Sunday, August 29, 2010

30-Minute Vegan: Review + Giveaway!
Vegan Fusion World Cuisine

I'm going to run out of adjectives to describe this wonderful cookbook. 30-Minute Vegan, written by husband and wife team Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray, is a gold-mine of information, techniques, tips, variations, and winning recipes.

A blend of raw vegan and cooked vegan dishes, 30-Minute Vegan was written with the busy person in mind. For those of us who want to eat raw or cooked vegan, but don't always want the packaged stuff, this is our book.

I like that it's a primer on kitchen skills. Everything from knife skills to how to crack open a coconut are explained.

The reader is taught the fundamentals and building blocks of successful raw and cooked vegan food. And those are what any person needs to succeed at this lifestyle. Learning those fundamentals alone are worth the price of the book. How many times have you looked in your refrigerator or pantry and thought, "I have no idea what to make with what I've got?" If you know the basics, you can build on them.

But I think I love the sidebars best. With the recipes, the authors give you options:
-If You Have More Time: got more than 30 minutes? Then you can explore longer variations on the given recipe.
-Quicker and Easier: got less than 30 minutes? Another variation is given.
-Superfoods for Health: kale, acai, collards, berries, and more are highlighted.
-Tips and Tricks: secrets from the pros that will transform you from cook to chef.

For instance, three of the Quicker and Easier sidebars have to do with flavoring water. I learned that:
 1) Dried figs can be placed in water to create Fig Water.
2)The skin and core of pineapples can be added to create a water that can be used in smoothies. The authors suggest adding cinnamon sticks and aniseeds for more flavor.
3) I can add herbs like rosemary, cilantro, ginger flowers, organic mini roses, basil, and much more to water to enjoy. Hot teas are nothing but flavored water, but I'd never thought to add these herbs to cold water.

The authors are HUGE on flavor. Chapter 13 Condiments, Infused Oils, and Spreads lay the foundation of flavor that transforms dishes from "good" to "ka-pow!"  

Chocolate Ganache Pie

Okay, don't laugh at my half-eaten pie. My family and I dove right in as soon as it was ready. Then I realized I hadn't photographed the pie yet! I said, "Wait until I take a picture!" What's also funny is that the chocolate seized up on me while I melted the chips. I'd melted vegan chocolate chips in a bowl over boiling water. Reinfeld and Murray warn that "the slightest droplet of water will "seize" the chocolate, leaving it lumpy and devastatingly imperfect looking." But, exactly as they wrote, "but surely do not cry over broken chocolate; everyone still loves to like it up and your lumpy little pie will still taste divine."

I'm not sure how my chocolate smoothed itself out because at least a tablespoon of water got into it. And the pie was divine. Rich, thick, creamy...everyone was happy, including me.
Kale Salad

Any variation on a raw Kale Salad is appreciated by me. Reinfeld and Murray use maple syrup in this Rainbow Kale salad version. I didn't have the colorful veggies on hand that day, but I made it anyway. I'm feeling this one!

Ranch Dressing

When I think about a dish often, it's a good one. I made this Ranch Dressing to go with the Buffalo Tofu from The Vegan Soul Food Guide to the Galaxy the last time I made it for my husband.  It puts bottled Ranch to shame. I think the green onion and paprika are the ingredients that make this dressing burst with flavor. It is "lick the bowl" fantastic!

Live Lemon Bars

This kid-friendly live dessert was a hit in my home. When Raymond asks for "more, please" we have a winner. The smell of lemon waifed through my kitchen. This dessert was kind of like a pie. Smooth and creamy on top and crunchy on the bottom. Lemony goodness. :-)

My only complaint is the black and white photographs. They do nothing to make the food "pop." And Mark and Jennifer deserved at least one color photograph of themselves. There are eight pages of color photos, which make the food sing. 30-Minute Vegan places such an emphasis on herbs, spices, and bold flavors, that all of the photographs should have done justice to this incredible food.

30-Minute Vegan still receives 10 out of 10 Mocha Angels because of its excellence, bar none.  Written for the busy home cook, and creative enough to keep anyone interested for years, 30-Minute Vegan belongs in every house.


One lucky person wins a copy of 30-Minute Vegan!!

- Leave a comment at the end of this post. Answer the question: “What is your best kitchen tip to help save people time when preparing a meal or drink?"
- Leave a working email address too.
-The winner must live in the United States
- Post your comment by 11:59pm EST, Monday, September 6, 2010.
- I will pick the winner at random. The winner will receive an email from me on Tuesday, September 7, 2010. I will announce the winner on The Raw Mocha Angel blog on that same day.

Good luck!



halona black said...

Meal planning has been a HUGE time saver for me. On Sunday I will plan 3 or 4 large meals to make over the week. I check what I have in my pantry, then shop only for what I need that week. It eliminates last minute trips to the store and I can start to prepare things ahead of time.

Anonymous said...

For me and my family a good kitchen time saver is to pre-wash, pre-cut and stored in containers and the best time saver is to have little helping hands!!! My two youth love to help with any and everything...from washing silverware to wiping down the tables. They help with smoothies and juices as well. Peace Stacey

Anonymous said...

Keep your inventory list at eye sight at all times. Plan and shop ahead. Soak/drain and keep nuts and seeds in the frig. Grind nuts/seeds/flax seeds ahead and store in glass containers in frig. Do not throw away glass jars/bottles. If necessary ask friends/relatives to pass them on to you for keeping juices, etc., available. Pour your fresh juices (mainly lemon/lime/orange)in glass containers for later, run the top over then cap tightly. Use full amount within a day or so. Peel onions and garlic ahead and store in air tight containers in frig. Wash your produce the moment you bring it home then store w/moist paper towels in bags or containers in the frig. I could go on but these are staple items needed mostly and when you can just grab and use them you'll be a happier camper in your kitchen.

Earth Mother said...

Best tip I ever got was from my Mom: clean up as you go along!

earth dot mother45 at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Here are a few of my tips:

My husband and I make all of our lunches for the week on Sunday. We'll choose two different entrees, we'll double both recipes, and then we'll store the food in containers in either the fridge or freezer.

Another tip is for the beginners out there. This one helped me a lot when I had no clue how to cut an onion. Cut off the very top and bottom of the onion, then cut the onion in half vertically. This will make it easy to remove the skin. Set the onion down on the cutting board cut-side down. Align the two halves vertically. Take your big knife and cut both halves vertically at the same time. Make as many cuts as needed (less if you're chopping, more if you're mincing). Then take your knife and cut the onion horizontally as many times as needed. Using this technique, I can have an onion cut in under a minute.

Don't spend a lot of time removing the skin from garlic! The easiest way to remove it is to hit it hard with an object, which will loosen or take off the skin in one move. I like to set my knife on top of it (not with the sharp side facing up or down! the wide part of the blade will be on the garlic) and push it down with one or both hands.

rebeccastar at gmail dot com

Angelique said...

After that glowing review (and those pix), I'm hoping I win this!
Best tip for saving time?
Hmm...well, the 1st one is that I hang up the items I use the most on litle nails/hooks by my sink so they are only a second away w/no digging through drawers or cupboards. Fast to use -- fast to put away. Like my little cutting board, ceramic slicer, and measuring spoons. I also have hanging up, a little spiral set up laminated recipe notecards from Eva Rawposa ( that reminds me of basic formulas for things like dressings, patties, nut milk, etc. They say things like 1 part oil and 2 parts vinegar. Just helps when I don't want to take the time to find an exact recipe in a book but need a nudge to remind me of basic ingredients/proportions. So I keep that hanging up for quick grabbing too. So, using my kitchen wallspace for those often-used items is a big timesaver (and they double as wall decorations :)

mpenzi said...

For me and my family a good kitchen time saver is to pre-wash, pre-cut and stored in containers and the best time saver is to have little helping hands!!! My two youth love to help with any and everything...from washing silverware to wiping down the tables. They help with smoothies and juices as well. Peace Stacey

wisdom goddess born said...

I have a taste for the exotic, my family leans more to the traditional, so sometimes a variation on the main course satisfies my food wanderlust. One of the best time savers I have is making sure I have plenty of 'go withs' in my pantry. That way if we need brown jasmine rice, or rice noodles,Braggs, coconut sugar or panko or whatever, they are already there for an impromtu stir fry to empty out the veggie bin, or a quick noodle soup to go along with the basic entree. I'm finding my family willing to try new things more this way too.

Addie Bliss-Wagner said...

Cooking to me is an event, not a chore. I usually just make time for cooking so I can just relax and enjoy the experience. If you really need to save some time, you can prep and start cooking the veggies that need to cook the longest right away as you prep the ones you can add later. I also clean my knifes and cutting board and put things away as I go along. But remember to try to enjoy yourself and the process of creating wholesome, nutritious goodness! :)

The Sweetest Vegan said...

ALWAYS check to make sure you have all the ingredients before starting a recipe.

The Sweetest Vegan

happysue said...

chopping all the veggies for my salads in advance and putting in one of those tupperware containers with the dividers- i dont have to chop each time i make a salad. i dont wash them, until its time to actually make the salad, this way things don't get too mushy.

marcie said...

My time saving kitchen tip is to leave the food processor on the counter. I use the food processor almost everyday to chop up veges and fruit. This one item allows me to prepare vege soup stock and salad dressing among other things for my meals.

Please, please post the recipe for ranch salad dressing. I love a good dressing!

MsChoiceAlways said...

Most certainly clean up as you go along. This cookbook looks so lovely.

YouCanLoveYourLifeNow! said...

My best tip, use what you have on hand--I smell things into my tastebuds to see if they will taste good on whatever I'm preparing. Honey, BBQ sauce and Ranch dressing are also staples in my kitchen.

You might not get exactly what you were going for, but using your sense of smell as a "taste" agent, will get you something good!

ProudFlower Productions said...

Using Sundays as a weekly prep day really helps save me time during the week. I plan my menu for the week before I shop and prepare anything I can on Sunday.

ProudFlower Productions said...

oh yeah forgot... info at proudflower dot com

keep up the great posts :-)

Sugarbear said...

One of the best time savers I know: Have a set of good sharp knives. If you do a lot of prep on veggies like I do, a cheap knife just doesn't cut it (literally). Quality knives will save lots of time because you'll be able to cut faster and more accurately. If you can't afford a full set, then start with a chef's knife and a paring knife.

Anonymous said...

Loved reading all of the tips!!

We keep mason jars of several sizes on hand. They work well for lots of food prep and storage from sprouting, soaking and storing of nuts/seeds, quick "make and shake" salad dressings, and individual serving size juice storage.

Also, for a delicious and natural, quick summer treat, we thaw frozen juice concentrate and pour over shaved ice. (you could also blend)

bitt said...

Well it saves me time to make sure I have all the ingredients ahead of time. If there is a recipe I want to make, I try to make a list so I get it all at the store. Otherwise it is annoying to have all but that one thing missing.

Radish said...

Hey, love your blog :D

“What is your best kitchen tip to help save people time when preparing a meal or drink?"
I usually prepare a couple more complicated dishes or components of a dish (if a part of a dish needs to be soaked or dehydrated) over the weekend so it is easier to prepare meals during the busy week.
I also think meal planning and a solid grocery list are important.

I think if I don't win this giveaway, I'm just going to go out and buy this book. I've looked through it several times at the bookstore and want it so bad!


Mindy said...

What a great review! I skimmed this in Barnes and Noble & decided to pass on it, it looked so blah compared to their Vegan Fusion book, which is great & looks like a coffee table book. After reading your review, I'd love to have a copy. Clearly I should have taken more time in B & N.

Speaking of time, I love a good juice, but I have one of those slow juicers that preserve the nutrients, and the hopper requires the produce to be cut up small on top of took me awhile to realize I could make good use of my food processor to prep items for my juicer. Yes, I dirty a 2nd machine, but I have a nice medium size one that isn't too heavy or hard to clean, & boy the time savings. So my tip is don't forget your food processor - it really can be a big help when there's lots to chop and not much time. Email is

Rebekah (clarity in creation.) said...

my best tip is think simple!!! dinner doesn't need to be fancy - a plate of chopped fruit and veggies, a handful of nuts, and some dark chocolate is a perfectly acceptable meal in my book.

beth said...

using a rice cooker! cooking grains while prepping the rest of the food makes life so much easier!

Ashlei said...

Tip: pre-wash produce as soon as you get it home from the store. Also when chopping onions or garlic for a recipe, chop up extra while the food cooks and refrigerate it for later use.

Melissa said...

I don't have any good tips but, buying a magic bullet helped save me time chopping things.

Althea said...

From Vanessa:
Make sure that the dishes have been done FIRST!

Althea said...

From Amaadi:
I say, "Blend it!" If you are in a hurray, throw all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend away...This works with sauces, soups, dips, smoothies, and more!

Althea said...

From Sonia:

My BEST kitchen tip isn't new or even original- but it has continuously worked for me:
It's make a list of the ingredients you'll need for 2-3 days of meals.
Go to your local Asian market (fruit and veges are fresher)
Clean/wash ingredients then cut them up for your meals. Keep them together (in green bags or whatever you use so you'll know which veges/fruits go with what meal.
Cook/prepare and refrigerate meals and when you come in from work-all the hard stuff's done all you need do is either heat up or defrost your meal.


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