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cookbook review: Vegan Family Meals: Real Food for Everyone by Ann Gentry + Baked Kale Chips (& Kale Dust for Popcorn)

Author: Ann Gentry
Publisher: Andrews McMeel
Hard Cover : 258 Pages

Chapters/Sections: Introduction, Breakfasts, Snacks and Sandwiches, Soups, Family-Style Salads, Simple Meals, Grains and Vegetables, Desserts

Unique Features:  Beautiful photography throughout.  An extremely thoughtful introduction by the author in which her passion for food of the vegan persuasion shines through...without being preachy or new-wavy.  Gentry presents a persuasive argument for going vegan (though this cheese-lovin', bacon-munching, honey-aficionado hasn't made the switch) in today's world of obesity, disease, and sustainable farming/eating.  While you may not be ready to make the switch to being entirely vegan, her introduction may be enough to start your brain churning.

(a few of the) Recipes Destined for my Kitchen:  Vegan Cashew Cheese, Homemade Nut Milk, Nutty Raspberry Muffins, Fennel and Roasted Garlic Soup w/ Walnut-Basil Pesto, Southwestern Salad w/ Chipotle Ranch Dressing and Agave-Chili Tortilla Strips, Hemp-Crusted Tofu Wrap w/ Grilled Vegetables and Walnut-Basil Pesto Mayonnaise, Tofu Scramble w/ Avocado, (Maple Tempeh) Bacon, and Cheese, Chocolate Silk Pie w/ Cashew Crust

My Thoughts/Review:  Gentry's cookbook is a wonderful resource that I am delighted to have in my cookbook library.  A few of the recipes call for things that you may need to special-order (if your town is anything like mine) such as nutritional yeast or umeboshi paste, but tucked into the back is a convenient little Natural Food Companies Source page.  Plus, you can find pretty much anything if you google it these days.  (Except cacao beans...whole ones...if you know of a source, please please tell me.  This has nothing to do with this book, it just reminded me.)  I think that learning to make vegan "cheese" and nut milks would be fun, even if I'm not sure how often I'd use them.  But seeing how more and more people are switching to vegan diets these days, I am glad to have a source for flavorful, colorful, delicious dishes.  Just in case. 

Recipes I have already tried:  Baked Kale Chips (& Kale Dust for Popcorn)
Did you know that I'm a kale fiend?  It all started about two years ago. I ♥'s probably my favorite veg.  While I've tried Baked Kale Chips before, I'd always gone with the "regular" version (which there is absolutely nothing wrong with...I adore it), but I was excited and stupefied (ummm...why didn't I think of that) to find Gentry's list of "variations" (Vinegar and Sea Salt, Maple-Coconut, Garlic-Sesame, Hot and Spicy) and Kale Dust for Popcorn (genius!).
Baked Kale Chips
(regular or Hot and Spicy)
slightly adapted from Vegan Family Meals
serves 2-4

1 (8 oz.) bunch Kale

1 Tbs. olive oil
⅛ tsp. fine sea salt

my variation on Gentry's variation of Hot and Spicy:
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. maple syrup
crushed red pepper flakes
chili powder
garlic powder
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 300° F.  Line a large, heavy baking sheet (or 2) with parchment paper.

Spin (salad spinner) or pat rinsed kale dry with paper towels.  Cut away the center spine of each kale leaf (or do as I do...fold in half lengthwise w/ stem on outside and pull the spine out).  Cut leaf in half, if you wish.  Place kale in a bowl (or the lazy way...right on the lined tray) and a) toss with the oil and salt for the regular version or b) combine oil and maple syrup then throw in a bit of each of the seasonings to taste and then toss with the kale.  Be sure to rub it in with your hands.

Arrange the kale pieces in a single layer on sheet and bake until crisp, ~25 minutes.  Check every 10 minutes or so while baking, turning some pieces over if they start to look too dark. (Maple syrup may cause them to get dark faster...but mine still cooked about the same amount of time.)

The kale chips will stay crisp and fresh for up to a week, stored in a sealed container or bag.
Kale Dust for Popcorn:
Crush the baked kale chips with your fingers or a mortar and pestle into a fine powder.  Sprinkle the crushed kale over popcorn.   
Genius, I say.  Genius.  It's's delicious...I can't get enough!  Now, I didn't crush mine too finely because I was in a hurry to eat, so keep crushin' if you want it "dustier"...but either way- Mmmm.  Hmmm.
*I received a free copy of this book to review from the publisher. All thoughts and opinions stated in this post are 100% mine
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foodiesreadingchallenge midnight maniac meatless monday just another meatless monday veganmondays my meatless mondays