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Please recommend a vegetarian book/cookbook

  • danna Feb 21, 2007 12:28 PM

I'm no so much interested in recipes, I have plenty of cookbooks, but in nutritional details of the manner in which various legumes, veggies, seeds, nuts, etc should be combined to produce a complete protein, and in what quantities. Secondarily, I'll take recipe ideas.

I realize that some people now believe that it is not necessary to consume all the essential amino acids at once. I'm not convinced of that. I browsed Barnes and Noble today and could not find a single cookbook in the vegetarian section that mentioned nutrition, except for the occasional pooh-poohing of a need for protein.

My goal here is to replace one dinner per week with a completely vegetarian protein source, and still have significant high-quality protein for a couple of athletes. (who are eating too much cheese and don't like tofu) Thanks!

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  1. Deborah Madison's cookbooks are pretty incredible. Her book VEGETARIAN COOKING FOR EVERYONE is just amazing...and I am a total carnivore. The WHOLE FOODS COOKBOOK is not strictly vegetarian, but it is an excellent cookbook, I cook out of it all the time, and it has a lot of vegetarian and vegan recipes, and also has a lot of health, nutrition information.

    Quinoa is an amazing source of protein. It is very versatile in that you can have it for breakfast, like oatmeal, or as a salad (with chopped veggies, etc) or as a side dish. I am also a huge fan of barley, though it does not have the same amount as quinoa.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Tom P

      I was going to recommend the Madison book as well, but I don't know how much nutritional info it has (although it has a lot of other good info, especially basic cooking techniques for a lot of foods that you can then experiment with yourself).

      The classic combo for complete proteins is rice and beans. I bet your athletes would go for a hearty veggie chili over rice (the black bean chili from Madison's Greens cookbook is amazing), with just a little of that cheese on top.

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        While I love VCFE and think that is has solid recipes that can be executed by people of lots of different skill levels, I don't think there's great nutritional data in there (perhaps I'm wrong).

        One possibility is the Barbara Kafka book that was released within the past 12 months or so called something like Vegetables or Vegetable heaven? (sorry I don't remember name better). I've actually never looked at it, but it got great reviews as the end all be all source of things vegetable, although it's not a vegetarian cookbook. But, I'm thinking it might include nutritional info, so might be worth a look.

        I saw downthread that lots of folks recommended the jaffrey world vegetarian book. I'm only so so on that book (it's ok to good, but to me, definitely not great) and I certainly don't think it includes nutritional data.

        1. re: Smokey

          I love VCFE. It's my favorite vegetarian cookbook. In second place is Madhur Jaffrey's World-of-the-East Vegetarian cooking (I didn't like the World Vegetarian as much).

          I took the Barbara Kafka Vegetable book out of the library and was very unimpressed by it.

          I would recommend getting a basic nutrition textbook out of the library. Or maybe go talk to a reference librarian. They should be able to find you books and articles to help you make intelligent choices.

      2. re: Tom P

        I was browsing the Madison book at the store the other day and while the end products sounded great, I started to realize how much *work* every single one of them was. I thought that if making veggies was that much work, I wouldn't be making veggies...

        1. re: dotMac

          I've had such a different experience with Madison's VCFE. IWhile there are a few involved recipes, I haven't found most of the recipes to be difficult or tedious. If you're in the market for a foundation vegetarian cookbook, you might try checking it out of the library and giving some of the recipes a try.

          1. re: debbiel

            Wow - I totally agree with debbiel. Most of Madison's recipes have only 5 or 6 ingredients. The whole middle section on how to choose , prepare , and eat almost every vegetable available is incredible. I use it all the time to figure out how to prepare an old veggie in a new way. I recently roasted carrots alone for the 1st time and they were divine! She also has great and simple salad, soup, and sauce ideas which I turn to time and time again. Her recipes are also fool-proof. I really can't imagine a more straight-forward and well-written veggie book that would be a comprehensive as this.

      3. Danna, I learned recently that all protein have the 9 EAA. They have to in order to be a protein. It's just that some have limited amino acid and when paired with something that is higher in that limited amino acid, it forms a more complete protein.

        I don't have recommendations for cookbooks, however, generally when you combine a grain such as brown rice, quinoa, etc. with legumes, you are getting good quality protein. Quinoa is an excellent grain because of it's higher protein content. You can use it anywhere you would use rice or pasta. It has a nutty taste and texture.
        Hemp seed is also a great source of vegetarian protein.
        If they don't like tofu, perhaps try tempeh - fermented soy - it's healthier than tofu anyways.
        Experiment with hearty hot pot soups with miso (excellent source of protein) with soba noodles, bok choy, hot sauce, lime juice, garlic and ginger. This can be a one pot meal, perhaps with a side green salad with almonds tossed in.
        Couscous (I prefer whole wheat) or quinoa is great with nuts and legumes and herbs and dried fruit too.

        1. I am old enough to have copies of Diet for a Small Planet and Recipes for a Small Planet, which were published in the early-mid 1970's. I don't know if they are still in print, or if updated editions have been published. They are chock full of nutritional information, how-to-cook-grains and beans, complementary proteins, etc.
          Although I haven't made it in years, the Spanish Bulghur and the South American Black Bean & Rice dinner (which featured a whole orange in the BB soup) were great favorites.
          Good luck, p.j.

          3 Replies
          1. re: p.j.

            Boy, that brings back memories for me, too! I remember my Mom reading Frances Moore Lappé's books back in the '70s - and a quick check on Amazon just verified that Diet for a Small Planet is indeed still available, along with other books by the same author.

            1. re: p.j.

              I have "Diet for a Small Planet" too. Handed down from my parents. Brings back a lot of memories.

              1. re: p.j.

                Yes, Diet for a Small planet is definitely *the* guide for this kind of nutritional information!!!! In retrospect (now that "mainstream vegetarianism" has had a few decades to develop its own epicurean tradition) some of the recipes can seem a bit boring. But it's got tons of great info.
                (We were always partial to the "spinach squares" :) )

              2. My current favorite vegetarian cookbook is Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. It's a huge tome and attempts to cover all kind of vegetarian dishes. The best recipes are the Indian ones IMO, but there are many interesting dishes to choose from. I made the refritos from the book recently which are really excellent. And her recipes for socca with variations are delicious.

                1. Depends on how veggie you want to go...Seitan/wheat gluten is a great source of protein. As mentioned below, quinoa is a great source, and the "nuttiness" of it is a nice change from rice. Have you tried to "disguise" tofu in something like a pot pie?? Things like hummus and falafel, etc are great...so any middle eastern/turkish cookbook could work. I also find if I have a craving, I go onto an online veggie recipe websites and get tons of options to print out: vrg.org; vegweb.com; vegsource.com; and even the food network site, just to name a few. The "Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes" book is good, as is the one from Candle 79 and Millenium for fancier meals.

                  1. I second the recs for both Deborah Madison and Madhur Jaffrey - I have both and they are two of the most well-used cookbooks in my collection. You will not be disappointed with either.

                    1. I also endorse Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. I use that book all the time. The Cauliflower stuffed paratha is wonderful. Pretty much everything I've made from that book is enjoyable. We particularly like the relish, chutney and raita section in the back of the book. Great additions to vegetarian meals. We aren't even vegetarians!

                      1. "...various legumes, veggies, seeds, nuts, etc should be combined to produce a complete protein, and in what quantities"

                        You might look into a basic book about biochemistry, e.g. Stryder and read a little bit about amino acids, peptides, proteins etc. You have a completely wrong idea about what are proteins. Without going too much into details but proteins are not "made" by "various legumes, veggies, seeds, nuts". Each cell contains proteins which themselves are made out of amino acids (all 20 natural amino acids). And trust me I know what I am talking about, I work in the biotech industry and have to work with amino acids, peptides and protein (and yes, sometimes I make proteins) on a daily basis.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: honkman

                          I completely agree with you that my bio chem (OK...I admit it... chemistry kicked my ass right out of pre-med) knowledge is lacking. However, my husband did his undergrad in bio chem w/ a nutrition minor, and he is he who complains about "incomplete protein".

                          Nutrition is another topic I've had a hard time finding a decent book on. Everything at the bookstore is somebody's pet theory on what you should and shouldn't eat. Nothing basic, like a text book. I guess I should have one of my academic friends go to a college library for me. Thanks for the idea.

                        2. I like Molly Katzen's books. Not all have been vegetarian. But I think now-a-days she's vegetarian.

                          I have Vegetable Heaven and the Enchanted Broccoli Forest. Both are great.

                          She was involved in the moosewood cookbooks. I don't know her exact role, but I think she's awesome.

                          1. jane brody's "good food cookbook" has good nutritional info and tasty recipes. the website nutritiondata.com has total and very detailed data on 40,000 different foods if you want to get really wonky. (like i do.) the theory of combining foods has pretty much been debunked, though, so your husband may want to read some more recent books.

                            1. I'm thinking you don't really need recipe ideas as you seem to be an accomplished cook. So try this link: http://www.weightlossforall.com/prote... and maybe you can get some ideas of conbinations. Greenville tech offer anything in the nutrition arena? Whole Foods have classes?
                              You may want to look at food combining in general as well. What is eaten with what makes a difference in absorbtion and it's not just "we are what we eat", but "we are what we absorb". Also, tofu (get organic) can be pretty decent and can be prepared in a variety of ways. Take a look at Dr. Wiel's website for recipes. Good luck. Maybe this will inspire me to do the same even though my triathalon days are long since over.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: SweetPea

                                Thanks SweetPea. Looks like that site may be helpful for nutrition info, but:

                                The BEST part is the BMI calculator. I LOVED the little oval guys that get shorter/taller, fatter, skinnier as you more the dials for height and weight. And after you get your result, the message at the bottom. In my case:

                                "They have a rather good Bodymass index, you are still relatively young. Probably you drive much sport and live healthy. If this like that is not, you can only be one chain smoker."

                                Apparently English not someone's first language. But the VERY< VERY best part is they say my optimal weight would be about 26 pounds heavier. WOW! I'm getting birthday cake tomorrow, but I don't think I can put on quite THAT much. (maybe next year)

                                1. re: danna

                                  "They have a rather good Bodymass index, you are still relatively young. Probably you drive much sport and live healthy. If this like that is not, you can only be one chain smoker."

                                  hahahaha! Happy Birthday, eat the whole cake and smoke your head off!

                              2. I second the Moosewood recommendation. I also recommend The River Cafe Green book (some recipes have anchovies, but you can leave them out) and Leith's Vegetarian Bible. I just got this one a few weeks ago and it's wonderful. Very straightforward, simple recipes that you can tweak a little if you're already a good cook. And so far, delicious.

                                1. A great cookbook that I have used is actually a DVD called Vegetarian Cooking from Compassionate Cooks. I bought it through their website compassionatecooks.com
                                  Really helpful and informative and all of the dishes are easy. Good luck with your search.

                                  1. I have the Moosewood Low-Fat Favorites, and for the most part I like the recipes. I know they have a chapter in the back where they talk about nutrition, and all of their recipes have the nutrition analysis at the bottom of the page. If you haven't already, you should give it a look to see if it meets your needs.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: lizzy

                                      I also agree with lizzy's rec. MW Low-fat is a really good book - esp for everyday/weekday meals. Fresh, easy, and tasty.

                                    2. I love Moosewood, but my most recent favorite is Vegetarian Express Lane Cookbook by Sarah Fritschner. I think it's out of print, but there usually copies on eBay, etc. I got (extraordinarily) lucky and found mine at a flea market.