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The Great Life Cookbook Review

Aug 17 2012 by | Comments (2)

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to get my certification in Plant Based Nutrition from eCornell.  I absolutely LOVED this class and learned so much more about the benefits of plant based nutrition.  The course is based off of the book The China Study by Dr. Campbell and I highly recommend you pick up this book.  It is eye opening and will change everything you think about animal proteins (milk, meat, etc).

For the first part of my course I had an amazing instructor – Lewis Freedman.  Lewis and his wife Priscilla have been eating a whole foods plant based diet for many many years and recently published their very first cookbook – The Great Life Cookbook.  For over 15 years Lewis and his wife have been hosting Friday Dinners.  People come and gather at their house and are served a delicious whole foods plant based meal.  It’s a wonderful tradition that celebrates not only healthy, whole food, but friends and family as well.  In The Great Life Cookbook they share with us their favorite Friday Dinner recipes.

While the recipes are based on serving sizes of around 20-24 people, all of them can easily be adjusted to fit your needs.  I have long been a fan of corn muffins and couldn’t resist whipping up a batch as soon as I saw it in the book.  I cut the recipe in half and also made them into mini muffins and couldn’t believe how moist and delicious these were.  Seriously the BEST corn muffins EVER!!!  I’ve enjoyed them almost everyday with my Krunchy Kale Salad and my husband has been having them with his Fiery Mexican Soup.  I probably should have made the whole recipe since they didn’t last very long.

One of my favorite parts of this book is that each section features seasonal recipes.  Every month has recipes dedicated to the seasonal produce that is available during that time.  Each section is color coded for a specific month and the recipes are listed at the beginning.  You’ll find tons of photos of not only the recipes but of the many people that participate in Friday Dinners.  With over 95 recipes to choose from you’ll never have to wonder what’s for dinner again.  Each month also has recipes for each course.  The book is laid our perfectly to help you host your own dinner party or to spoil your family with an amazing meal!

I’ve already tried a handful of recipes and so far I’ve loved them all.  If you’re a fan of desserts you have got to try Theresa’s Blueberry Crunch Cake (page 146) – it was amazing!  Although it’s technically a March recipe I couldn’t help but try the Millet Almond Balls (page 64).  I added some minced garlic and did half parsley and half chives – I could have eaten every single ball myself!  They would be a great starter for a dinner party.  They will definitely be going on my list of recipes for Thanksgiving this year.

I’ve always believed that if you take whole, natural foods you can make amazing meals that are full of all the flavors the earth has blessed us with.  This cookbook does exactly that.  It takes whole foods and creates delicious gluten free meals that are perfect for the whole family.  You’ll also notice that most recipes are either very low in oil or contains none at all.  Even though there is a lack of oil, you won’t be missing out on any flavor.

A lot of cookbooks that are geared towards those on a plant based diet are somewhat advanced and require a lot of specialized ingredients.  The Great Life Cookbook has recipes that are perfect for those just starting out as well as the veterans out there that are looking to expand their daily meals with some variety.  Most of the recipes require simple, everyday items that you’ll already have in your pantry and for those that need a little more help or background knowledge, the last chapter is an apprentice guide that shows you the basics.  You’ll find tips for working with vegetables, cooking styles, thickeners, sweeteners and host of other information all in one place.  It’s a valuable guide and so helpful for those that are just starting out on a plant based journey.

For more information on this amazing book or to purchase a copy of your very own check out their website – The Great Life Cookbook.  It’s truly a fantastic cookbook and one that you’ll love having as a part of your collection.





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Out of necessity my cooking style is definitely simple, easy and if possible – quick!  This summer has been hectic and I’m often throwing together meals without real thought or concern for taste.  Let me tell you how thrilled I was when an email came in asking me to review Christy Morgan’s new book Blissful Bites: Vegan Meals That Nourish Mind, Body, and Planet.  I’ve been reading nothing but great reviews of this book and was super excited to give some of the recipes a try.  Here’s the lowdown…

Christy gets a 100% for a cookbook filled with simple, ‘clean’, and beautiful plant based recipes.  I was SO happy to see that none of her recipes contained artificial sugars or odd ingredients.  These recipes are based on delicious plant based foods that are worked together to create simply fantastic meals.  All the recipes are plant based but you will also find numerous recipes that are raw, gluten free, soy free, low or no oil and a bunch that can be prepared in 45 minutes or less (BIG win in my book!).  I’m also a big sucker for cookbooks that SHOW YOU what the recipes are suppose to look like when they are done.  Many times I’ve passed over what I’m sure is a great cookbook only because there are no pictures.  Christy’s book is FILLED with gorgeous food photography and I’m totally jealous and inspired at the same time.

As someone that believes that eating seasonal fresh fruits and veggies is so very important I was delighted to see that Blissful Bites has each section of the book color coded and separated by season.  Over 175 recipes are included and you can easily flip through the book to find recipes for each season.  One of the recipes that immediately caught my eye was Magical Raw Tacos (pg. 114).  I made these for lunch one day and loved them so much I had them for dinner too!

 If you are not a fan of garlic or onion then you will love this book even more.  None of Christy’s recipes use garlic or onion.  While I don’t agree with her reasons for eliminating garlic and onion from your diet, if you’re like me and LOVE garlic and onion then you can easily add it into her recipes as needed.  In fact, for the tacos, instead of basil I substituted with fresh green onions from my garden and in the red pepper cashew spread I added a clove of garlic.  I’ve since made the red pepper cashew spread again and have been using it on my salads – it’s so delicious!

As a sushi lover it was a guarantee that I would make Christy’s Sushi Rice Bowl (pg. 148).  It was fantastic!  I’m not fan of cilantro so I skipped that part and I of course added in some minced garlic and some finely chopped red onion.  I’ve always loved cold rice salads and this dish was amazing.  It would be perfect for a potluck or get together this summer.  My kids are big fans of banana pancakes and Christy’s recipe for Gluten Free Banana Walnut Pancakes (pg. 51) doesn’t disappointment.  I’m slowly working my way through the book and already have a bunch of recipes bookmarked to try this fall and winter.

I also love that Christy highlights the use of sea vegetables.  They are so packed with goodness and they rarely get the appreciation and attention they deserve.  There is also a section on natural sweeteners, cooking techniques and the importance of choosing organic ingredients.  For beginners this is a great resource to have on hand for many of your most asked questions.

We love this book so much we want to give away a copy to one lucky reader.  To enter simply leave us a comment telling us what your favorite recipe or meal is that leaves you feeling “blissful”?  You can earn an extra entry by liking The Naked Kitchen and The Blissful Chef on Facebook.  Use the entry form below for your chance to enter!  Giveaway ends Sunday, July 22nd at 11:59 pm PST.  We’ll announce our winner Monday, July 23rd on our Facebook Page.  Good luck to everyone!  If you can’t wait to find out if you won head over to Amazon and purchase your very own copy of Blissful Bites (you can even get it in a Kindle version!).

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In the beginning, when my family and I first switched to eating a ‘clean’ diet, it felt like we didn’t have any food choices and I was at a lost for what to feed them.  If I couldn’t feed my kids hot dogs what would they eat?! After a few weeks I realized all the wonderful foods that were out there and available to us.  Yet again, I felt this way when we made the switch to a plant based diet.  I literally had no idea what to put on the table at meal times.  Now of course I can’t imagine eating any other way!

The beginning is always hard and often I wished I had had a cheat sheet with recipes and meals that were tasty, simple and quick to make.  A cheat sheet like Good and Easy Eats by Kim Wilson.  Every recipe in this book is dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, yeast-free, wheat-free and gluten free.  You don’t need any unusual kitchen gadgets and the ingredients list is simple and uses basic items you’ll find in your pantry.

For those that have been recently diagnosed with a food allergy or has a family member that is affected by one you will throughly enjoy this book.  The recipes include tasty favorites like pizza, biscuits and gravy, macaroni and ‘cheese’ and chili and cornbread.  When you’ve just been diagnosed with a food allergy having recipes like these tried and true favorites are a real blessing.

How would you like a chance to win a copy of this book and enjoy all 70 yummy recipes yourself?!  Even if you don’t suffer from food allergies or dietary restrictions you’ll love the delicious recipes.  You have until Friday, March 6th at 11:59pm EST to enter.  The winner will be announced Monday on our Facebook page.  Good Luck!


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Back in January of this year my husband and I embarked on a 5 day juice detox.  It was the first time either of us had done any type of juice fast and we ended up loving it.  To this day we still begin each and every morning with a green smoothie.  So you can only image how excited I was when Hilary Greenleaf contacted me about her newest book – The New Green Smoothie Diet.  She was kind enough to send me a copy to review and it was love at the first chapter!

If you have ever wondered about juicing all your questions are answered in this book.  The beginning gives you a very thorough introduction to what green smoothies are, basic ingredients, how to make them, how often to drink them and much more.  If you’ve been juicing for awhile then you’ll probably know most of this information but I still enjoyed reading about the benefits that green smoothies offer and it was a great way to keep my motivation going.

I think the breakdown of this book is one of it’s finest features.  Instead of just throwing a bunch of recipes together it breaks it down for what goals you’re looking to achieve.  It has specific sections for weight loss, detoxifying, increasing energy, fighting heart disease, preventing certain cancers, boosting the immune system and more.  In each section it talks about key ingredients to use and why they are useful for that particular cause.  At the end of each section you’ll find some recipes that feature the key ingredients previously mentioned.

I have to admit that I’m pretty boring when it comes to my smoothie/juicing drinks.  I usually make an apple/spinach/kale drink each and every morning.  The recipes in Hilary’s book made me break out of my mundane box and it tasted so good.  One of my favorite recipes in the book is in the Increasing Energy section.  It’s a combination of spinach, pomegranate, frozen berries and ice.  It was AMAZING!  I could have had one of those smoothie’s with every meal.  I’ve tried just about every recipe in the book and there wasn’t one that disappointed me.

Hilary knows how much we appreciate our readers and she didn’t want any of you to lose out on all the fantastic benefits that drinking green smoothies have to offer.  She was awesome enough to let us giveaway 2 of her books to 2 lucky readers.  You can enter below and it’s soooo easy!

Now, if for some reason you aren’t one of the lucky 2 don’t fear, I have great news!  Head on over to amazon and pick up a digital copy of The New Green Smoothie Diet for only $2.99 – that’s not a typo people!!!  Click here to check out all the details!

We will announce the winner this Friday, March 30th on our Facebook Page.  Everyone is eligible to enter so tell your friends and family and let’s get the word out on how healthy and nutritious green smoothies are!


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Vive le Vegan! Cookbook Review

Dec 10 2011 by | Comments (0)

The beginning of a journey is often the hardest.  When my family and I switched to a completely plant based diet, I’ll be honest, my first thought was “What in the world am I going to feed them?!”  My husband dislikes veggies and my 5 and 6 year olds weren’t suddenly going to start eating salads.  It was important for me to find family friendly recipes so I googled around for some cookbooks that would fit the bill.  One of the cookbooks I purchased was Vive Le Vegan by Dreena Burton.  I was impressed by the great reviews it got on Amazon and decided to give it a try.

The Pros:

  1. For someone that is thinking about starting a plant based diet or wants to ease into it this book is a good place to start.  For the most part the recipes are relatively easy and the instructions are well written.
  2. This book is definitely family friendly.  The Banana Bliss Pancakes and Fantastic French Toast were well received by my family and we all enjoy the Hummus Tortilla Pizzas.
  3. While my family isn’t gluten free I liked the fact that each recipe that had a wheat free option was clearly marked at the top of each page.  A good portion of the recipes can easily be made gluten free so for those that need to avoid wheat you’ll be happy with the options available to you in this cookbook.
  4. I was so pleased to see a ‘vegan’ cookbook that didn’t rely heavily on soy.  In fact, only a handful of recipes used soy at all!  A lot of people are sensitive to soy and while my family and I all eat soy we only do so on a limited basis.  Kudos to Dreena for not buying into the soy trend.
  5. Dreena devotes an entire section of the book to “Feeding Your Vegan Baby & Toddler”.  While my kids are well past this stage it has WONDERFUL information for anyone with babies or toddlers at home.  It has a fantastic chart that shows you when to introduce foods and has a ton of food ideas and combos to feed even the pickiest of kids.

The Cons:

  1. You would think that being as this is a cookbook that you might find pictures of food.  Not in this book.  There are pictures of Dreena’s family scattered throughout the book but not a single photo of food.  I certainly never expect my meals to come out looking like the photos but having pictures of the final product is helpful and would have broken up the lackluster pages of the book.
  2. I certainly don’t expect all vegans to eat a big bowl of leafy greens each day but the use of green vegetables in this book is almost non existent.  Out of the 104 recipes in the book only 2 recipes contain green leafy vegetables.  Even carrots are only used twice!  There are less than a handful of recipes that feature vegetables in general and those are focused on frozen peas, zucchini and broccoli.  This was by far the most disappointing aspect of the book.
  3. The book is HEAVILY influenced by grains, oats and seeds.  Hemp is used frequently throughout the entire book.  While hemp has great nutritional properties I don’t think we should limit any part of our diet to just one product.  It would have been nice to see other nuts and seeds utilized a bit more.  She does mention in some of the notes that you can substitute with other nuts and seeds but you end up changing the texture and taste of the recipe and in most cases you end up with a different recipe entirely.
  4. For someone just getting started with a healthier lifestyle some of the ingredients are less known and not as easy to find at your local grocery store.  Barley flour, kamut flour, spelt flour, hemp seeds and amaranth flour are used throughout the book and are not easily substituted with other easier to find alternatives.
  5. Sugar as well as a some other ‘processed’ ingredients, such as faux meat products and phyllo dough, make their way into this cookbook.  While Dreena is sure to point out to use an unrefined sugar those that are listed, sucanat, turbinado and evaporated cane juice, are among the most processed on the market.  Though, this isn’t a deal breaker since you can easily substitute your favorite ‘sugar’ in any of her recipes.


If you are just starting out with a plant based diet this is a terrific book to pick up.  The recipes are easy and simple to follow and you can feed your family delicious food that everyone will love.  While I’ve made a few recipes from this book it’s not one that I go back to at all now that I’m comfortable preparing my own plant based meals.  I would recommend checking to see if your local library has a copy and taking note of any recipes that interest you.  You can also try picking up a used copy from Amazon if you can’t find it at your local library.

For those that have been following a plant based diet for some time, you most likely won’t be surprised by any of these recipes and probably already have made most of them in some way or another.  I wouldn’t bother spending my money on this book and recommend that you check out this awesome blog and this awesome blog instead.


I was not paid or perked for writing this review.  The review is solely based on my personal and honest opinions.  If you do not agree with them please feel free to leave a review in the comments.



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Great read for beginners and inspiration for the experienced clean eater.

Diane A. Welland, M.S., R.D. author of  The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Clean states “Ditch the processed foods and get your fill of nutritious, all-natural food”. That’s just what this book does, fills you with good and basic information about nutritious food including some great recipes without the hype and glamorous success stories of yet another celebrity diet. As the introduction explains, the book is divided into six parts, each one addressing a different aspect of eating clean. Part 1, “The ABC’s of Being Clean”. Part 2, “Jump-Start Your Morning”. Part 3, “Light Bites”. Part 4, “Lovely Lunches”. Part 5, “Dinner Designs”. Part 6, “Sweet Endings”.

For the beginner the book is easy to read, understand and implement into everyday living. There is some basic information about processed food, food additives (which even as an experienced clean eater I found helpful) and refined foods. Extras are included frequently about definitions, tips and tricks, foods to avoid and cultivating good habits.

The experienced clean eater will also find a quick reference to useful information on food labels, definitions of additives, sugar disguises, preservatives, and artificial colors and flavors. There are kitchen shortcuts to help you manage your time and plan ahead to help ensure you stay on track. So many of my failures have been due to lack of time and planning. I have been out and by the time I get home I’m starving so I reach for the easiest thing. I tell myself, I’ll just have a bite or two until I can get a meal prepared and “poof” I have eaten a whole bag of tortilla chips.Granted they are whole grain, low sodium chips but still, not a good choice. There are not only basic recipes like a Loaded Black Bean Burrito but some old favorites tweaked a bit, like the Ultimate Tuna Salad Sandwich made with fresh yellowfin tuna, hard boiled egg and dried cranberries. A few more evolved recipes such as Avocado and Corn Crab Cakes or Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Sauce take it up a notch.

Overall there are over 140 clean food inspired recipes from breakfast to dessert. This book might not be the first you turn to for recipes if you are cooking for a family with young children but it’s a good book  for information and help on starting out on your eating clean journey and recipes that even the most inexperienced cook can make to impress friends and family and keep you on the path to better health and a fuller life. I would say this is a good book to add to your collection for cooks of all levels.

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