On Tour: The Vegetarian Flavor Bible

23 Mar

Up until 4 years ago, I was completely unhealthy. I was very overweight, never exercised, and ate large portions of mostly bad-for-me foods – meat included. My life was turned around with Zumba. I simultaneously took it upon myself to learn what makes up a healthy diet and began experimenting with new foods and new ways of preparing meals – healthier ways. Over time, I even became a vegetarian. In fact, it’s been about 14 months now since I’ve had meat of any kind.

Sounds restrictive to some, but it’s proven to be quite the opposite. The challenge of eliminating meat in my cooking meant I had to learn how best to maximize the flavor of vegetables, grains, beans and dairy (yeah, I’m a Wisconsin girl…cheese runs in my blood). I learned how to prepare dishes of all sorts of foreign cuisines. I tried vegetables I’d never even heard of before. I learned how to bake delicious sweets with healthier ingredients, without sacrificing taste or texture. And most importantly, I learned what true FLAVOR is.

How to pair ingredients. Which type of spices go best with different dishes. How to combine seemingly disparate items into a cohesive, delicious meal. All of this has to do with flavor. For without flavor, what’s the point?

Which brings me to The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, by Karen Page & Andrew Dornenburg. Karen and Andrew invited me to be a “stop” on their virtual book tour. Looking for a review, I happily accepted. How can you go wrong with a book about flavor & vegetables?!

On Tour: The Vegetarian Flavor Bible | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

This is a “bible” in the sense that it’s an informative reference work – more than 500 pages of history, quotes, flavor profiles & pairings, gorgeous pictures and scientific studies make up this book. It is in no way a cookbook in the traditional sense of the word – there’s not one recipe in here. Which I LOVE.

“Vegetarian flavor matchmaking” – the pages upon pages of ingredients and their complete profiles, aim solely to inspire. Want to make something with rice for dinner? Flip to the “R” section, thumb over to “rice” and let your mind run wild with all the suggestions offered up. Have a bunch of fresh dill that you need to use up? Pair it with cabbage, feta cheese and mint for a refreshing summer salad. Looking to impress dinner guests with Ethiopian cuisine? This book has you covered!

I sometimes like to play the guessing game when buying produce: purchase an ingredient I’ve never used before and/or have never heard of. And then cook with it! This is how I came to enjoy jicama, pomegranate, and Brussels sprouts. And with this book…well, the options are truly limitless!

I wish I’d had this book when I started my journey to a healthier lifestyle. It certainly would’ve made cooking for myself less daunting and more interesting. Heck, I would’ve learned much sooner that blueberries and eggs DO NOT go together. But that was all part of the fun, I suppose.

Still scared of expanding your flavor palate in the kitchen? Start slow…upgrade a recipe you already make frequently with a new flavor profile added in. Take some risks, experiment, and learn what your taste buds have been missing out on! I did just that for dinner yesterday: took a recipe I know and love, and upgraded its flavor. Instead of diced canned green chiles in my homemade black bean enchiladas, I used fresh jalapeno pepper. And for my homemade red enchilada sauce, I pureed in some chipotle peppers with their adobo sauce. The result: a new spin on an old classic. The freshness of the filling was enhanced and the red sauce had a spicy, smoky quality to it, with a slight burn that grew with each bite (expertly paired with a Dos Equis by my boyfriend).

Are you sold yet? This bible belongs in everyone’s kitchen – vegetarian or otherwise. Let’s recap all the great things found within its pages. This book…

  • boasts flavors from around the world – you never have to leave your kitchen to experience the culinary cultures of any and all countries.
  • is adorned with vibrant photos that make you drool for beets, squashes and even eggplant.
  • takes you through a rich history of vegetarianism and veganism, dating back all the way to the beginning of time – makes you stop and think about America’s food choices in the past few centuries.
  • acts secondarily as a vegetarian restaurant guide – all the major cities have upscale and down-home veg menus and they’re all brought to light in this one book! Foodie road trip, anyone?
  • doesn’t judge, but aims solely to inform, inspire, and empower cooks of all kinds & levels.
  • has inspired my own cooking & flavor pairings. Who knew that cilantro + almonds + garlic + olive oil = delicious?
  • demonstrates that flavor should prevail in all dishes – vegetables don’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) boring.
  • can aid beginners and experts in creating the most flavorful dishes yet.

Thanks to Karen and Andrew for stopping by my blog on this virtual book tour! Best of luck to you on this book and your future works!

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5 Responses to “On Tour: The Vegetarian Flavor Bible”

  1. diane March 23, 2015 at 10:59 am #

    Love your review of this amazing book!

  2. Old Things R New March 23, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

    Book sounds fab. One doesn’t have to be vegetarian to enjoy the flavors of food and unusual pairings. I enjoy your posts! Will there be an eBook version?

    • xtinaluvspink March 23, 2015 at 7:37 pm #

      Thanks so much! I’m not sure about an eBook version – click through to their site to learn more, and check out their other works!

  3. Strength and Sunshine March 24, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

    Sounds like a fabulous book!

    • xtinaluvspink March 24, 2015 at 2:42 pm #

      I’m so excited to have it as part of my cooking arsenal 🙂

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