Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food: 65 Everyday Meal Ideas for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner with Over 150 Great-tasting, Down-home Recipes
As someone who has been cooking far less time than I’d like to admit, I should explain that I’ve gotten quite skilled in the arts of chopping, mincing, and sautéing in a very short time, and I enjoy my kitchen prep time far more than I ever expected. I’m a vegan in a decidedly un-vegan land, so I had little choice when it came to learning to cook. After going vegan, the options were eat junk or go hungry.
Alicia C. Simpson, known to some as Vegan Guinea Pig, a writer for the Vegans of Color blog, and founder of Lici’s Sweet Treats Organic Bakery, found herself in a similar predicament. A native Californian living in Atlanta, she had a tough time locating simple, healthy vegan food in her community. Raised on a combination of soul food from her Southern father and veg-friendly Cali fare from her mother, Simpson’s journey to veganism began several years ago and accidentally (if fortuitously) produced a cookbook. After making her own booklet of instructions, she realized that her creations had become a full-fledged publication. Brand new publisher The Experiment believed in her work, and the result of their collaboration is stunning.
Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food is filled with accessible, invigorating recipes. Alongside simple preparation instructions are cooking tips and suggestions for pairings with other dishes in the book. Several pages are devoted to whole foods green smoothies and, for vegan newbies, how to ease into drinking them so you body doesn’t go into some sort of detox shock that leaves you stuck in the water closet for a day.
Beautiful full-page color photos illustrate delectable combinations, like sweet potato waffles with a spinach omelet, Fool Your Friends Tacos, and Sloppy Josephs. I think meaty Sloppy Joes are one of the most disgusting foods invented, and a vegan version hardly sounded appealing. But the photo of the TVP (textured vegetable protein) mixture on whole-wheat buns made my mouth water. With a sauce made from scratch, you avoid all the preservatives and high fructose corn syrup. That’s a re-appropriated comfort I can get behind.
Cookbooks can do more than instruct. They can also inspire and validate. Simpson’s unpretentious recipes provide vegan simplicity, and her enthusiasm for cooking is infectious. She offers basic tips for stocking a low-cost vegan pantry. When she writes, “Trying oat milk for the first time is a life-changing experience,” I truly believe her—and not just because I happened to have tried oat milk less than a week before receiving her book in the mail. Indeed, had I carried her supportive words with me to the grocery, I would have spent far less time debating which carton of dairy alternative to purchase.
The only other decision I faced recently when selecting food was which of Simpson’s enticing creations to try first. In my home, we are vegans who admittedly miss cheese (and my partner is only vegan at home, for what it’s worth). For that reason, the Dilla recipe—that’s sans queso, you see—was a perfect choice. A lightly fried tortilla filled with a hummus and veggie concoction, we ate too much and didn’t think twice about missing cheddar. But then, I don’t expect vegan ingredients to replicate—only to replace—animal products.
Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food delivers on all counts. A food preparation manual has rarely been so appropriately named.