In some circles, vegans are considered the purists of the vegetarian world because of their more limited diet.
Vegans eschew all animal-derivative foods such as meat, cheese, butter, eggs and milk.
When former U.S. president Bill Clinton adopted a vegan diet last August it drew international attention to veganism.
Although the statistics aren't known, it seems more Canadians are becoming interested in plant-based diets.
There is a growing number of frozen vegan products and restaurants devoted to vegan menus. And cookbooks devoted to vegan consumption are also on the rise.
A new cookbook, “350 Best Vegan Recipes” (Robert Rose, $27.95, paperback), written by culinary consultant Deb Roussou of California, provides a wide range of meal ideas, a primer on the vegan lifestyle and tips on stocking the pantry.
It shows mouth-watering photographs of Nori Rolls, French Herbed Strata and Mocha Cupcakes With Almond Icing. This depicts tantalizing and unusual fare for vegans indulging in what some would consider a stricter regime.
“This cookbook celebrates delicious and healthy food that everyone can enjoy,” says Roussou, 60. “It is the way I like to eat because it makes me feel better.”
She says that one of the things people find when they switch to a plant-based diet is that they can replicate almost everything they ate on a meat-based regime.
“They are going to discover the flavours and quality of what they eat within a few weeks,” Roussou says.
And she urges those who want to eat vegan to read labels of the products “because some of those on the market are not necessarily healthier.”
What sets the book apart from other vegan cookbooks is the “Vegan from Scratch” chapter which provides information on making everything from Soy Cream Cheese, Smoky Maple Tofu Bacon Slices to homemade Soy Milk and Almond Milk.
“Nut milks are simple to make,” she says of this recipe for Almond Milk. “Use purified water and organic raw nuts and know that you are treating yourself to the finest milk for drinking, baking and cooking.”
Soaking nuts is essential for optimal digestion and makes blending easier.
250 ml (1 cup) raw almonds
1 l (4 cups) water
Place almonds in a bowl and add water to cover by 7.5 cm (3 inches). Cover bowl and let soak for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Drain nuts and rinse well. In a blender, combine nuts and 500 ml (2 cups) of the water for 1 minute. Add remaining 500 ml (2 cups) water and blend again at high speed until nuts are pulverized and almost smooth, about 1 minute.
Pour nut milk mixture through a cheesecloth-lined strainer into a large bowl to remove solids from milk. Strain again if necessary. Refrigerate almond milk in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Makes 1 l (4 cups).
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