If you are looking for a book to assist with the transition from an omnivore diet to a vegan diet YumUniverse is the book for you! Written by Heather Crosby, this book is an excellent wealth of information not only about vegan – or ‘plant-based’, as the author calls it – cooking, but also about how to transition to this diet. She goes why’s and how’s of this, as well as giving yummy recipes.
This book is much more than simply a cookbook. YumUniverse does have a lot of delicious recipes, but also walks the reader through why someone should move to this diet, as well as how to go about this transition. I really wish that I had this book when I was transitioning to a vegetarian diet. In addition to the fact that the author’s story about why she went over to a plant-based diet reminded me of my own vegetarian origin story, the author has a very encouraging and inspiring style. She constantly encourages that if you slip up, don’t beat yourself up about it. You are still making a step in the right direction. I’m paraphrasing, of course, but this book consistently encourages you to take the steps that you are comfortable with. I failed the first time I tried to become a vegetarian because I took a bigger step than I was ready for. If I had had this book, there is a great possibility that my first time wouldn’t have been a failure.
One of the many things that Heather Crosby addresses is the convenience factor of this diet. Living with a plant-strong diet means that you don’t generally have the luxury of eating fast food. She gives a lot of suggestions about how to prepare things beforehand, so they are ready for when you need them. One of my favorites was her suggestion of mason jar salads. Mason jar salads layer different ingredients – combinations of greens, protein, and even salad dressing (if desired, placed on the bottom so it doesn’t make everything soggy – in a container like a mason jar, to be pulled out of the fridge for quick and easy meals. It’s a beautiful idea that combines healthy eating with convenience.
Another great thing she recommends on the subject of convenience are green smoothies. I have been a big fan of green smoothies for years. They are a great way to get a lot of nutrients in one meal, plus they can be really delicious! Often people have some reticence about trying them, the idea of putting things like spinach or kale into a smoothie sounding abnormal, but if you haven’t tried it before take the chance!
One thing that is very common when talking about vegan food/vegan living is the fear that you will have to do without the foods that you are familiar with and love. Well, as the following recipe shows, even something as remarkably non-vegan as macaroni and cheese can have a delicious vegan alternative!
Creamy Broccoli & Red Pepper Macaroni
This is a highly addictive salad thanks to the kick, the crunch factor, the freshness, and the lovely colors. It’s easy to prepare and holds up in the fridge for a few days if you have leftovers.
- 2 cups gluten-free macaroni noodles
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil*
- 1 red bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, diced
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1–2 tablespoons water
- Sea salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¾ cup water
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil*
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 cup cashews, soaked
- 1 clove garlic
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- 2–3 drops liquid smoke*
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook according to manufacturer’s instructions.
2. Blend together all sauce ingredients until smooth and set aside.
3. While noodles cook, place 1 teaspoon coconut oil in a skillet heated to medium and add diced red bell pepper. Stir often for 7 minutes.
4. Add broccoli and water to skillet, stir, cover and steam for 3–5 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. Return to the noodles. If they’ve finished cooking, drain and rinse and return them to the pot. Mix together cooked and rinsed noodles, veggies, and sauce over medium heat. Season with fresh-cracked pepper and more salt to taste if necessary.
psst! Swap mushrooms for broccoli, or add mushrooms to the mix.
You can use applewood-smoked salt for the salt called for in this recipe if you aren’t using liquid smoke.
Top this recipe with Almond Crunch Kale Chips (in the book) for a healthy non-breading texture that’s outta this world.
In addition to the fantastic resources in this book, it also has a variety of resources available online for book owners. YumUniverse started as a website, and the website continues to offer a plethora of great recipes to compliment the book. Whether you are someone interested in living a vegan lifestyle, or simple someone looking to update their repertoire of recipes to include more healthy choices, YumUniverse is a cookbook that should be included in your kitchen library.