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About to go Vegan - need cookbook advice!

My husband just signed up for a 4-month medical study that requires him (i.e. the family) to go vegan. We've been mostly vegetarian for a few years, but cooking without cheese, butter, and eggs seems pretty daunting. I'm imagining a life of beans, pasta, and "veggie ragouts" over couscous. bleh.

When I became vegetarian, the cookbooks that really helped were the ones that helped me understand how to make a meal without meat as the central focus. Peter Berley's were the best - I'm pretty sure I would've given up without these. The popular ones like Deborah Madison or Mark Bittman just read like a giant list of side dishes, and I spend forever trying to meal plan for my family.

Are there any vegan cookbooks out there that help you with meal planning? I'm an adventurous cook, but need to get dinner on the table in 45 mins every night for a hungry family. Thanks!

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  1. I am not a vegan/vegetarian but did have the opportunity to dine at Candle 79, a renown vegan restaurant in New York City. Most of the dishes (husband &) I had with our group of friends were very tasty and extremely creative. So I took notice of the new Candle 79 Cookbook when I was recently in a bookstore, and, although I can't vouch for its contents, I would suggest it's at least worth looking at. Maybe another Chowhound has some experience with it....

    2 Replies
      1. re: boredough

        The Candle cookbook has some great recipes- but they're time consuming. Some of the recipes contain whopping amounts of olive oil (ie a marinade with 1 cup of evoo). It's a nice book to look at, but I haven't cooked from it much.

        I would recommend googling and looking for some vegan blogs. I follow blog.fatfreevegan.com. She's cooking for a family, and the recipes are (mostly) kid friendly and quick to put together. I've made a lot of the recipes for my (meat eating) family and everyone seems to enjoy them.

        Isa Chandra Moskowitz's books are excellent. If you're not ready to purchase a book, check out the website-- theppk.com. Sauce recipes are delish and so are the soups. My husband's favorite is "chickpea noodle soup."

      2. Natural Foods Cookbook (Vegetarian Dairy-Free Cuisine) by Mary Estella is my go to when my vegan niece and nephews come to visit or when I want to make something good and healthy for us. The tofu with arame is a summertime staple in our home. She does have some fish recipes in the book, but everything else is dairy, egg, sugar and animal free. It really is a great cookbook!

        1. I work and eat in a vegan dining co-op and I'm in charge of planning and cooking one meal a week for 60 people.

          Vegan with a Vengeance is a standby, especially for baked good. Great biscuit and scone recipes.

          Also, be sure to take a look through your old cook books. You'd be surprised how many soups, salads and veggie dishes are vegan, or would be vegan with veggie broth instead of chicken or the omission of cheese or cream.

          I don't know much about which cookbooks have good meal planning advice, but here's my two cents. I almost always do a protein, 2 veg dishes, and a grain, or some iteration thereof. I think a lot of it requires a shift in perspective. When I see beans and lentils I think main, but I know others think side dish. You can probably help this transition along by at first approximating non vegan dishes (don't just serve beans, serve bean tacos w/ salsa, guac, and grilled veggies, try a vegan lasagna with tofu ricotta). But I think the real struggle is to start viewing vegan proteins as main dishes, or at least it was for me.

            1. re: magiesmom

              I swear by Appetite for Reduction (also by Moskowitz) and I'm not vegan. It's lower fat/lower calorie type stuff, but honestly, I bought the book because the food was really tasty. Got the book from the library when I was trying to find some lighter recipes and decided I needed it because the food just plain tasted good.

            2. I second Veganomicon and Vegan with a Vengeance. Really, you can't go wrong with any of Isa Moskowitz's books. Same goes for Terry Romero. I have a cookbook called Tofu 1-2-3 that is absolutely indispensable, the author is Meribeth Abrams.

              6 Replies
              1. re: marietinn

                I dig the Veganomicon, even though a good number of their recipes are impractically hippie (really, who's going to make "almond-quinoa muffins"?), but then any Bruce Campbell reference is a good one.

                1. re: biggreenmatt

                  (really, who's going to make "almond-quinoa muffins"?)
                  quite a few people, actually ;)


                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    like me. what do you have against them, they are wonderful.
                    But then, I am proud to be an old hippie!

                    1. re: magiesmom

                      Ha! Fair enough!

                      What I meant was that while there are lots of good recipes in the Veganomicon (and 99% of other cookbooks), there are certain "throw-away" recipes- stuff that might be okay in theory but that you'll never actually make. My mistake was lumping in almond-quinoa muffins in with that lot. Now don't get me wrong, I love both almonds and quinoa; I just wouldn't put them together in muffin form! Apologies to my fellow veggie lovers of almond-quinoa muffins!

                      1. re: biggreenmatt

                        i was just teasing :) but for those of us who eat gluten-free, almond flour + quinoa really is a common combination in baked goods!

                2. re: marietinn

                  To second (third? fourth?) the Moskowitz recommendation: my sister-in-law's holiday cookies this year were mostly out of Moskowitz's Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. We are not even remotely close to vegan, and I'm normally pretty unimpressed by vegan baked goods, but those were some good cookies.

                3. count me as another fan of Isa Moskowitz, but i think Lindsay Madison's Happy Herbivore books might also be a good choice for you...



                  1. Try madhur jaffrey's world vegetarian for recipes that have been around for decades or longer

                    1. Thanks everyone! I had veganomicon on my "maybe" list, so I'll definitely buy it now. And, I'll check out the others you suggested.

                      I'm not so worried about the baked goods - I rarely bake, and it's only my husband that needs to be 100% vegan -- I'll definitely sneak a cookie while I'm at work! Though the almond quinoa muffins sound pretty good to me, too.

                      1. One of my favorite place to find Vegan recipe is on youtube. If you like Indian food check out Manjula's Kitchen. She has been making vegan Indian dishes video for years, she gives great step by step instructions. I've made quite a few of her recipes, very delicious.


                        But note; Manjula is Jain, so she doesn't use garlic & onion because the belief that micro animals live on them. I sometime modify her dish by adding garlic & onions.

                        Also, beware of asafetida (hing), it smell like horrible wet socks, i think it;s use as more digestion aid than flavors. After I bought hing, it didn't make it very far in the car ride home it smelled so bad, I tossed it out.

                        I ate a lot of Indian food to transition from vegetarian to Vegan, it brought a palette of new interesting flavors. And making it yourself, you can adjust the spicy-ness

                        1. +1 on all the Isa/Terry cookbooks (veganomican/appetite for reduction/etc). They have some recipes posted on their website: http://www.theppk.com, along with a helpful forum, so I totally encourage you to check it out.

                          What I have REALLY appreciated about their cookbooks and website is how much technique you can learn about effectively cooking veggies and grains for maximum flavor and appeal. Also, learning how to make seitan from scratch, how to work with tofu and tempeh, and how to replicate the creaminess of dairy in various recipes.

                          After cooking from the books for awhile, it's second nature for me now to think of something I want to make and cobble a few recipes/techniques together to veganize it.

                          Vegan blogs are totally your friend - fatfreevegan (as someone else mentioned) and Vegan Dad have been very helpful for me, both for specific recipes and learning techniques.

                          I am not vegan, but I eat/make lots of vegan food and I have really come to appreciate how creative it can be.