vegansaurus!

04/11/2013

Cookbook Review: Cooking with Trader Joe’s Cookbook: Skinny Dish!  »

imageThere are few places other than my day job and apartment that I grace with my presence on a weekly basis. Trader Joe’s is one such place. With close proximity, agreeable prices, and a good face-tattoo-to-geriatric ratio when it comes to employees, it offers all my grocery store must-haves. More importantly, they have a good (not great) grasp of veganism and they know a large portion of their customer base looks for that small “V” on their products. There hasn’t been a week that’s gone by where at least one jar of Reduced Sugar Preserves isn’t in my fridge.

Jennifer K. Reilly, RD, also saw the bountiful vegan goodness T.J.’s has to offer, yet instead of living off gourmet peanut butter and jelly preserve sandwiches, she decided to create a cookbook with nothing but Trader Joe’s originated ingredients. Cooking with Trader Joe’s Cookbook: Skinny Dish! may be long in the title department but it’s also long in the recipe department, which gives us lames-in-the-kitchen plenty of options to whip up some vegan goodness.

The word “vegan” only appears a handful of times, which I’m 100 percent on board with. The weight the “V” carries sometimes becomes quite negative for the non-Vs. Carrying around Vs hasn’t been this hard since high school. My one slight gripe with the wording, however, is it seems Reilly, upon finishing, hit CTRL+F to search for the word “healthy” and replaced it with the word “skinny.” For one, skinny does not equate with healthy, and two, in a world with constant fat-shaming, perhaps we should be stressing health over skinny now more than ever. 

Reilly takes her time before getting into the recipes, but they come in droves. Smoothies, appetizers, breakfasts, baked goods, soups, salads, wraps, burgers, and one of my all-time favorite categories, 8-minute meals! You know that person in the office who tries to combat your veganism with “yeah but it takes you guys so long to prepare your food.” Now you can make some 8-minute meals and teach them a lesson in 8 minutes of delicousness. Cruelty-free deliciousness. 

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I’m being 100 percent honest when I say not a single recipe doesn’t look and sound amazing. The photography in this book is impeccable as well. The two I’ll wax poetic on worked perfectly together as a meal for two. The Pesto Pasta paired with The Big Tofu. For someone who was relegated to sous chef for these dishes, it’s hard to take my word for it, but they were both incredibly easy. Especially the tofu. The pasta was three steps and one of the steps is “Prepare [pasta] according to package instructions.” DONE! Then you blend garlic, lemon juice and olive oil, followed by avocado, basil (a whole cup of it!), water, salt and pepper until creamy. Then you toss the pasta in your newly created mixture. We used spaghetti initially, then tried a second meal with penne.

The tofu is more complex, but only by association. It requires two blocks of tofu, sliced into 10 slivers upon being pressed. Then they’re browned on one side in a skillet with olive oil, then after flipping to other side you sprinkle either soy sauce or tamari on them. The tofu will keep in your fridge for a few days, but the pasta you’re better off eating as much as possible for dinner, then again at midnight when you can’t sleep, because it doesn’t really keep that well, thanks to the abundance of avocado. Both dishes worked well together and both would work equally as well on their own with a big side salad. 

This cookbook is laid out so well, with the wording, the recipe creation, the photography, the tips, and even the index which tells you where every Trader Joe’s is located. You could take it cross-country when you visit  your parents! Ahhh! Speaking of those silver hairs, just like I said in my last cookbook review, this book is perfect for our elder statesmen and -women in our families. There are no newfangled terms like “vegan” or “The Facebook” or “sexting” to confuse them—just straightforward recipes with a dash of humor, a sprinkle of bright colors, and a heavy dollop of healthy recipes designed to make us eat to live, but to also enjoy the process. 

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