Thursday, March 15, 2018

Book Review - Sweet Potato Soul by Jenne Claiborne

Book Synopsis
Jenné Claiborne grew up in Atlanta eating classic Soul Food--fluffy biscuits, smoky sausage, Nana's sweet potato pie--but thought she'd have to give all that up when she went vegan.  As a chef, she instead spent years tweaking and experimenting to infuse plant-based, life-giving, glow-worthy foods with the flavor and depth that feeds the soul.

The result? Her first cookbook, SWEET POTATO SOUL, offering 100 vegan recipes that riff on Southern cooking in surprising and delicious ways, beautifully illustrated with full-color photography. Jenné revives the long tradition of using fresh, local ingredients creatively in dishes like Coconut Collard Salad and Fried Cauliflower Chicken. She improvises new flavors in Peach Date BBQ Jackfruit Sliders and Sweet Potato-Tahini Cookies. She celebrates the plant-based roots of the cuisine in Bootylicious Gumbo and savory-sweet Georgia Watermelon & Peach Salad. And she updates classics with Jalapeño Hush Puppies, and her favorite, Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls.

Along the way, Jenné explores the narratives surrounding iconic and beloved soul food recipes, as well as their innate nutritional benefits--you've heard that dandelion, mustard, and turnip greens, okra, and black eyed peas are nutrition superstars, but here's how to make them super tasty, too.

From decadent pound cakes and ginger-kissed fruit cobblers to smokey collard greens, amazing crabcakes and the most comforting sweet potato pie you'll ever taste, these better-than-the-original takes on crave-worthy dishes are good for your health, heart, and soul.

My Review
I am a long time vegetarian, a southern girl, and a great fan of soul food ... so Sweet Potato Soul immediately appealed to me!   

The first thing to know:  this is a beautiful cookbook, with great food photos.  The recipes are laid out one to a page, with ingredients and 1-2-3 directions, just the way I like.

I really loved the introduction on southern food.  Jenne Claiborne even details pantry items for southern cooking, southern fruits and vegetables, spices, baking staples, sweeteners.  There is a short section on varieties of sweet potatoes!

I also loved her Five Healthy Rules I Live By (p. 19, longer details in book!):
1. Avoid all animal products.
2. Eat your colors.
3. Don't count calories or protein.
4. Go 80/20.  (unprocessed/processed)
5. Make everything delicious.

Now on to the recipes!  In Sweet Potato Soul you will find:
Salads and Soups
Greens and Sides
Sweets and Drinks
Pantry Staples and Sauces

I have three things I look for in cookbooks:

Are the recipes vegetarian (or can I tweak them to be veggie friendly)? 
Yes, this is a vegan cookbook!

Are the ingredients readily accessible at any grocery store?
Yes, the ingredients in this book are delightfully accessible foods that should be available anywhere.

Are the recipes straightforward and easy to make on a busy work night (i.e. 30 - 60 minutes tops)?
Most of the recipes are pretty straightforward.  Some do include multiple steps.  For instance, Low Country Grits (which looks amazing!) does require the cook to also make either Creole Red Bean Sausage or Smoky White  Bean Sausage ... so not a great work night recipe.

To give you an idea of the delicious variety of recipes in this cookbook, here are a few that particularly appealed to me:  Sweet Potato Skillet Home Fries, Sweet Potato Pie Smoothie, Bourbon BBQ Tempeh Sandwiches, Georgia Watermelon and Peach Salad, Coconut Corn Chowder, Jalapeno Hush Puppies, Spicy Fried Cauliflower "Chicken," Happy Hearts "Crab" Cakes, New Orleans Style Red Beans and Rice, Cajun Blackened Tofu Sandwich, Smoky Black Eyed Pea Cakes, Georgia Pecan Pie, Ginger Kissed Peach Cobbler ... and this is just a small sampler!

I rate this vegan cookbook five stars and highly recommend it to anyone who loves southern cooking, vegan cooking, or vegetarian or "Meatless Monday" cooks who want to add more plant based southern food to their diet!

I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books.

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