Jessica Prescott’s book Vegan Goodness is subtitled with “delicious plant-based recipes that can be enjoyed every day” and I do think she achieved her goal of that subtitle. The whole-food aspect is something i’m always looking for - I think it’s a refreshing take on traditional cookbooks. To be able to create beautiful dishes using whole ingredients (dates instead of processed sugar, nuts instead of oil, coconut cream instead of dairy) is an important thing in today’s world.
The quality of the printing is amazing, and the size and heft of it are great. The ingredients and tools are laid out really well to make it easy to understand the basics you’ll need to cook from the book. The photos, as always when it comes to Jessica, are super bright and inviting.
I’ve never particularly wanted to try jackfruit before, but the jackfruit taco photo (pg 40) really made me excited for warmer weather again, where we could eat tacos on our front porch with some beer. The eggplant rollatini (pg 76), as well, made me actually want to try cooking with eggplant again, after many years of writing it off as mushy and bland and not worth trying. The grilled stone fruit & wild herb salad (pg 80) made me CRAVE a chill summer BBQ, and I have never been one to “crave” summer. All in all, these recipes are fresh and vibrant and interesting enough to want to try them straight from the book, even for someone like me who has been cooking hard every day for many years now. I think the recipe ideas are what I think of as “earnest cooking,” meaning a whole-foods kind of cooking that challenges you just a bit but is still familiar enough to feel warm and easy.
My only complaint is a bit nitpicky, I think, and works as more of an aside than a particular criticism of this book. Even with this criticism, I still recommend the book highly.
I’m still looking for a whole foods vegan writer that
- doesn’t invoke these guys (pg 29)
- has a wider world view than “[e]very time I eat a grape I wonder why anyone would choose a bag of candy over a bunch of grapes.” (pg 11)
Take the wording with a grain of salt if you’re living an experience that comes from eating junk food and lacks the time or money to eat an ENTIRELY fresh food diet. This mindset comes from MANY in the whole food community, and I was just a little disappointed to see it in the language in the book. She mentions eschewing tofu (which, btw, is a pretty whole food, not much different than using store bought pasta which is also included in the book), but that just cuts out yet another option for people who are already living busy lives and want variety. We, as business owners, find ourselves reaching for convenience food every so often when we are emotionally and physically drained after our long days at work, or when we literally need to keep working until we fall asleep and don’t have time to prep, cook, and clean up. This is less “whole”, but ultimately it keeps us from ordering in, which is really the worst for our bodies, wallet, and the planet. Processed foods are a reality in many people’s lives, and candy tastes good and we have a history with it - that’s why people eat it.
Really, this IS a whole foods book, so the intention is expected, but book writers should keep more inclusive ideas and language in anything they put out. It prevents guilt and shame and further restriction around a lifestyle that isn’t always easy or fast. Just a thought on that.
Ultimately, though, this book definitely earns its place on my cookbook shelf. I think it’s a great size, really beautiful, and challenges (and excites!) me to try cooking in new ways. If you haven’t picked up Vegan Goodness, I would truly recommend it for the upcoming warmer months.
who this book is for
People who want to start cooking more whole foods, but maybe haven’t started really diving into it. People who are looking for good spring/summer meal ideas that won’t weigh you down.
the best part
The vibrancy of the recipes and photos.
intro with some resources, shopping list, ingredients you may not be familiar with, kitchen equipment, and tips and tricks
sides & snacks
condiments and drinks
and a helpful index
matcha cheesecake (we made this for a party and it went over really well!)
pear & caramel tart (pictured here)
summer roll salad
berry, fennel, and rocket salad