The Loma Prietan - September/October 2009

Cooking Green

Plant-Based Recipes Abound Online

story and photo by Kay Bushnell

This issue's recipe is Eggs-Free Benedict
This issue's recipe is Eggs-Free Benedict

It is ironic that today, when many of us have less time than ever to spend in the kitchen, we have access to seemingly unlimited free recipes online. There are hundreds of sites featuring recipes based on plant foods. Although I explored a mere handful of these sites, I quickly discovered some standouts.

Bryanna Clark Grogan

If you want to dine visually on images of beautiful food that will propel you to the kitchen, recipes in hand, take a look at Bryanna's Vegan Feast. You will find a huge number of tantalizing recipes, as well as discussions on plant-based nutrition and the latest information on calcium, protein. and omega-3 fatty acids. Bryanna Clark Grogan has written eight cookbooks, all plant-based. In many ways she is a "cook's cook," inspiring the interest and enthusiasm of anyone who finds joy in cooking and eating.

When I visited Grogan's site, I found so many "must-make" recipes that I became temporarily distracted from writing this article. The recipes I tried produced delectable baked goods that are free of dairy products and eggs. I also found a recipe for a luscious nondairy whipped topping that does not contain palm oil. (See Avoid Palm Oil, below.)

Additional features on the site are seven days of suggested plant-based menus and an open cooking forum, in which Grogan generously shares her expertise. If you have questions about any aspect of plant-based cooking, you can email her.

Everyday Dish TV

With Everyday Dish TV, you can enjoy a cooking class whenever you wish. The site currently offers 73 free plant-based (vegan) recipes, each with a video that demonstrates step-by-step how to make it. There are recipes for all kinds of food, with particular emphasis on appealing desserts. Sections on Kitchen Gadgets, Favorite Things, and Guest Chefs are also included.

One or two new free recipes with videos are featured each month. A premium membership costing $35 per year gives members access to a new video with an accompanying recipe each week.

Nava Atlas

In a Vegetarian Kitchen with Nava Atlas offers many recipes created by Atlas, who is the author of 11 mostly plant-based cookbooks. Click on Recipes Galore to view categories such as Glorious Grains, Super Quick and Easy Meals, Entertaining, and Healthy Cooking Tips. You'll also receive recipes on a regular basis if you sign up for Atlas' free e-newsletter.

These are just a few of the many plant-based sites that await your exploration. If you are disappointed with some dishes, try others, and you will soon have a collection of recipes that you enjoy.

Avoid Palm Oil

The rainforests and wildlife of Southeast Asia are rapidly being destroyed and replaced with commercial oil palm plantations. Biologists predict that several native mammals, including orangutans, are likely to become extinct this century due to destruction of their rainforest habitat. (See "Is That a Rainforest in Your Cookie?" in the Jan/Feb 2009 Loma Prietan). Because there is no strictly enforced system for verifying sustainability of palm oil, it is difficult to guarantee that any palm oil is sustainably produced.

It is important to read labels. Earth Balance is a popular butter-like spread that is listed in many plant-based recipes. Unfortunately, it contains palm oil. If you encounter recipes that call for a spread or shortening containing palm oil, consider substituting a canola-based fat such as Spectrum Spread, or use half canola or olive oil and half Spectrum Spread.

Chapter member Kay Bushnell has taught plantbased cooking and appeared as The Garden Gourmet in a community-access television series.