Here’s a radical thought for the cooks on your Christmas list: Consider a vegan cookbook, even if the recipient isn’t a vegan. Such books – and the 2016 crop was abundant – make excellent gifts for any friends and family members open to eating more plants.

This year’s cookbooks reflect several popular culinary trends. For instance, tropical jackfruit is firmly established as the go-to plant-based version of BBQ pulled pork. Luckily, it’s easier to find in Maine than it used to be, with many local health food stores stocking national brands of prepared refrigerated jackfruit.

Vegan cookbook writers have also embraced the smoothie trend, extended the spotlight on superfoods and latched more firmly than ever on to chickpeas. Always a vegan fan fave, in these books chickpeas show up everywhere from snacks to soups to stir fries. They even take a star turn on cover designs.

For cooks with lots of free time, many of this year’s cookbooks offer a chapter on DIY pantry staples. For cooks in a hurry, speed and convenience are highlighted in the meal-in-a-jar recipes included in many of this year’s books.

With so many plant-based titles released this year, it was tough to whittle them down to a manageable list. But after reading through the books that were stacked high above my desk, I’ve picked these as this year’s best new vegan books.

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“THE BOOK OF VEGANISH: The Ultimate Guide to Easing into a Plant-Based, Cruelty-Free, Awesomely Delicious Way to Eat, with 70 Easy Recipes Anyone Can Make.” By Kathy Freston with Rachel Cohn. Pam Krauss Books. $22. Color photos.


BEST FOR: People who say they “would go vegan if only ___”; new vegans; flexitarians; omnivores who sometimes order vegan food; and pretty much every millennial you know and those who cook for them.

Following up on her recent books “The Lean” and “Veganist,” the best-selling Freston is back with a comprehensive guide to eating more plant-based foods while avoiding hard-and-fast labels. The book tackles all aspects of seeking out vegan food in easy-to-digest sections, such as understanding plant-based nutrition, answering “What about the protein?” kind of questions, dating non-veganish people, eating out, and the improved skin most see – you get the picture. A full chapter is devoted to teens who go veganish and includes a section for parents to read. The first half of the book answers questions, provides information and offers meal templates. Freston’s advice is interspersed with comments from her readers. The second half provides basic, beginner-friendly recipes such as red bean and sweet potato hash, eggless Benedict bowls, chickpea Caesar wraps and chocolate mug cake.

Workman Publishing Inc.

“CARIBBEAN VEGAN: Meat-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free Authentic Island Cuisine for Every Occasion – Expanded Second Edition.” By Taymer Mason. The Experiment. $24.95. Color photos.

BEST FOR: Fans of the first edition; fans of the Caribbean; fans of island food; people who love to travel; northerners yearning for summer; and everyone interested in regional food traditions.

Mason has updated and expanded her 2010 book in response to the rising tide of interest in vegan eating – both in the Caribbean and around the world. She notes that particularly since 2012 the people who live in the Caribbean have a renewed appreciation for traditional island diets centered around root vegetables such as cassava, sweet potatoes and yams. The book is jam-packed with tidbits and tips about ingredients and island cooking and the international influences that have shaped the cuisines of the individual islands.

The recipes feature native Caribbean foods, with suggestions for how to find them outside of the region and how to find substitutes if need be. These veganized regional recipes include plantain porridge, callaloo fritters, Bajan “beef” stew and calabaza squash cinnamon rolls.



“MINIMALIST BAKER’S EVERYDAY COOKING: 101 Entirely Plant-Based, Mostly Gluten-Free, Easy and Delicious Recipes.” By Dana Shultz. Avery/Penguin Random House. $35. Color photos.

BEST FOR: Cooks who are pressed for time; people who prefer simple recipes; people new to vegan cooking; fans of the Minimalist Baker blog; and fans of hearty meals, plenty of sweets and the occasional adult beverage.

This attractive hardbound cookbook hit store shelves in April and brought with it the signature simplicity of the popular blog. The premise of both book and blog is plant-based cooking with 10 ingredients or fewer, only one pot and just 30 minutes’ time. Within these constraints, Shultz (who lives in the other Portland) serves up an abundance of hearty dishes perfect for this cozy season, such as classic vegan lasagna, garlic scalloped potatoes and hearty cocoa-black bean burgers.

True to her blog’s name, Shultz delivers in the dessert department as well, with tempting recipes for 5-ingredient peppermint patties, 1-bowl vegan tiramisu cake and no-bake strawberry cheesecake bars. The book closes with five beverage recipes ranging from pumpkin chai tea lattes to tamarind whiskey sour.


“THE MOON JUICE COOKBOOK: Cosmic Alchemy for a Thriving Body, Beauty, and Consciousness.” By Amanda Chantal Bacon. Pam Krauss/Avery. $30. Color photos.

BEST FOR: Juicing fans; raw food fans; foodies who like to try new things; chefs who are into health food; longtime vegetarians; fans of Moon Juice restaurants; and people with coffee tables.


A former food and wine editor for the Los Angeles Times magazine, a trained chef and the owner of a successful juice bar business, Bacon has distilled her restaurants into this artfully presented cookbook. The book’s 75 recipes favor drinks with a decent selection of snacks and treats. Bacon writes that the Moon Juice philosophy offers “a bridge between the world of medicine and the pleasures and rituals of fine dining and familial ceremonies.”

She makes her often raw recipes with lots of high quality fats and tiny amounts (if any) of low glycemic sweeteners. She also takes superfoods to a whole new level (Bacon calls them high-functioning foods) with ingredients that include mucuna pruriens, schisandra berry and colloidal silver. Juices are not fruity but rather things such as cilantro celery punch and spiced yam. Readers can also learn how to make sesame-ginger-matcha milk, sea bone broth, cured macadamia nut cheese, and pulp brownies with salted caramel sauce.


“OH SHE GLOWS EVERY DAY: Quick and Simply Satisfying Plant-Based Recipes.” By Angela Liddon. Avery/Penguin Random House. $27. Color photos.

BEST FOR: Oh She Glows blog fans; people who own Liddon’s previous book; new cooks; experienced cooks; people who read cookbooks like others read fiction; fans of Canada; and fans of high-style health food.

Following up on her 2014 smash hit “The Oh She Glows Cookbook,” Liddon’s latest book offers more than 100 new recipes alongside the Ontario native’s radiant charm. Liddon reveals that between writing the two books she became a mom and found herself “looking for ways to save time on the preparation and execution of my favorite recipes.” The influence of motherhood can be seen in many recipes, including PB&J thumbprint breakfast cookies, mac and peas, loaded sweet potatoes and peanut better balls.

The book begins with a section on smoothies and ends with a section on homemade staples, such as all-purpose cheese sauce and vegan mayo. A known salad aficionado, Liddon serves up Thai crunch, stuffed avocado and the best shredded kale salads. Liddon’s family continues to grow. In October on her blog, she announced the birth of her second child.



“SUPERFOOD SOUPS: 100 Delicious, Energizing & Plant-Based Recipes.” By Julie Morris. Sterling. $16.95. Color photos.

BEST FOR: People who love soup; people who love smoothies but live in a northern climate; health food fans; Morris fans; and whoever is cooking you dinner tonight.

The latest in best-selling author Morris’ superfood series is ideal for every cook on your gift list. Why? It’s simple. “Everyone loves soup,” as Morris found in writing the book. These are no ordinary soup recipes but rather superfood smoothies served savory and warm. Think persimmon holiday soup, made with parsnips, maca powder and goji berries. The book also includes recipes for chilled soups ideal for steamy summer days and chunky soups filled with broth, beans and noodles perfect for winter nights.

Morris fortifies many familiar soups with superfoods. Her version of minestrone includes farro, chia pesto, goji and kelp. Morris writes extensively about the principles of soup-making and the details of the superfoods she uses throughout the book. This book is a perfect companion for a snow day.


“SUPERFOODS SUPERFAST: 100 Energizing Recipes to Make in 20 Minutes or Less.” By Julie Montagu. Quadrille. $24.95. Color photos.

BEST FOR: Flexi Foodie fans; Anglophiles; fans of “Ladies of London”; yoga practitioners; busy families; people who own Montagu’s “Superfoods” cookbook; and all of us who need the most nutrient-dense foods.


The third season of Bravo TV’s “Ladies of London” began at the end of November and it again features Montagu, an American-born, British-based yoga star, mom of four kids and future lady of Mapperton manor. Her latest plant-based cookbook reached store shelves this summer and features nutrient-dense recipes that can be whipped up fast.

Each chapter starts with an overview of the nutritional benefits of the superfoods featured in the recipes. These powerhouses range from chia seeds and chickpeas to tomatoes and turmeric. She uses quick-cooking strategies – including cooking rice uncovered to speed the process and using fast-cooking (and superfood superstar) quinoa. Recipes include pumpkin seed pate, fennel and pear salad with spicy almonds and avocado, cannellini bean masala, and goji-cinnamon cookies.


“THE SUPERFUN TIMES VEGAN HOLIDAY COOKBOOK: Entertaining for Absolutely Every Occasion.” By Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Little, Brown and Company. $32. Color photos.

BEST FOR: People who love to party; people who invite vegans to their parties; people with zero vegan cookbooks; people with every vegan cookbook; people who love Moskowitz; and people who love pretty cookbooks.

Best-selling cookbook author Moskowitz’s latest book dropped last month, and it is a hefty, hardbound, gift-worthy tome (clocking in at 439 pages) that left me feeling like I’d attended the wildest vegan dinner party of my life. Moskowitz breaks down all the major American holidays in chronological order from New Year’s Eve to Christmas with stops at Chinese New Year, Mardi Gras, Cinco de Mayo, the Fourth of July, Rosh Hashanah, Halloween and many others.

The more than 200 recipes veganize many classic American dishes – warm artichoke dip, glazed tofu ham and mu shu pancakes. The recipes are all familiar even as Moskowitz updates them with a bold nod to vegetables, as seen in recipes for bagels and nox with wild mushroom caviar; chipotle mac & cheese with roasted Brussels sprouts; and burrito potato salad. This party definitely includes dessert, serving up Irish cream whoopie pies, veganized candy corn and candy cane fudge cookies.

Avery Yale Kamila is a food writer who lives in Portland. She can be reached at:

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

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