I am no stranger to Heather Crosby’s fabulous recipes (seen here previously: Peruvian Bean Bowl with Fried Plantains, Blueberry Tarragon Dressing and more recently the Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream), I was excited to be able to review her first solo cookbook creation, YumUniverse as part of the #YUBlogTour and #YUHealthyHalloween Blog Tour.
However, it is more than a cookbook. It is a fabulously complete introduction (and then some) to eating plant-based whole foods. Her book is built in three parts: why, how and do (let’s eat). First, why eat plant-based? Heather details numerous reasons to eat your vegetables. Her second part, teaches the reader the ins-and-outs of how to cook plant-based. She addresses protein and calcium needs and how to craft a week’s worth of eats. There are tables of how to properly store fresh and pantry ingredients (fruits/vegetables, oils, nuts, spices, flours, etc; whether they go in the fridge/freezer). She explains soaking and sprouting with times for common nuts and seeds. She explains different cooking methods and even how to correct oversalting. Once you have mastered feeding yourself, she has tips for social situations. She really has left no gaps. She even explains how to get rid of pesky fruit flies.
Next, the recipes. With adventurist recipes including Mung Bean and Eggplant Curry, Jerk Lentil and Avocado Wrap, Beet, Apple and Onion Gratin and Skillet Crusted Sweet Potato Gnocchi, there are boundless possibilities. That was just in the lunch/dinner section. Heather also includes breakfasts, dressings, dips/spreads, breads, beverages, snacks and other desserts and treats.
In short, this is the cookbook I wish I had when I first began my journey becoming a vegan.
I made her Chocolate & Cherry Hemp Bars which are a spiffied rice krispy treat. Like Ange’s Glo Bars, brown rice syrup is the binder of choice but the bars are not that sweet. Calling them hemp bars is a bit of a superfood marketing ploy: they are barely detectable amidst the sunflower seeds, rolled oats and flaked coconut. Furthermore the chocolate chips melted seamlessly into the sweet binder, so the major flavour was from the tart cherries with a faint chocolate background. Below is the photo you would actually find in the cookbook. Enjoy!
YumUniverse recipes spotted elsewhere:
Buckwheat Noodle Pad Thai
Dark Chocolate, Sweet Potato & Black Bean Brownies
Hot Fudge Sauce
Maple Spice Sandwich Cream Cookies
Orange and Pepita Granola
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mash
Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Bisque
Salted Caramel Sauce
Shredded Brussels Sprouts & Kale with Miso Dijon Sauce
Toasted Super Seedy Power Bread
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe AND giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me your favourite meal (no recipe required). The winner will be selected at random on November 7, 2014. Good luck!
Chocolate & Cherry Hemp Bars
As printed in YumUniverse, Reprinted courtesy of Ben Bella Books
Pack up these guys for a hike, or enjoy them as a simple treat. They’re an amped-up, gelatin-free, antioxidant- and protein-rich version of a rice crispy treat
1 teaspoon coconut oil, plus more to grease the dish
3/4 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
1 cup flaked coconut, toasted
1/2 cup rolled oats, toasted
1 cup dry cherries, chopped
2 1/2 cups brown rice crisps cereal (not puffs)
3/4 cup gluten-free, vegan chocolate chips
1 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons almond butter
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1. Grease a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish with coconut oil. Set aside.
2. Place sunflower seeds, coconut, oats, cherries, rice crisps, and chocolate chips into a large glass bowl.
3. In a medium saucepot, bring brown rice syrup, vanilla extract, almond butter, coconut oil, and sea salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk often.
4. Once boiling, pour over dry ingredients in the bowl. Use a silicone spatula to fold everything together until well integrated; chocolate will melt. Fold in hemp seeds.
5. Transfer to the greased baking dish and use a spatula to really press mixture into the dish so it reaches all corners evenly. Or try laying a sheet of unbleached parchment on top of treat mixture and pressing down with your hands—easy peasy and less mess.
6. Allow to cool, then slice.
Makes 10+ bars.
psst! You can use a chopped gluten-free, vegan chocolate bar instead of chips if that’s easier to find.
Try dried blueberries, goji berries, raisins, or cranberries instead of, or in addition to, cherries.
Make them poppers! This preparation is a bit sticky to work with, but it’s worth it for fun bite-sized treats. Toast 1/2 cup of almonds and throw them in food processor, and pulse them into fine bits. Keep the bar mixture on the stove top over low heat while you work. Using your hands, pinch off a bit, drop it into a bowl of almonds. Sprinkle entire dollop with almonds to cover as much as possible. Pick it up and roll it into a ball. Cover with more almonds until outside isn’t sticky anymore. Repeat until bar mixture is all used up.