Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The China Study Cookbook Review + 2 RECIPES

I’d been hearing praises for The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, PhD for quite some time, took the plunge and ordered the book last summer (after checking it out several times from the library, only to leave it nearly untouched on the bedside stand), and finally got around to reading it this spring.  It’s quite difficult for me to find the time to read these days, but I am sure glad I made an effort to squeeze this one in!  I have been so impressed with Dr. Campbell’s research and findings, especially regarding the effects of dietary protein on cancer growth, that when I heard he would be releasing a new book (Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition) and a companion cookbook (The China Study Cookbook), I pre-ordered both.  

Upon its arrival, I discovered that the The China Study Cookbook is actually written by Dr. Campbell’s daughter, Leanne Campbell, PhD, who has successfully raised her two boys on a plant-based diet.  One thing I really appreciate about this cookbook is that it was written by a very busy mom, so many of the recipes are practical, quick-fixes.  I also love that she has so many meals that can be prepped ahead for quick, easy, lunchbox-friendly entrees and sandwiches throughout the week!  Quick lunches are something I found to be lacking in my own personal recipe collection, so this cookbook has filled a void.  The other aspect I have enjoyed is the author’s creative use of both tofu & chickpeas--aversions to these ingredients exist among certain members of my household, so it was exciting to find recipes that pass the oh-so-tricky O’Rourke table taste-test!  I’ve dog-eared many recipes to try, but so far, here are the winners in our household:

  • Cucumber Dill Dip
  • Greek Salad with Nuts
  • Delicious Eggless Sandwiches
  • Spinache Chickpea Burgers (Which are, according to my dear cooked-spinach-and-chickpea-hating husband, “The closest thing to a real burger!”)
  • Ocean Chickpea Sandwiches (My darling, chickpea-despising daughter actually thinks these are tuna sandwiches, and jumps for joy when she hears they are on the menu!  Personally, I think the salad is more akin to an egg-salad, due to the texture and flavor...regardless, I must say that it has become one of my favorites!  A curious but skeptical, meat-loving co-worker even tried a bite and requested the recipe to prepare for her family.)  Two special notes on this one:  
    • I use 4 TBLS Vegenaise, in place of the 5 TBLS homemade, tofu-based mayo the recipe calls for, simply for convenience & waste prevention (the Green Garden Mayo recipe makes a ton, and I just don’t use it often enough to justify the quantity).  Vegenaise raises the fat content a bit, but I think it’s worth it.  
    • Don’t skip the kelp powder, it’s worth seeking out!  I really feel this ingredient is what gives the recipe it’s edge.  I found it at Whole Foods with the other spices and salt-substitutes.  
  • Pecan Ball Subs
  • Zucchini Crabless Cakes (I was somewhat leery about these due to the tofu & zucchini content--again, due to weird food aversions in our household--but was pleasantly surprised, as they went over quite well!  These patties also refrigerate nicely for leftovers, which is a plus.)
AND, for the GRAND FINALE, our very FAVORITES...
  • Thai Wraps
  • Amazingly Delicious Date Fruit Pie

We hope these two recipes that we’re sharing will spark your interest, and encourage you to order the book so you can give the others a try!

Happy eating!

When Brittany introduced me to this cookbook I was skeptical of yet another cookbook.  She told me, though, to try their two favorite meals to see what I thought.

Let me tell ya what -- I can't wait to try more!

These Thai wraps are a new favorite in our house, too.  As in, I made them the first time and we liked them so much, I figured out how to make them the next night without using tofu (we were out)!  So there is a soy-free version of these and it's totally up to personal preference.  Scot liked the tofu version better for the subtle flavor of the tofu, and I liked the chickpea version better for texture and the fact it wasn't as drippy.  I also sliced some red cabbage up and added it in the wrap with the lettuce and that lent a nice extra crunch.

Oh, did I mention you can make these in about 15 minutes?  Yeah.  Another reason they're a new favorite, fabulous flavor aside.

Thai Wraps
serves 4

  • 1 12oz pk extra firm tofu, drained OR 1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup good peanut butter
  • 2-3 TBLS soy sauce or Tamari
  • 1 TBLS lime juice
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro OR 1 heavy TBLS dry
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 4 tortillas
  • lettuce and sliced red cabbage
-- Crumble tofu with fork in a mid-sized mixing bowl.  If using chickpeas, use a pastry-cutter.
-- Combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, and spices in a small bowl and whisk until blended well.  Pour into bowl and mix well.
-- Add everything else and stir until combined.
-- Spread onto tortillas and top with lettuce and red cabbage.

This little dessert is fabulous.  It's easy to make, and while the picture shows it being very messy -- and finely chopped strawberries will be! -- it doesn't have to be a messy dessert.  The original recipe called for 5 different types of fruit equaling about 4 cups.  Strawberries were on sale, so I did just the berries.  I also tried my crust in a spring-form pan -- oops -- next time, I'll use a pie dish as directed if I have anything that could spill over.

I do think, though, that a simple bag of frozen/thawed mixed berries would be delish on this crust.  Pretty much anything would be great on this crust.  A thin layer of vanilla cream would be divine between the crust and fruit.  Just sayin'.

Date & Fruit Pie
serves 8

  • 1 packed cup chopped Medjool dates
  • 1 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • sliced fruit, equally about 4 cups.  Ideas: strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, mangos, kiwis
-- Blend all crust ingredients in a food processor until a paste forms
-- Press firmly into a pie plate and chill until ready to add fruit.  Once ready, arrange fruit and chill at least 1 hour, or until ready to serve.

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