[box type=”info”]I was not compensated in any way for this post, but I do consider Tess a friend. The cookbook is great, and I wouldn’t write about it if I didn’t love it.[/box]
I am never going to be a raw-food enthusiast or a vegan. It is really not ever going to happen – you know, with my love of butter and macarons and maybe even bacon. But I do love all kinds of foods – brussells sprouts, green beans fresh from the garden and carrots are a few of my favorite things. It’s all about balance because, for the most part, I want to eat better and have the chance to indulge on those cakes I so dearly love.
So, I have been collecting cookbooks with a healthier focus lately. I know how to make a killer cake and I can whip up pancakes or brownies from memory, and I can whip up a dinner from the random things in my pantry. But, and this is a big but, I tend to get in a rut. I buy the same vegetables week after week and my go-to dinners are always delicious. They aren’t as exciting as they could be.
Or, there is the breakfast connundrum. I know I need to eat it. I know that Fruity Pebbles are really not the best choice for a strong breakfast and I am struggling with the concept of greens for breakfast. (If you follow me on Instagram you know that I have been slowly adding greens to my smoothies but I have yet to declare kale smoothies a favorite food. It’s all about the baby steps).
This book, much like Brassicas, makes veggies and green beverages sexy. The photos hook you. The recipe names just sound delicious. The writing keeps you engaged. (Ok, most people don’t read cookbooks cover to cover like I do, but that is besides the point.) You might just start to believe that intense green smoothies taste good.
I can hear Tess in every recipe head note – friendly and passionate with just a dash of kooky. In The Blender Girl, Tess’ notes about health and ingredients come off as smart suggestions – the kind your best friend might make if she was a nutritionist or raw vegan belnder expert. She walks the line between confidently talking about nutrition/ her dietary preferences and diet evangelism. I almost believe I could be a vegan. Almost.
While I am not turning into a raw vegan on an alkaline diet, I am working green smoothies into my mornings and I appreciate a good chimmichuri. When a recipe calls for a soaked date, I will probably substitute some local honey. If I can’t find maple syrup, I might just use agave nectar. It is quite possible that I will never embrace green powder or confuse cashew cream for the real deal. It’s all good with this cookbook. There are often substitutions listed so that you can use foods that fit your diet, taste or budget. If there aren’t any listed, you should go for it anyway. Cooking is about passion and making yourself happy.
So far, I have made the Chia Choo-Choo, Cheerful Chimichurri Bowls, Papaya Pleasure, and Rosewater and Cardamom Lassi. All of them have lived up to what I was imagining after reading the recipes. The book is perfect for anyone looking for creative ways to add fruits and veggies to their diet.
Author: Tess Masters
Title: The Blender Girl
Format: paperback, full color photos
Buy it or Forget it: Buy it, buy it, buy it.
Must try recipes: Every one in the book? I might be addicted to the Chia Choo Choo, Cheerful Chimichurri Bowls and Rosewater Cardamom Lassi
*Read more about my cookbook review criteria.
The recipe requires a few pans and some coordination in the kitchen for all of the moving parts, but the results are delightful. You could substitute whatever veggies you happen to have on hand or that are in season where you live in place of the ones used in the recipe. You could grill the veggies outside in the summer and make the quinoa in a rice cooker. The star of the recipe is the chimichurri. A vibrant herb-based sauce much like pesto or pistou but without the nuts or cheese, chimichurri is a great alternative to those sauces for people with dairy or nut allergies. It is also fabulous on grilled steak or fish.
- 3/4 cup (180 ml) olive oil
- 1 cup (50g) finely chopped flat leaf parsley, plus more to taste
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped tarragon, plus more to taste
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, plus more to taste
- 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions (white and green parts), plus more to taste
- 4 cloves garlic, plus more to taste
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
- 3/4 teaspoon natural salt, plus more to taste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, plus more to taste
- 4 large sweet potatoes, cut in to large chunks
- olive oil
- 10 cloves of garlic, peeled
- Natural salt
- Red pepper flakes
- 2 1/2 cups (475g) quinoa
- 4 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed and cut into large slices
- 1 brunch asparagus, ends snapped off
- freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 bunches rainbow chard, stalks removed and leaves roughly chopped
- 2 avocados, pitted, peeled and thickly sliced
- In a blender, combine all the chimichurri ingredients and blend on high for 30 to 60 seconds – you want the herbs well pureed. Taste and tweak the flavors to your liking.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Toss the sweet potato, a generous pour of olive oil (1/4-1/2 cup) and 8 cloves of the garlic with a healthy pinch each of salt and pepper flakes. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 45 minutes, when the sweet potatoes are tender.
- Meanwhile, in a dutch oven (or any oven-proof pot with a lid), combine the quinoa with 5 cups of water, a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the water has reduced to below the level of the quinoa. Place the lid on the pot and transfer the quinoa to the oven to bake for 30-40 more minutes alongside your veggies.
- In one bowl, toss the mushrooms with olive oil, coating them well. (The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup, but I used half that). In a separate bowl, toss the asparagus with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
- in a large frying pan, over medium high heat, sauté the mushrooms for about 10 minutes – until tender and cooked through. Remove from the pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Sauté the asparagus in the pan next. They should cook for about 5 minutes – you want them to still have a little bite. Once cooked, place them on the plate with the mushrooms.
- Add the chard, a tablespoon of olive oil, two tablespoons of lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper flakes for about 2 minutes – until just wilted.
- This should all finish up cooking right about the time your sweet potatoes and quinoa are ready to eat. Dish up the quinoa and veggies and top with about 1/4 cup of the chimichurri and a couple slices of the avocado in each bowl.