Before I even cracked this cookbook open, I knew how I was going to start this post: “The first question I get when I tell people I don’t eat meat is, ‘But how do you get enough protein?'” I can’t even count how many times I’ve had this discussion.
Well, turns out I’m not the only one — Katie Parker, co-author of The High-Protein Vegetarian Cookbook, includes that same message in her author intro. In fact, that’s one of many things she mentions that sounded almost scarily familiar — like her, I ate a few standard meat-free foods in high school (although I didn’t completely cut out poultry, beef and pork until my 20s), most of which were beige and not particularly nutritious. (SO MUCH PB&J, man.) I, too, have a meat-loving significant other who’s not opposed to eating vegetarian meals, but only if they’re delicious and satisfying (and who can blame him?). And I also try to get a lot of my protein from whole foods, using powders and soy products as supplements.
Cookbook authors: They’re just like us, right?
So, basically, before I even got to the recipes, I was ready to love this cookbook. And then, once I started skimming through the various sections, I was completely on board. I mean, she has an entire portion devoted to high-protein pizza and pasta recipes! And the overall variety is incredible — there’s everything from a fairly simple frittata recipe to coconut curry using red lentils as the protein source to white cheddar mac and cheese to Brussels sprouts quinoa gratin to desserts that would have anyone’s mouth watering. I could go on and on and on (and, believe me, I’ll be sharing a recipe or two from this book in the coming months).
While a number of the recipes may look intimidating at first glance, many of the ingredients on the longer lists are simply spices that you’re likely to have on hand already. Serving number and nutritional info is all clearly listed, and since Parker’s co-author, Kristen Smith, is a registered dietician, that nutritional info is thorough and exact.
The thing I love most, though, is that most cookbooks on my shelf cater either more to me or more to my husband — when one of us finds a book we’d happily make and eat anything from, options for the other are often limited either due to dietary restrictions, preferences or nutritional needs (especially when I’m in the midst of training for a race). But The High-Protein Vegetarian Cookbook? There’s not a single recipe in there I don’t want to try — for real — and my husband is game to check out way more of them than in many veg cookbooks, partly due to the fact that there are loads of interesting options, but also because even the stuff outside of his comfort zone (lentils, for example) include so many tasty flavors.
Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that every last recipe is accompanied by a gorgeous photo. Does that make a difference for you? Because food pictures totally inspire me to get creative in the kitchen.
My only complaint — and this is nitpicky — is that, since I’ve been known to skim past important recipe information on occasion, I do wish that prep and cook times were more clearly marked. But, you know, as I pick out my favorites, those are just the notes I’ll make in the margins. Not a big deal at all.
Do you follow a vegetarian diet or incorporate veggie meals now and then? I’m going to go ahead and recommend you pick this book up post-haste. Seriously. —Kristen