The #OSGcookbook Challenge · vegan

Best of #Osgcookbook

In September 2015 a friend of mine told me about the Oh She Glows blog and cookbook. For years, one of my favorite past times had been to check out a pile of cookbooks from the library and go home to pour over them.  My approach was to read the recipes, take in the food photography, reflect on the ingredient pairings, and find inspiration to come up with my own creations.  I rarely ever followed a recipe, I just internalized all the information and then came up with my own versions of the things I read.

The Oh She Glows cookbook was different though.  I had never really cooked vegan food before, and a lot of the techniques and ingredients were foreign to me. Suddenly, I found myself actually following recipes.  I also became extremely motivated to make my way through the book when my neighbor took an interest in it, and she and I started planning potluck dinners together based on the recipes. The first dinner we made, I cooked the Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas, and she baked a batch of the Gluten-Free Chocolate-Almond Brownies. Both were a hit! We were really excited to make vegan food that our husbands and her daughter actually enjoyed, and the dinners kept on happening.

When I finally reached the maximum number of renewals on my library loan, I finally bought my very own copy of the Oh She Glows cookbook.  I was so excited to mark up the pages, check off all the recipes I had made, and make notes in the margins.  As I did, I started to realize just how many recipes I had made! 39 to be exact. An idea started to brew in my head.  Why not make ALL the recipes from the book? And while I’m at it, why not write about it in my blog!? In mid January 2016, that is exactly what I started to do.  My long neglected food blog got a major revival as I launched the #Osgcookbook Challenge and began making 4 recipes a week with the goal of finishing the book by May. The amazing thing about documenting a journey like that, is you get to watch yourself grow. During the 18 weeks of the challenge, I learned a lot about food, improved my photography skills, reflected a great deal on veganism and our environmental footprint, got a serious boost of self-esteem, and had the great pleasure of accomplishing a goal.  It’s been amazing to share all this with you, and to get feedback from other bloggers and readers. Thank you so much for all your support!  I have a new goal now, to publish my own cookbook one day, and I know the next blogging challenge I set for myself will be one that will push me to come up with original content and recipes of my own.

For now though, I will conclude my long a wordy recap of the #Osgcookbook Challenge, with a collection of my very favorite recipes from each chapter.  Most are ones I wrote about during the challenge, but a few come from those first 39 that I made without any intention of blogging about my experience.  I hope those of you reading will check out the book like I did.  Who knows, it may just start you out on a very rewarding cooking adventure like it did for me 🙂

Best Breakfast

Effortless Vegan Overnight Oats (pg. 29) 

These have become an absolute staple in our house.  I make a big batch twice a week and keep it in a big tupperware container in the fridge. I even came up with my own twist on the recipe, which you can read here.

Best Smoothie

Glowing Mojo-hito Green Monster (pg. 59)

I have planted mint in my garden so that I can make this smoothie any time I want to! I also buy a quarter wedge of watermelon once a week to dice up and freeze, because I never want to see the day I cannot satisfy a craving for this fresh, vibrant, delicious drink!

Best Appetizer

Taco Fiesta Crisps (pg. 85)

I haven’t had the chance to serve this as an appetizer yet, but that hasn’t stopped me from making it for supper plenty of times in the past few months.  I like to add guacamole to it, and serve it on top of a halved baked potato for a quicker and easier version.

Best Salad

Perfected Chickpea Salad Sandwich (pg. 105)

This really is my favorite recipe from this section of the book, however I know it is not a true ‘salad’ that you would serve as a side dish with dinner.  That’s why I’m also naming my runner-up, the Long Weekend Grilled Salad (pg. 115) as my favorite side-dish salad. You can read more on that in my final #Osgcookbook challenge post.  But back to my true love, the chickpea salad sandwich.  What a gem! I love the dill in this recipe, which makes it taste like summer.  I must be honest and admit to adding a little mayo to mine, but that’s just because I am obsessed with mayonnaise!

Best Soup

On the Mend Spiced Red Lentil-Kale Soup (pg. 131)

I believe this was the first soup I made from the book.  It’s hard to remember now! What I will never forget though, is the warm, spicy, hearty flavor of this yummy bowl of goodness.  I brought a big container of this to an elderly family friend back in the colder months, and she loved it.  I think food is such a wonderful gift to offer a loved one – especially a comforting soup like this!

Best Entrée

Grilled Portobello Burger with Sundried Tomato Kale-Hemp Pesto (pg. 169)

It was hard to choose a favorite from this category, as it is so large and so full of fantastic meals! Other favorites include the Empowered Noodle Bowl with Thai Peanut Dressing (pg. 153) and the Quick & Easy Chana Masala (pg. 163). But the all-time winner really is the portobello burger.  I want to put this pesto sauce on EVERYTHING! And the nice thing is, you can, because the recipe makes plenty of leftover pesto that stays good for a while in the fridge – not that it will actually last that long 😉

Best Side

Fall Harvest Butternut Squash with Almond-Pecan Parmesan

Again, it was so hard to choose just one favorite from this category! I also really loved learning the technique of coating potatoes in arrowroot powder, and have been making different versions of the Lightened-Up Crispy Baked Fries (pg. 203) ever since. Oh, and then there’s the amazingly delicious Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Cumin-Coriander Tahini Sauce (pg.191).  But if a show-stopper is what you want, go for the butternut squash! The flavors are bold, the presentation is beautiful, and this will definitely impress even the pickiest dinner guests!

Best Power Snack

Oil-Free Chocolate-Zucchini Muffins

I share this recipe with everybody! It amazes me how healthy they are!  Just the other day, my friends had a good laugh as I enthusiastically served them these muffins, saying, “You’re going to love these! And there’s no oil or sugar in them!” They all told me that’s what I should say AFTER they taste them.  But I couldn’t help myself, I wanted to shout it out from the rooftops lol.  Plus, they are so darn good, I know that no matter when I break the healthy news, whoever I’m serving is going to love them!

Best Dessert

Gluten-Free Chocolate-Almond Brownies (p. 259)

I know I’m a broken record here, but man, this was a tough decision.  The brownies won because I think I must have made them at least a dozen times since that first time my neighbor made them in September.  I’ve brought them to camping trips, potlucks, family get-togethers, you name it. Oh and I also make them just for me and Dhiren about every other week 😛 However, now that it’s getting too hot to bake, I think the Beat the Heat Frozen Dessert Pizza (pg. 269) will become our summer favorite.

Best Staple

Effortless Anytime Balsamic Vinigarette (pg. 283)

This has probably been the recipe I have used the most since picking up the #Osgcookbook.  We eat salad with many (most?) of our meals, and I like to make my own dressing.  In the past I stuck to a lemon-dijon dressing, but this has been my go-to ever since trying it for the first time.  It has a perfect balance between sweet and sour, and when people comment on how good it is, it’s fun to tell them it has apple sauce in it! Cool right?  Of course, the Staples chapter has everything from sweet to salty, breakfast to dinner recipes in it, so some equally delicious and useful ones to have in your repertoire are the 10-Spice Blend (pg. 284) and the Pumpkin Pie Pecan Butter (pg. 293)  which I unapologetically eat with a spoon.

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