Anyone Can Cook: a Plant Based Cookbook Recommendation

If you’re thinking did you just quote Ratatouille in part of that title? Yes, yes I did. Who doesn’t love Disney movies and food!? Also if you read “anyone can cook” in the same accent as the French chef then bonus points for you.

Anyway, its been a while since I’ve been able to post on my blog. Starting a new job, keeping up with the gym and a healthy routine, and making time for friends and family meant that something had to give.

But in a way I’m glad I had the chance to step away from writing since it gave me the idea to write this post. One thing I noticed about my routine is that even when I was running on empty I never compromised on cooking myself and family a healthy dinner.

Despite being terrible about posting on my blog the last month I kept up with posting pictures on my personal Instagram account of the dinners I was able to make. I wish that I was one of these people who just had a natural knack for tossing ingredients together and end up with some amazing new dish. That is just not a talent in my wheelhouse. I need direction and exact measurements otherwise cooking can get ugly, fast. So I thought I would share a cookbook that has become one of my go-to resources.

Trial and error is a good thing

If you read my last blog post, you know that one of the ways I keep any anxiety about food at bay is to make cooking as enjoyable as possible. For me, that means being as creative as possible. The big challenge for me right now is to make sure my healthy meal choices mean that I don’t feel like I’m missing out on foods I love.

I’m currently exploring the differences between vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. So that means a lot of cooking triumphs and whole lot of epic fails *sigh* The failures are especially disappointing when you’ve come home from a long day at work and the meal you made just simply sucks.

So I’ve learned that choosing a great cookbook to follow seems to work a lot better than just printing a recipe off the internet. I once tried a vegan & gluten-free muffin recipe I randomly found online. I never knew that muffins could come out flat on top and soggy in the middle. Let’s all say it together: Eeewww.

To be fair, it was my first attempt so there was probably some of my own mistakes thrown into this recipe too. But since I was making them for a holiday breakfast the night before it was pretty much a disaster.

I think it’s experiences like this one, that label cooking as super difficult; especially when you’re venturing into the uncharted waters of vegan cooking. But with the right guidance you can feel good about how you’re fueling your body and actually enjoy amazing food.

Don’t be afraid to eat your greens

I remember talking about these concerns with a friend of mine who has been vegan for well over a decade. That’s when she gifted me But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan! by Kristy Turner.

Not only do I love the taste of these recipes but the book is great for someone new to plant based cooking. I actually enjoyed reading it too because Turner’s writing is so relatable when describing what it’s like to introduce a vegan diet to your family.

Once I saw section titles like “My parents don’t understand why I won’t eat my childhood favorites” or “There’s no way vegan food can make everyone happy at once” I felt like this cookbook could work for me. I think so many of us who have tried to continue a healthy diet have heard some criticism from an unsupportive friend or family member about “eating rabbit food” or “where do you get protein without meat?”

Not only does this cookbook stomp out those stereotypes, it also has a great break down of what pantry staples you need and how to use them. It also has a great glossary section to explain ingredients like liquid aminos or aquafaba.

Dishes for every diet and deadline

I’m a big believer in using recipes that can be versatile with ingredients. This is important to me because I have several family members who struggle with severe food allergies or autoimmune issues that require a specific diet. You can look at each recipe to see if it can be gluten free or nut free etc.

I’m a meticulous “Type A” planner because I’m juggling a lot in my life. So being able to meal prep is one of the ways I ensure healthy meals are quick and easy. This cookbook will help you with that too. There are labels to point out when you have to plan ahead or which meals make great leftovers.

Feel good food 

I have received several messages from people wondering where I get the recipes I use every week so that was a big motivation for me to write this cookbook recommendation. Plus, I truthfully have enjoyed cooking with this book and it’s a great feeling when the end result tastes amazing. I want everyone to feel that good about what they eat and make cooking something to look forward to.

I haven’t been able to try every recipe yet but you can check out the photos below to see how some of the food I made turned out. And with the holidays coming up I’m looking forward to trying more than one dessert recipe at once. I mean, you have to taste test them all before bringing them to holiday dinners right? Can’t say I’m mad about that 🙂

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If you’re interested in learning more about writer and recipe developer Kristy Turner or want to get her cookbooks then check out her food blog here.

Book Review: “The Circle” by David Eggers

I read this book in about 3 days. I’m a big fan of novels based in a dystopian society but I thought this particular story was extremely relevant to the way people are living today. We are constantly immersing ourselves in new forms of technology. There are amazing companies that create the devices we depend on or use the new technology to better our lives. But the question is when does it go too far?

In the fictional world of “The Circle”, David Eggers writes the story of Mae Holland. Mae is a young woman working back in her small home town in a job that she hates until she gets a new opportunity at tech giant The Circle. Becoming a “Circler” is a dream come true to Mae because she is now at the forefront of innovation.

She works alongside people who are using cutting edge technology to try solving the worlds’ medical epidemics, preventing child abduction and crime, and many other life altering causes. At The Circle “sharing is caring” and not only should you make a difference but also share those thoughts with other Circlers. But what happens when you don’t participate in the events or check in on social media so your “friends” can track your every move? Mae quickly discovers that at The Circle “secrets are lies” and “privacy is theft.”

As Mae becomes more and more immersed in The Circle’s way of life she meets a mysterious Circler who tells her the tech giant’s current path could actually spell disaster for their society. Does Mae put a stop to it or does she aid the tech company to “complete the circle”? You’ll have to read to find out.

David Eggers brilliantly weaves a tale about the good and bad of our technology and walking the thin line between being social and being on social media. Are they really equal to each other? What does that future look like?

Book Review: “A New Model” by Ashley Graham

Like most of us, I heard about Ashley Graham after she hit it big as one of the cover models for Sports Illustrated magazine. Although I don’t personally read the magazine, I fully understood the significance of having Ashley on the cover having seen past models for the magazine. The inclusion of Ashley meant the start of acceptance of different body types for women so I wanted to learn more about Ashley and her career.

What I didn’t expect when I picked up “A New Model” was to learn so much about Ashley’s personal journey to find peace and acceptance about her own body image. I really loved that she was so candid about who she was when she started her career as a teen to who she has become today.

Ashley takes a no holds barred approach when diving into the truths about the fashion industry for plus-sized models. Writing about walking away from people who didn’t believe in her being anything more than a catalog model because of her appearance. “Too fat, too thin, too loud, too quiet, I was never going to fit the standards others created for me. Instead of complying I protested,” she wrote.

She wrote freely about a lack of relationship between her and her father and how it impacted her life choices. Leading her into unhealthy relationships with men who would further tear down her self-worth. She shares how her experiences have jump started her campaign for women to feel confident, beautiful and powerful:

“I decided to stand up for my beliefs when I thought about all the women in this world who get ridiculed for posting confident photos of themselves. When a woman feels beautiful and someone tears her down, it’s not okay.” – Ashley Graham, author A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty & Power Really Look Like

As a reader, you can tell her writing is steeped in honest life experience as you read about her issues with finding motivation to exercise for the good of her health not just her career. Plus she shares her battle with food, yo-yo dieting and its impact on finding body peace. “The irony is that food gives me a sense of control, even though it makes me totally out of control . . . At its essence food is nourishing. There is truth to that. The trick is understanding and respecting the line where it crosses into something unhealthy,” she wrote.

There are all of these topics and more in this book that women at any stage of their lives can relate to in some way. I personally found “A New Model” to be a refreshing take on the fashion industry and an insightful self-reflection.

Ashley Graham is a renowned model and a leader in the body positive movement you can learn more about her work on her website. You can also watch her TEDx Talk here.

Book Review: “Big Fit Girl” by Louise Green

“Big Fit Girl” is a book I wish was around when I started my fitness journey nearly 2 years ago. I was a plus-sized young woman with zero confidence to get back into athletics so I avoided group fitness settings. I didn’t have a friend or family member who understood what it was like to be the biggest girl in the room but still love being an athlete.

In her book, Louise Green addresses the stigma that society places on people with bigger bodies and how that impacts their participation in healthy activities. Green talks about her struggles to find confidence and fitness inspiration because few women in media represented her body.

“Until I was ready to change, my unhealthy behaviors served a purpose in my life. They allowed me to stay where I felt safe. Although my behaviors were hurting me, they were familiar and in that sense, comforting.” – Louise Green, author Big Fit Girl

But it’s not just Green’s story being told; other women share their experiences as well. The stories range from women who are just trying to manage their activities of daily living to those that have become Olympians.

One of my favorite parts about this book is that Green breaks down what it means to set SMART fitness goals. She explains in her book, “Your attainable goal will be different from someone else’s; you need to begin from where you are now. That also means not comparing yourself to others or what you used to be able to do before you had kids, in your twenties, or even last year. The only thing relevant to setting attainable goals today is where you are starting from now.” This was great to read because I remember feeling totally overwhelmed and unsure of how to get started on unleashing my inner athlete.

I found this to be a wonderful body positive book filled with inspirational testimonials, exercise and stretching routines and recipes. It’s a must read for anyone exploring fitness.

Louise Green is a fitness trainer, writer and speaker. She is the founder of the fitness program Body Exchange. You can hear more about Louise’s health philosophy by listening to her Tedx talk here.