UPDATE: Compassionate Action for Animals posted my review of Betty Goes Vegan.
For the holiday break, I have been set on completing my second cookbook review for Compassionate Action for Animals: Betty Goes Vegan by Annie and Dan Shannon. I got a boost in inspiration with the arrival of VegNews Best of edition which awarded Betty Goes Vegan Best New Cookbook for 2013!
When I was a teenager, I decided to be a vegetarian which was not that easy of a thing in the 1990s in Northern Minnesota with the idea that you'd simply replace meat with faux meats. The options were meager: boca burgers or morningstar - neither of which were vegan. Twenty years later, I am impressed with the myriad of faux options available at the grocery stores and Target near my home. It is really becoming easier to make the transition from eating animals. That said, for some, there is still a dish that might weaken their resolve to make more compassionate food choices. When I was a teenager, it was my mom's meatloaf that ended my early stint as a vegetarian, so fitting that I sample one of the "meatloaf" recipes in Betty Goes Vegan.
The mexican meatloaf was pretty easy to make and fun to form and baste with the homemade bbq sauce. I really liked the look of the loaves out of the oven with the carmelized bbq glaze and the speckles of cilantro, onion and black beans. I used Gimme Lean ground beef style for the first time and was impressed at the flavor and consistency as a ground beef replacement. Even before I went vegan, I had started to add more vegetables and herbs to dishes like this which can be kind of heavy and bland otherwise (there is a reason we used to douse meatloaf in ketchup.) Adding the chili, cumin, garlic, cilantro, black beans, jalapenos, salsa and red onions definitely added some flavor, but the red onions didn't really cook down and were overpowering (maybe saute them in advance) and the spices weren't prominent enough for my liking.
In addition to the mexican meatloaf, I made the vegan ranch dressing and while initially skeptical of all the ingredients, I was very impressed with the end result. The flavor popped and was reminiscent of the ranch I remember. This was great because with the exception of Native Foods (their ranch recipe is here) and Chicago Diner, I haven't really found a vegan ranch dressing I like. As Annie and Dan warn though, I did find myself thinking about what else I could put the dressing on....thankfully in addition to the spinach salad I had a baked potato that was just begging to be a ranch baked potato!