Cookbook review: The Plantpower Way

February Cookbook of the Month: The Plantpower Way

Hi everyone, and happy Friday!  I’m writing this post with just a few days left in Berlin before visiting my parents in the States.  This is my first cookbook of the month review, and I’m so happy to have chosen the cookbook The Plantpower Way by Julie and Rich Roll.  My husband Adam received this book as a Christmas gift two years ago already, and if I had to guess, I’d say we have made only around five or six of the recipes in it so far.  Crazy, right!? So I was excited to test out some more.

I was aiming to hit fourteen recipes to make this month, and I’m happy to say I’ve been able to make thirteen.

As always, I aim to test out recipes from all sections of the cookbook.  For my review I take in account the following criteria:

  • Price and availability of  ingredients
  • Clarity of instructions, difficulty level, and length of time to make the recipes
  • Any “extra” information that the author includes in the cookbook
  • And how the recipes taste, of course!

Some quick background on my own cooking skills: I really enjoy cooking, and it was a couple of years ago (2015) that I started to cook more difficult recipes.  Before then, I had little to no experience in cooking and had made it a point to stay out of the kitchen as much as possible.  Fast forward to today and I would say I’m a pretty decent cook (intermediate level, maybe?) and love finding new recipes and flavors to test out.  My baking skills lean more towards beginner.  I let you know this as it might be helpful for you, depending on the level you’re at.

So, let’s get to it!

The Plantpower Way by Julie Piatt and Rich Roll is their first cookbook together.  They are a married couple with four kids.  Rich is an endurance athlete who turned his life around at the age of 40, from being a couch potato to someone who now runs ultra marathons .  Julie is a yogi, chef, and spiritual guide.  They wrote this cookbook to serve those looking for help in creating their own path to healthy living.

There are three optional paths outlined within the cookbook: one for physical excellence, one for rebirth, and one for balance and harmony (Performance, Transformation, and Vitality).  If you like you can follow these paths for a more focused plan, or can enjoy them however you choose.

Recipes I tried (scroll to bottom for pictures):

Cherry Cacao Blend Smoothie (page 47)

Hemp Milk (page 70)

Morning Porridge (page 127)

No-lox plate with bagels (page 131)

Chia Seed Pudding (page 138)

Torre de Nachos (page 207)

Aztec Enchiladas (page 214)

Untuna Wraps (page 229)

Mocha Latte (page 248)

Ginger Turmeric Latte (page 249)

Peanut Butter Cookies (page 261)

Abuela’s Glazed Bananas (page 262)

Rich’s Birthday Apple Pie (page 283)

My favorite recipe(s): Torre de nachos.  All the way.

Price of ingredients: For the mains, I would put it at the more expensive end. Many of them have one or two ingredients that are rather pricey, and I wonder what I will do with the rest of them.  A few times I would switch out the pricier ingredients (kalamata olives) for a more affordable option (black olives).  However this could take away from the final taste, something I made note of and considered in each recipe.

Availability of ingredients: One thing that bothered me for some of the recipes is that I could not find all of the ingredients, or I would have to make special trips to various health food stores to get just one of the ingredients for a recipe.  I also have to make sure I can find another recipe from somewhere else to make use of said special ingredient.

Cooking experience: NoviceIntermediate.  Most recipes aren’t too difficult to perform, but there are certain ones where instructions aren’t very clear and if it weren’t for my previous cooking experience, I wouldn’t have known how to do it (such as how to blanch and fold a collard green wrap for the untuna wraps).

What I like about the cookbook:  In between the recipe contents there are chapters providing insight to various healthy lifestyle topics (raising healthy kids with a plant powered lifestyle approach, But where do you get your protein?, Embracing the Now, and Find your Purpose and Invest in the Journey, just to name a few).  I found these really interesting to read as well as helpful for ideas on how I can improve my own eating habits and lifestyle.  I also enjoyed the introductions to each recipe along with possible serving suggestions and pairings.  There are many gorgeous photos throughout the book of their family in their home, surrounded by food.

What could be better: The clarity of instructions in some recipes, especially fermenting food and sprouting – these things are just touched on and they do not go in-depth, so I would seek out another cookbook for these matters.  I also would appreciate possible substitutions for some ingredients, so the price of the recipes wouldn’t be as expensive.  As mentioned above, there are many amazing photos of the family provided, however the photos of the actual food and food styling are all close-ups and rather basic (according to my taste and opinion).

Final takeaway: Most recipes were not too difficult to make, but some of the mains got to be very time-consuming (the enchiladas, for example).  I’m not sure I would incorporate too many of them into my go-to meal repertoire, as I know I wouldn’t have all of the given ingredients for one recipe on hand at once.  Maybe just the nachos…those were relatively uncomplicated to make and pretty memorable to eat. What I liked about the recipes themselves is that they had some interesting flavor combinations that I haven’t tried before.

I would recommend this cookbook to someone who already has some experience in cooking, and is looking to widen their plant based recipe/cookbook repertoire.  It is also beneficial to someone who would like to read about the Rolls’ lifestyle and habits, and learn more about the basics of living a plant-based, conscious way of living.

 

Would I keep it on my bookshelf?  Yes.  However nothing really “wowed” me, and it probably wouldn’t be one of my go-to cookbooks for the recipes…but I would pull it out to re-read the stories and advice provided.

 

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Chia seed pudding with Glazed bananas
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Untuna wraps
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Peanut butter cookies
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Aztec enchiladas
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Apple tart
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Morning porridge
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Ginger Turmeric Latte

 

My monthly inspiration

Here’s my monthly inspiration before Benoit and I fly to Wisconsin on Sunday (Three days away already!?).  Talk about feeling rushed and nervous – we just kind of started packing and still need to clean everything which will happen Saturday night, I’m sure.  Wish us luck! Xx

my Monthly Inspiration

Things I like | People + companies who inspire me 

Simply Earth

This company is based in Wisconsin (which I think is pretty cool), and I found them through Instagram.  They sell essential oils and also offer a subscription box that’s all DIY.  While I can’t give a testimonial to their products as I haven’t yet been able to try them, what sparked my interest and love for them is that they also use their company as a platform for talking about human trafficking, and they donate 13% of their profits to causes that help stop it.

LoveChock Chocolate bars

For my birthday this month I got two chocolate bars from this company.  Not only are they one of my top vegan chocolate bar picks for taste, but also for the environment-their packaging is 100% compostable.  This is so important to think about because plastic is terrible for both our health and the environment (it seeps into the food that’s in it and its chemicals causes harm to our planet and creatures).  So thank you, Lovechock, for spreading the Plastic Pollutes message and coming up with an alternative!  They also have really inventive flavors such as cacao nibs with sea salt, blueberry and hempseed, and almond and baobab.

Baking with vegetables

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I love trying out new recipes, and I’ve recently been interested in using vegetables (squash, sweet potato, beets, etc.) in baking. For the past few years for my birthday I like to kind of go all out with choosing a cake and do something  different.  So when I found a cake on Pinterest that uses beets and chocolate, I knew that it was what I wanted for my cake this year.  I got the recipe here.  Also I should mention the best vegan chocolate frosting I’ve ever made, which has avocados in it! Super creamy and delicious.

The One Part Podcast

I started listening to Jessica Murnane when I was pregnant with Benoit, fell off the podcast bandwagon (how that’s possible I’m not sure) and started up again this month. And now I’ve been listening to this podcast all. Month. Long.  Mainly when cooking.  You know, when you’re home with a baby all day you can go kind of crazy and listening to podcasts bring back a little sanity in me.  Adult conversations and all.  So the hostess, Jessica Murnane, interviews different figures in the wellness (mainly plant-based food) community.  I’ve appreciated being able to listen in on conversations and advice from people who are doing such inspiring things.

Local Milk blog

Another oldie but goodie.  As in, I was totally into her blog back when we were living in Ireland three years ago when I found her through the blog farmette, and all of a sudden (okay, due to her being interviewed on the One Part Podcast) I started reading her blog again and seeing what she’s been up to lately.  She is a food blogger (though not plant based) and now her website is focusing a bit more on life and wellness.  Her moody photography is just gorgeous, and that along with the fact that she makes amazing things is getting me to dapple in the art of food photography.

 

Who or what inspired you this month?

 

February Reflection and March…goals?

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A little early of a reflection as February isn’t exactly done yet, but seeing as we fly out the 26th I don’t think I’ll have much time the last days of February to write a reflection.

Actually, there isn’t much to reflect upon goals-wise.  It’s kind of been a ‘meh’ month.  I could blame it on going on the week-long vacation as to why I wasn’t able to accomplish or stick to them, but I’m starting to think that maybe this system I have in place isn’t the way I want to go about accomplishing things.

First off it’s my mindset.  I think that I can choose a million goals and get them all done, or that I should be able to get them all done, and then when I don’t I kind of freak.  I realized that back in my January reflection, and so I decided to choose just a few goals for February.  Annnnnd, I still wasn’t able to follow through.

The truth is, I’m in a really up-in-the-air situation at the moment, and have been for the past year.  With the arrival of our baby, and then having the whole of 2016 of not knowing where we’re going to be for at least the next couple of years (we still don’t know), my mind has been pretty clouded, and I’ve been losing steam.  I’ve been overtiring myself mentally with trying to “figure out” what it is I’m going to “do with my life”.  I put quotations on both of these terms because as time goes on I’m finding them both quite ridiculous, actually.  I’ve come to accepting that, despite wanting to find a fulfilling (career) path – and let’s face it, who doesn’t – it doesn’t have to happen right now, and maybe it’s not meant to.  I need to have faith in who I am and as well as in God, that things will work themselves out, with no time expectations.

So with all of that said, I’m devoting this year to self care and development.  And not thinking about extrinsic goals (Deciding on/finding a career or opening a business, impressing others, etc.).

I had a revelation the other day concerning self care.  I was kind of confused with why I wasn’t following through with things, such as my morning routine or working out.  I had everything planned out but I would never follow through with it.  It was then that I had my small ephiphany on what can help me with these habits that can help my self growth.

1. Doing an act of self care doesn’t mean you have to like it.  Sure, things like massages and pedicures are great examples of self care, and I would never skip out on one of those appointments, but….. there are many other things that I have a hard time making time for because I’m usually being too lazy and giving in to the weakness of the moment (taking a nap over working out, going on social media rather than reading a book).

2.  Self care is about respecting who I am, mind and body.  And so if I don’t feel like getting up at 5:30am to do my morning routine – well too bad because I want to respect myself enough to know that it is something that betters me as a person and makes me stay sane.  So I’ll do it.

So while I don’t yet have concrete goals for the month of March, these are the things and ideas that are floating around in my mind at the moment:

  1.  Spending less time on social media.  Ever since I got a smart phone (last November) I’ve been spending too much time on it and not doing other things (reading, writing, etc.) that would be more beneficial to me.
  2. Sucking it up and doing the thing that I know will benefit me, even if in the moment I want to be lazy and do something else (like nap. Ahhh, naps).
  3. Not constantly looking at what everyone else is doing – which is often a cause of jealousy, lack of originality and creativity, and can even cause self hate (yes, I’m speaking from experience) and instead shift my focus to what I am doing – and show some self-appreciation for it.
  4. Showing myself a little more understanding, a little more appreciation, and a little more love.  Speaking to myself as I would a friend.

How are your resolutions, intentions, goals, etc. going? And how do you practice self care?

 

Our little family vacation in France

After one week of vacation, we are now back home in our cold, cloudy Berlin.  The Thursday before we hopped on board a plane to Marseille.  Adam’s dad had organized a ski trip for the family in a small town in the mountains called Arvieux.  We decided to extend our stay so that we could first visit some friends in Aix en Provence, where we used to live, and then visit Adam’s grandparents in Versailles, who hadn’t yet met Benoit.

Aix en Provence

Going back to Aix for vacation is a little bit of a tease for me.  Maybe even for the both of us.  Because it’s SO beautiful, and it just makes you want to move there.  The weather, the architecture, the food, people…the weather….

We stayed at a friend’s house the Thursday night and on Friday met up with more friends in a new cafe and at a nearby park to let the kiddos run around.

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Arvieux

Friday afternoon we took a bus to a nearby town to meet Adam’s brother, who we rode with to the mountains.  The trip was pretty long, and while we were riding up in the mountains Benoît had his first bout of car sickness.  We were just glad that it was from the swerving and not a virus or anything that would’ve had him sick the whole weekend.

Adam had taken me to this little mountain town two summers ago, when I was pregnant with Benoît.  When he was a boy, his family used to ski in this town every year.  It was so special to be there again, this time in winter and with our little boy.

On Saturday the boys went skiing, and I stayed behind with Benoît in the gite (which is like a large cabin).  I am not a skier and am still a bit scarred from my experience five years ago in the Alps, so I decided to skip out this time.  When everyone got back we enjoyed some wine and cheese around a long table.

The next day, Sunday, we all had lunch together at the local restaurant before saying goodbye and parting ways.  We drove to my father-in-law’s apartment and stayed with him for the night, and then took off early Monday morning to head for Paris.

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Versailles

Monday was a very long day of travel for us.  Marseille to Versailles by car, then train, then train again, then bus.  We were in transport from 8am-3 or 4pm.  Benoît handled it all really well, except for the first train ride when it was his nap time.  He has the hardest time falling asleep anywhere that’s not his own bed, but he was able to manage after an hour of full-on crankiness.

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The last time we had seen Louis and Solange, Adam’s grandparents, was also the two summers ago when I was pregnant.  They were thrilled to meet their grandson.  I can’t believe it had really been that long since we last saw them, and I hope we can visit them again this summer or fall.

They live in this grand old house which is decorated in a very Victorian manner, and with all of the statues and paintings, it gives you the feeling of being in a another time period, or even a museum (but with comfy chairs).

We flew out of the Orly airport back to Berlin Wednesday night.  Happy to say that it was another successful flight for Benoît and ourselves.  We lucked out and got a third seat open next to us on both flights, so Benoît could better amuse himself with his toys.

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How to Make Hemp Milk

Good morning and happy Wednesday!  Tomorrow we are going on vacation to visit my in-laws + co in France so it is all smiles around here.  We are flying into Aix-en-Provence and staying with friends, then going to the Alps for a day of skiing (sledding for me), and finally taking a train up to Paris and staying with Adam’s grandparents.  We are both excited for this little six-day break before we ship off to Hamburg and Adam starts his new job.

But now – let’s get to the hemp milk!

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I have to be honest and tell you that it is actually my husband Adam who is the chief of making our nut and seed milk around our house.  I used to make almond milk, but after finding out how easy and convenient hemp milk is to make, we converted.  Along with being easy, it also offers amazing health benefits, such as omega-3 essential fatty acids.

So for this week’s My Homemade Week, I am the one making it.  I followed the recipe from The Plant Power Way, my cookbook of the month.  Here’s what I did:

1. Pour three cups cold water and add in one cup hemp seeds to a blender.

2. Blend on high for a minute.

3. Strain, if desired (I don’t, I find it just fine)

4. Optional: Pour back into the blender and add in a sweetener of choice (maple syrup, stevia, agave syrup).  Again, I don’t do always do this as I think it tastes fine as is.

I’ve also seen recipes that say you could use one cup hemp seeds to five or even six cups of water.  It’s up to your personal preference.

After making my regular hemp milk, I decided to make some chocolate hemp milk – always a good idea, right!?  So I added in two tablespoons to half of my already-made batch and blended again.

As tomorrow is la chandeleur and my husband is French, I decided to celebrate a day early as it’s not certain we’ll get to a creperie tomorrow (ironic as how we’ll be in France then, I know).  I used the hemp milk to make some vegan crepes from the blog the Simple Vegan Blog.

Happy National Crepe Day!

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What’s your favorite kind of nut or seed milk?