Anne

Anne Kosmoski is the Assistant Publicity Director for Gotham and Avery. She has books her in blood … and all over her apt, which makes choosing the right one at bedtime easier for her two daughters. Books, daughters, mom and dad all live in Brooklyn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crossword Century

The Crossword Century, by Alan Connor

To be honest, I am more of a Tuesday – crossword gal than a Sunday. But Alan Connor’s book about the history and secret lives of crosswords, made me feel like a Crossword Queen. Spies, secret codes, upside down words – it’s all in there and more. Everything you need to know about a subject you didn’t know you were fascinated by. This is my kind of beach reading!

 

 

 

 

Geek Dad.indd

Geek Dad: Awesomely Geeky Projects for Dads and Kids to Share, by Ken Denmead

It’s summer which means school is out and the playgrounds and backyard projects are in. Our family loves Ken Denmead’s Geek Dad. It is a treasure trove of crazy experiments (exploding soda) and fun projects (the Best Slip-n-Slide ever). And he has clear cut, easy to follow instructions for those who aspire to be geeks but wouldn’t know binary if this was written in it.

 

 

 

An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails

An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails by Orr Shtuhl, Illustrator: Elizabeth Graeber

Aah, summer. It is not often that we entertain, but when we do I love a themed cocktail. This book looks like a classy party with beautiful people and witty repartee. One or two vespers and your party will look that way too.

 

 

 

 

 

This Book Will Save Your Life

This Book Will Save Your Life, by A.M. Homes

I am an evangelist for this book. First, I love the title and I love watching people react when I give it to them. Second, it’s just a great read. A M Homes take on modern living is sarcastic, deadpan, and brilliant.

 

 

 

 

 

Dude and Zen Master

The Dude and the Zen Master, by Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman

Even a mom needs some downtime and I am lucky enough to get in a yoga class here and there. One teacher began a class with a quote from this book and I haven’t looked back since. As the book says, a beautiful mix of enlightenment and entertainment. It keeps me grounded, makes me laugh, and reminds me to step back and just take it all in. The dude abides.

 

 

 

Lama Lama Time to Share

Llama Llama Time to Share, by Anna Dewdney          

I couldn’t help it. This is a current family favorite (and even the one year old reads along). If you have young children and have not ventured into the world of Llama Llama, you should.

 

 

 

 

To find Health & Self-Improvement books, click here.

See Staff Picks for all our categories! 


Farin

Farin Schlussel works in the marketing department at Gotham Books and Avery, where she has encountered map thieves, scientists, strong librarians, delicious recipes, and lots of dog and cat photos. When she’s not hanging out at her local library, where everyone greets her like Norm from Cheers, she enjoys seeing Broadway shows, watching British TV, drinking copious amounts of coffee, and catering to the whims of her mischievous cocker spaniel.

 

 

The Coconut Oil Miracle by Bruce Fife

The Coconut Oil Miracle, 5th Edition, by Bruce Fife

My favorite thing about The Coconut Oil Miracle is that it takes this “it” ingredient beyond the kitchen. For example, did you know that coconut oil also makes a great insect repellent, sunburn treatment, and diaper cream? Or that it promotes healthy skin and hair? Yes, there is so much more to coconut oil than Zico Water.

 

 

 

 

Budget Bytes by Beth Moncel

Budget Bytes, by Beth Moncel

How do I love thee, Budget Bytes? Let me count the ways… Actually, there are too many to count, but to narrow it down: every recipe I’ve made, be it from the book or the blog, has been super easy and absolutely delicious, and, yes, inexpensive. However, my favorite thing about the book is not the extra money in my pocket; thanks to Beth’s nutritionist background, all the dishes contain fresh ingredients, so I feel good about what I make, even if I do sometimes eat it straight out of the pot. Budget Bytes is a staple in my kitchen and should definitely be one in yours!

 

 

Success Through Stillness by Russell Simmons

Success Through Stillness, by Russell Simmons

I’m a born and bred New Yorker with a gold medal in power walking, so it’s pretty difficult for me to slow down. Luckily, there’s hip hop mogul and master entrepreneur Russell Simmons, who, with the nickname Uncle Rush, is crafted from the same mold, but who found stillness and success through meditation. His new (and New York Times bestselling) book shows how meditation can lead to success and outlines different methods of meditation so you can find the one that’s right for you. I’m a big fan of chair meditation, which can be done pretty much anywhere.

 

 

The Willpower Instinct by Kelly Mcgonigal

The Willpower Instinct, by Kelly McGonigal

Let’s be honest, we all want to exercise a little more willpower in some area of our lives. In The Willpower Instinct, Kelly McGonigal gives the reader all the tools to achieve that goal and also shows why willpower is important. I particularly like that Kelly doesn’t advise going cold turkey when giving up a habit, but to take it in small steps instead. I also like that she tells it like it is; when she spoke at the Random House Open House in November, she very bluntly stated that just saying you want to change is not enough, you have to really mean it and take action. (On a completely unrelated note, not only is Kelly smart, she’s also a theatre nut like me, which raises her level of cool exponentially.)

 

Operation Beautiful by Caitlin Boyle

Operation Beautiful, by Caitlin Boyle

Every time I think about this book, I break out in a huge grin. I love the idea of women empowering other women by leaving post-it notes emblazoned with words of encouragement like YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL in the places that tend to affect our self-esteem the most – bathroom mirrors, gym lockers, etc. Body image is so skewed in our society, and the messages in this book are so inspiring.

 

 

Find more books on the Health/Wellness category page!

See Staff Picks for all our categories! 


ohsheglowsThis week is a busy one for us here at Avery/Gotham Books. We are all planning for our big VegWeek Celebration to take place April 21—27. We flipped through some of our favorite cookbooks, including Budget Bytes and The Oh She Glows Cookbook for some tasty vegetarian ideas. Below are some of the highlights we have planned:

BETH PARKER
Publicity

Everything in The Oh She Glows Cookbook looks amazing, but I might have to go with my old standby: Roasted Veggie Soup!

Chop 1 head cauliflower, 3 small (yellow) potatoes, 1 onion, 4 cloves of garlic, chopped up and roasted with garlic salt, pepper and olive oil at 450 for 45 mins, until everything is starting to brown plus approx. 3.5 -5 cups of veggie broth (homemade or canned) – throw it all in a blender and mix until smooth and the thickness you like. Serve with bread. Delicious.

It’s easy to prep at the last minute, delicious to eat and there are always leftovers – tastes great heated up the next day, too. And it is so filling! And cheap to make! (someone call Budget Bytes!)

P.S. – one time I made this with purple cauliflower. It looked super weird but tasted delicious.

LINDSAY GORDON
Publicity

With “Glowing Strawberry-Mango Guacamole” from Oh She Glows, I get to mix two of my favorite fruits into a guacamole for chips and dip – there couldn’t be a better combo. Can’t wait to munch on this all week!

EMILY WUNDERLICH
Editorial

I’ve made this recipe once before and loved it, so I’ll definitely be calling on it during Veg Week: it’s Angela Liddon’s Butternut Squash Sauce with Pasta and Greens, from her blog. It’s a vegan answer to mac n’ cheese, with a smoky, rich sauce that satisfies my comfort food cravings while being surprisingly virtuous (and also KALE!). Plus, this one freezes well for work lunches!

ANNE KOSMOSKI
Publicity

Call me a dreamer but I am really looking forward to making the Sweet-Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas with Avocado-Cilantro Cream Sauce. Pretty much all of my favorite things in one dish.  (Don’t worry, it looks like it takes more time to write the title than make the enchiladas). Addison and Avery (ages 3 and almost 1) are looking forward to Banana Soft Serve – we may even have to make it this weekend!

GIGI CAMPO
Editorial

I can’t wait to make Beth Moncel’s delicious Mango, Jalapeno & Quinoa Salad from Budget Bytes, and follow it up with Angela Liddon’s addictive Cacao Crunch Almond Butter-Banana Bites from Oh She Glows Cookbook! Very excited to go vegan and give my body—and the planet—a break.

FARIN SCHLUSSEL
Marketing

The 15-Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta from The Oh She Glows Cookbook has all of my favorite things: pasta, avocados, and basil pesto! I can’t wait to whip this up for dinner one day during VegWeek, although it looks so delicious that I’m pretty sure I’ll eat it in one go…


ohsheglowsWe were in the middle of our weekly publicity and marketing meeting and were discussing our New York Times bestselling Avery title, The Oh She Glows Cookbook and what we could do to celebrate this gorgeous and inspiring book by powerhouse vegan blogger Angela Liddon, when one of my colleagues made a suggestion.

“Maybe we should go vegan for a week.”

I’ll admit, my first thought was “How will I live without cheese?” But as we started to talk the idea through, the trepidation yielded to excitement. The recipes in The Oh She Glows Cookbook would provide everyone with more than enough delectable dishes to make it through the week (Chakra Caesar Salad! Easy Chana Masala! Chocolate Espresso Torte!), and the social media possibilities were endless, from sharing photos on Instagram and Twitter to getting Angela to tell her followers about our challenge.  When we started talking about taking it company-wide, I was all in.

And then we learned about US VegWeek, a weeklong celebration from April 21-27 that explores the many benefits of vegetarian eating—for our health, the planet, and animals. Restaurants and businesses across the country are set to promote the week, events (cooking demonstrations, movie screenings) are being held in major markets, and elected officials (Henry Waxman, Tammy Duckworth) are taking the 7Day VegPledge. It was a chance for us to be a part of something bigger and to give even more people a chance to get their glow on. We all promptly signed up and took the pledge.

Now, it’s your turn! Join us in the VegPledge, for one meal, or even the whole week and post photos of the vegetarian or vegan dishes you make on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr with the hashtag #USVegWeek. It’s going to be delicious!


Budget Bytes, Beth MoncelWhen people think about saving money in the kitchen, images of slaving over the stove for hours to make their own food often come to mind. After almost five years of refining my kitchen into a money saving machine, I’ve found that the exact opposite is true. Time is money, so recipes and habits that save me both are key.

In my new book, Budget Bytes: Over 100 Easy, Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half, I’ve included several recipes and tips for saving both time and money in the kitchen. Whether you prepare meals ahead of time or opt for simple, fast dishes, you can eat well on a budget without spending all of your free time in the kitchen. Here are some of my favorite recipes that help save both time and money.

Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal (p. 18) – It only takes about ten minutes to mix the ingredients together for this ultra-rich baked version of oatmeal and then into the oven it goes. After baking, just divide the oats into single serving dishes to have quick, microwavable, and filling breakfasts for the rest of the week.

Breakfast Parfaits (p. 22) – When it’s too hot outside for a warm breakfast, I’ll mix up a few of these parfaits on Sunday night to prepare for the rest of the week. It only takes a few minutes to layer the yogurt, oats, nuts, and fruit into jars and then I’ve got a delicious, nutritious, and portable breakfast that I can take with me to work.

Easy Pad Thai (p. 112) – Ordering take out may seem like it saves time, but you can have a homemade meal that’s delicious, fresh, and probably more nutritious in less time than it takes the delivery guy to get to your door. This Easy Pad Thai is ready in about the amount of time that it takes the noodles to boil, and there’s no tipping required. View the recipe here.

Microwavable Apple Crumble for One (p. 218) – Single serving microwavable desserts have been a huge hit for food manufacturers over the past few years, but you can make them at home for pennies on the dollar using basic pantry staples. Just take whatever apple you have on hand, chop it up, and top it with a quick cinnamon oat crumble topping. Minutes later you have just enough dessert to satisfy without any leftovers to taunt you into ruining your diet.

Better Than Mom’s Chili (p. 134) – Cooking in large batches and freezing the leftovers is a habit that has saved my budget. Soups, casseroles, and stews, like this hearty chili, are great for preparing on your day off and then freezing in single serving portions. On busy weeknights, just microwave one or two portions until heated through and you have an almost instant homemade meal.

Hungry? Check out the book trailer.


The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. LustigI made the baked oatmeal recipe on a Sunday morning, looking forward to eating it over the week. It seemed like a healthy and easy option and a little bit of a switch from my usual breakfast. I opted to make them into muffins, as the recipe notes give as an alternative, and I used frozen chopped peaches. It all came together in less than fifteen minutes, with ingredients I had ready in the pantry, and couldn’t have been easier to do. I also liked that this recipe uses no white flour, since I’m trying to cut back like everyone else and their gluten-free mother. The mixture pretty much filled a dozen muffin cups, but they do bake down some. They smelled wonderful, with the peaches, cinnamon, and vanilla. The measurements for the cinnamon and vanilla might seem like a lot, especially to experienced bakers, but you really do need them since there is (naturally) not much sugar in the recipe. To eat, I mixed Greek yogurt with a little honey and then crumbled a muffin into it. This is definitely not sweet (sorry to all the flavored oatmeal lovers out there), but the oats and fruit have a nice flavor, which I found improved the day after baking, and I enjoyed it with the yogurt.
BAKED FRUIT OATMEAL
Ingredients:
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats2 teaspoons ground cinnamon2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey (optional)

1 teaspoon salt

1. cups unsweetened soy milk (2 percent milk is also OK)

1 pound sweet apples, diced

2 tablespoons rice bran, coconut, or safflower oil

2 large eggs, or 4 large egg whites (save the yolks for another use)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

STEP 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F.

STEP 2: Spray a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with cooking oil.

STEP 3: Combine the rolled oats, cinnamon, baking powder, brown sugar, if using, and salt in a medium-size bowl.

STEP 4: Combine the soy milk, apples, oil, eggs, vanilla, and honey, if using, in a large bowl. Add the oat mixture and mix well. Pour the oatmeal batter into the prepared baking pan.

STEP 5: Bake the oatmeal on the middle rack until the center is set and firm to the touch, 45 minutes.

Cool for 10 minutes, cut and serve. Can be served at room temperature. Covered, it will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.

The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. Lustig

VARIATIONS:

• Make muffins using a nonstick muffin pan that makes 12. The baking time will be 25 minutes.

• Use fresh or frozen chopped peaches, about 2 fresh peaches or 1 cup frozen, in place of the apples.


The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. Lustig

This weekend I made two recipes from Rob Lustig’s new book THE FAT CHANCE COOKBOOK. It’s not as cold as the polar vortex right now but it’s still chilly and I was happy to test out Old-Fashioned Beef Stew and Quick Chicken Tikka Masala. Both recipes were very easy to follow with simple ingredients and I was lucky enough to check out the new Brooklyn Whole Foods in Gowanus to stock up. The stew took longer to make than I expected – all the chopping of the vegetables added up to about an hour but the rest of the evening I spent letting it simmer (for three house) while catching up on Game of Thrones, so I can’t complain!

The Tikka Massala came together very quickly and the spices were delicious – I was a little disappointed that it didn’t turn out as vibrant and red as the chicken tikka masala I usually order in from a nearby Indian place but I felt good about the ingredients and as Rob points out I’m sure it was much healthier! Hardly any fat and I used chicken thighs to add flavor – they are so much more delicious than the chewy bits of chicken that come in fast food Indian orders. And the best part is I’ve been enjoying the many leftovers from both dishes for lunch all week.


OLD-FASHIONED BEEF STEW AND VEGETABLES

Ingredients

½ cup oil: olive, safflower, or rice bran

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped and peeled onions

1 cup chopped carrots

1 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme

4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat

8 cups liquid (water, wine, stock, or a mixture)

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cracked black pepper

2 cups 1-inch pieces scrubbed carrots or parsnips

2 cups scrubbed diced potatoes

STEP 1: Heat 1/4 cup of oil in a cast-iron or stainless steel pot. (Make sure it has a tight-fitting lid.) Saute the celery, onions, carrots, thyme, and garlic in the pot until brown and tender. When aromatic vegetables are brown, remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon and reserve in a small bowl.

The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. Lustig

STEP 2: Place the flour in a bowl. Dredge the meat, shaking off the excess flour. Add the remainder of oil to the pot and cook the meat over medium-high heat, quickly browning but not cooking. Do this in small batches. Take the meat out and reserve on plate.

STEP 3: Add the liquid to the pot and bring to a boil while scrapping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. While it dissolves it will add flavor to the gravy.

STEP 4: Reduce the heat to low and return the meat and the aromatics to the liquid. It’s very important that the stew must simmer and not boil. Slowly cook the stew over low heat so the liquid barely simmers.

Cover and cook for 2 hours.

STEP 5: After the meat has had a chance to cook for a while, add the 1-inch pieces of carrot and the potatoes. Cook until the meat is fork tender, about an hour. Adjust the salt and pepper and serve.

QUICK CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA

Ingredients

4 teaspoons garam masala*

1/2 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

½ cup unbleached all-purpose fl our

1 pound chicken tenders

4 teaspoons canola oil, divided

6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 large sweet onion, peeled and diced

4 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger,

or 1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 can (28 ounces) plum tomatoes with their juices

1/3 cup heavy (whipping) cream

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

* Garam masala is a blend of spices used in Indian cooking. Usually includes cardamom, black pepper, nutmeg, fennel, cumin, and coriander.

STEP 1: Stir together the garam masala, salt, and turmeric in a small dish. Place the flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle the chicken with ½ teaspoon of the spice mixture and dredge in the flour. Reserve the remaining spice mix and 1 tablespoon of the remaining flour.

STEP 2: Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

STEP 3: Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in the pan over medium low heat. Add the garlic, onion, and ginger and cook, stirring often until starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the reserved spice mix and cook, stirring until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Sprinkle the reserved 1 tablespoon flour and stir until coated.

STEP 4: Add the tomatoes and their juices. Bring to a simmer, stirring and breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring often, until thickened and the onion is tender, 3 to 5 minutes.

STEP 5: Stir in the cream. Add the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat until the chicken is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Garnish with the cilantro.

—Caitlin O’Shaughnessy, Viking Adult


The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. Lustig

One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2014 is to cook more and another is to eat healthier, so the timing of Robert Lustig’s “Fat Chance Cookbook” was perfect.

I am by no means a cook; and I actually sort of hate cooking. Things always seem to go horribly wrong when I do try to cook, and I have absolutely no patience (or timing). As a result, my culinary skills involve heavy microwave use and a lot of takeout. So for the first recipe of the New Year, I decided to go with something easy. I chose “Green Pasta” (p. 226-227) of The Fat Chance Cookbook.

 

 

Recipe:

Makes: 4 cups

Serving size: 1 cup

Active time: 20 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

½ pound whole-grain angel hair pasta or spaghetti

1 cup packed fresh spinach, chopped

1 cup basil leaves, packed

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ cup low-fat milk

Salt and pepper, to taste

½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Step 1: Cook the pasta according to package directions. In a blender, or food processor if you have one, blend the spinach and basil until mixed.

Step 2: In a large saucepan, sauté the garlic in olive oil. Add the milk and spinach mixture to the saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Stir occasionally until the sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat. Add the pasta; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the cheese. Serve immediately.

Sounds easy enough, right? 8 ingredients and 2 steps. I think even I can handle this one.                  The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. LustigI already had all the ingredients except the spinach and basil, so I headed to the store to pick them up. Problem number one: the grocery store didn’t carry fresh spinach, so I had to buy frozen. Make that three steps! Frustratingly, I had to cook and drain the spinach, and it was soggy and warm. I figured it wouldn’t hurt the taste of the pasta, but I’d highly recommend driving around and finding fresh spinach to cut out this step.

The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. Lustig drain

I then moved on to cooking the pasta. I prefer angel hair because I like my pasta soft and it cooks pretty quickly. I dumped a whole box of angel hair into a large pot and let it boil. Step 1 down! On to the next one.

“In a blender…” And here we encounter problem number 2.  (See? Bad luck). At the time of this cooking adventure I was staying at a friend’s house—a lovely friend, but a friend without a blender. After digging through her cupboards, I found a food processor. Or really, parts of a food processor. After trying for about ten minutes to put the thing together I gave up. Plan B? I threw the soggy spinach and basil leaves on the cutting board, grabbed a huge knife, and just went at it.

The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. LustigI then sautéed the garlic (smelling good!) and added the milk and spinach mixture. While that was cooking, I drained the pasta. I let the sauce cook for about 5-7 minutes and then added it to the pasta.

The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. Lustig The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. Lustig

Mistake #3 (you knew it was coming) I cooked double the amount of pasta the recipe called for, so the sauce didn’t go very far! However, I tasted the spinach/basil mix on its own and it was fantastic.

The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. Lustig

Voila!

Despite my inevitable mishaps, the pasta turned out great. Even the most inexperienced cooks can pull this one off. And I didn’t feel guilty for eating it! I also had some as leftovers the next day (this time I cooked an egg over-easy in a pan and then tossed the leftover pasta in) and they were DELICIOUS. This dish would also go well with chicken. It’s a fast, easy recipe that tastes great!

The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. Lustig The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. Lustig

Now that I have a blender and fresh spinach I may just try again!

—Amanda Oberg, Publicity Assistant, Plume and Hudson Street Press


The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. LustigIt was like, fifteen degrees outside all this weekend in New York.  I just want you to appreciate that.  Fifteen degrees is cold.  Very cold.  When I remembered that I was supposed to make this recipe and blog about it, I was a little disappointed to see that all I had in my fridge was a tub of possibly questionable creme fraiche and a bag of carrots.  So I had to go outside in the ridiculously bitter cold to buy potatoes, cheese, and broccoli.  I lost a toe to frostbite all in order to bring this recipe to you, Penguin blog readers!  Well, ok, that’s not really true, but I could have.

However, if your fridge is reasonably well-stocked (by “well-stocked,” I basically mean that you have other groceries beside hoity-toity expired dairy and rabbit food), then this is a great recipe for you because it’s easy, healthy, and very tasty.  It really doesn’t even feel like health food, which is why when we were divvying up recipes for these blog posts, I jumped on it.

Potatoes? Delicious. Cheddar cheese? Delicious. Broccoli covered in cheesy potatoes? Delicious. Cheesy broccoli potatoes topped with a dollop of creme fraiche that is a little bit….off?  Still delicious.

Recipe from Fat Chance Cookbook:

Broccoli-Cheddar Cheese Potatoes

3 baked russet potatoes

2 bunches of broccoli, steamed until just tender

½ c. milk

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground pepper

12 ounces cheddar cheese, grated

Toss broccoli, milk, salt, pepper and 10 ounces cheese with scooped out baked potato flesh. Stuff skins and sprinkle remaining cheese over all. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

Posted by:  Ashley Pattison McClay, Associate Director of Marketing, Plume and Hudson Street Press


The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. LustigA lot of people assume being a vegetarian means I am a healthy eater. While I’m sure there are plenty of vegetable-loving vegetarians out there, I do not happen to be one of them. I stopped eating meat at the age of eight, and constant lectures from my parents about protein and fiber never really stuck until a few years ago. In college, I would often eat half a can of Pringles and call it dinner. I know you’re reading this, Mom, and I’m sorry.

Now that I am a semi-adult, I manage to incorporate vegetables in my diet on a fairly regular basis. I wouldn’t call my diet a tragedy, but I am still a die-hard frozen yogurt addict, and the occasional (okay, frequent) bag of Smartfood graces my kitchen cabinet. I have loved to cook since I was a little girl, so I was eager to test out some of the recipes from The Fat Chance Cookbook. It isn’t filled with diet recipes disguised as real food. It has recipes that would sound great to me anyway, and, fortunately, they have little or no sugar. While visiting my parents recently, I cooked us dinner using recipes from the Cookbook, and it was a definite success.

Tofu crusted with oregano pesto, cheese, and bread crumbs. This was a little time-intensive, but it really was worth it. I substituted walnuts for pine nuts and they worked well. I can never have too many tofu recipes, so I’ll be sure to add this delicious version to my repertoire. Even my dad, a stubborn carnivore, conceded that it tasted good, although he still doesn’t like the texture of tofu.

“Almost risotto” brown rice pilaf with veggies. My semester in Florence in college made me fall in love with risotto. Even though I enjoy cooking, I’ve never actually attempted to make it on my own. This recipe is godsend: easy, vegetarian, and very yummy. Since it is not the right season for zucchini, I used twice the amount of mushrooms suggested as a substitute. The result was a creamy, cheesy, fragrant dish. I really couldn’t tell the difference between this and real risotto, and, from what I gather, it is much quicker rendition. I could see nearly any other vegetable working well in it, and I definitely plan to try some out.

I am eager to try out some more of these recipes on my friends in the city. Dinner party at my place coming soon!

The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. LustigTOFU CRUSTED WITH OREGANO PESTO, CHEESE, AND BREAD CRUMBS

= Serves: 4

= Serving size: ¼ recipe

= Active time: 15 minutes

= Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

1 carton (12 ounces) fi rm tofu

. cup dry cornmeal or quinoa

. cup fresh oregano leaves, or 3 tablespoons dried oregano

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons pine nuts or chopped almonds or sesame seeds

. cup olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup grated Parmesan, Manchego, or pecorino romano cheese

STEP 1: Drain the tofu on paper towels. Slice crosswise into 6 pieces.

Cut each piece into triangles.

STEP 2: Put the quinoa or cornmeal into a small bowl.

STEP 3: In a blender, or food processor if you have one, add the oregano, garlic, and nuts. Process until all are fi nely chopped. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil. Process until a paste forms.

STEP 4: Season the dry tofu lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Rub the pesto mixture over the tofu triangles. Toss the cheese and the quinoa or cornmeal together in a small bowl. Press this into the tofu.

STEP 5: Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu pieces and fry on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.

The Fat Chance Cookbook, Robert H. Lustig“ALMOST RISOTTO” BROWN RICE PILAF WITH VEGGIES

= Serves: 6

= Serving size: 1 cup

= Active time: 20 minutes

= Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup peeled and chopped onion

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon peeled chopped garlic

1 cup diced zucchini

1 cup diced mushrooms

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

2 cups cooked brown rice or barley

1 cup water or vegetable stock

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

STEP 1: Saute the onion in the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat until it begins to soften and brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Then add the zucchini, mushroom, and rosemary and continue to saute 5 more minutes. Add the brown rice or barley to the pot. Cook until the grain begins to brown a little.

STEP 2: Stir in the water or vegetable stock and Parmesan cheese to the pot. Cover and cook on low for 15 minutes, melting the cheese and allowing the flavors to meld. Turn off the heat, and let it sit until ready to serve.

Posted by: Laura Berlinsky-Schine, Marketing Coordinator, Plume and Hudson Street Press