A cookbook that’s been getting a lot of attention recently is Vegan Soul Kitchen, by Bryant Terry. When I finally splurged on some cookbooks last month, this was definitely near the top of my to-buy list. Flipping through it,  I was thrilled to find that nearly all the recipes appealed to me – more often than not the ingredients called for are affordable, fresh and healthy, and ones I usually have on hand. So far I’ve made 5 recipes from the book, and each has been better than the last. The Citrus Collards with Raisin Redux recipe is a fast, unique, and delicious way of preparing leafy greens, and has inspired my boyfriend to declare collards his most favourite variety of greens. The Shaved Cucumber Salad with Citrus-Cilantro Dressing has only a few key ingredients, and yet is one of the most tasty things I’ve eaten in a while. The Blackened Tofu was so easy to prepare, and I can think of many, many things I would want to dredge in the blackening spice mixture. The Succotash Salsa that is served with the tofu was so good that I made it again the day after in larger quantities to have as a cold salad for lunch. Despite all these great dishes I only managed to snap a picture of one of the recipes:

This is the Agave-Sweetened Orange-Orange Pekoe Tea. I know what you’re thinking – you don’t need a recipe for iced tea! I thought that too, but this drink made it into the ‘Top Six’ section of the book, so I gave it a try. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint – this is -hands down- the best iced tea I have ever had. Amazon’s preview function actually includes this recipe (and two others!) for those without the book. Hint: I halved the recipe, used more water, and omitted the agave nectar, choosing instead to sweeten each glass individually (and I’m sure I used far less than what was called for in total).

The verdict? Bryant Terry really knows his way around flavours and food, and I cannot wait to try more things out of VSK.

To make up for the lack of photos, here are some pictures of new (to me!) and exciting foods that I’ve tried recently:
A champagne mango! I’d never seen any varieties of mango besides the ubiquitous ‘green’ variety. (Kent? Tommy Atkins? How do you tell!?) This little guy had a wonderfully smooth texture, but was pretty tart.

img_10551A young coconut! I haven’t tried opening it yet – wish me luck! *upon opening*: it was rotten! Who knew that coconuts turn purple when they spoil? Not me!
Fava Beans! These things are huge – look at them compared to my hand! I’d never seen these before, and they are probably the first un-shelled fresh beans I’ve ever encountered (besides edamame- but even then, those are always frozen). These are destined for a multi-bean salad this week.
Kombucha! I heard about this for the first time when LazySmurf blogged about it. I’ve had ulcers in the past, and am currently dealing with a recurring flare-up that has been giving me grief. The health claims about kombucha form a rather lengthy list, and I was skeptical – but decided to try it. After having a single bottle of kombucha over two days, my stomach feels better than it has in weeks. The sensation after drinking it is very strange – the best way I can say is that my stomach feels hot. Also, it also seems to alter my appetite. (this is a good thing!) I had a small glass of it this morning with an apple, and at 1 PM was still not hungry. (inconceivable!) Apparently this works the opposite way too – if you need to gain weight, it stimulates appetite. I’m not sure if I buy into this entirely, but it does seem to be helping me, and it certainly can’t hurt.

……and in case you think I’m a deodorant eschewing, hemp-wearing, meditating, dreadlocked vegan hippy (not that those are necessarily bad things!) that’s touting her new found cure-all, I promise that’s not the case. The deepest I’ve delved into homeopathic solutions thus far is a few drops of oregano oil here and there…… and vegan deodorant still counts as deodorant, thank you very much!  : )