The Joy of Cooking Vegan with Vanessa Chamberlain

I love cooking and am always looking for new ways to eat healthy, so when the opportunity to review a new cookbook presented itself, I jumped at it. In The Fire-Driven Life by lifestyle coach Vanessa Chamberlain, she encourages readers to accept a healthier and happier life, starting with the kinds of food they are eating. The book is about vegan living but without using any oils. Not even the of the organic coconut or flax seed variety which was surprising to me.

I’d like to throw in a disclaimer at this point – I cook with oil, eat eggs and even *gasp* meat.  While I’m not vegan, I respect those who are and are still able to maintain a balanced diet.  I gave Ms. Chamberlain’s book a read and can say that she is thorough, covering all of her bases on the foods and food substitutes she recommends, offering explanations for every choice and ingredient. This is a good book if you are considering a vegan lifestyle. She also splits foods into different colours ie. Redfire, Greenfire and Yellowfire for what you can and can’t eat so it is straight forward when you’re at the grocery store.

I don’t know think I could ever adopt a vegan lifestyle, or cut out oil in my cooking (I have like 6 types in my kitchen) but I think you need to choose the lifestyle that is right for you, and if vegan is your thing then I applaud you. You do you, kid. For anyone who wants to introduce more vegetables into their diet, try veganism, try a new diet or, like me, just try some new recipes, it’s a good read.

To get to the good part, I did give a couple recipes a try. I’ve listed them below and added in my oil loving/non-vegan changes for anyone wanting to adapt them. Spoiler alert: they all turned out delicious and I recommend you giving the Fire Driven Life a read and maybe try a recipe yourself.

Bella’s Sesame Noodles 

I love asian food, and I love cooking asian dishes at home but I especially love Soba noodles. Soba or buckwheat noodles are gluten free, high in protein and other nutrients and the best part is they taste no different from a regular noodle. This recipe was an adaption of a sesame oil recipe so I thought I would give it a try. I was glad I did.Soba Recipe

Mushroom Gravy

While I’ve made gravy with turkey or chicken before, this was my first attempt at a vegetarian mushroom gravy and I give it two thumbs up. Vanessa recommends it over mash potatoes or soy loaf, which I did and it was delicious, (I feel like I should whisper) but then also poured it over freshly BBQ-ed steak and it was ridiculously good. I ended up using a little more than 2 tsp of flour to thicken it and actually didn’t use the Soy milk, only because I didn’t have any on hand. Still turned out amazing.

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Cauliflower Mash

When I made this recipe I joined the legions of cauliflower mash converts. Even my boyfriend thought this was delicious. Definitely a healthy alternative to potatoes and it doesn’t feel like you’re eating vegetables. A few changes, I roasted the garlic in the oven first and it gave it a nice roasted flavour. I also added parmesan cheese and a little cream cheese. Overall I plan to make it again, and again and again.

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