It's difficult for vegans to find food they can eat in restaurants, or in packaged foods. At the same time, for many vegans, finding the time to cook, and learning how to make all kinds of new foods, can be daunting and a real obstacle to vegan success.
With The 4 Ingredient Vegan as your guide and protector, you can travel far along the way of nutritious and delicious meals through the ease and convenience of processed foods.
The recipes in The 4 Ingredient Vegan are easy, delicious, and mostly quick. They're all about using shortcut ingredients and time saving tips.
There is little gathering & prepping of food to do, because every recipe has just 4 main ingredients, which are often prepared foods, such as vegetable broth, canned beans and soups, frozen vegetables and fruit, chopped nuts or nut butters, miso, nutritional flakes, vegan cream cheese & sour cream, high quality condiments & spice mixes, phyllo dough, noodles etc.
What cooking remains is simple and easy. This kind of food preparation is convenient, fast, and nutritious, ideal for those who work or go to school all day. This cookbook is a meant for people who want to eat healthy but have little time to cook, or who may not enjoy cooking - but definitely enjoy eating.
The authors also make good use of labor saving blenders and food processers in most of the recipes.
BUT - isn't there always a but - to make this cookbook happen for you, you'll need a well-stocked pantry and fridge. That means planning and shopping ahead. Fortunately, the authors provide a fairly simple list of pantry staples to get you started.
I like to think that I avoid processed food, in favor of cooking my own. I do love to cook, and I spend a couple of hours a day at it. But the fact is, I am often busy with other things, and I do use processed foods every day as a matter of convenience and take them for granted.
In my kitchen, I always have a few cans of beans, olives, coconut milk, tomato paste and so on, as well as frozen peas, spice mixes, veggie cubes, prepared flavorings and condiments, nut butters, pasta, non-dairy milk, tofu & miso, dried fruit and shelled nuts. I don't think of them as processed or convenience foods, but they are.
From this cookbook, I can see how taking that minimal use of processed food a few steps further could mean the difference between eating well, and eating junk food, for someone who is too busy or disinclined to do much cooking. It's a matter of discriminating between good processed food, and bad.
Bad processed food contains ingredients such as trans-fats, gmos, msg, high fructose corn syrup, excessive salt and sugar, artificial preservatives and coloring, with little food value, the most important quality being a very long shelf life.
Good processed food is made with high quality food, such as organically grown vegetables and beans, generally has a short list of ingredients, and usually needs to be refrigerated and used up quickly after opening to get the maximum nutritional value.
The authors of The 4 Ingredient Vegan offer a judicious balance of convenience foods and whole foods, for easy cooking and maximum nutrition - although not always quick. For example, instead of calling for prepared polenta, they teach you how to cook your own, or how to cook lentils (almost a convenience food) instead of opening a can.
We enjoyed 2 recipes from the book:
Artichoke, Leek and White Bean Soup calls for frozen artichoke hearts, fresh leeks, a carton of vegetable broth, a can of white beans, and of course a blender. Besides salt & pepper & olive oil, there were no other flavorings or ingredients to deal with. And it was easy to make.
It would have been much less expensive to use homemade broth and cook the beans, but I know that for most people, in that case, this soup wouldn't have happened. But I'd use fresh or frozen broccoli, instead of artichokes, because broccoli is less expensive, readily available and blends much more easily.
Hearty One-Pot Lentil-Vegetable Supper calls for 4 cups chopped fresh vegetables, 1 carton of vegetable broth, a 28 oz can of chopped tomatoes, and 2 1/2 cups brown lentils. As the recipe suggested, I jazzed up the flavor with curry spices and Bragg's Liquid Aminos (another convenience food I keep on hand).
Instead of vegetable broth, I used 2 vegan bouillon cubes in 4 cups of water. I also soaked the lentils for several hours before cooking to soften them up and speed the cooking.