Welcome back! It’s day two of “6 Days of Vegan Cookbook Reviews!”
I’m not going to lie. I don’t really think about how much I spend on food on a daily basis. I make lots of frugal moves (dry beans and grains) and I make lots of bonehead moves ($9 prepared vegan entrees from Fresh Direct). When I was offered the opportunity to review Eat Vegan on $4 a Day: A game plan for the budget conscious cook I jumped.
I had a conversation with the author, Ellen Jaffe Jones, who is beyond inspiring. I asked about her motivation behind writing the book:
I’m just trying to get the word out that eating vegan can be way cheaper than eating meat and dairy. As I say in the book, a comparable serving of beans is 1/6 the cost of a serving of the cheapest hamburger meat (30% fat). My goal is to get people interested in a vegan diet to save money. As a financial consultant who focused on socially responsible investing, I found companies first got interested in the concept when they could be shown that recycling or employee benefit programs could save their company money…”
Ellen approaches the reader with good health and wise spending as the heart of the matter and offers a wonderful array of chapters:
- Where Are the Broccoli Ads?
- Financial Planning for Food Shopping
- Plant-Based Nutrition and Cooking 101
- Bolster Your Budget Breakfasts
- Save Your Loot Soups
- In the Clover Salads
- Strike it Rich Salad Dressings
- Save the Day Entrees
- Penny Wise Spreads and Sides
- No Remorse Desserts and Snacks
Dr. Neil Barnard writes a moving forward to the book with the reminder that “you really can eat well-and keep healthy–on just $4 a day.”
The financial planning chapter is terrific for new vegans (or vegan-wannabes) who may buy into the myth that it’s expensive to eat vegan. In Chapter 3 (Plant-based nutrition and cooking 101) Ellen discusses organics, buying local, cooking from scratch, being open to new foods and buying in bulk (within reason), stocking your pantry and weekly menu planning. She covers beans and grains 101 (stove top, pressure cooker and slow cooker).
And then the recipes begin. Cuban Black Bean Soup, Five-Ingredient Salad for Pennies, Garlic Lime Dressing, Billfold-Saver Black Bean Burgers, Beet this Price (side), and Carrot Cake to Live For. Such fun and playful recipes with fabulous, whole ingredients and very simple instructions.
I couldn’t resist trying a recipe with kale because a) I had kale on hand and b) Hello? Have we met? I kale.
I found the perfect recipe in the soup section.
- 1/2 cup chopped leeks or green onions
- 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds
- 4 cups water
- 6 to 8 tomatoes, chopped, or 1 can (14.5 ounces) unsalted diced tomatoes, undrained
- 2 T vegetable broth powder
- 1 T sweet paprika
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups chopped kale
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 cup cooked or canned garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
Put the leeks, bell pepper, and almonds in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and cook, stirring frequently, until the water evaporates and the onion is translucent. Stir in the remaining water, tomatoes, vegetable broth powder, paprika, and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Stir in the kale, rice and beans. Decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, or until thoroughly heated. Remove the bay leaves. Serve hot.
Doesn’t this recipe have JL written all over it? I always have beans and grains cooked up and on hand so when I read this recipe I knew I could make it in no time! I made black chickpeas for the first time (see my Black and Green humus recipe) and they were ready to toss in. I had a brown rice-kasha mix cooked up and on hand, as well. I used a can of diced tomatoes and I used a vegetable bouillon cube. The soup came together beautifully and I cannot believe how wonderful the addition of almond is to this dish. I’ve enjoyed it as lunch as well as at dinner (over a baked sweet potato).
This book, packed with delicious recipes, is really terrific for everyday use. It’s great for your wallet, too!