When I went vegan in 2004, there were a few good resources out there for newbie vegans. Joanne Stepaniak's The Vegan Sourcebook was super-helpful, and I got lots of money-saving tips for new vegans from Stephanie Scarborough's The Cheap Vegan zine.
But I wish I'd had The Veginner's Cookbook: The Ultimate Starter Guide for New Vegans and the Veg-Curious by Bianca Haun and Sascha Naderer of Elephantastic Vegan. Not only is this new cookbook/guide book co-authored by someone who shares my name (bonus points from me for that!), it's also a really useful tool. The book opens with essays on vegan substitutions, basic ingredients and equipment, and tips for avoiding and/or arguing with skeptics. Plus, Bianca's kitchen hacks and Sascha's tips for navigating social situations are peppered throughout the book.
Most of the book is reserved for recipes, however. These are simple, comfort foods with short ingredient lists and easy instructions, perfect for the new vegan (or old vegan)! You'll find recipes for homemade seitan, cheese sauce, cashew parm, almond milk, and more in the Basics chapter. There's a Breakfast chapter with tofu scramble, blueberry pancakes, apple pie overnight oats, and strawberry chia pudding.
The Soups chapter is short and sweet with five recipes, but all sound (and look — the book is filled with color pics) delicious. I made the Soothing Mushroom Ramen Soup with Crispy Tofu, and it was perfection!
This hearty ramen has rich mushroom base with carrots and spinach. It's topped with crispy, pan-fried tofu that's coated in curry sauce. I will definitely be making this again. The curry from the tofu mixed into the broth, creating a complex, comforting flavor.
The Main Meals chapter is the largest, and it contains everything from Creamy Avocado Pasta and Baked Falafel Pita to a Sweet Potato Hawaii Burger and Tomato Coconut Chickpea Curry. From that chapter, I picked the Stovetop Avocado Pizza.
The crust is basically a flatbread that's cooked in a skillet in a matter of minutes. It's soft and chewy, like pizza crust, but it comes together so much more quickly than a yeasted dough. It's topped with mashed avocado and pan-roasted cherry tomatoes with balsamic glaze. I made this for a quick weeknight dinner before pulling a rare night shift at work. So awesome to make pizza in minutes! I made Paul a crust like this as well, but he topped his with more traditional pizza toppings.
Back at the end of January, I consulted the Snacks & Party Food chapter to make an appetizer to take to a full moon gathering with my lady friends. I opted for the "To Share or Not to Share" Pizza Pinwheels — phyllo dough rolled up with pizza sauce, vegan parm, and green olives. I added some Daiya mozzarella to mine as well, even though the recipe didn't call for it. These were a huge hit at the gathering!
Other snacks in the chapter include Cheesy Dill Popcorn (nooch and dill have long been my fave popcorn toppers), Garlic Herb Breadsticks, Baked Hummus Dip, and Homemade Crackers.
There's also a hearty dessert chapter, but I haven't tried anything from it. I've got my eye on the Lemon-Glazed Cinnamon Rolls though (sounds weird but delicious), as well as the Life-Changing Frozen Chocolate and Chocolate Chip Cookies. There are even four recipes for various flavors of banana Nice Cream!
Whether you're a new vegan or a veteran, this book has something for you!