Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

The acclaimed best-selling author of Veganomicon has a new cookbook out that inludes 125 “Fat & Filling Low-Fat Vegan Recipes,” just perfect for losing that excess baggage from the holidays.  It is also dedicated to reducing animal suffering, environ-mental impact, and grocery costs. My book is an approximately 9″ x 7.5″ paperback, with a few rather ordinary color photos stuck in the middle of the book. The quality of the paper is nothing extraordinary and I would have to admit that based on physical appearance, this one was not my favorite of the lastest crop of new bookbooks. The physical characteristics of a book, while important to this writer, are often overcome by the quality of the recipes and information inside. In a nation overflowing with, well, overflowing waistlines, this book might be just the ticket to encourage some of us to dig in and slim down.

Various Vegetables in Appetite for Reduction

First up, I tried the OMG Oven-Baked Onion Rings. I have not tasted an onion ring for years, at least not the crispy, greasy type I remember from earlier days.  These are very easy to make and had the crisp without the grease. They are admittedly a bit different that the originals, but that is a good thing – the old variety would be busy clogging up arteries and adding a ton of calories, not to mention the possible use of non-vegetable oils for frying.  While a bit messy to make, this one kept to all of those promises: reduce calories, inexpensive, little environmental impact.  Then it was on to the Sweet & Salty Maple Baby Carrots.  This one takes about five minutes to prepare, then heads directly into the over for about 30 minutes. The carrots absorb the flavors of both the salt and the sweet and would be a quick way to add a “wow” factor to a special dinner for guests.  I tried them with regular carrots sliced into strips and it worked out just fine.

Isa Chandra Moskowitz Strikes Again!

Then it was on to one that was  fast and super good, one of those recipes you will want to use for potlucks (easy to transport), for sandwiches (traditional on pita bread), and for a hit of protein when you just want a salad or some greens: Baked Falafel. Warning: you may be able to pop these babies right into your mouth like popcorn (popchicks?poppeas?) so prepare for them to disappear quickly – may I suggest a double batch?  Easy, and with just a bit more dishwashing, very clean and simple to make, these overcame all doubts about the layout of the cookbook. I scooped the batter into a two tablespoon measure and they came out just right — crispy, flavorful, light and absolutely scrumptious.

On the down low, I do not appreciate cookbooks that make you turn the page for the rest of the recipe. I have a heavy glass cover on my recipe stand, and this is a real feat of maneuverability when my hands are filled with chickpeas and spices. I wish the publishers would check this kind of thing out before they print these amazing books. But it was so worth it, nonetheless. And, you have been forewarned!

Other recipes to be tried soon include Black Bean, Zucchini & Olive Tacos, Eggplant Provençal, Red Thai Tofu, Broiled Blackened Tofu and many more. She has included a Big Fat Glossary, Metric Coversions (yay!!), and nutrition tips are sprinkled generously throughout the book. Chapters range from Rub-Your-Tummy Veggies, to Full-On Salads, to Talk-Pasta-to-Me. There is an entire chapter about tricks with beans and another devoted to tempeh and tofu. Each recipe includes prep and cooking time, and gives a per-serving rundown on calories, fat, carbs, fiber, sugars, proteing, cholesterol, sodium, vitamins, calcium and iron. She has even included a further breakdown on fats: saturated and trans, too.

Best of all, she dedicated the book to “the world’s best Grandma.” You gotta love a girl like that!