Apologies for my prolonged silence -- I tried (and won! yay) my very first jury trial these past few weeks. So, I have been spending my free time practicing my closing statement to a jury of my office desk accessories and the endlessly patient Mr. Addict. In need of superpowers, I decided to review Super Natural Cooking by the super-awesome food blogger Heidi Swanson. Heidi's blog is rightly notorious for her charming recipes and gorgeous photography, so I knew that I would be in good hands.
One of the really great things about Super Natural Cooking is that there's something unique or some interesting twist to most of the recipes. For example, the Black Tea Spring Rolls with Mango Chutney are made by rolling mushrooms and a little black tea into 6-inch wonton skins, brushing them with melted butter and baking them. Veggie burgers are chickpea patties that are split in half and stuffed in lieu of buns, so that they are not too "bready." (Mine did end up a little too eggy though). I definitely felt like I learned a few new tricks to add to my arsenal.
Besides being healthy and full of all types of superstar ingredients, the recipes have luscious, multi-dimensional textures and are full of charm. The Greens Packed Stir Fry - asparagus and spinach satueed with tofu and cashews in sesame oil, chili peppers, hoisin and lime - exploded with crunch and flavor, and the hoisin sauce gave the tofu a meaty and rich flavor that I do not normally get from a tofu stir-fry. This is a dish I plan to make again, often.
The recipes that were more typical healthy/vegetarian cookbook fare - like the sushi rice bowl, the soba noodle otsu and the chickpea burgers - were the most bland to me and needed a little doctoring. These recipes were way too far over on the "crunchy" food spectrum to please Mr. Addict, but made for nice quick lunches for me. The Curry Noodle Bowl - whole wheat udon noodles in red curry paste, coconut milk and vegetable stock - was lovely in the way that anything with coconut milk and curry is. Mr. Addict ate only half his bowl, noting that the soupy concoction did manage to almost mask the whole wheat noodles.
The desserts and drinks were also lovely. The Peach Nectar Iced Tea was, literally, my favorite summery drink ever. I felt like I could drink the mint-flecked, Darjeeling and Peach Nectar concoction, scooping out and devouring the tea-soaked peach slices with my fingers, and never need anything else to eat or drink again. The Espresso Banana Muffins were sweet, hearty and crunchy; I normally despise muffins but I liked these heartier, whole wheat incarnations quite a bit.
Although I did not emerge from this week's cooking any more enchanted with tofu than I was before (and may ever be), Heidi's book definitely hit the spot at a time when I needed the full arsenal of whole food superpowers at my disposal. Given how awesome her blog is, it's not surprising to me that the book was gorgeous, and taught me a thing or two. If you are in need of superpowers, I highly recommend it (and Heidi's blog!).