Tag Archives: vegan

Christmas and Hanukkah goodies at Whole Foods Market in Santa Cruz & Capitola

Christmas and Hanukkah are coming soon—in case you need some inspiration, I looked to Whole Foods Market for a few tips. Whole Foods Market locations in Capitola (1710 41st Ave.) and Santa Cruz (911 Soquel Ave.) always have lots of delicious, seasonal products, and the company generously gave me a gift card to enjoy a few items.

You can place orders in person or online; they must be made 48 hours before you want to pick them up. Depending on occasion, customers can place their holiday orders through Dec. 29; pick up dates are from Dec. 19-31.

Whole Foods Market has partnered with James Beard Award-winning chef, restaurateur and author Michael Solomonov for a pre-made Hanukkah meal for eight. Solomonov wrote “Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking.” Here are details on the meal:

  • Chicken Schnitzel with Apple Amba SauceMatzo-crusted chicken cutlers with hawaij—turmeric, cumin and black pepper—then fried crisp and served with a tangy Apple Amba Sauce
  • Green Beans with Mushrooms and Tehina (Vegetarian) – Tender green beans roasted with mushrooms and tossed in tehina sauce—tehina, apple cider vinegar, shallots and fenugreek—topped with beluga lentils and crispy garlic
  • Twice-Cooked Eggplant (Vegetarian) – First charred for deep flavors, eggplant is then mashed and simmered with onions, red bell pepper, paprika and coriander, and brightened by sherry vinegar and lemon juice
  • Leek and Potato Cakes – Shredded potato, matzo and onion pancakes, fried until crisp and tasty

There are three other chefs that Whole Foods Market has collaborated with this holiday season: Nicole Rucker, James Beard Award–winning cookbook author Stella Parks, and cookbook author Jenné Claiborne. Their special offerings include desserts like Honey Chess Pie (think buttery custard, warming spices flaky crust, whipped cream and candied ginger – this is from Rucker, a four-time blue-ribbon pie contest winner and author of “Dappled: Baking Recipes for Fruit Lovers). Have a different kind of sweet tooth? There’s Parks’ Caramel Spice Cake (includes buttermilk spice cake, layers of cranberry jam, cream cheese frosting, and caramel glaze—pastry chef Parks wrote “BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts). Chef/blogger Claiborne, author of “Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes,” has created a vegan Southern holiday meal for two which includes mushroom étouffée (delicious – I tried it!) and black-eyed pea fritters.

Traditional offerings include classic roast turkey dinner (turkey breast for four or whole turkey for four, eight or 12—includes sides like green beans with roasted shallots), and prime rib or spiral-sliced ham dinner for eight. A la carte sides include creamed spinach and kale (includes cream, Parmesan and garlic), corn pudding, and cider-roasted Brussels sprouts with pepitas.

Other Whole Foods Market order-ahead offerings perfect for the holidays:

  • Appetizers & Party Platters like Crostini Kits (varieties include Chevre & Tomato Crostini, Smoked Salmon Crostini, Roast Vegetable Crostini), Crab Cakes, or Antipasti Platter. Each of these platters serves 10.
  • Desserts like Mini Pastry Platter or Berry Chantilly Cake (each serves eight) or Pistachio Chocolate Torte (serves six)

 Local Store Details

Whole Foods Market Santa Cruz is located at 911 Soquel Ave. Call (831) 426-9901 for more information.

Whole Foods Market Capitola is located at 1710 41st Ave. Call (831) 464-2900 for more information.

For more Whole Foods Market locations, see the store locator.

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Hyatt Carmel Highlands features divine dinner options

Almond yogurt with root vegetables at California Market at Pacific's Edge. Photo courtesy of Hyatt Carmel Highlands

Almond yogurt with root vegetables at California Market at Pacific’s Edge. Photo courtesy of Hyatt Carmel Highlands

In early March, I visited the Hyatt Carmel Highlands and ate dinner at California Market at Pacific’s Edge for the first time, and it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. From the service, to the food, to the views—everything combined to make an incredible, enjoyable experience that I’ll remember for a very long time.


Soon after my husband and I sat down, our server David greeted us. He was extremely attentive for the next two hours, and I appreciated his down to earth nature and his enthusiasm and knowledge about the menu offerings.


We began with an appetizer, which was almond yogurt mixed with roasted root vegetables and pistachio granola. This is offered a la carte or as course one of the four-course plant based tasting menu ($50, or $80 with wine pairings, the menu rotates every six weeks or so).

I would not have ordered this dish without the waiter’s recommendation, and wow would I have missed out! Delightful, surprising tastes and textures…when I think of yogurt and granola, that sounds like a breakfast item. This worked beautifully as a light, unusual beginning to dinner.


We got the honor of meeting sous chef Pancho Castellon that night. He joined the Hyatt in April 2016, and he is vegan. “It was (executive chef) Chad Minton’s idea to create a plant-based tasting menu in order to enforce sustainability and to show people that you can still enjoy a full diner without the need of animal proteins,” says Castellon, who helped launch the menu last September.


As I talked to chef Pancho about watching some diners try vegan food for the first time, his eyes lit up with enthusiasm. He also became very animated when discussing the great ingredients the restaurant gets from various sources, including all the wonderful local produce. “I find this very inspiring, and love building relationships with our farmers and producers.”


We followed the first appetizer with an octopus starter that was extremely tender and flavorful. The fish is first done as a confit at a very low heat with California extra virgin olive oil. After the confit process, the octopus is chilled and then finished in the plancha. “Then we add some black garlic emulsion and new potatoes,” shares Castellon. There was also a kalamata olive aioli on the plate and I could have eaten a whole cup of this sauce.


One of our favorite dishes that night was Tom Yum soup, which included coconut squash broth plus strong lemongrass and kaffir lime flavors. Chef Pancho shared his inspiration for creating this: “I have always liked Thai coconut soup and was trying to find a way to make it less Thai and more ‘California/Pacific like’. It was also perfect for our winter menu. That is why we made the soup using local squash as a base, seasonal vegetables and some of the local foraged mushrooms Far West Fungi brings us.” The restaurant confits the mushrooms to give them a ham-like texture, which we noticed and enjoyed. Indeed, my husband—a devout meat-eater eating vegan soup—wanted to lick his bowl clean, but resisted.


California Market at Pacific’s Edge regularly uses Far West Fungi in Moss Landing for mushrooms (both wild and harvested), and receives other ingredients like huckleberries on occasion if these have also been foraged. A majority of the other produce used in the menu comes from a 50-mile radius, including Coke Farm, Brian’s Ranch, Mariquita Farms, Happy Boy Farms, and Swank Farms.


All of California Market’s menus, curated by executive chef Minton, feature a California map that points out local producers, such as Bellwether Farms Creamery in Sonoma and Monterey Abalone Company in Monterey. The restaurant also follows the guidelines of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch and serves cage- and GMO-free eggs in its dishes.


Two entrees that stood out were scallops and tuna. The meaty, fresh scallops were served with gorgeous heirloom cauliflower and a to-die-for Romesco sauce. I noticed that the plant-based tasting menu’s third course was a vegan version of the same dish. The main difference was utilizing king trumpet mushrooms instead of scallops. “I really wanted something on the tasting menu that represents our regular menu, so I asked our mushroom guys if they could grow some big king trumpet mushrooms for us so I could cut the stems in scallop shapes,” said Castellon. “Then I smoked them with hickory, compressed them with kombu, and seared them like a regular scallop.” Castellon says that some couples have ordered both the vegan ones and the regular ones and it’s actually kind of hard to notice the difference in the plated dish.


The tuna dish was served with beer-battered avocado (so fun and tasty!), jicama cucumber salad, pistachio vinaigrette and piquillo pepper emulsion. The flavors and textures worked together beautifully.


Finally, for dessert, we devoured a heavenly chocolate hazelnut tart (I emphasize “devoured” because we thought we were quite full, but it was too good not to finish). Available on both the regular and tasting menus, it was served with burnt marshmallow, wild huckleberry granite (with berries from Far West Fungi) and whipped coconut cream. One day Castellon was at home reading some cookbooks, brainstorming ideas for a new menu. His wife Kika, who he describes as a “hardcore vegan,” came out of the kitchen with S’mores that she made using vegan “nutella” and dandies (vegan marshmallows). “I was up all night trying to figure out how to make it happen on the tasting menu. The next day I met with our pastry cook Kasala and started working on the recipe—and it’s vegan, gluten-free and almost sugar free.”


I highly recommend you have a meal as soon as possible at California Market at Pacific’s Edge. Since the hotel is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, there are a few opportunities for trying the food at special events as well. One is the “Forks.Corks.Action!” Winemaker series in the Wine Room, where attendees will meet the winemakers and enjoy a four-course dinner with wine paired with each course. During the series, winemakers will discuss the history, culture and qualities of the featured wines from Monterey and Santa Cruz County that will accompany chef Minton’s seasonal, locally sourced and plant-based menus.


There will be three Winemakers Dinners in 2017:


  • Thursday, April 27 — In honor of Earth Day held annually April 22, this will be a plant based four course winemaker’s dinner with Pierce Ranch Vineyards, which will be showcasing their sustainable wines  ($120 inclusive per person). The menu includes a second course of caramelized morel risotto featuring asparagus and macadamia nuts.


  • Thursday, Sept. 28 — In honor of California Wine Month, California Market at Pacific’s Edge is teaming up with DeTierra Wines and the National Steinbeck Center for a benefit dinner.  Learn about DeTierra wines and their connection to John Steinbeck.  Listen to Steinbeck Scholar Susan Shillinglaw talk about John Steinbeck while enjoying a four-course wine pairing meal  ($140 inclusive per person/$20 from each ticket benefits the National Steinbeck Center)


  • Thursday, November 9 – Details to be announced


Curious about the restaurant’s name? The hotel used to have two restaurants, casual bistro California Market and fine dining Pacific’s Edge, but they merged them into a new and improved venue in January. The restaurant underwent welcome renovations including an 870-square-foot deck with a louvered roof and glass-panel walls.



Hyatt Carmel Highlands, Overlooking Big Sur Coast

120 Highland Drive, Carmel

highlandsinn.hyatt.com or 831-620-1234


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Get a free burrito when you order tofu sofritas at Chipotle Mexican Grill

Chipotle Mexican Grill is offering a special promotion: anyone that orders vegan organic sofritas on Monday, Jan. 26, 2015 will get a free burrito during their next visit.

How it works: order an item with sofritas (tofu) as the filling at any Chipotle in the U.S. or Canada. It can be a burrito, a bowl, some tacos, or a salad. Bring your receipt back between Jan. 27 and Feb. 28 and get a free item of your choice: a burrito, bowl, salad, or order of tacos.

Chipotle added sofritas to its menu a couple years ago. It was first tested in a few markets including Northern California in April 2013. A big success, it was soon added to all locations. It’s made from shredded tofu braised with chipotle chilis, roasted poblanos, and a blend of aromatic spices. FYI, it’s not just for vegetarians—it satisfies a carnivore like me. I have enjoyed sofritas many times! Chipotle uses organic, non-GMO tofu from Oakland’s Hodo Soy (learn more at hodosoy.com).

Wondering about the name? Chipotle says its sofritas are inspired by the Spanish word sofrito— a popular cooking base used for stews, rice and beans in Spanish and Latin American culture.

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Thanksgiving options from organic New Leaf Community Markets

Thanksgiving side dishes available from New Leaf Community Markets

Thanksgiving side dishes available from New Leaf Community Markets

Organic, Santa Cruz-based New Leaf Community Markets is offering lots of options for Thanksgiving Dinner; you need to order by Sunday, Nov. 23 for pick-up on Tuesday, Nov. 25 and Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014.

Several store locations are hosting Holiday Solutions Stations to help customers during the holiday season. This is where you can place orders, find recipes and cooking tips, and ask questions about suggested pairings and/or accommodating your guests’ dietary restrictions. The stations also feature occasional holiday treat and drink samples.

Find the station at the front of each store—including downtown Santa Cruz, Westside SC, Half Moon Bay, San Jose, Pleasanton, and Capitola branches—from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on:
Nov. 4 – Nov. 25
Dec. 8 – Dec. 30

New Leaf only uses turkey from Sonora-based Diestel Family Turkey Ranch. There are many varieties available which you can buy and bring home to cook yourself: original Diestel turkey; organic “Heidi” turkey; non-GMO natural turkey; and organic heirloom turkey.

Don’t feel like doing all the cooking yourself? New Leaf has holiday packages like “Turkey Dinner” ($139.99, feeds 4-6) with Diestel brown and serve turkey, organic herb bread stuffing, gravy and buttermilk mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and more. There’s also a gluten-free dinner package ($139.99, feeds 4-6) with the same turkey. Accompaniments include wild and brown rice stuffing, citrus beet salad, organic green bean casserole, gluten-free dinner rolls, and gluten-free pumpkin pie. These packages—and selections below—are specific to the Capitola and Santa Cruz (both downtown and Westside) stores. But rest assured, all of New Leaf’s locations are offering a variety of Thanksgiving dishes.

There are a cornucopia of other Thanksgiving selections available–a sampling is listed below:
Side dish packages
($49.99, feeds 4-6) in traditional, gluten-free, and vegan varieties
A la carte:
Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes ($5.99/lb.)
Savory Turkey Gravy ($4.99/pint)
Mushroom Gravy ($4.99/pint)
Organic Maple Glazed Yams (vegan and gluten-free, $7.99/lb.)
Cranberry Orange Sauce (vegan and gluten-free, $7.99/lb.)

Read more at the New Leaf web site newleaf.com/holidays.

Contact Info (there are also locations in Half Moon Bay, San Jose, Pleasanton, Felton, and Boulder Creek)

Westside Location: 1101 Fair Ave, Santa Cruz, (831) 426-1306
Downtown SC Location: 134 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, (831) 425-1793
Capitola Location: 1210 41st Ave, Capitola, (831) 479-7987

If you decide you’d rather dine out for Thanksgiving, see my recent article on Santa Cruz and Monterey restaurants with Thanksgiving menus.

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Charlie Hong Kong restaurant news on soup & veteran-to-farmer benefits

New and improved vegan butternut squash soup at Santa Cruz restaurant Charlie Hong Kong

New and improved vegan butternut squash soup at Santa Cruz restaurant Charlie Hong Kong

Santa Cruz restaurant Charlie Hong Kong has news to share on two topics: soups, and benefits for veterans.

First, the veterans’ benefits news. Restaurant owner Carolyn Rudolph was moved by a documentary viewing/panel discussion event that she attended a couple weeks ago at Santa Cruz’s Vets Hall. The Veteran-to Farmer documentary film is called ‘Ground Operations.’ “It inspired me to offer support for Vets to farmers programs,” says Rudolph. “It’s a positive offering for the suffering of war, to do something related to creating and nourishing after so much destruction.” A few days ago, Rudolph donated a percentage of proceeds from Charlie Hong Kong’s sales that day to The Farmers Veterans Coalition, which offers educational retreats in sustainable agriculture for county veterans. She’s also donating ten percent of sales from today, Nov. 20, and next Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Next is Charlie Hong Kong soup news: if you’ve tried the restaurant’s soups in the past, you already know that Rudolph and her staff brew up delicious creations—like their Vietnamese Chicken Noodle—that are perfect for fall and winter. Now, they’re even better. Rudolph recently transformed the Thai Coconut Mushroom Soup recipe; it now features housemade vegetable stock instead of mushroom-infused water (it uses coconut milk, too). The Thai Butternut Squash Soup still includes delectable, dry-farmed Windmill Farm heritage heirloom squash, but now it uses BOTH vegetable stock and coconut milk instead of all coconut milk. It also features a hint of star anise and cardamom. Trust me, you want to get yourself a bowl of this as soon as possible. I happened to order some at the restaurant a couple weeks ago, and thought, “this tastes even better than I remember!” A few days later, I learned about the soup changes–no wonder it is so wonderfully rich and full of flavor. As is the case every year, the squash soup is available from late fall until January or February, whenever the local squash harvest ends.

If you’re on Twitter, follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Location/Hours: Charlie Hong Kong, 1141 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz (831) 426-5664, Open 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. daily.

Whole Foods Market pies and paleo/vegan pie classes

Pumpkin pie for the holidays

Pumpkin pie for the holidays

Whole Foods Market in Santa Cruz and Capitola each have upcoming pie events: this month, Santa Cruz has a four-part pie class series that includes vegan and paleo options, and Capitola has a small tasting event this Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014.

WFM Santa Cruz pie class
Santa Cruz’s Whole Foods (911 Soquel Ave.) invites the community to attend one or all four free classes that will teach you how to make traditional pumpkin pie as well as restricted-diet versions. Classes will be 45 minutes long and will include samples. Participants will receive recipes and shopping lists. Marketing and Community Outreach Team Leader Lily Hussey encourages attendees to use the class time as “an open forum for holiday-related questions.” Call or visit the store’s Customer Service Desk to sign up; the class size is limited.

WHAT: Pumpkin Pie 4 Ways
WHEN: Paleo Pumpkin Pie
November 11th 6 – 6:45 pm

Gourmet Pumpkin Pie
November 13th 6 – 6:45 pm

Classic Pumpkin Pie
November 18th 6 – 6:45 pm

Raw Vegan Pumpkin Pie
November 20th 6 – 6:45 pm
WFM Capitola pie tasting
This Saturday, Nov. 8, from 2 -4 p.m., the store invites you to visit its bakery and sample three pies that are perfect for Thanksgiving. You can try apple, pumpkin, cranberry crumble, or all three. In fact, if you vote for your favorite, you have a chance to win a free pie! There will be at least a couple winners; if you don’t win, you can purchase the 10-inch pies for $19.99.

Unfamiliar with cranberry crumble? It used to be in stock at Whole Foods, but in 2013 it wasn’t available. Many people asked for it last year, so they decided to bring it back. If you haven’t tasted it, Saturday afternoon’s a great time to visit the shop.

Whole Foods Santa Cruz is located at 911 Soquel Ave. Call (831) 426-9901 for more information.

Whole Foods Capitola is located at 1710 41st Ave. Call (831) 464-2900 for more information.

On Twitter? Please follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Peet’s Coffee and Tea adds fresh food including healthy salads and sandwiches


Turkey sandwich and quinoa salad among new fresh food options at Peet's Coffee and Tea

Turkey sandwich and quinoa salad among new fresh food options at Peet’s Coffee and Tea

Peet’s Coffee and Tea recently added a full line of healthy, fresh salads, snacks and sandwiches to its 126 Northern California stores, including the Bay Area, Santa Cruz, Capitola, and Monterey. The line includes vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options (see below for selections). Food is made locally and delivered daily.

The “Fresh Grab & Go” menu was developed in partnership with Bay Area chef Arnold Eric Wong and his local bakery Raison d’être. The chef’s career has included highly acclaimed restaurants such as EOS Restaurant and Wine Bar (Wong’s first restaurant), Café Kati, and E&O Trading Company. “I’m thrilled to be working with Peet’s as they share my deep passion to quality, freshness and using the finest ingredients. And, it’s important that we give Peet’s fans a locally sourced, artisanal food experience that matches the quality of their coffee,” said Chef Wong. “We have carefully crafted these recipes to be health conscious and flavorful, and are making them right here in the kitchen at Raison d’être.”

I haven’t had the opportunity to sample the new menu yet, but with condiments like pumpkin seed pesto aioli and combinations like beluga lentils and Greek feta, I can’t wait to taste a couple items next time I visit Peet’s!

Menu highlights:

Herb Roasted Turkey Sandwich ($6.95): Made with turkey that is slow cooked and complemented with Monterey jack cheese and a homemade pumpkin seed pesto aioli.
Applewood Smoked Ham Sandwich ($6.95): Aromatic applewood smoked ham, Swiss cheese and homemade roasted garlic aioli.
Super Greens & Kale Salad ($6.95): A healthy assortment of kale, greens and fresh Greek feta paired with fig balsamic vinaigrette.
Black Lentil Salad ($4.95):  Fresh black beluga lentils, sweet Greek feta with a tangy red wine vinaigrette.
Quinoa Salad ($4.95): A delicious combination of rainbow quinoa, chickpeas, roasted red peppers and herb vinaigrette.
Fruit Bowl ($4.95): An assortment of fresh, seasonal fruit with an emphasis on berries.
Cheese and Fruit Box ($5.95): Aged Dubliner Irish cheddar, Monterey pepper jack and Danish brie with crisp apples, roasted almonds and organic rice crackers.
Hummus & Carrots ($2.95): Flavorful house made hummus with fresh carrot chips

To find the Peet’s Coffee & Tea near you, use the Peet’s online store locator.

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Santa Cruz Restaurant Openings and Closings including Café Gratitude opening


Fresh fruit parfait from Cafe Gratitude

In Santa Cruz restaurant news, there have been a number of recent openings and closings, including the opening of vegan restaurant Cafe Gratitude. Here are a couple highlights:

Closings: Asana Teahouse and Coldwater Grill (formerly Hawg’s) are no longer open.

Although the physical venue isn’t open anymore, Asana does still have tea and teaware available for purchase. Email asanateas@gmail.com to request the company’s current inventory and price list.

Openings: Organic, vegan Café Gratitude is now open in the former downtown Santa Cruz Asana site at 103 Lincoln (near Pacific). Look for a review in the coming weeks after I try their food, but for now I can tell you several details about the restaurant. It’s part of an eight-restaurant chain that includes two locations inside Whole Foods Markets. I look forward to tasting the food from Café Gratitude; I saw owners Terces and Matthew Engelhart speak three or four years ago at the now-closed bookstore Gateways. Even then, they spoke of wanting to open a Santa Cruz location of Café Gratitude and mentioned they have family here (Matthew Manzo, who serves as general manager of the new branch).

Santa Cruz’s Café Gratitude is open daily from 10am-10pm. There are other locations in San Francisco (the first branch, it opened in 2004), Oakland, Healdsburg, San Rafael, Cupertino, and Los Angeles (the most recent branch before Santa Cruz). The organic, vegan food it serves is free of refined sugar, flour, and additives.  View the restaurant’s menu; not all selections are available at every location. As you’ll notice when perusing the menu, items have unusual names that are affirmations. To receive a dish with almond hummus, olive tapenade, live falafels and more, you have to say “I am complete.” If you want Gratitude’s version of Macaroni and Cheese (zucchini noodles and sun-dried tomatoes in a cashew cheese sauce), say “I am comforted.”

Café Gratitude has long been known for a raw (or “live”) foods menu and has expanded to offer cooked foods in some locations.  Over 45% of Café Gratitude’s produce comes from its Be Love Farm. To learn more, visit the restaurant at 103 Lincoln Street, call (831) 427-9583, or visit cafegratitude.com.

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie..




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

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.