Customer Reviews: Vegan Family Meals: Real Food for Everyone
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on July 1, 2011
I eagerly waited to get my copy of VFM after pre-ordering and I wasn't disappointed. This cookbook is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. Beautifully photographed and laid out, Ann Gentry presents vegan meals for everyone. Not only does she provide clear-cut instructions on each dish, she also provides suggestions on what could accompany the dish. Ann also talks about ingredients that may not be familiar to a new cook and how to incorporate them, shows how to do different cutting techniques and discusses the health benefits of olive oil, antioxidants, essential fatty acids and numerous healthy plant foods such as leafy greens, grains and nuts.

The recipes don't disappoint. So far I have made the Tofu Scramble with Caramelized Onion and Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Spicy-Sweet Roasted Almonds, Baked Kale Chips, Hemp-Crusted Tofu Wrap with Grilled Vegetables and Walnut-Basil Pesto Mayonnaise, Early Spring Salad with Tofu Chevre (how fun!) and Herb-Flaxseed Vinaigrette, Southwestern Salad with Chipotle Ranch Dressing (delicious) and Agave-Chili Tortilla Strips, Szechuan Noodles with Hot Spicy Peanut Sauce (so tasty, the perfect peanut noodle dish and quick to make) and Kung Pao Tofu and Vegetables. I still have quite a few recipes to try out but so far I have been very happy and impressed. I know some people will be daunted by the time and ingredients involved with some of these recipes, but you get what you put into it. If you plan ahead, these dishes don't take that long to make. I work full-time and it takes me over an hour to get home and we still eat dinner at a decent hour.

Ann concludes her cookbook with a nice listing of sources ranging from natural food companies to vegan education and organizations. This cookbook is more than a mere cookbook as it provides invaluable information about nutrition and vegan health. Ann has done a wonderful job in writing this book and it is very obviously a labor of love.
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on September 14, 2011
I was looking for a good cookbook for my parents who are budding vegetarians and purchased this one based on the title alone, having no previous knowledge of Ann, her restaurant, or her other books. I mistakenly took this to be a book of recipes that could be realized in anyone's kitchen and enjoyed at anyone's table, regardless of their age or location.

I chose not to give this book to my parents. They live in rural Michigan where it is a serious trek to the nearest Whole Foods, and every grocery store attendant in a fifteen mile radius looks at you funny if you ask for something as normal as vital wheat gluten. To keep them from burning out on a diet of chick peas, I gave them "Supermarket Vegan: 225 Meat-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free Recipes for Real People in the Real World" by Donna Klein, instead of "Vegan Family Meals".

I kept "Vegan Family Meals" for myself. I live in St. Louis and have plenty of ethnic groceries and much more "health" food at my disposal, however, I also live 20 minutes away from the nearest Whole Foods or Trader Joes (they only build those in the suburbs). My husband and I also live on $30,000 a year, which definitely makes smaller health food stores out of the question.

I have already tried a few recipes in this book and have been pleased by the outcome. My husband loves the melty cashew cheese. The recipes are a good challenge for my cooking skills and ingredient repertoire.

If I ever make it to California, perhaps I will better understand in that context how these recipes are "real food" and "for everyone".
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on September 21, 2011
This cookbook is undeniably a work of art--the binding, photography, recipe choices, tips and info on vegan cooking and overall layout are all lovely. However, for me, a busy wife and mother of two, these recipes are not what I would call "family meals" and "food for everyone". They are definitely for someone with lots of time to spend in the kitchen. During the summer, when I had a bit more time, I put together several of these recipes and they turned out well. But I had to spend 2-3 hours on preparation for each meal and quickly felt cooking burnout coming on. I will hold on to this cookbook because it's so pretty and maybe the day will come when I have time to do nothing but chop, dice, blend, saute, mix, and wash lots of dishes.
So, if you have lots of time, if cooking is your passion, maybe it's an everyday sort of book for you. For me, I need simpler, quicker recipes for my family everyday.
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on June 27, 2011
I am a huge fan of the RFD restaurant in Santa Monica and have been cooking almost exclusively from the Real Food Daily cookbook for the past year. The flavors and textures in every recipe are amazingly sophistocated. Her instructions are extremely clear, and if you follow them exactly, your dishes will turn out perfectly every time. A novice cook would have no trouble. I am pleased to say that Vegan Family Meals is an equally impressive effort. I've tried seven of the recipes so far, and every one has been excellent. I recently made the Watercress and Butter Lettuce Salad with Israeli Couscous, Orange-Basil Tempeh, and Sweet Miso Dressing for a gathering with friends and it was a huge hit. We fought over second helpings! This is gourmet whole food cuisine at its finest.

Don't just buy Vegan Family Meals, buy the Real Food Daily Cookbook as well and throw all your other cookbooks away.
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on September 9, 2011
After eating at Real Food Daily last weekend, I was excited to purchase this book. Sadly, after reading all of the recipes I doubt I will be cooking any of them unless I have a lot of spare time--which I do not. I actually found the long lists of ingredients in every recipe to be exhausting to read let alone put together as a meal. Even the quick meals section would take tons of work. If you have a lot of time to prep and cook your family meals, then by all means try this cookbook. I recommend looking at the book at a bookstore before buying to decide for yourself. If I had then I would have passed on purchasing it.
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on July 15, 2011
Last summer, I began a little food blog. I prepare all sorts of food for my family: Lavender-Lemon Roasted Salmon, King Ranch Chicken Casserole, Nutella Crepes, etc. We do eat meat, but I am ever-mindful of its source and how it was raised. Aware of the powerful effect food can have on our health and well-being, I'm a big proponent of using whole, mostly organic ingredients. So I was very excited to have been asked to review Ann's book on my blog. (I did NOT receive compensation in return for my review of this book.) I prepared Vegan Lasagna Rolls with Tofu Ricotta. Incredible! You know in the Popeye cartoons when the dear sailor man wolfs down a can of spinach and you can actually see his muscles growing with each swallow? That's how I felt about our increasing health as my family inhaled the lasagna. Miso, tahini, and tofu (along with lots of garlic, veggies, and spices) combined to make an unusual but delightful "ricotta cheese." And it wasn't the traditional layered lasagna...each noodle was topped with the "ricotta", rolled up, and then covered with an easy-to-make tomato sauce. The overall result was fun (my kids loved the presentation of the rolls) AND flavorful.

This book is easy on the eyes. Full of happy colors and well-styled photographs, it's rather fun to sit down with a scrap of paper and map out your meals for the week. Plus, Ann's instructions on how to prepare the recipes are very straight-forward: I agree with another reviewer who states that if you just follow the directions, you can't mess it up. Ann also gives tips (demonstrated in photos) about how best to cut a carrot, mince garlic, etc.

You won't be sorry if you purchase this book. Especially if you are just stepping into the vegan world or if you prepare meals for vegan friends and loved ones. Ann takes the scary and overwhelming parts of vegan cooking and provides reassurance that you, too, can make this food.

You can see the step-by-step instructions for preparing Ann's lasagna on my blog: [...]
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on October 15, 2012
I wanted to love this book. I have two young vegan kids, a busy omni spouse, and a full-time job. Since the title was about vegan families I hade high hopes. The recipes are too complicated and time-consuming to prepare on a week night so this book usually sits on the shelf. It does have great photos, but honeslty too many photos of the author and her family - I love cookbooks with great color photos of the food, but more than one or two photos of the author is just unnecessary for a cookbook. Also, the layout of the ingredients is very difficult to read. She lists the ingredients in three columns across the top of the page, which makes it difficult/unusual to follow the order.
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on February 7, 2013
We ate at RFD and I had to have the cookbook after having such tasty food. I read the other reviews about time consuming preparation and long lists of ingredients, and I understand the concerns, however, if a person takes this book as a stylistic approach but not necessarily a set of tight constraints, it can work even for busy people. For instance, there are lots of roasted veggies in the recipes. So roast more than needed and use some another way the next day. Cook up some lentils and quinoa while doing something else and throw it in other meals. She also states to use what is available and in season, so no need to stress if some things aren't. I think this is a great guidebook, very educational and doesn't assume that you know how to cook or know all of the ingredients- she explains every preparation very clearly. It is also worth noting that having a good knife, a blender, and developing knife skills probably makes it a whole lot easier/quicker!
The other note that I have is that some vegan books use crazy tricks to add flavor- liquid smoke, for instance, and I don't think that's necessarily the most healthy way to go, and it certainly doesn't taste very good to me. This book is not gimmicky that way. Everything is fresh and healthy.
We have noticed that we feel better when we eat this style of food, so for us, it is worth the effort to try to move more in the macrobiotic direction, even if we're not 100% committed. This book helps with that process.
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on August 9, 2011
I love eating Vegan for a whole host of reasons ranging from the way it makes me feel to my impact on the environment. Being Vegan has made me a better cook and person, at the same time giving me the kinda skin people stop me on the street to compliment (bye bye awkward high school memories). The only thing I miss is cheese, store bought Vegan cheeses (including Dr. Cow and excluding Daiya) are disappointing to say the least. Not to mention the Soy Cheese Trader Joe's sells has casein in it (Vegan No-No). Ann Gentry's recipe for her cashew cheese and her tofu chevre are THE ONLY REASONS I can stay Vegan for an indeterminate amount of time, they are truly THAT divine and a necessity for any Vegan or Lactose Intolerant person to familiarize themselves with. Vegan Family Meals takes Veganism and makes it accessible to modern life, creating meals everyone will enjoy as well as inspiring reader and chef alike to look at vegetables in new and interesting ways. Some of my favorite recipes are the elegant Nicoise salad on pg. 126 and the Baked Kale Chips (So easy and guiltless!) on pg. 58 . Overall, it's a beautifully designed book that not only should be displayed for it's visuals but to show off to people you are currently taking a Master Class in Vegan cooking from a pioneer. Also, if you're in LA, come to Real Food Daily and pay homage to the premier Organic Vegan restaurant in town, there's no one in the whole world who wouldn't ADORE their nachos or club sandwich.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon September 15, 2014
For me, I have watched Ann Gentry's show on TV called Naturally Delicious for several years and have learned so much about Vegan Cooking. Since I follow the Vegan way three days a week now (and thinking of going up to five to six days) perhaps.

If you are thinking about becoming a vegan or you just want to prepare meals that are vegan and healthy even some of the time, I highly suggest this cookbook.


+ Beginning of this cookbook Ann Gentry explains the overall health benefits of becoming a vegan type of cook. She even gives true mini stories of people in her family and others she knows how much the vegan way has helped them.

+ The recipes are FLAVORFUL in this book, really! I thought that VEGAN meals.

Personally, I have read and used several vegan cookbooks and this one is the BEST that I have found!

Highly recommend this cookbook.
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