Want to jump straight to the giveaway? Just click here.
As much as I love vegan cookbooks, I don’t do that many reviews of them on this site. Why not? Mainly because The Nomadic Vegan is about vegan travel, and most cookbooks are not terribly useful for travelers.
But Heather Crosby’s new book – YumUniverse Pantry to Plate – is different. While it does contain nearly 100 recipes, it’s much more than a cookbook.
Cooking by Recipe Template
You can choose to follow the recipes to the letter, OR you can use one of Heather’s templates to create endless variations of her yummy, wholesome dishes.
This is an incredibly useful skill if you are self-catering while traveling and need to improvise with whatever ingredients and cooking utensils you have on hand. I will readily admit that it’s a skill I am lacking.
Ever since I began cooking (which was only about three years ago), I’ve always wanted to be able to create my own meals without blindly following someone else’s instructions. Now, with Pantry to Plate, I finally have the road map I need to start me down that path.
At the moment, I’m comfortable coming up with my own fruit combinations to add to my daily bowl of oatmeal, but that’s about it. If Nick asks me to make something that’s not oatmeal for dinner, I panic. It goes something like this:
1. Spend an hour flipping through recipe books or Google Chrome bookmarks until I find a recipe I think I can handle.
2. Make a grocery list, rummaging through the fridge and kitchen cabinets to see which of the ingredients I’m missing.
3. Go to the grocery store armed with my list, only to discover that they’re out of rosemary.
4. Run around town trying to find fresh rosemary. Discover that there is a city-wide rosemary shortage.
5. Return home, tired and defeated, take down the dried rosemary from the spice rack and hope for the best.
6. Follow the recipe instructions step by step, turning back every few seconds to read the recipe again and make sure I’m doing it right. This takes twice as long as the cookbook said it would.
7. Halfway through, realize that the recipe called for 1 cup of uncooked beans, and that when I measured my beans they were already cooked. Resume panic mode.
8. Finally serve dinner one hour late. Nick gives a polite nod of approval, then quietly gets up and returns with pepper and salt. I realize that I forgot to season the meal before serving.
9. Vow to stick to oatmeal from now on.
Does this sound anything like you? If so, then you need Pantry to Plate.
Heather’s book contains 30 templates you can use to mix and match ingredients and create meals you love, while building your confidence to wing it in the kitchen. How do the templates work? Let’s take the “scramble” template as an example.
Pick any grain, one or more veggies, and a complementary aromatic (like onions, garlic or ginger). Sauté them together in your choice of sauce, and voilà! You’ve just improvised a hearty, nutritious “scramble.”
The templates range from light breakfasts to hearty dinners and everything in between. Throughout the book, the emphasis is on healthy versions of your favorite comfort foods.
And for those days when you do want to follow a recipe, one feature of the book I find especially useful is the “Cook by Ingredient” index at the back. Have half a bag of lentils that you’re not sure what to do with? No problem. The index lists all the recipes that call for lentils.
It’s worth noting that Heather follows a plant-based lifestyle for health reasons and that her recipes are based on whole foods and avoid any artificial ingredients. All the templates and recipes are gluten-free and also vegan, apart from a few that call for honey. This can easily be replaced with another liquid sweetener such as agave or maple syrup.
Her first book, YumUniverse, was a huge success. Pantry to Plate takes it one step further by empowering you to move past the “paint by numbers” approach to cooking.
With Heather’s templates and easy-to-follow advice about which ingredients work well together, you’ll soon be cooking intuitively and confidently without a recipe.
Enter below for your chance to win, and be sure to watch your inbox for the lucky link that you can share to triple your chances of winning. Good luck!
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something from Amazon through one of these links, I will make a tiny commission, at no additional charge to you. Win win!