Reviews

Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals by Sarah Copeland, a review

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Sarah Copeland’s cook book, Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for any eater and every appetite is definitely for the Granola set.

The French-Canadian slang expression, “Elle est une granola” translates to “she’s a health-food nut or a hippie-type person.”  I’m a granola girl who lives with, and accommodates, a meat-and-potatoes family.

I’ve shared a meal with hundreds of different people. Fewer than ten of them would be consistently satisfied, meal after meal, drawing from only the recipes in this book. Sarah is definitely using this book to promote her food philosophy–that eating a plant-based diet is good for health and good for the planet. I was willing to put up with a little prosthelytizing because the food intrigued me. Plus, she gives the right advice about cooking in cast iron, so I trusted her recipes would be good.

Who will like this book?

  • Vegetarians;
  • Anyone who wants to accommodate vegetarian eaters, without causing everyone else to feel deprived;
  • People who like variety and enjoy trying new foods and combinations;
  • Those who like a pretty cook book, with a balanced mix of quick and elaborate, exciting, healthy, tasty recipes.

The book is divided into 9 chapters, with some helpful, interesting cook-y stuff at the front and back–how to stock your pantry; what essential tools you need; and tips and tricks for kitchen prep work. The chapters are:

  1. Breakfast and Brunch: great ideas for starting your day with whole grains and veggies; a good balance of sweet & savory dishes; eggs; hot cereals; and even from-scratch 4-grain English muffins (make a batch for the freezer!)
  2. Little Meals: including soups.
  3. Salads and Sides: I was drawn to the beauty and the flavors of Roasted Carrot, Hazelnut and Radicchio Salad with Honey and Orange.
  4. Sandwiches and Sides: inventive ways to extinguish your ho-hum.
  5. Meals in a bowl: My favorite chapter.  Want to share a Soba Noodle Bowl with Broccolini and Bok Choy with me? How about some cheese grits with black beans and avocado?
  6. Platefuls: mostly healthy takes on pasta.
  7. Meals to Share: for gatherings large and small.
  8. Sweets: all of which I can eat (!!) because they’re not loaded with refined white sugar and flour.
  9. Pickles, Sauces and Such: The kimchee recipe isn’t super-authentic, but it tastes great, and keeps for months in the refrigerator.

Who won’t like this book?

  • People addicted to salty-greasy, highly-processed International Fast Chain stuff (I can’t call it food).

My one quibble — there is no nutritional analysis in the book. I suppose the marketing plan was to promote the fact that this is scrumptious food (the photos are nearly edible) while minimizing the truth that this food is good for you (because evidently people are naturally down on whatever is good for them?)

I won’t cook exclusively from Sarah Copeland’s Feast, but I’m glad to have found it.

Are you down on what’s good for you? What’s your food philosophy? Do you care about nutritional analysis?

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22 thoughts on “Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals by Sarah Copeland, a review”

  1. Sounds like a wonderful cookbook Tracy! I’m not a vegetarian but I often find that the meals I cook end up without meat without even trying 😉 Have you ever read any books by Michael Polan? I think he has a very similar food philosophy to you. I read his book Food Rules and found it really enlightening.

    1. I’ve skimmed most pf his books, Heather. The Omnivore’s Dilemma came out during the time that I was taking an environmental science class, and we discussed it in depth. I agree, his food philosophy is similar to mine, although I try not to worry too much about all the problems with our food supply, since I feel it’s something I lack the power to change. Meaning, I do try to grow my own food and eat organic whole foods, but I also try not to offend people who don’t see our food as a problem; when they generously offer something to me to eat, I eat it. And if it’s something that I can only have a nibble of, I nibble.

      I try not to make a religion out of food. I’d say my philosophy is basically, eat healthy when I’m at home eating (which is most of the time) and the rest of the time I’m saying, “Yes, I’ll have a little bit of that, thank you,” to what ever is put before me.

      1. So many dietary changes promote extremism, and it can get discouraging to someone attempting to make positive changes. Your philosophy sounds like something I can live with!

        1. I’m always suspicious of extremism, because it is only one step away from dangerous fanaticism.

          In diet, I think extremism is linked to perfectionism, another “ism” which is unhealthy for body and soul. It’s an “all or nothing” philosophy, not one I can live with. I made changes gradually. A little more of the healthier stuff (whole grains, a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, “good” fat like olive oil) and a little less of the stuff that, in large quantities, is unhealthy (refined white flour and sugar, deep fried foods, large doses of saturated fat like bacon grease, lard, butter, cream and whole-fat cheese).

          It just makes sense to me, to change gradually, rather than radically. It’s gentler.

  2. My food choices are pretty basic Tracy. Whole, real food (meats, veggies, fruit, nuts, grains; and eat as is or cook it myself. Little to no processed food. That’s it. 🙂
    Diana xo

  3. While I don’t think I could ever be completely satisfied with an only-vegetarian diet, Tracy, you presented this information so well that I’m tempted to buy a copy of Sarah’s book for my great-niece. She’s a new vegetarian and determined to created excellent variety.

    1. I also could not be satisfied with a vegetarian diet, marylin… I tried! My taste didn’t crave meat, but my blood (iron levels) sure did. I think your niece would appreciate this balanced book–which, while vegetarian , isn’t judgmental against non-vegetarians.

  4. I could never survive on a strict vegetarian diet, Tracy. I eat eggs, chicken and cottage cheese every day. I could do a Pesco vegetarian diet which does allow for eggs, fish and dairy, but I’d have to slip in some chicken now and then. 🙂

    1. Personally, I think a strictly vegetarian diet leans toward radical, and therefore it isn’t in harmony with my philosophy of “all things in moderation.” But vegetarians have accomplished 2 things, for which I’m grateful: raised my awareness that it’s healthier to eat plenty of vegetables, fruits and grains; and taught me plenty of recipes for making those foods delicious and satisfying.

      So, once again, Jill, we’re on the same page. 🙂

  5. I won’t say I look down on nutritious food, but I’m not nearly as concerned about it as I should be. That’s starting to change as I get older and realize that what I eat has a strong effect on how I feel. I’ve been overweight pretty much my entire life, but never before have my food choices given such immediate repercussions! I eat too much salt and my ankles instantly swell. Too much sugar and a headache looms. Too much grease and stomach issues crop up. So yeah, I’ve started making better choices based on negative reinforcement. I never really had an issue being plump, but I do have a problem with feeling like crap! Thanks for sharing this Tracy 🙂

    1. Pain and misery do have a way of forcing us into change. I have the same kinds of responses to food that you, do, which is why I eat the way I eat now. My body forced me into it! 🙂

      But I really, really like to eat tasty food. I’ve found that drawing from ethnic cuisines around the world makes it simpler to eat healthy while enjoying flavorful meals. Other cultures just do a better job of balancing nutrition with flavor. I ran across this recipe today and can’t wait to try it. http://ozlemsturkishtable.com/2014/12/kale-stew-in-yoghurt-chickpeas-my-online-turkish-cookery-course/

      What I like about it, is its versatility. Don’t have kale? Substitute zucchini. Don’t like chick peas? Substitute fava or cannelini.

      I also find, that by eating a wide variety of foods, my body has developed the ability to tell me what I need. I no longer crave sweets. Instead, I’ll find myself craving real, whole foods. Like chickpeas. Or sweet potatoes. Or tofu. Those are cravings I don’t feel guilty about giving into.

      Best wishes, Faith, on your journey toward feeling great by eating what makes you feel good (and still tastes delicious!)

  6. I like when you present things, it makes me ponder if I could become a vegetarian. My oldest daughter did this until pregnant and worried she was not able to provide enough calcium and protein which helps bones and brain growth… My youngest has selected many meats and gluten to not include in her diet, so she won’t have her auto-immune system attacked, she has lived with JRA for quite sometime… her joints ache and she feels these will help prevent pain, in a natural way… take care, Tracy. This book and Sarah seems very knowledgeable!

    1. I tried, but couldn’t be, a vegetarian. My iron levels fell too dramatically, and my red blood cells become misshapen.

      But, I did learn to eat a whole lot more whole grains and vegetables–I think that’s fairly balanced.

      I also think that the basic problem isn’t meat and grains; it’s the pesticides and hormones/antibiotics that are in modern meats and grains, that cause auto-immune problems.

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