Vegan cookbook author and restaurant owner Ann Gentry at Bookshop Santa Cruz

cookbook photo vegan family meals

Food prepared from Vegan Family Meals cookbook, photo courtesy of Andrews McMeel Publishing

If you’re interested in cooking healthier food that still tastes great, I recommend attending restaurant owner and vegan cookbook author Ann Gentry’s appearance at Bookshop Santa Cruz on Wednesday, June 22 at 7:30pm. She’ll be discussing her newest book, “Vegan Family Meals: Real Food for Everyone” (published June 2011, 272 pp., $25), and food prepared from Vegan Family Meals will be served.

Gentry is the founder of Real Food Daily (RFD), a pair of vegan restaurants in L.A. that serve absolutely delicious food. After operating RFD as a food delivery business for 5 years, Gentry opened her first restaurant in Santa Monica in 1993 and now there are two — plus a possible airport location in LAX opening in 2012.  I try to dine at RFD when I visit L.A.; during a meal there I feel like I’m rewarding both my body and soul.

Vegan Family Meals has the potential be a fabulous cookbook for vegetarians, vegans, and even meat-eaters. As Gentry proclaims in the introduction, “it’s not necessary to become vegan or vegetarian to enjoy the benefits of eating plant-based meals.” Even if you’re not ready (or never will be ready) to quit eating meat and fish, you can eat healthier and this book will help with its easy, satisfying recipes.

Breakfast selections include Tofu Benedict with Roasted Corn Hollandaise and French Toast with Fresh Raspberry Syrup, and dinner ideas range from One-Pot Vegetables and Tofu with Sesame Rice to Pinto Bean Enchiladas. Other dishes include soups (Yucatan Yam Picante, for one), snacks (Spicy-Sweet Roasted Almonds), salads (Mixed Oak and Green Leaf Salad with Sesame-Hiziki Croquettes, Garbanzo Beans, and Ginger-Tahini Dressing), desserts (from Almond-Jam Thumbprint Cookies to Vanilla Cupcakes with Sweet Vanilla Buttercream Frosting).

This is Gentry’s second cookbook, and she’s experienced at preparing vegan meals for herself and her family (not to mention serving as Executive Chef to magazine Vegetarian Times). Vegan Family Meals features information on macrobiotics, nutrition, and more. Gentry includes many tips on cooking techniques, utensils and equipment plus recipe variations, menu pairings, and helpful explanations (Wonder what exactly makes a particular food a “superfood?” See page 23 for an overview and then page 24 for specifics like goji berries). At the end of Vegan Family Meals, you’ll find extensive resources such as a natural foods company list, web site addresses for selected books and organizations, and a very comprehensive index.

As the author reminds readers, vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic, and whole foods ingredients are now available at mainstream supermarkets across the US, so they are convenient for everyone – not just for those of lucky enough to live in the Bay Area with its plethora of farmers markets and independent fresh food shops. It appears that chefs everywhere can benefit from this exciting new book, and I look forward to being one of these!

Reading Location:

Bookshop Santa Cruz, 1520 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz 95060

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