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Customer Review

546 of 624 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sadly, it all looks better than it is., May 5, 2011
This review is from: The Happy Herbivore Cookbook: Over 175 Delicious Fat-Free and Low-Fat Vegan Recipes (Paperback)
When I saw this book, I could not have been more excited about it. Almost every recipe appealed to me, and I really liked the photos. After I ordered it, it was back ordered for a month and then canceled, so I ordered it from B&N... 5 weeks after the initial order, I had it. So excited!

Baking is my thing, so I started there... the first time making a recipe I always follow it exactly, and save any adjustments for the next time I make it. Everything turned out really dry - not crumbly-dry, but dry in the way people always assume healthy baked goods will taste. I love moist breads and muffins (which can be made in a healthful and vegan manner) but three muffin/bread recipes later, everything was just meh.

But I wasn't ready to write the book off, not even close, so I moved onto to other things. I thought the frittata was ok, nothing special, but my bf requested that it not be made again. The macaroni salad was good, though I ended up adding some extra spices because it seemed a little bland, but the end result was tasty and I'd make it again. The mayo made for it was great, and the easiest & cheapest vegan mayo recipe I've made. The vanilla icing (used for cupcakes from another book) was gross and was thrown out. And I am not a person to throw out icing! I halved the instant cookie dough recipe, and also found that to be an unpleasant snack. The ratio of oats to everything else was not balanced. The seitan pot roast and chicken recipes were alright - they are simple to make and taste fine, nothing special. The rest of the recipes that I've tried had similar, mixed results. When a mayo recipe is the highlight of a book, there's a problem.

Healthy, vegan cooking is my passion, and I know without a doubt that it can be totally possible to make delicious food with great flavor that will appeal to anyone. This book looks like it will deliver, but sadly, for me it did not.

It is with some reluctance that I even wrote this review, because of the fleet of fierce defenders who will jump on every negative word spoken about this book. I'm not trying to stir up trouble! :) It is great that the author has so many fans! But everyone has different tastes and preferences, and that's why we have reviews. Since I'm sure it'll be brought up - yes I did just start reviewing cookbooks here. I've been buying books and reading reviews on Amazon forever, and decided it's about time I start contributing.
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Showing 1-10 of 40 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 14, 2011 11:33:01 AM PDT
I think your review was very respectful and, while I gave the book a 5 star review myself, I agree about the icing. I tasted a tiny bit and was instantly grossed out. I haven't tried any other vegan icing though, so I'm not sure what "good" would be. As someone just starting out vegan - I hadn't even thought about it until I saw this book at B&N - I think this book is wonderful. For me, I love the simplicity of the recipes and I actually like to cook now, where before I avoided the kitchen like the plague.

As someone who has experience in the kitchen and cooking vegan, do you have any recommendations for other vegan cookbooks? I haven't found any that I like as much as this one, and don't want to invest in something I won't use. I've spent a lot of time on vegweb recently and love a lot of the recipes on there, but I don't think they're very healthy either. I don't want to be a junkfood vegan. :)

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2011 9:54:53 AM PDT
Sorry you didn't like the icing--it's just powdered sugar + vanilla extract + nondairy milk, so if you end up with a funky brand of powdered sugar (or vanilla) it might come out less-than-stellar. But it's how all glazes are made. You can add lemon zest, etc. to it to help balance some of the flavor if you're powdered sugar is meh. I really like Hains brand.

Also Sarah--I'd be happy to talk to you about why the baked goods came out dry. Since there is so much applesauce, etc in them, they're usually really moist but some flours are more thirsty than others (especially whole wheats and GFs) so that can change things -- lindsay[at]happyherbivore[dot]com. Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on May 25, 2011 9:07:16 AM PDT
CABA says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2011 2:29:58 AM PDT
T. Jones says:
For healthy recipes, I absolutely love Appetite for Reduction!

In reply to an earlier post on May 28, 2011 8:55:21 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 28, 2011 9:17:09 PM PDT
Sarah M says:
(To K. Harris)
When I started cooking on a regular basis, it was the simple books that got me hooked. Learning the basics will keep you from getting frustrated with the more complex recipes. You mentioned you are a new vegan - congrats! You will not regret it!! :)

As far as other cookbooks, I really love the ones by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. She has recipes for all skill levels, so you can start simple but drool over the more complicated recipes that you know are in your near future. Her book 'The Joy of Vegan Baking' is my most well-worn cookbook. Her chocolate icing is to die for - it tastes just like the non-vegan stuff that my Mom makes. The baking book doesn't make claims about being healthy - just vegan - so it's perfect if you are looking to make a rich dessert. Otherwise, know your foods and learn what you can substitute or add to make them healthier. I will frequently swap out most of the oils in the breads/muffins with applesauce, add more fruit or veggies than is called for, reduce sugar, etc. and have never had a failed recipe. She also has the cookbooks "The Vegan Table" and "Color Me Vegan" that I've had terrific results with. I didn't mean for this to turn into another review - but she is my favorite to recommend to people!

In reply to an earlier post on May 28, 2011 9:16:42 PM PDT
Sarah M says:
(to Lindsay Nixon) I think it was the proportions in the recipe - my favorite in-a-pinch glaze is powdered sugar, almond milk, freshly squeezed orange juice and some orange zest and it has yet to turn out funky.

Your offer to discuss the baked goods is appreciated but that won't be necessary. I know how all of that stuff works, but I like to stay true to the recipe the first go, and make any changes the second time around.

I know firsthand how hard it is to put your work out there, and watch others critique it. The positive feedback is so encouraging, while the negative is frustrating, even if you are learning from it. But sometimes when you put something out there, it is best to stand behind it and avoid the urge to make a rebuttal to every comment you disagree with. Are you proud of your book? Great! Make mental notes of the things you want to do better next time, and move on. This is the internet! There is no end of people to disagree with here - save yourself the grief.

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2011 1:17:40 PM PDT
Rawr says:
Wow, patronizing. Thanks Sarah for the lesson on "how to deal with negative amazon reviews". I thought I was looking for cookbook reviews .. . .

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2011 10:20:59 AM PDT
Sarah, Thank you for the advice; I enjoy feedback, including constructive criticism, but I also enjoy helping others which is why I reached out to you.

Posted on Jun 21, 2011 3:15:57 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 21, 2011 3:19:01 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 21, 2011 7:20:31 PM PDT
Thank you - I'll have to check them out.
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