The first thing I have to say about The Sexy Vegan cookbook is that it made me laugh out loud.
Not the LOL that you write on your friend’s Facebook statuses with a straight face, but a genuine laugh out loud. I am embarrassed to admit that the comment on page 123 made me “giggle-snort”… I can count the number of books that have ever done this and certainly none of them were ever cookbooks.
As I read the book, I soon found myself thinking – oh, he’s cute, wonder if he is single? Darn – mentions girlfriend several times (whom I believe has recently been upgraded to wife, congratulations!). “Ummm, aren’t you married Karen?”, I hear you ask. Well yesssss…but surely I am not the only vegan girl who has had the occasional daydream about a cute, funny, vegan who can make you “giggle-snort” and can cook?! He is not afraid to show his inner geek by quoting Star Trek and Star Wars either (sadly, that I understood the references probably makes me somewhat of a geek too…).
Brian, the creator of The Sexy Vegan describes how The Sexy Vegan started as follows: “Shortly after I became vegan in 2006, a friend was telling me about this website called YouTube. After fully describing it to me, I said, ‘Wait, I can do what?? And I can cuss?? I need this in my life!’ So I put together what was my first episode of The Sexy Vegan. I really just did it to entertain my friends and family back east, and never thought it would lead to a whole series, or a published cookbook…or two published cookbooks (I’m working on book #2 right now).”
The cooking stuff
I made the Peanut Butternut Squash Soup, as we had all the ingredients on hand and ‘cos taking three hungry kids to the supermarket after school on a Friday is just not something I can handle while staying sane. It was smooth, nutty and delicious, and all the omnivores in the house had no idea it was vegan.
I was pleasantly surprised to see a recipe using pumpkin (squash), as it is a mainstay here in Australia, and I would also say that most of the ingredients would be quite easy to find here and that most of us vegans would be used to converting U.S.-based ingredients into locally available products at this point.
The recipes are very clearly described and the steps are simple, with tips and QR codes (a.k.a. funny little square thingies that you scan with your smart phone that takes you to his videos). Hubby scanned one on his phone to show me how easy it is for those of us who aren’t technologically challenged!
So where does Brian’s inspiration comes from? “Many of the recipes I come up with, especially in my first book, were recreations of things I used to eat as a kid. I come from an Italian family, so the things I loved were meatballs, Italian sausage, lasagna, stuffed shells, pizza, and pasta. While the book tackles many different types of dishes, the ones like Stuffed Shells Puttanesca, Lasagna Fauxlognese, and of course, ‘My Balls’, are definitely my comfort foods.”
I think “My Balls” might just be making its debut in our house this weekend, as anything on top of pasta always goes down well with my kids. Brian’s Buffalo Wangs look like a bit of fun too and the accompanying video for this recipe was great. There are some more complicated dishes such as the Grilled Seitan Capomata with Lemon Pilaf for the more confident cooks.
Humor is important
The author’s often cheeky sense of humour is used to great effect in both the book and in his online videos. When asked if he feels that his use of humour makes his books more accessible to a wider audience, Brain states, “I think the use of humour definitely helps in bridging the gap between the vegan and non-vegan worlds. Among the general population, vegans have kind of a bad rap. We’re thought to be uppity, judgmental, and militant. And, yes, there are those people, just like in any political or religious group, who are those things. Groups tend to be defined by their most fanatical members, I guess because they’re the most visible…very unfortunate. Most vegans are not that way. We’re just regular people who like to have fun, laugh and eat delicious food. So having all of those things in a cooking video or cookbook, is a good way to make the true majority of us more visible to the public.”
Which of the dishes in the cookbook would Brian recommend to someone trying to impress their partner with a romantic, perhaps even sassy, dinner?
“You can’t go wrong with the Oyster Mushroom Risotto for a sexy, sultry dinner. It’s rich and creamy and, since it uses a touch of Prosecco, guess what? Now you have an open bottle of Prosecco…and, gosh darn it, you just can’t get that cork back in there..so, you know…waste not, want not.”
Speaking of which, did I mention that the book’s very first chapter features this most important of all food groups – vegan cocktails?
And what does The Sexy Vegan think makes vegan women sexy?
“Aside from the aesthetic benefits to being vegan, which definitely help in the sexy department, there are intangibles that are even more sexy. When I became vegan, my entire being underwent a change. I gained not only physical energy, but mental energy. My thoughts were clearer, my ideas were better, and I became more motivated overall. I became confident in my words and actions, and became more in touch with my environment and surroundings. Turned out that looking better was more of a happy side effect, than the main goal. Sexiness, in a man or woman, radiates from within. My completely unscientific theory, that I just came up with, is that since your body is no longer battling the poisons and toxins of the Standard American Diet, it has the opportunity to grow and improve and tap in to thoughts and concepts otherwise clouded. Eating a clean, vegan diet allows your true self to emerge. Knowing, and being your true self, is the sexiest thing you can do.”
I’m looking forward to this book becoming a commonly seen feature in my kitchen and trying to get more of Brian’s recipes past the non-vegans in my family.
I am also happy to award this excellent cookbook with The Vegan Woman’s recommendation label.
The Sexy Vegan Cookbook: Extraordinary Food from an Ordinary Dude can be ordered online at The Vegan Woman Shop.