supper and Breakfast and the Al Wissing Memorial Golf Tournament. Both events help support the many activities the club undertakes each year for the children and young people of the community.
Past community service projects have included funding for a track at Conway Elementary School, playground equipment for Collins Park, Riverfront Park and the Smith-Jones Community Center, decorating the Pediatrics area at Conway Medical Center, purchasing a rug for the children’s section at the Horry County Memorial Library in Conway, stadium improvements and enhancements for Conway High School, a Terrific Kids Program in local schools and sponsoring baseball teams at the Conway Parks and Recreation Department.
For more information, call 488-1415, 503-1866 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
From staff reports
Melissa Costello’s Lentil Soup
Reprinted with permission from “The Karma Chow Ultimate Cookbook.” 6-8 servings. Costello suggests pairing this soup with a green leafy salad.
1 T extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
1 large sweet yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
1 large shallot, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, chopped small
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
5 plum tomatoes, diced or 1 can (15 ounce) organic fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 T champagne vinegar
3 small red potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
6 cups low-sodium vegetable stock or 3 vegetable soup cubes and 6 cups of water
2 cups French lentils rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon sea salt
Ground black pepper
Heat oil in large soup pot.
Add onion, garlic, leek and shallot, sauté for about 10 minutes or until onions, shallot leek and garlic are brown.
Add carrots, celery, thyme, paprika and stir and cook to infuse vegetables with the herbs.
Add tomatoes and vinegar. Stir to combine, cover and cook about 5 minutes. Remove lid and cook 3 minutes longer.
Add potatoes, lentils, salt and pepper to taste. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Once it boils, turn down the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook 45 minutes or until the lentils are tender.