Cooking it all: Better than Vegan by Del Sroufe

forks over knives cookbook

Del Sroufe is known for a few specific accomplishments. First, he wrote the Forks Over Knives cookbook, (although the desserts are by one of my fave vegan chefs, Isa Chandra Moskowitz). Second, he has written a new cookbook, “Better than Vegan.”

The reason he wrote this new cookbook highlighting a whole foods, plant-based way of eating, is because of another one of his remarkable accomplishments: Getting up to 475 pounds as a vegan! Yes, as he writes in the book, animal products contain more fat and calories than plant-based foods…However, eating sugar and white bread sandwiches can sure do the job too! If someone has a compulsive eating issue, it doesn’t matter which foods they restrict themselves to. They will over-indulge on those foods. When you gorge on donuts, it doesn’t really matter whether they’re made with butter or non-dairy margarine.

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One of the biggest premises of “Better than Vegan”, aside from avoiding animal products and focusing on whole, plant-based foods, is to avoid fat and oil. As I’ve written here before, oil – even olive oil – does not provide you with any nutrients. It simply provides you with fat and calories. Most foods can be made without added oil. Sroufe even avoids coconut and avocado, two high-fat plant foods, as much as possible. In addition he is careful to watch his intake of nuts and seeds. He advises his readers to save their (very low) fat intake for items that do contribute vital nutrients, such as the aforementioned nuts and seeds.

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I’ve learned so many tricks the past few years, as I have transitioned to a vegan (and healthy, whole foods) way of eating. However, this book gave me several new tools that I intend to keep in my every day tool kit. I don’t think you can say much more than that when complimenting a cook book. (I hope my upcoming “Healthy Family Healthy You” book does the same for you!). First, here are some of the basics that I will be using daily, from now on. Then I’ll show you the Better than Vegan recipes I used them in. First, Sroufe uses cauliflower puree as a base for white sauces, salad dressing, and a replacement for coconut milk. I’ve already taken the puree and made my own Alfredo sauce recipe (to be shared with my readers in some form shortly).

I’m most excited about his recipe for low-fat mayonnaise, using the cauliflower puree and lite silken tofu. I’m changing all of the recipes in my book that use any type of vegan mayonnaise. Forget low-fat Nayonaise, the vegan option I usually recommend out of a lack of other choices. I made this one today and it is delicious! It tastes better than regular full-fat mayo as far as I’m concerned. However, it doesn’t contain a lot of fat and it actually provides nutrients! Can’t beat that!

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Then I took the Sroufe mayo and made his recipe for Potato Salad. Delish! A little too much mustard for my taste, but I can adjust that next time.

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I also made the Spinach Artichoke Dip (amazing, but VERY garlicky for mere mortals, who are not garlic fiends like me). Others may want to adjust the number of garlic cloves. I forgot to mince the garlic first so I ended up completely blending the dip (in order to incorporate all of the garlic cloves), rather than only pulsing the last few ingredients. It’s pretty bright green! I’ll be interested to see how it turns out next time, when I don’t whip the whole thing and leave some of it chunky.

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Finally, I made the Tropical “Chicken” Salad. Again, delish! I’m going to be adding it to my Thai Lunch in the Sun Room menu (Let me know if you want me to share that menu on my blog some time, like when spring actually shows up!).

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Aside from the cauliflower puree and mayonnaise recipes, there is one other basic that he includes in many of his recipes. He calls it, “Best Date Syrup Ever.” No matter how I try I just don’t like Stevia, so I left that out of the recipe. The syrup was plenty sweet without it and contributed to the “chicken” salad recipe. Basically, it’s a less processed, lower fructose option over the ubiquitous agave nectar (…which I absolutely think is too high in fructose and makes me fat. I just didn’t have another great liquid option before the date syrup. Brown rice syrup doesn’t always work with every recipe.)

Here’s a picture of the date syrup.

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I highly recommend this cookbook and will be adding it to the Resources section of my upcoming “Healthy Family, Healthy You” book. I’ll be providing very short vegan cookbook reviews in the Resources chapter. However, if you want more detailed reviews like this in the future, I’m happy to blog them. Just let me know!

Call me a lunatic…or call me for help! Part II!

Call me a lunatic…or call me for help! Part II!

And now…the fun part! Just say you believe me about all this vegan stuff. What are you supposed to eat?! It’s actually not that hard. I have so many resources. For Part II of the Call me a lunatic…or call me for help! series, I’m going to share some of my favorite cookbooks with you. In Part III I’ll provide online resources.

Almost all of the books mentioned in Part I include a number of recipes in them. Also, some of the authors have created an accompanying cookbook.

Rip Esselstyn is vegan royalty, being the son of Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., a former cardiac rock star at the Cleveland Clinic, who has his own books and worked with T. Colin Campbell of The China Study on Forks over Knives (which we will get to in a minute…). His focus on tough-guy fitness has influenced many a beef-eating man. He also created a line of food products carried at Whole Foods.

Product DetailsI love this book. It is quick and clear, with easy recipes. Definitely a good intro for guys or those who don’t always relish cooking. (I’m sorry if that sounded sexist. It’s not that woman are naturally better at cooking. It’s just that most of the time they work at it. And some don’t. And some guys are great multi-taskers and very detail-oriented. Just usually not when it comes to cooking.) I just have this ongoing joke with so many of my girlfriends about how painful it is to watch men make one thing at a time in the kitchen… It’s kind of sad.

T. Colin Campbell of The China Study also came out with an accompanying cookbook. Actually, he only wrote the Foreword. His daughter Leanne Campbell, PhD, (mother of two hungry teenage boys!) wrote the cookbook.

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One cookbook that I don’t have, and looks like it is from back in the day…1999!…looks good.

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How can you not try a cookbook that promises 15 minutes or less for meal prep? The McDougall’s are also long-time rockstars in the vegan doctor arena. Lots of the doctors’ wives partner with them for cookbooks and/or cooking classes around the country. I’m just realizing that most women who are big in this community are educated in nutrition and not medicine. Interesting… And just fyi, all of these doctors talk about how they were not taught anything about nutrition in medical school. They had to figure it all out themselves.

Dr. McDougall and his wife wrote a more recent cookbook together:

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Forks over Knives is a movie profiling some of the doctors trying to heal their patients through diet. There is an accompanying cookbook to it. Although I have not seen it myself, I learned a lot from the movie. There is also a book version, apparently. Click on the picture below to see all the bonus material (including success stories and recipes) included in the print version.

Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to HealthProduct Details

Nava Atlas was a successful vegetarian cookbook author before she turned Vegan and transformed her cookbooks too.

These are the ones I have:

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I like the greens cookbook because she doesn’t just give her readers recipes, she gives you the information you need to improvise on your own. The holiday kitchen book is genius. She covers Jewish, Christian and secular American holidays – plus brunch! This book was covered a lot in the Jewish press – on and off line – before last year’s Jewish holidays. I am still fielding requests for dishes I made last Rosh Hashanah from this book. I use them for everyday, Shabbat and holidays. I cannot recommend this enough!

I also rely on recipes from many of the books I mentioned in Part I, such as:

Product DetailsDisease-Proof Your Child: Feeding Kids Right

If you look under Dr. Fuhrman on Amazon you’ll find many more resources, like DVDs focused on cooking.

If you’re concerned about diabetes, I’m told Dr. Barnard’s diabetes book has great recipes.

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This is older but I’ve also heard good things about it:

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I haven’t read these, but they look helpful (Come on, I can’t buy ALL the vegan books out there! Although, after researching this blog post, I’m going to have to buy a few more!):

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Stay tuned for Part III of my Call me a lunatic…or call me for help! series, where I will provide you with online resources.

In Part IV I will introduce you to several brand new and upcoming books by some of the aforementioned authors. Finally, in Part V…well, you’ll just have to read to find out! Coming Soon….

Happy eating!