Cookbook Review: The Oh She Glows Cookbook, Angela Liddon (2014)

March 10th, 2014 2:21 pm by Kelly Garbato

Deliciously Wholesome Vegan Food

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review at the publisher’s behest.)

Let me begin by thanking Penguin Books for sending me a copy of this cookbook for review about a month prior to its publication date. (Before it was even on my radar, actually.) As an avowed junk food vegan, it’s probably not something I would have picked up on my own – but I’ve discovered more than one new favorite dish in The Oh She Glows Cookbook!

As fans of the Oh She Glows website and blog already know, Angela Liddon focuses her culinary efforts on plant-based, healthy whole foods, free of chemicals and additives. Continuing this tradition, The Oh She Glows Cookbook includes 75 new recipes, as well as more than 25 fan favorites from her blog. Recipes run the gamut, from “power snacks” to smoothies, juices, and teas, as well as breakfast foods, appetizers, salads, soups, entrees, sides, and desserts. There’s a fairly wide variety of dishes to be found, from vegan versions of American favorites (Lentil Walnut Loaf, Grilled Portobello Burger, Lightened-Up Crispy Baked Fries) to more international meals (Creamy Vegetable Curry, Crowd-Pleasing Tex-Mex Casserole, Quick & Easy Chana Masala). Many of the recipes are gluten-free, or include gluten-free substitutions; and Liddon sometimes offers soy-free alternatives, too.

I tried just over a dozen recipes in preparation for this review (and, let’s be honest, because my stomach compelled me to!), including the following:


 

2014-02-11 - OSG Classic Hummus - 0001 [flickr]

  • Classic Hummus (page 89)
  • Never before have I been able to get my homemade hummus as smooth and creamy as the store-bought versions…that is, until now! The secret’s in the chickpea skins – or rather, the lack of them. For a super-silky hummus, Liddon recommends skinning the chickpeas prior to use.

    This works well, but at what cost!?! It took me nearly an hour to skin the chickpeas required for this recipe. Probably I’ll stick to Sabra brand for the foreseeable future. Barring a hummus shortage or zombie apocalypse, that is.

    On the upside, this is a delicious recipe. Normally I prefer my hummus with some “extras” – roasted red peppers, Kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes – but as far as plain hummus goes, this one’s a winner.

     

    2014-02-12 - OSG Broccoli Quinoa Burritos - 0004 [flickr]

  • Broccoli and Cashew Cheese-Quinoa Burrito (page 159)
  • SO GOOD! Seriously, this recipe is worth the purchase price of the book alone. While the fillings – quinoa, broccoli, sundried tomatoes – are delish, it’s the cashew cream sauce that really makes this burrito sing.

    Don’t want to use quinoa? Swap it out for millet, barley, or even just plain old white (or brown!) rice.

     

    2014-02-14 - OSG Creamy Avocado Pasta - 0003 [flickr]

  • 15-Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta (page 173)
  • I’ve enjoyed avocado pasta before, but this is just…WOW.

    The sauce is deliciously simple: avocados, garlic, basil, lemon. (The lemon? It downright OWNS the pasta.) Blend in a food processor, mix with the pasta, and serve.

    The hardest part about this dish is the timing: since avocados oxidize quickly (thus turning an unappetizing shade of brown), you want to use the sauce immediately. Or at least if you want to snag a halfway decent photo of it.

    This is one of the recipes taken from the Oh She Glows website, so you can try it out prior to buying the book.

     

    2014-02-14 - OSG Salt & Vinegar Chickpeas - 0007 [flickr]

  • Roasted Salt & Vinegar Chickpeas (page 221)
  • I’d never tried roasted chickpeas prior to this recipe, and I am kicking myself for not checking them out sooner. Delicious, healthy, and very easy to make.

    The Oh She Glows Cookbook contains two recipes for roasted chickpeas – a “plain” version and a salt and vinegar flavor – but you can very easily experiment with your own versions by following the basic recipe in the book.

     

    2014-02-15 - OSG Chickpea Salad Sandwich - 0005 [flickr]

  • Perfected Chickpea Salad Sandwich (page 105)
  • Another epic win. Modeled on a flaky chicken salad the author used to enjoy in her pre-vegan (pregan!) days, the mashed chickpeas (no skinning required!) provide a nice, flaky base for the salad. Also present: mustard, vegan mayo, dill pickles, red peppers, and celery (though I omitted it – too weird and stringy for me!). The dill is optional but takes the salad to the next level. Seriously, don’t skip it. Unless you loathe dill. Then do. But not before reconsidering your priorities and life choices.

     

    2014-02-16 - OSG Almond Butter Cookies - 0002 [flickr]

  • Crispy Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (page 265)
  • This was my first time making gluten-free cookies, and it was NOT A DISASTER! Actually it was a yummy, yummy success. Instead of wheat flour, this recipe uses almond and oat flour; this, along with the almond butter, gives these cookies a multilayered nutty taste that’s pure perfection. (I really love almonds, yo. MARCHPANE!)

    The only downside? This is the only cookie recipe in the whole book. (Boo!) My inner Cookie Monster is indignant.

    Pro tip: always use parchment paper and cooling racks when baking cookies. It makes all the diff.

     

    2014-02-16 - OSG Apple Pie Oatmeal - 0001 [flickr]

  • Apple Pie Oatmeal (page 49)
  • Though it’s more effort and brainpower than I’m able or willing to muster first thing in the morning, this Apple Pie Oatmeal makes a tasty and filling lunch or dinner. Only thing I’d do differently next time around? Mix the apples into the oatmeal after it’s done cooking. I like them either raw and crisp or soft and mushy – no in-betweenies, okay.

     

    2014-02-16 - OSG Tomato-Basil Pasta - 0004 [flickr]

  • Luxurious Tomato-Basil Pasta (page 181)
  • I’m pretty sure the “Luxurious” in the Luxurious Tomato-Basil Pasta is code for “cheesy.” And if it’s not, it should be. Put vegan cheese on ALL the things!

    This pasta dish has an unusual pink sauce that’s the result of a super-holy marriage between a traditional red tomato sauce – and a white sauce made of blended cashews and nondairy milk. So good, and super-easy to make. The cook time on this one is just 30 minutes, so you can whip it up in a snap. (Though I prefer to let my tomatoes simmer for awhile so that they get nice and tender.)

     

    2014-02-17 - OSG Oatmeal & Lentil Bowl - 0007 [flickr]

  • Loaded Savory Oatmeal & Lentil Bowl (page 47)
  • I’ve never had savory oatmeal, and so I fully expected not to like this recipe. (Fussy eater problems, yo!) And I didn’t. Like it, that is. BECAUSE I LOVED IT!

    It reads more like a stew than an oatmeal; the oats take on the flavor of the chicken broth (vegan, natch) they’re cooked in, and the lentils make it extra-hearty. The husband enjoyed his bowl with the suggested avocados and hummus, while I went with crackers and avocado toast. A pretty excellent weeknight meal, if I do say so myself.

     

    2014-02-21 - OSG Sunrise Scramble - 0007 [flickr]

  • Sunrise Scramble with Roasted Home Fries (page 33)
  • I’ll be brutally honest here: this isn’t my favorite tofu scramble recipe. That said, it’s still a tofu scramble, and tofu scrambles effin rock.

    This one’s got both mushrooms and spinach, the excess moisture of which can be difficult to cook off. Consequently, my tofu ended up a but wet and mushy. Also, this recipe’s funny in that it doesn’t include many of the tofu scramble staples, namely tumeric, soy sauce/tamari, and extra spices to season. There’s just a tablespoon of nooch (rather low, imho), papika, salt, and pepper. Yawn.

    (I cheated and added some tumeric, hence the yellow, eggy color. Couldn’t help myself!)

    Still, it’s tasty enough. And the home fries? Fuhgettaboutit! Way easier to make than hash browns (I’ve yet to produce a properly crispy batch!), and every bit as tasty.

     

    2014-02-22 - OSG veggie Burger & Fries - 0009 [flickr]

    2014-02-22 - OSG veggie Burger & Fries - 0004 [flickr]

  • Our Favorite Veggie Burger (page 155) with a side o’ Lightened-Up Crispy Baked Fries (page 203)
  • You know, if the cashew cheese burritos hadn’t already sold me on the OSG cookbook, this veggie burger would have sealed the deal. It’s thick and hearty, and stuffed with tons of goodies: black beans, rolled oats, sunflower seeds, breadcrumbs, grated carrots, garlic, onions, parsley…shall I go on? It takes a little while to put together, but it’s so worth it. And since I usually only cook for two, I just stored the extra batter in the fridge for another night. The husband and I ended up stretching this out into four meals. Score!

    The Crispy Baked Fries are rockin’, too. They have an arrowroot powder/oil coating (similar to that in the Roasted Home Fries) that gives the outsides a really interesting texture. Plus they have roughly the same bake time as the burgers, so they make a convenient pair. It’s almost like they were made for each other! (*wink*)

     

    2014-02-26 - OSG Immunity Tomato Sauce - 0001 [flickr]

  • Immunity-Boosting Tomato Sauce with Mushrooms (page 161)
  • So, I’ll be honest: this isn’t my all-time favorite pasta sauce. But to be fair, I am super-Italian, and have been enjoying pasta at least once a week my entire life. I have long since perfected my own dream red sauce recipe. (Spoiler alert: it involves roasted red peppers.) But I have to admit, I love the idea of adding red lentils to pasta sauce, and the chia seeds are a nice extra too.

    Well done, even by own snobby standards.

    ###

    As you can see from the individual breakdowns, most of the dishes I tried were an overwhelming success. (And those that weren’t, were still pretty damn good.) A few will even make it into regular rotation in the Garbato-Brady kitchen: Broccoli and Cashew Cheese-Quinoa Burritos. 15-Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta. Perfected Chickpea Salad Sandwiches (which I’ve already made three times now!). Loaded Savory Oatmeal & Lentil Bowl. Our Favorite Veggie Burger. Of those recipes that I most likely won’t make again (Apple Pie Oatmeal; Sunrise Scramble; Immunity-Boosting Tomato Sauce with Mushrooms), it’s mainly because I have my own tried and true recipes that I prefer to Liddon’s – not because hers aren’t nom-worthy, too.

    The ingredients lists are straightforward and don’t feature many unusual or hard-to-find ingredients. Among the “weirder” ingredients I found: chia seeds, coconut aminos (which I’ve since learned is a soy-free alternative to soy sauce), and gluten-free rolled oats and spelt bread crumbs (each of them easily swapped out for the gluteny versions).

    To the newbie, some of the recipes might appear intimidating at first glance, with extensive ingredient lists – but, upon closer inspection, you’ll find that many of the entries are spices. While it’s true that some of the dishes require a little more prep work, none are especially difficult.

    Liddon is a food photographer as well as a chef, and as expected, The Oh She Glows Cookbook is a gorgeous book. The pages are thick and glossy and peppered with Liddon’s photography. Every recipe is accompanied by a full-page, full-color photo. Those who like their cookbooks colorful and shiny will not be disappointed.

    As for the overall rating, The Oh She Glows Cookbook ranks somewhere between 4 and 4.5 stars for me. While there are many amazing recipes to be had here, there are also a number of recipes that I’m not likely to try (including an entire chapter of smoothies and juices). For those who consider themselves health food vegans, The Oh She Glows Cookbook might be more of a 5-star dealio. To be fair, I decided to average the two and round the resulting 4.5 stars up to 5. If you enjoy healthy, wholesome vegan food – not to mention mouth-watering food photography – look no further.

    Or do: you can always check out the Oh She Glows website before ordering the book. Take a few recipes out for a test drive and see what you think!

    (This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

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    One Response to “Cookbook Review: The Oh She Glows Cookbook, Angela Liddon (2014)”

    1. Fall Harvest Butternut Squash with Almond-Pecan Parmesan » V for Vegan: easyVegan.info Says:

      […] guys, if I hadn’t already given The Oh She Glows Cookbook five stars, I’d do it on the merits of this recipe alone. SO GOOD! Yet so […]

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