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Book Reviews

Going vegan: Among new vegetarian/vegan cookbooks, three stand out

Published: Tuesday, April 26, 2011
By Grant Butler, The Oregonian

Spring is in full swing, and with it come fresh asparagus, delicate peas and mountains of forest mushrooms. The season also brings with it a whole new crop of vegan and vegetarian cookbooks, offering new ideas for how to maximize produce at the farmers markets and at the grocery store.

Three stand out: the first vegan title from publishing giant Good Housekeeping, a new recipe collection from a local vegan cooking instructor and a highly anticipated title from a two-time James Beard Award winner. Here's a closer look at each, plus recipes for sandwiches and a salad to try out.

"David's Vegan Home Cooking"

Professional cooking instructor Gabbe teaches a variety of vegan cooking classes throughout the Northwest (you can see the impressive schedule at DavidsVeganKitchen.com). Last year I took one of his classes, with the dubious-sounding title "Adventures with Tofu," an ingredient I had never had much use for.

To my surprise, Gabbe turned the bland blocks of bean curd into tasty, low-fat creations, and his cider vinegar and soy sauce "cutlets" have become regular additions to my salads.

One of the best recipes he shared in the class is in his most-recent collection: Tofu "Egg" Salad. This is a homemade version of the tofu sandwich spreads you find in the health food section of most grocery stores. If you buy those spreads, you've probably noticed how the price has crept up to almost $5 a tub.

Gabbe's tofu spread makes almost twice as much as you get from the commercial brands, and it runs a fraction of the cost. What's more, because it uses a tofu mayonnaise in place of one made out of vegetable oil, it's more forgiving to the waistline.

"David's Vegan Home Cooking" has 250 recipes, and they're all low-fat, gluten- and cholesterol-free, proof that vegan food can be delicious and healthy.

Instructor's vegan cookbook nets a believer with tried-and-true recipes

Published: Thursday, May 5, 2011
By Tyler Hansen, Corvallis Gazette Times

You know who I don't trust? Vegans. I respect their wishes to abstain from all animal and dairy products. (More power to y'all.)

And I say "more power to y'all" because I don't want to possess that power myself. I could do without the meat, but cheese? That's the Holy Grail of food, and I'll be damned if someone steps between me and my gouda.

But then David Gabbe ruined everything. You might recognize the name: Gabbe's taught vegan cooking classes for Corvallis Parks & Rec and elsewhere in Oregon for umpteen years, and he just released a new book: "David's Vegan Home Cooking."

The book is chock-full of more than 250 recipes, a how-to-be-a-vegan guide and a highly informative glossary.

When someone steps to the plate with as much knowledge as Gabbe does in his book, they deserve a fair shake, so I gave a couple of his recipes a try. You'd be wise to do the same:

  • Enchiladas: Making enchiladas without cheese is like taking a shower without water: You just don't do it. But Gabbe managed to concoct a tasty dish that substitutes any meat and cheese with a spicy three-bean chili that is baked inside and poured over whole-grain corn tortillas.
  • Socca: I'd have gone my whole life never knowing what socca is (other than a sport the British call football) were it not for Gabbe's recipe. This French pancake-like flatbread mixes garbanzo bean flour, flax seed meal, lemon juice and a few other items for a crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside taste that's good with an olive oil drizzle.

Easy vegan

Published: Tuesday, May10, 2011
By Barbara Curtin, Salem Statesman Journal

During 20 years of teaching vegetarian cooking classes at Chemeketa Community College and elsewhere, David A. Gabbe has tested plenty of recipes. Some of his favorites appear in his newly published how-to book, "David's Vegan Home Cooking." He acknowledges that there already are many books on the subject.

"What makes mine really different is that they are easy recipes and home cooking, not gourmet," he said.

"They don't have a lot of ingredients, they're not exotic ingredients and all the recipes are gluten-free. They have no white sugar or flour, and they generally are low-fat. … There is not another vegan cookbook that competes with it."

Gabbe, his wife, Carolyn, and their two grown children are all vegans. Like vegetarians, they don't eat meat, poultry or fish. Vegans generally avoid all other animal products, as well, including dairy, eggs, honey and even leather.

The Portland resident prefers a vegan diet partly for ethical reasons; he said it's kinder to animals and a more efficient use of the planet's resources.He believes it's also a more healthful diet.

"Without those products, you have an easier digestive process, less inflammation, it's easier on your system," said Gabbe, 60. "A plant-based diet is lower-protein than an animal-based diet and easier on your system."

"David's Vegan Home Cooking" starts with discussions of how to plan vegan meals, stock a vegan pantry and equip a vegan kitchen. Recipes are organized by categories such as beverages, grains, salads, soups, wraps and sweets.

Home cookin' without animal products
Local chef provides recipes, tips for switching to veganism

Published: Thursday, May12, 2011
By Joseph Gallivan, Pamplin Media Group

If the punctuation doesn't give it away, the ingredients certainly make it clear we're in vegan cookbook country. There's not an egg in sight, nor a lick of cream, in "David's Vegan Home Cooking." The book by David Gabbe is the local chef's fourth on vegan cuisine and his seventh book overall.

Gabbe has taught cooking and nutrition for 20 years from Seattle to Salem. His main thrust is catering to students who want to improve their health by moving away from the excess protein, saturated animal fat and high cholesterol of animal products toward a plant-based diet.

"Many students have told me they've overcome serious medical conditions by switching to a plant-based diet, but there's clearly a payoff well beyond the health reasons," Gabbe says.

He finds his younger students are drawn to veganism through interests in sustainable living and animal welfare.

"I don't bring sustainability up, but I'll talk about those topics if they want to," he says. "The younger ones say eating plants is better for the environment. They're concerned about the use of fuel, and where the water's going, and treating animals fairly."

His favorite statistic is that one acre used for growing soy beans produces 20 times the protein of an acre used for beef production.

"I had never thought about it, but eating vegan is in keeping with sustainability because a plant-based diet taxes the earth even less. It's not even controversial, it's just connecting the dots."

Gabbe and his wife got into vegetarianism early in their marriage. He has been vegan for 30 years, vegetarian for 35. The main change he has seen in that time is the mainstreaming of veganism.

"It's no longer an odd, extremist thing." he says. So much so that this is the first time he can put the word vegan on the cover of one of his books without fearing the crank label.

"I get a lot of grandparents coming to class who say, 'My grandchild is vegan and isn't eating well. What can I make for her?' "

The book is an easy intro to how to stock a vegan kitchen, where to shop and how much food to eat. The emphasis is on home cooking for the busy person - simple recipes, nothing gourmet or complicated.

But never mind changing the world. Will people eat orange bean cake (made from oat flour, white beans and orange juice, among other things)? It still has about it the sound of trying to pass plants off as something else.

"Actually, that's the one where students say to me, 'Oh, my husband (or child) loves orange bean cake!' In class, when I say we're going to make it, the eyes roll. Then an hour later the same people are up there for seconds."

Veganisn is still heavily dependent on substitution. He says his tofu cutlets can satisfy like bacon. "That recipe gets a really good response from my omnivore students," he says. ("I don't call people carnivores. That term is for animals.")

Gabbe shops at his neighborhood New Seasons but is not strict about organic produce, mainly because it's so expensive. He recommends careful washing of conventionally grown produce. Surprisingly, he also uses products such as Liquid Smoke (to bring out the flavors in baked beans and fish.)

"I recommend Wright's because there are no added carcinogens as far as I can tell. It's just water evaporated over burning wood."

Most of Gabbe's income comes from his lecture-style classes, which run two to three hours and cost $29 to $39. "I have a modest lifestyle and don't need a lot," he says.

The basics of a plant-based shopping list are inexpensive. Tofu is around $2 a pound and feeds four. Quinoa looks expensive but expands in volume by five times. He avoids exotic fruits and prepackaged produce. Fancy lettuce blends are also out.

"I'd rather buy a head of romaine and add spinach and parsley." He finds the expensive mushrooms, such as shitakes, much cheaper in dried form at Asian markets. He uses them as condiments and in soups.

"I go for the humble, nutritious vegetables. The most nourishing ones I push are the hardy greens: collard greens, kale and broccoli. And sweet potatoes."

Ultimately, Gabbe's message is about health.

"People get sticker shock at farmer's markets, but I remind them, you're investing in yourself. If you focus on vegan food you'll be around longer on less medications. You work 40 years and within five you're gone - what's the point of that?"

Vegan cooking: Home cooking without the animals

Published: Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Rosemary Ponnekanti; The Tacoma News Tribune

For folks used to take-outs and meat dishes (and that's a lot of us), the words "vegan" and "home cooking" together in a sentence might sound scary, or at least difficult. But for Portland-based cooking teacher David Gabbe, a lifelong vegan who regularly teaches vegetarian cooking classes in the South Sound, it's an easy, tasty way to good health - and he's just published a cookbook to prove it. "David's Vegan Home Cooking" (Evergreen Northwest, 2011) has more than 250 recipes from sauces to desserts that not only avoid animal products, but are great for those on gluten-free, sugar-free or cholesterol-free diets too.

"This is a healthy a selection of recipes as you'll ever find," says Gabbe, who created all the recipes at home and tested them in his classes. "At the end of the day, the best health comes from home-cooked, simple food."

Whether it's simple, though, might be a matter of judgment for those of us who are used to reaching for jarred sauces, supermarket milk and eggs in boxes. True veganism goes one step further than vegetarianism in avoiding animal products: no meat or fish, but also no dairy or eggs, and no animal-derived ingredients such as gelatin, meat stock or honey. On the one hand, this means seeking out a few items you may not have used before, such as agave nectar or agar powder. On the other hand, it means recipes you don't have to count calories for because you know they are all low in fat and sodium, with no sugar or cholesterol.

Eating vegan also saves you money, Gabbe points out: For $2, a pound of tofu will feed three or four people, and vegan cheese costs just $1 a pound compared to dairy cheese at around $8 a pound.

For those of us already cooking vegan, this book expands the recipe selection with beverages including shakes, horchata, lassi and milks; main dishes; salads and dressings; alternative cheeses; sauces; breads; egg alternatives; and desserts such as agar-based gelatin and tofu mousse.

For the rest of us, it might seem overwhelming: To make nachos, for instance, you first need to blend up a nut- or bean-based milk, then blend that with nut butter and spices to make a vegan cheese sauce, and finally boil and blend a tofu-based "sour cream" for the top, in addition to making your own salsa.

To get used to the idea of making everything yourself, Gabbe has some tips. Using canned beans and other convenience health-food store foods, though pricey, can be a good way to transition. He recommends preparing and storing some foods once a week, such as milks or cheeses. Others are just quicker than you think: "Beans and grains don't take much time, and if you add a salad you can assemble all kinds of recipes in a few minutes," he says.

Favorite student recipes from "David's Vegan Home Cooking" include a chocolate broccoli cake and orange bean cake, plus a tofu-based "egg" fried rice that Gabbe says is also his own favorite: "It's so easy to make, every student falls in love with it."

As well as providing vegan alternatives to staples such as macaroni and cheese, nuggets and quiche, the book also goes beyond American cooking into Thai (pad thai, vegan oyster sauce), Indian (dosa pancakes and lassi drinks), Japanese (sushi, "fish" sauce) and Korean (kimchee).

It expands on his previous vegetarian cookbooks by offering thorough information on vegan nutrition and unusual products (agar, miso, quinoa and tahini, for instance), and remakes some old Gabbe recipes to be gluten-free.

"All my other books have been vegan, but this time I decided to emphasize the distinction between vegetarian and vegan," says Gabbe. "People know the word now. It's time."

David's latest cookbook
is available,
click here to order!