With over 125 plant-based recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, party-time and everything in between, Melissa Costello’s cookbook, The Karma Chow, has something to offer everyone.
Simple to follow recipes and mouth-watering photographs will inspire you in the kitchen, while your body will appreciate the whole foods focus, aimed for optimum nutrition. Many books may make similar claims but as a nutrition professional Melissa Costello knows her stuff. Founder of The Karma Chow.com, Melissa lectures on nutrition throughout the US, and has created several food-based detox programmes including her Vital Life 30-Day food-based cleanse.
Rise and shine! Breakfast recipes
I was instantly attracted to the breakfast section of The Karma Chow cookbook: Tempeh Sausage Patties, Apricot Tea Muffins and Banana Chia Pancakes with Coconut Crème Sauce, and a Pumpkin Pie Waffle recipe that has put a waffle iron firmly on my Christmas list.
I baked up a batch of the Karmic Cherry Almond Granola. The result was a luxurious chunky, crunchy snack full of hemp-seeds and chewy dried cherries, ideal for an energy boosting snack on the go or as a home-baked gift. The Minty Hot Chocolate sweetened with agave in the Beverages section gives a healthy but indulgent twist on a classic also featured are a Cherry Chocolate Smoothie and Divine Coconutty Chai.
Party time! Dips and nibbles
Hummus and stuffed mushrooms sit alongside an array of inventive appetizers and casual eating options including Thai-Style Tempeh Lettuce Wraps, Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip, and Veggie Seed Roll-Ups. The Sunflower Seed Pate is surprisingly rich and satisfying and very quick to make but you do need to remember to factor in soaking time for the seeds.
Soups, stews and salads
The Karma Chow cookbook delivers some inventive soup ideas, such as fragrant Indian-Spiced Coconut Yam Soup and ‘Feeling Tropical’ Black Bean Soup alongside Kitchen Sink Veggie Soup, Holy Moly Green Gaszpacho and Smoky Tempeh Chili. I tried the Cream of Celery Soup which was sweet, full-flavoured and even claims to have a calming effect! Raw Kale Salad with Creamy Chipotle Dressing, Quinoa and Strawberry Salad with Lime Vinaigrette, Wild Rice Salad with Balsamic Maple Dressing and Raw Thai Slaw – there is plenty of choice here along with accompanying dressings.
The main event, side dishes and virtuous desserts
There are many international flavours and hearty dishes to try out in the mains and side dishes of The Karma Chow cookbook. Tempeh features in many of the main meal dishes, while in the dessert section you will be happy to find that all of the dessert recipes are free from refined sugar and gluten!
Nuts and dried fruits are widely used in Melissa’s dessert recipes. I tried the Black Bean Brownie Bites made with date paste and banana, the result was light and undoubtedly healthy, although chocolate lovers might prefer something more decadent.
Nutrition over diet
Melissa’s recipes focus on high nutrition, are free from refined sugar and are mainly gluten and soy-free. All of the recipes are very concise, easy to follow and accessible for new vegans and beginners in the kitchen.
Don’t be deceived into thinking this is diet food though…. it definitely is not, as many of the recipes I tested were quite high in fat, although it was nourishing unsaturated fats (mostly from nuts and seeds), and the food presented is such that will support your body as part of an active lifestyle.
I am happy to award Melissa’s book with The Vegan Woman’s recommendation label!