Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Simple Recipes for Joy
I'm a bit of a yogi wannabe. I go to hatha yoga once a week at my gym, and I try to do yoga at home at least once a week too. But it's hard to fit in any additional yoga when I'm running four days a week. I'm a huge fan of kundalini and bikram, but I can't really afford to join any studios that offer those classes. But I love the idea of yoga! And I love the way I feel after my weekly hatha class. It's at lunch time on Thursdays, and there's nothing better than laying in savasana with a lavender eye pillow in the middle of the day.
So all that being said, I was super excited when I heard the legendary Sharon Gannon, founder of Jivamukti Yoga School and Cafe in NYC, has a new vegan cookbook! It's called Simple Recipes For Joy, and it's loaded with mouth-watering, full-color, whole foods-based dishes. Many of the dishes in the book are served at the Jivamukti Cafe, which is attached to her yoga school.
The soup chapter is huge, and since fall is almost in the air, I was drawn to recipes for Spicy Tomato-Ginger Soup with Okra, Mung Bean Dal, and New England "Clam" Chowder (made with oyster mushrooms). But I ended up settling on the Curry-Tahini-Shoyu Noodle Soup.
You know I love a good noodle bowl! This one is loaded with complex Indian flavors of curry, coriander, and cumin. It's brimming with sweet potato, green beans, corn, carrots, celery, adzuki beans, hijiki, onions, garlic, and ginger. And it's made creamy with a tahini-miso paste. For some reason, the recipe didn't actually call for shoyu, but I'm sure that was probably an error. I liberally added shoyu to the veggie broth base. And I used these Explore Asian Soba Noodles, which had been lurking in my pantry for ages. They were sent to review some time ago, but Explore Asian sent so much stuff that it's taken me this long. Loved the tender texture of these!
There's also a large pasta chapter, and a number of dishes caught my eye — Faux Chicken Pasta (the "faux chicken" is simply made from hen-of-the-woods mushrooms) and Angel Hair Pasta with Creamy Lemon-Zucchini Sauce. And salads abound in this book! There's a hippie-ish Brown Rice Salad with tofu, nori, and turmeric-tahini sauce, and there's even a salad with popcorn in it!
There's a recipe for the Jivamukti Cafe's Spirulina Millet that I must try. And the Cajun-style Jamabalaya with Mexican flavors sounds like a fun fusion dish (it has vegan sour cream on top!).
When I spied a chapter on Toasts, I knew this book was perfect for me. I LOVE TOAST! I mean, who doesn't? There are recipes for all sorts of simple ways to top toast — Caprese-style with tomatoes, olive oil, and basil or with sesame seed tofu. But since I'm always on the lookout for new breakfast ideas, I went with the "Poached Eggs" on Toast.
It's so simple and yet so delicious! You take toast, spread it with Earth Balance and flax oil, and top it with some hot, plain tofu. Bam! It really tastes like poached eggs. I added black salt to mine for an extra eggy flavor.
When Sharon says "simple recipes," she means "very simple." Nothing in the book is terribly complex, although some recipes are more time-consuming than others. But there are super simple dishes in here too, like the recipe for Simple Steamed Veggies or the one for Black Beans (with a few seasonings added). There's even a recipe for a dip called The Most Simple Dip (garlic, rosemary, olive oil). But there are plenty of recipes for the more skilled cook too, like the noodle soup above. It had lots of steps and ingredients.
Finally, the desserts! I want to make so many of these, especially the Hippie Carrot Cake and Julia Butterfly Cookies (sugar cookies named for Julia Butterfly Hill, who lived in a 115-year-old redwood tree for two years to save it from being cut down). Oh, and the smoothie chapter has Chakra Smoothies — one for every color of the rainbow chakra points!