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How to Cook Healthy

6 healthy vegan recipes from the best new plant-based cookbooks

Just for your weekend, vegan recipes from the best new plant-based cookbooks we could find – and we looked everywhere.  And we’re fussy

Best for a quick meal:15 Minute Vegan: On a Budget by Katy Beskow

Everyone loves a quick and easy meal, they can throw together for the family after a long day at work. 15 Minute Vegan offers just that, but with an added bonus – everything in this cookbook is designed to be fast, affordable, and still taste yummy.  All the ingredients are readily available and all the recipes we tried were super tasty.

Try out this recipe from 15 Minute Vegan:

Charred Courgette and Pesto Tart

15 Minute Vegan: On a Budget by Katy Beskow (Quadrille £15) Photography ©Dan Jones

Serves 4

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry (ensure dairy free)
  • 2 tsp unsweetened soya milk
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 medium courgettes, sliced into rounds and ribbons
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • Generous handful of basil leaves (reserve a few leaves for garnish)
  • 1 tbsp flaked almonds
  • Juice of 1/4 unwaxed lemon
  • Generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • Generous pinch of sea salt flakes and black pepper

1.Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas mark 7

2. Place the puff pastry on a baking tray and fold over each of the four sides to create a 1cm (1/2in) border crust, then brush the border with the soya milk. Use a fork to lightly prick the inner section of the pastry. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges have risen and become golden.

3. While the pastry base is cooking, prepare the filling. Brush a griddle pan with the sunflower oil and place over a medium-high heat. Use tongs to lay the courgette rounds and ribbons onto the hot pan and cook for 5 minutes, then carefully turn and cook for a further 3 minutes.

4. To make the pesto, add the garlic, basil, and flaked almonds to a food processor or blender and blitz until semi-smooth. Pour in the lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil and blitz again to combine. Season with sea salt flakes. Alternatively, make the pesto by very finely chopping the garlic, basil, and flaked almonds before stirring in the lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, then the seasoning.

5. Remove the pastry from the oven, then generously spread the inner section with some pesto. Arrange the courgettes neatly over the pesto, then brush the courgettes with a little more pesto. Scatter with a few basil leaves and season with black pepper.

Best with less: So Vegan in 5 by Ben and Roxy Pope

Although So Vegan in 5 came out in late 2018, we loved it so much we just had to include it in our list. So Vegan in 5 will help you create the delicious meals you want, without having to run out to the supermarket for 15 hard-to-find ingredients, because every single recipe in this book uses just five ingredients. How great is that? Whether you’re running late for dinner, or just playing couch-potato, So Vegan will make you look like you put more into it than you really did.

Here’s our favourite recipe from So Vegan in 5: 

Ratatouille Swirl

Vegan recipes ratatouille swirl healthista

Serves 4

  • 500ml tomato and basil pasta sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 medium, thin aubergines
  • 1 large courgette
  • 4 ripe plum tomatoes

1.Preheat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC fan/gas mark 6.

2. Pour the pasta sauce into a 25cm ovenproof frying pan or round dish, then finely chop the garlic and stir it into the sauce.

3. Slice the aubergines, courgette and tomatoes into 3mm-thick rounds, discarding the tops of the aubergines and courgette as you go.

4. Pick up a slice of each vegetable and arrange the stack of three slices around the inside edge of the pan or dish on top of the pasta sauce, to create a compact serial shape. Repeat until you create a swirl, covering the entire inside of the pan.

5. Use a brush to coat the top of the vegetables with a little olive oil, then sprinkle a generous pinch of salt and pepper on top.

6. Cover the ratatouille swirl with foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

7. Remove from the oven, discard the foil and return the swirl to the oven to bake for a further 30 minutes.

8. Remove from the oven and leave the ratatouille swirl to rest for 10 minutes or so before serving.

Tip: You can use normal medium-sized tomatoes if you’re struggling to find the plum variety.

Best for your family: 30-Minute Vegan Dinners by Megan Sadd

Veganism may seem like it’s all veggies and no flavour, but 30-Minute Vegan Dinners lays that myth to rest. This cookbook will leave families wanting more, including many kid-friendly meals that won’t have them hiding their uneaten broccoli.

Check out this recipe from 30-Minute Vegan Dinners:

Sun-Dried Tomato Mac ‘N’ Cheez

Serves 3-4

  • 2/3 cup raw cashews
  • 2 cups small pasta shells
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, loosely packed
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 6-7 small basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
For serving:
  • Salt and cracked pepper
  • 1/4 cup shelled hemp seeds, divided (optional, for added texture and nutrition)

1.Fill a small saucepan with 3 cups of water and a large saucepan with 8 cups of water and put them both over high heat. Add the cashews to the small saucepan. It’s okay if the water is not boiling yet. Boil the cashews for 10 minutes until softened.

2. When the large pot of water is boiling, add the pasta shells and a pinch of salt to the pot. Boil according to package instructions, but a bit longer than al dente, and then drain.

3. When the cashews have 2 minutes left to boil, add the sun-dried tomatoes to the saucepan. Drain after 2 minutes and reserve the water.

4. Add the cashews and sun-dried tomatoes to a high-powered blender with 2 cups of the reserved water. Add the flour, yeast, basil, garlic, salt, paprika and red pepper flakes and blend on high until smooth, about 2 minutes.

5. Place the pasta pan back over medium-high heat. Pour the cheez from the blender into the pan. Stir for 1 to 2 minutes, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan, until the sauce begins to thicken into a gooey cheez.

6. Add the pasta to the cheez sauce and keep stirring until the sauce becomes very thick and gooey, about 2 or 3 more minutes. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of hemp seeds on each portion.

Tips: If using sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, skip the boiling and put them straight into the blender.

Use pre-soaked cashews to save even more time.

If you double this recipe, the cheez will need an extra minute or two to thicken while stirring before adding the pasta.

Best for indulging: Vegan Comfort Cooking by Melanie McDonald

Gone vegan but miss your satisfying southern cooking? Look no further, Vegan Comfort Cooking will provide you with indulgent recipes, that are totally packed with flavour. From Peanut Butter Nutter Chocolate Cake to Smoky Bean and Tomato Soup, you’ll be wanting to make a trip down South after making these recipes.

Here’s our favorite recipe from Vegan Comfort Cooking:

Peanut Butter Nutter Chocolate Cake

Serves 9


For cake:

  • Oil or vegan butter, for pan
  • 1/3 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened nondairy milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce or peeled and pureed cooked sweet potato
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp instant coffee or espresso powder (optional but recommended)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cane or granulated white sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt (use only 1/4 tsp if your peanut butter contains salt)
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

For frosting:

  • 3/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt (use only 1/8 tsp if your peanut butter contains salt)
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 4 to 7 tbsp unsweetened nondairy milk

1.Prepare the cake. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease an 8-inch square pan with oil or vegan butter. Cut a rectangle of parchment paper as wide as your pan and long enough to cover the bottom and 2 opposite sides with enough overhang to act as handles for lifting out the cake once it’s been baked. The oil or butter will help keep it in place.

2. Put the peanut butter in a bowl and gradually add the nondairy milk, whisking as you go, to incorporate the peanut butter into the milk. Then add the vanilla, applesauce, vinegar and coffee; stir together really well.

3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

4. Pour the peanut butter mixture into the flour mixture and stir together gently. Do not beat it and do not overmix; stop when all the flour has just been absorbed. Add the chocolate chips and gently stir again to distribute. Then immediately pour int the prepared pan and bake for 37 to 40 minutes, or until the cake is coming away from the edges and, if you press on the top of it with a finger, it feels firm with a little bit of give. A toothpick inserted into the middle should come out almost clean. You might hit a melted chocolate chip, so bear that in mind when checking. To keep the cake nice and moist, it is important not to overbake it. It’s better to underbake it very slightly.

5. Remove the cake from the oven and lift it gently out of the pan, using the parchment paper “handles.” Place on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

6. Prepare the frosting. In a medium bowl, beat the peanut butter with the salt until fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating as you go. It will likely get a little stiff, and when it does, add nondairy milk a tablespoon at a time, stopping when it reaches a thick, gloopy, yet pourable consistency.

7. Place the cake on a plate, and then pour the frosting over the cake, using a spatula to spread it out, if necessary. It will run down the sides in places. Allow the frosting to firm up a little before serving. You can hurry it along by chilling it in the fridge for around 30 minutes.

Tips: Use either smooth or crunchy peanut butter. Smooth looks better but crunchy adds good texture.

Best for multicultural cuisine: Rachel Ama’s Vegan Eats by Rachel Ama

Looking to try some new cuisines? This book will do the trick. Whether you’re looking for Caribbean or African, or anything in between, Rachel Ama has you covered. Rachel Ama’s Vegan Eats will send you into a new world of exciting flavours and spices of multiple different cultures.

Check out this recipe from Rachel Ama’s Vegan Eats

Caribbean Jackfruit Fritters

Rachel Ama’s Vegan Eats (Ebury Press, £20) is out now. Photography by Haarala Hamilton

Serves 8

  • 1 x 400g tin of jackfruit, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
  • 2 tbsp nori flakes
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2 large tomatos, finely chopped
  • 2 mild red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Handful of coriander, finely chopped
  • Handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 190g chickpea flour
  • 120ml water
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Salt and black pepper

1.Using clean hands or a fork, break the jackfruit into small pieces, removing any tough stems, and then place in a bowl with the soy sauce, nori flakes and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice. Mix well to combine, then cover the bowl with a plate and set aside.

2. Combine the onion and spring onions in a large bowl with the tomatoes, chillies, garlic, thyme and remaining lemon juice and then add the jackfruit mixture. Add the coriander and parsley and mix well.

3. Sift the baking powder and chickpea flour into a separate bowl, add the water, mix and season with salt and pepper before combining this with the jackfruit and onion mixture. The mixture should be slightly sloppy so add a little more water if needed. Divide the mixture into eight and shape with your hands into small flat cakes, each about 1cm thick.

4. Pour a little vegetable oil into a large frying pan set over a medium heat.

5. Carefully place as many cakes as will fit in a single layer in the pan without touching. Cook for about 5 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom, then turn over and cook for another 5 minutes until crisp and cooked all the way through. Fry the fritters in batches, using a little more oil as needed and keeping them warm on a baking sheet in the oven on a low heat. (Make sure that the oven isn’t too hot, or the fritters will dry out.) Serve with sweet chilli sauce.

Best for veggie monsters: Show Up for Salad by Terry Hope Romero

Of course veggies make-up a big portion of vegan diets, but veggies don’t have to be boring. Show Up for Salad shows how to use veggies in a fun, new, exciting way to spice up your plain oldsalad. If you’re a veggie monster looking to show off for your friends and family, Show Up for Salad will give you the skills.

See below for our favourite recipe from Show Up for Salad. 

Mustard Greens Tabbouleh with Almonds and Roasted Chickpeas

Serves 2 to 3


For salad:

  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 pounds mustard greens, washed and cut into 4-inch pieces
  • 1 cup bulgur wheat, cooked according to the package directions
  • 4 scallions, white parts and tender green parts, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups flat-lead parsley, chopped, divided
  • 1/2 cup mint, roughly chopped
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, diced, or 2 medium red ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

For dressing:

  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • A few twists of freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp mild olive oil

For chickpeas:

  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained but not rinsed
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest

1.Roast the chickpeas first. While that’s cooking, whisk the dressing of choice in a small bowl and keep chilled until ready to use.

2. Bring a 2-quart pot of water to boil over high heat, and fill another large bowl with cold water and keep it close by. Add a tablespoon of kosher salt to the boiling water, then add half of the mustard greens and blanch for about 30 seconds; the mustard leaves and stems will turn bright green. Use mental tongs or a spider skimmer to immediately transfer the greens to the bowl of cold water; this stops the cooking process by cooling down the greens, keeping them firm and green yet tenderized by the quick dip in the boiling water. Repeat with remaining greens. Drain the greens and gather in your hands to squeeze out excess water.

3. Finely chop the mustard greens and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the cooked bulgur wheat, scallions, 1 cup chopped parsley, mint, cucumber, tomatoes, almonds, and half of the roasted chickpeas and drizzle with half of the dressing. Combine thoroughly to coat with dressing. Scoop into a serving bowl, garnish with the remaining chickpeas and parsley, and drizzle with the rest of the dressing.

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