Cookbook: The Blender Girl: Super-Easy, Super-Healthy Meals, Snacks, Desserts & Drinks by Tess Masters
Overall Impression: Bursting with flavor, color, and cheerful health tips, this comprehensive and creative cookbook lands somewhere between health encyclopedia and international gourmet.
I thought this was a cookbook of smoothie recipes. It's not. In fact, smoothies only make up about a quarter or less of the 100 recipes designed and written. (Promise me you'll try the Raw Chocolate-Orange Torte. Promise.)
Recipes I Tried
- Pineapple Salsa Smoothie, pg. 46
- Creamy Mushroom Stroganoff, pg. 130
- Spicy Chickpea Burgers, pg. 139
- Raw Chocolate-Orange Torte, pg. 152
Cooking From The Blender Girl
At first glance, I was immediately drawn to the gorgeous, mouthwatering photography and lightweight, paperback feel of the book. It looks more like a coffee table adornment than a cookbook, and has just as much flip-through appeal: A recipe for chilled sesame tofu, presented as a silken white cube in a rough-rimmed cobalt bowl? 5-minute BBQ sauce? Asian arugula salad? A smoothie called Apple Pie in a Glass? Instructions for making my own kefir? Raw chocolate-orange torte garnished with shaved chocolate and orange zest? Yes, please, and thank you. (Dare I say, that torte alone made the entire book worth it? Raw, vegan and gluten-free; and each bite, served chilled, literally melted on my tongue.)
Tess Masters is a self-taught intuitive eater after learning as a teenager that she was gluten- and dairy-intolerant. Tess has explored as many diets as any southern-Californian foodie, from macrobiotics to yin and yang strategies, Ayurvedic techniques, blood-type theories, raw diets, and more.
Surprisingly — and perhaps what I appreciate most about this book — is Tess's easygoing, cheerful attitude about it all. She is neither preachy nor pretentious. Rather, she recommends learning your body's unique needs and embracing "flexibility and fluidity, not rigidity" as the keys to wellness. In the first 39 pages, she offers a wealth of information to help readers discover what works for them, followed by 100 brilliant gluten-free, dairy-free recipes with the yum-appeal to pique the curiosity of the most skeptical.
Tess' ingredients and directions are easy to follow and listed in order of use. Smoothies, sauces, drinks, and soups are made in a blender and the rest of the dishes all include at least one blender-reliant element. The spicy chickpea burgers, for instance, are made as a sauce in the blender and then folded with chickpea flour. They were a breeze to make. I served them on portobello mushroom tops at Tess' recommendation, which were lovely, but they also made delicious sandwiches with sliced avocado.
The mushroom stroganoff was amazingly simple, creamy, and very tasty. I was skeptical, and then pleasantly surprised — though I have to admit that classic stroganoff is one of my love languages, so this vegan version didn't quite cut it for me. My meat-eating husband, however, said he couldn't tell a difference.
If you are just looking for smoothie recipes, The Blender Girl is still a must-have: the ingredient combinations are unique — not your typical berry-and-banana smoothie — and each is introduced with a little story or short overview of the health benefits. I tested the pineapple salsa blend out of sheer curiosity. It features jalapeños, red onion, and pineapple, and the result was spicy, fresh, and perfectly sweet. Again, I was pleasantly surprised.
What Could Be Better
The only downside were the pricey or rare ingredients in a few of the dishes. I live in a small town, so some ingredients were difficult or impossible to find, although Tess recommends substitutions in a few of the recipes, and the last two pages of the book offer a list of websites that Tess uses to stock her kitchen. Many recipes rely on dates, cashews, coconut oil, and other high-quality vegan staples that can push the grocery bill up pretty quickly. The measured ingredients in that raw chocolate-orange torte, for example, cost me about $30. As such, the torte is certainly something I'd whip up as a treat for my vegan friends, but not something I can afford to make everyday, regardless of how obsessed with it I am.
Although many of Tess' recipes had me thinking that I could maybe, actually thrive with neither gluten nor dairy, I am at heart a farm-bred, pasta-loving, ice-cream-adoring girl (on a budget), so I also thought it would be helpful if she had included the appropriate gluten or dairy substitutions in many of the recipes. It would expand the flexibility, affordability, and market of a book that already offers something for almost everyone.
Easy to follow, gorgeous to look at, practical, and informative, The Blender Girl brings stunning, healthy, and delicious recipes to the table. If you're not vegan or gluten-free, this is still a gem of a cookbook and I guarantee you'll be scribbling lists of recipes to try as soon as you flip through those glossy, high-color pages. Your taste buds will sing. Your knowledge of intuitive and flexible eating will expand. You might even accidentally eat entirely gluten-free and vegan for seven days in a row.
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: The Blender Girl: Super-Easy, Super-Healthy Meals, Snacks, Desserts & Drinks by Tess Masters
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