Vegan Author Brendan Brazier is a former professional Ironman tri-athlete, two-time Canadian ultramarathon champion, creator of Vega, award winning line of whole food nutritional products, and vegan athletic nutrition consultant.
"The recipes in Thrive Energy Cookbook are functional, which means that each ingredient has a nutritional purpose." Transitional recipes are included, and may include ingredients like cane sugar.
All the recipes are helpfully tagged with icons for transitional, raw, gluten free, protein rich and super nutrient dense.
Thrive Energy Cookbook has 150 recipes which show how to prepare a whole food plant based diet with three objectives:
Some may be concerned about the lack of nutrition data, but I think that partial nutritional values with an emphasis on protein & carbs are not especially helpful, and that recipes designed for superior nutrition and maximum sustained energy speak for themselves.
What I love best about the Thrive Energy Cookbook is that the super nutritious recipes are also super delicious. Proof positive is that my grand children, who are normally suspicious of 'healthy food', loved all the recipes I tested, and happily ate every bite. Mind you, I didn't try to feed them quinoa or teff!
Chocolate Almond Decadence smoothie on pg 175 was a big hit, as well as transitional falafels from pg 67 in pita bread with Tzatziki Sauce.
For a sample recipe, I posted Orange, Date and Nut Creamsicle dessert from pg. 248. I interpreted that as Orange Banana Date Nut Cream Dessert - since the main ingredient is bananas.
I wondered how that recipe would go over, but by then, the kids had already eaten several recipes from this book, and were convinced that whatever I produced was going to taste fantastic. And they were right!
I also came up with a Mint Cucumber Cooler Smoothie recipe, using the Vega One French vanilla-flavor nutritional shake powder that Vega sent me to try. That was the biggest hit of all. My husband has demanded I make it again and again.
Something else I appreciated very much was Brendan Brazier's clear explanation of biological debt on pg xxii of the introduction. He says, "A cornerstone of my dietary philosophy is to break dependency on adrenal stimulation. As you might expect, we accomplish this by basing our diet on - not just supplementing with - nutrient-dense whole foods."
I have experienced the benefits of a nutrient-dense diet first hand, and although I am in the transitional phase, and far from athletic, I can't help but notice the steady all-day energy and deep refreshing sleep.
The Thrive Energy Pantry chapter lists staple foods for all the recipes in the book, with concise explanations on how they are used and their nutritional value in a high net energy plant based diet.
I was surprised that the pantry ingredients and recipes didn't include soy foods, with no explanation given for omitting a convenient protein source that many athletes depend on.
But soy is heavy to digest, and it is reassuring to know that you can have a nutritious, delicious and satisfying diet without tofu or tempeh. I didn't eat tofu until I had been vegetarian for over 10 years, and tempeh only recently - and managed quite well.
Broccoli was also missing from the pantry ingredients, and I was scratching my head over that one, since broccoli is considered a super food by most nutrition experts. I will of course continue to eat broccoli.
My one serious quibble with the Thrive Energy Cookbook is the amount of spices called for in some of the recipes, e.g. the falafel recipe which calls for 2 Tbsp ground cumin, 2 Tbsp ground coriander, and 2 Tbsp paprika. I thought at first that must be a typo and should be teaspoons, but no, many of the other recipes have amounts like that.
I quibble because according to Ayurveda, which I've followed and studied for 30 years, spices and herbs are not only nutrient dense but powerful medicines.
In Ayurveda, it's a false and often harmful notion that a little is good, but a lot is better when it comes to dosage. Each individual physiology has different requirements.
Not only that, but from a culinary view point, overusing spices can spoil the delicate balance of tastes in a dish. For me, 2 Tbsp each of those spices would have made those falafels inedible. I went for 2 tsp instead, and for me and the grandkids, the results were perfect.
Regardless of my quibbles, I want to be clear that the nutrition information in this book is invaluable, and the recipes are amazing.
I highly recommend the Thrive Energy Cookbook, but do let your own taste buds be your guide when it comes to spices!