A VERY MERRY UNDIET ! Book review

zucchini-hummus

zucchini-hummus

A very merry undiet to you! Who me? Yes you!

Another healthy green plant-based cookbook, you ask? I asked the same question, but then Meghan Telpner’s The Undiet cookbook magically* (*synonymous with Amazon : you can order it there, even blindfolded and from your pocket, it’s that easy these days, which also explains why I really do own every healthy green plant-based cookbook on planet earth – true story) appeared at my doorstep.

Opening this book is like falling through a rabbit hole into a colorful, enchanted world inhabited by some strange yet interesting characters (think: seaweed, chia gel or nutritional yeast) and heading off on an adventure. And we see this strange world through the eyes of Alice- I mean, Meghan Telpner.

Let me tell you a few things about Meghan and you’ll immediately see why we are long-lost bowl mates.

  • She loves plants.
  • She loves puns.
  • She hates labels.

And, extra bonus: She also hails from Canada (home of my favorite people on earth) so she’s even a little bit Francophone.

This book is a welcome change from the plethora of paleo prose, the what I like to call “vegan junk food” cookbooks and this new global war being raged on … sugar. I do agree that processed foods and refined sugar are evil in many ways, but I think the intense fear of fruit and natural sugars it has provoked is quite literally bananas.

The Un Diet cookbook is just what it sounds like. There are no odes to cavemen or death threats against grapes. The recipes just happen to be vegetarian, gluten-free and refined sugar free, but you may not even notice (unless you’re me and you’re very happy about this of course). Meghan gives different options depending on whatever UNdiet you’re following – eggs can be replaced by chia paste and plant proteins can be replaced with others.

The recipes are easy to follow, simple and not filled with esoteric, hard-to-find ingredients. It’s accessible and informative without being too didactic or apologetic. I find many “vegan” or “diet” books are always saying “so sorry you’re not eating cheese” or “if you miss dairy, try this,” don’t you? This book also doesn’t try to replace your favorite foods with plant-based “equivalents” that are, let’s be honest, never really equivalent now are they?

At the end of the book, Meghan adds tips for traveling and entertaining and appropriate recipes for many situations.

This book also holds a special place in my heart…or shall I say, my gut? Meghan has used diet and lifestyle to transform her own health. She has been symptom-free despite battling Crohn’s disease, giving her real “street cred” when it comes to helping others to enjoy food that is first and foremost delicious, but also happens to be nutritious. Her recipes are digestion-friendly (including tips throughout the book for healthier digestion – score!) and quite simple, yet still creative. I especially love and adore her recipe titles. Think: the Beet the Heat, Breakfast Parfection, the Miso Hungry soup, Banan Berry Oatmazing Muffins, the Dressed to the Nines Sweet Potato (très chic!) or the Squash it Down apple bisque.

I also love the twist on traditional Jewish cooking classics like Umma’a honey cake or the sweet potato zucchini hash brizzles (aka a more gourmet, healthy version of the beloved latke!)

I can’t wait to try some of her sweet treats like the crispy rice squares, the flourless ginger pear tartlets and the sparkly ginger chip cookies with coconut vanilla ice cream (oh yes you heard me – isn’t UNdieting fun?) And I am quite sure that any day that begins with “Chocolate, Chocolate Say It Twice Pancakes” cannot possibly be bad. I’m also looking forward to sampling some savory dishes like the hearty TLT Deluxe Sandwich, Let’s Stay Together crackers and the intriguing split pea rice wraps. As a huge Socca fan, I’m curious to try her chickpea focaccia, made with the addition of sunflower seeds and spinach. The recipes are a mix of must-have basics like kale chips and kale salad, smoothies and chia breakfasts and more innovative ideas like sweet potato sliders, mushroom-vegetable sorta-dumplings, quinoa stuffed artichokes, UnShepherd’s pie and a pizza crust made of mung bean sprouts. And the best ever balsamic baked tempeh looks spectacular. (I especially love that it’s not meant to replace meat, but simply to add protein, flavor and vibrant color to any meal !) The photos are beautiful – gorgeous enough to want to lick the pages, but not too staged so that they’re intimidating.

The author is cheerful and vibrant and readers will want to both be her new best friend and make everything in the book. The last chapter of the book is titled “Don’t Dream It’s Over Dessert,” an appropriate description of the end of a book that only leaves us wanting more. Oh and did I mention there are natural beauty recipes as well ?

Congrats to Meghan, whose book is apparently selling like (gluten-free) hotcakes.

It’s the perfect time of year to go on an undiet. And a much healthier alternative post-Holiday fête feasting than going on a 3-day juice cleanse in the dead of winter (especially if you’re on the East Coast or even more so in – gasp! – Canada aka COLDada this time of year!) Meghan really does a nice job of providing the basics of healthy lifestyle for those who are new to the kale kingdom and haven’t quite yet sworn in quinoa as Queen of the kitchen, but at the same time, also appealing to devout disciples of la vie en veg who think nutritional yeast comes from heaven and belong to the church of coconut. Whether you’re a vegetarian or a flexitarian, this is an egg-cellent book.

You can check it out herezucchini-hummus.

(It would be lovely stacked on your coffee table next to a certain “Très Green, Très Clean, Très Chic”  just sayin’… )

So wishing you a very merry undiet – to be celebrated daily with or without a giant cake and animated friends.

 

PS Pictured is the “Creamy Zucchini Hummus” – a très green recipe, naturally ! (I mean that literally – it’s green and natural. Try it! Recipe here)

 

Food Photography:
Photo: Maya Visnyei
Styling: Ashley Denton
Props: Sara Kuntz

 

REBECCA LEFFLER is a writer and journalist who, after a career as the France correspondent for The Hollywood Reporter and film critic on TV network Canal+, has traded the red carpets of Paris for the green streets of New York, where she hosts events for and provides communication and consulting services to wellness brands. Rebecca's best-selling French book "Green, Glam & Gourmande" launched in 2014 and has been translated to several languages including the US adaptation "Très Green, Très Clean, Très Chic: The new French way to eat - and live! - Plant-based, Gluten-free recipes for every season."

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