As one of the handful of cookbook authors who've published a cookbook of plant-based recipes with no added oil and minimal to optional salt and sugar, it is always wonderful to have the opportunity to review another author's work in this growing "genre." I've been no-added oil for seven years this month (from interviewing Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn). There is ample and growing evidence that added oil is highly detrimental to human health and definitive proof that one's taste buds can be re-calibrated, the addiction conquered, by avoiding oil altogether. Still, it surprises me how many people in the veg community really get upset by these facts and often express vitriolic skepticism reminiscent of the reactions of those who still eat meat when confronted with evidence of the several reasons to avoid meat.
In his amazing book (my review), "Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition," Dr. T. Colin Campbell (co-author of "The China Study" about his discoveries managing history's largest study on diet and researcher with over 350 mostly peer reviewed scientific articles published) manages to distill his recommendations for the best diet into just 66 words:
"Consume plant-based foods in forms as close to their natural state as possible ("whole" foods). Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, raw nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, and whole grains. Avoid heavily processed foods and animal products. Stay away from added salt, oil, and sugar. Aim to get 80 percent of your calories from carbohydrates, 10 percent from fat, and 10 percent from protein." (p. 07)
He calls it the "Whole Foods Plant-Based" diet (WFPB). Dr. Campbell is part of a growing chorus and scientific consensus, spearheaded in part (but not exclusively), by Drs. Caldwell Esselstyn (reversing heart disease), Neal Barnard (reversing diabetes), and John McDougall, about the incredible protective and curative effects of a WFPB diet.
So, imagine how delighted I was to receive a copy of his daughter's new book, "The China Study Cookbook" (by LeAnne Campbell, Phd.). Without mincing words, I have to acknowledge up front, that it's a marvelous effort. Many of the beauties of this cookbook are subtle, but having been through the fires of writing a WFPB-based cookbook myself, I'm able to recognize the incredible thought, creativity, and mindfulness that Leanne has put into her book. It is worthy of the statement on the front cover, the "Official Companion to The China Study."
Chock full of over 120 recipes, "The China Study Cookbook" is more than a cookbook. Although that might sound cliche, it truly isn't. The book is beautifully organized and well-structured, providing a lot of detailed information about diet and disease, nutrition, stocking your pantry, storage and preparation of food, tips on using no oil and less sugar and salt, substitutions, raising children to consume a WFPB diet, transitioning to a WFPB diet, and even recommended "Chef's Tools"... all of this BEFORE you get to the recipes!!
The recipes are listed by category in the Table of Contents, which is excellent, and the Index is based on ingredients. This has all been very well thought out. For my own self-published book, I spent at least a month working on a Recipes Index and an Ingredients Index. Why? Just as Leanne undoubtedly knew, they save time and effort in searching for what you want to cook and how to do it. Also worth noting: the recipe categories are: Breads & Muffins, Breakfast Dishes, Appetizers & Salads, Soups, Sandwiches, Entrees, Side Dishes, and Desserts.
Leanne engaged her whole family to assist with this project. That she's a busy mother AND a very busy professional (as her father proudly notes in the "Foreward") shows in the construction of the recipes as well as she's, ahem, taken the time to note the estimate "Preparation Time" for each recipe. There are also "icons" under the title of each recipe that represent one of 8 categories of whole plants: Fruits, Grains, Leaves, Roots, Legumes, Flowers, Nuts, and Mushrooms. A most useful approach.
So, by now you might be thinking "get to the main issue, Mark, how are the recipes?"
I found them to be creative, designed with obvious care, and extremely well written such that a novice in the plant-based kitchen will have no trouble making very very tasty dishes. That these are so delicious is a real testimony to Leanne's ability. Many of the WFPB recipes with no-oil, etc., in some of the other cookbooks I've read are, well, sometimes bland, derivative of others, and don't show the attention to detail and care that these do. Accustomed to seeing lesser efforts (not always, but too often), I was pleasantly surprised by how excellent and diverse her recipes are.
BOTTOM LINE: as a vegan for 12 years (vegetarian for 20 years before that), no-oil for 7 years, from being a cookbook author AND proud owner of some 500+ cookbooks (at last count, that's probably an underestimate), I do NOT hesitate to recommend this book.
It will be quite useful to anyone wanting to explore a WFPB diet, and especially for busy professionals and Moms everywhere who want to make the healthiest meals possible for their families. This book and versatile recipes will be of great help to anyone wanting move towards on a new path of true health, without the degenerate diseases Modern Science unfortunately believes are inevitable.
As her father (and others) have proven they are not inevitable, LeAnne and her family have proven how to implement his recommendations with style, taste, enjoyment, and ease.
This is truly a unique and important contribution to the growing Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet movement, and I sincerely hope that she finds the time to produce another cookbook. Finally, I've a hopeful hunch there's a lot more yet to be seen from all the Campbells! What a family!!
CONTEST RESULTS! Congratulations to Jim Olichwier for winning the luck of the draw and a copy of the China Study Cookbook!
SPECIAL CONTEST: Dr. Campbell's publisher, BenBella Books, is sponsoring a FREE giveaway of this book to the winner (selected at random) of the following contest. To enter, leave a comment below describing why you are interested in an WFPB diet and what prompted your interested in it as well as this book. Be sure to include your e-mail address (won't be shown). Deadline for comments: Tuesday, February 25th, 11:59 pm est.
Below are two recipes from "The China Study Cookbook" that help showcase Dr. Campbell's considerable "chops!" All are ©2013 by LeAnne Campbell.
SCRUMPTIOUS BAKED VEGETABLES WITH FRESH SPINACH
Preparation Time: 25 minutes Baking Time: 20 minutes
Makes 6-8 Servings
FOR THE BAKED VEGETABLES:
1 medium onion, sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and julienned
1 sweet potato, cut into bit-sized pieces
1 head broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 pound mushrooms
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium zucchini, sliced
Sea salt and black pepper
8 cups fresh spinach
2 cups cooked brown rice
FOR THE SAUCE:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup almond slivers
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice [I used lemon juice]
1 teaspoon thyme, dried
1 teaspoon basil, dried
1 teaspoon rosemary, dried
1 clove garlic, minced
1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare all vegetables except the spinach and place in a large baking pan lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with garlic powder, onion powder, salt and black pepper. Bake vegetables for 20 minutes.
2) While vegetables are cooking, whisk together all sauce ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.
3) Place spinach in a large serving bowl. Combine cooked vegetables and sauce. Serve warm over spinach and brown rice.
[MSS NOTES: a versatile recipe that can easily be modified to fit with the veggies in your 'frig. I like the sauce used, as well as the idea of putting the roasted veggies over spinach (which will wilt the spinach quite nicely). This recipe shows a generic approach to cooking veggies without oil and, imho, is a very important one. A variation of her method was my "go to" during some of the busiest periods of my recent life, and now that I've got the sauce recipe, yeeha!]
APPLE GINGERBREAD UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE
Preparation Time: 20 minutes Baking Time: 35 to 40 minutes
Makes 8 Servings
1/2 cup water, divided
3 medium MacIntosh (or other tart) apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup molasses
2 egg replacers (2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal with 6 tablespoons water)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2) Put apples in medium saucepan with 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook 3-4 minutes over medium heat, until soft. Add maple syrup and stir to combine.
3) In a small mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
4) In a separate bowl, mix applesauce, molasses, egg replacers, vanilla, and 1/4 cup water. Add to dry ingredients and mix well.
5) Spread cooked apple-maple syrup mixture evenly on the bottom of a 9x9 nonstick baking dish. Pour batter over apples.
6) Bake uncovered for about 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the gingerbread comes out clean.
7) While cake is still warm, place a serving plate over cake pan and carefully turn the cake over so it comes out onto the plate. Serve warm.
[MSS NOTES: if you're missing a few of the spices, add a little bit more of the ones you do have. Great recipe that proves you don't need fat and a lot of sugar to make a fine and delectable dessert.]