One of the many cool things about being a food blogger is finding out about new products and cookbooks. I honestly don’t remember requesting a copy of this cookbook, but when it arrived on my doorstep I was pretty excited to look through it. The entire book is plant-based, gluten-free, and free of refined sugars. Right up my alley!
The author, Melissa Costello, is a food blogger, personal chef, and create of The Vital Life Cleanse. She is the personal chef to Tony Horton of P90X fame. Read on for my review of The Karma Chow Ultimate Cookbook: 125+ Delectable Plant-Based Vegan Recipes for a Fit, Happy, Healthy You.
The first recipe that caught my eye was the vegan Caesar salad topped with vegan “parmesan.” It is one of the most delicious salad dressings I have ever tasted, so very close to the original Caesar taste. The vegan parm is delicious on salad, pasta, and popcorn! I took this to an evening party, where every single scrap was scarfed down. (Please excuse the poor photo quality; I did not have time to shoot this during the day.)
Next I tried the banana chia pancakes with coconut creme sauce. I used the blender for the entire recipe, making the coconut creme sauce first and not cleaning out the blender, which worked great. I had trouble with the recommended coconut oil on the griddle (it burned just a little) but the pancakes were tender and we both really liked the creme sauce, although I would thin it a bit more.
Here are the tempeh sausage patties. Easy and quite delicious. I might add just a little broth to the mixture next time, but they are better than any storebought faux breakfast sausage I have ever had.
Can you tell I like breakfast? We also tried these buckwheat corn cakes with blueberry drizzle. I made the drizzle with regular blueberries, not the tiny wild blueberries she called for. I would whisk in the arrowroot mixture before adding the blueberries, as it did clump up a bit. Still delicious and the pancakes were surprisingly light.
Finally, I made the soup pictured at the top, Indian spiced coconut yam soup. It had a lovely flavor, although I would add more spices to it. (Recipe below.)
I am intrigued by these recipes too: Thai-style tempeh lettuce wraps and coconut whipped cream.
What I liked about this book:
Focus on taste and health. Full color photographs of most recipes. Excellent dessert section. Excellent overview of plant-based cooking and pantry essentials. Recipes were clear and easy to understand. I liked her “Karmic health” and “Chef’s tips” sprinkled throughout the book.
I wasn’t so keen on:
Some of the book design and photography choices are not ideal. For example, some of the food is shot in extreme close up making it look less appetizing, or the food styling choices do not enhance the food as much as they could. The nutrition information is in teeny tiny sans serif typeface, making it nearly impossible to read. The serving size icons are not consistently placed, making them difficult to find. These are minor details; I fully recommend this book.
I’d recommend this for:
Anyone wanting to eat healthier; people exploring a plant-based diet; athletes and fitness buffs who want optimal nutrition.
Indian-spiced coconut yam soup
Recipe from The Karma Chow Ultimate Cookbook by Melissa Costello (HCI, October 2012). Used with permission.
1 T. (15 ml) coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 t. (2 g) fresh ground ginger*
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 t. (4 g) garam masala
3 large carrots, diced
3 large garnet yams, peeled and cubed*
4 C. (1 L) vegetable broth*
1 15-ounce (440 ml) can coconut milk
Sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
1 C. (180 g) red lentils, optional*
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and sauté the ginger, garlic, celery, and onion until translucent and soft.
Add the garam masala and stir to combine to release the flavor of the spice.
Add the carrots, yams, and veggie broth. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cover. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the yams are soft.
Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut milk.
Puree using a hand blender until creamy smooth and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Top with cinnamon, to taste, before serving.
Notes: Garnet “yams” are actually a type of sweet potato. True yams are a very starchy tuber that are not sold in the U.S. Overseas readers should look for sweet potatoes. Use low-sodium vegetable broth. I was not sure if the recipe called for dried ground ginger or fresh ginger, grated. I would use 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger. To save time, I cooked the first part of the recipe in a saute pan and started the potatoes and broth in the soup pot. This could be why the soup was not spicy enough, as a lot of the spices were left in the bottom of the saute pan. Next time I would follow her directions. I was out of red lentils, so I added split gram dal, another type of quick-cooking lentil.
Here’s the book if you want to look inside: