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Great Cookbooks for Families: Low Carb(on)

By Katy Killilea


There’s no shortage of experts and autodidacts encouraging us to reduce our food-related carbon footprints. Organic. Local. Is there really anything left to say? Three lovely new cookbooks offering new, creative, useful information are available. Here’s what I love about each of them.

Almost Meatless is definitely not for vegetarians. The chapters (“A Taste of Turkey,” “Light on Lamb”) offer recipes for meat-based entrees that use less meat. Lots of families are eating fewer animals these days, for assorted reasons: carbon footprint, cholesterol, and grocery-bill reduction being the biggies. And so here we have ingenious concoctions like the “B4 Burger,” for which half a pound of ground beef (might as well get the grass-fed beef from Aquidneck Island at the Pawtucket Farmer’s Market), black beans, bulgur, and a few other ingredients are combined. The book is beautiful to look at, with photos of most recipes, and will not give you one iota of a deprived feeling.

biggreencookbookBig Green Cookbook has the clean look and color palette of Kidoinfo but is a chunky recycled-paper paperback that will never stay pristine in a bustling family kitchen. Organized by season, it’s full of the sorts of recipes busy, choosy families will flip to every day. The exciting twist here is that the recipes are written to help home cooks waste as little food, water, and energy as possible (including strategies for creating minimal dirty dishes). Some ideas shocked me, like this one to reduce food waste, which is either brilliant or gross, depending on  how you make your salads: whirl leftover dressed salad in a blender to make a pesto-style sauce. Roasting, my favorite cooking method for many of my local, organically grown foods, is sadly but fairly lambasted in Big Green Cookbook (super hot oven = tons of energy), but I am loath to give it up. Which I realize makes me more like the lady who drives a Humvee to the farmer’s market than I care to admit.

accidentalveganThe Accidental Vegan is the smart creation of an omnivore who happens to love vegan cooking for good reasons: it’s delicious, creative, fresh, economical, and environmentally sustainable (unless you buy your asparagus in October and roast each spear individually). This is a handy, neatly-laid-out book with building-block recipes like lo mein and super-fast mole sauce as well as curries, tamales, and soups that are family friendly (i.e., not too complicated to make and not boggling to an inexperienced palate). This is the ideal vegan cookbook for non-vegans and their kin.

The details:

Almost Meatless
By Joy Manning & Tara Matazara Desmond
$22.50 Ten Speed Press

Big Green Cookbook
By Jackie Newgent
$24.95 John Wiley & Sons

The Accidental Vegan
By Devra Gartenstein
$16.95 Celestial Arts

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  • The Mark Bittman book for Vegetarians is excellent for vegetarians and others. He has a very reasonable “less meat” philosophy

  • almost meatless is very useful–i’m a recovering vegetarian too, rapidly slipping back into full vegetarian-dom. i need continuous inspiration to make things with meat. i kind of like eating meat sometimes, but i hate handling it.