My wife, Simcha Gilbert, really enjoyed this book, and when I offered her the change to do the review she agreed. So below is a book review for one of the three cookbooks I am reviewing this summer.
Blender Girl, by Tess Masters, is a book of blender based, vegan recipes. Far from just a smoothie book, there are recipes for soups, salad dressings, snacks, main dishes, and desserts.
There are some good smoothie recipes, of course, but they are not the highlight as far as I’m concerned. What really makes the book unique is the “how to” sections for everything from sprouting grains to making cheese substitutes. Blender Girl really seems to contain everything one would need to know to adopt a healthy, balanced, vegan diet… which is a lot more difficult than one might think.
Of course, for those (like me) who are not interested in a full dietary overhaul, the book still has a lot to offer. I may not sprout my own grains every day, but knowing how to soak cashews to add creaminess to a soup is information I can use. The book is well laid out, and thus I have found it to be a handy reference which I open on a nearly daily basis, even if I am not actually making one of the recipes.
Aside from all the tips and tricks and dietary information, all of which I have found very useful, some of the recipes are phenomenal! The watermelon gazpacho was absolutely perfect during last week’s heat wave. The dream of spinach soup was equally amazing (although I think I will use a little less garlic next time… my piece was especially large). The salad dressings are also excellent. I have not had a chance to try the appetizers or entrées, but I am sure they will not disappoint.
What’s not so good:
I was actually a little disappointed in the smoothies. They are almost all really fruit heavy, with ice as a base. The pineapple salsa smoothie was tasty, as was the fruit curry, but neither of them made much of a meal. I need more than fruit and ice to hold me from 6:00 to snack time. She does have a handy “build your own smoothie” table, and the recipes have provided inspiration for improving my own smoothie making intuition.
It is also worth noting that there are plenty of ingredients that will require a trip to Whole Foods. Raw nuts and miso paste are not on my normal grocery list. The book may contain all of the information needed for a food lifestyle change, but that change will come with a hefty price tag and often a time expense too. It may be true that “anyone can make their own nut milk,” but I for one do not have the time or cash flow to soak and squeeze $20 per pound macadamia nuts each morning.
Overall, I would recommend this book for its educational and inspirational value. However, I would approach this with the same mantra with which I implement all attempts at health/diet/life improvement: Something is better than nothing! Blender Girl is really a book advocating an entire way of life, not just a collection of recipes. The reader should be prepared to honestly decide how much of this lifestyle they are able/willing to adopt, and then be okay with that decision.
I know that sounds heavy for a cookbook, but this is the health food movement we are talking about. I have found that, no matter how many changes I make to my diet, there is always someone way more extreme just delighted to tell me all the ways I am poisoning myself and thus not living up to my full health potential. That being said, I want to make it clear that Tess Masters is not at all preachy or dictatorial in her tone! She has a wealth of knowledge that can be incredibly useful, as long as the reader doesn’t allow it to become overwhelming.
Who should read this book:
If you want to consume a raw-foods or vegan diet, this book is definitely for you! The novice will gain the necessary know how, and the experienced will get some really tasty recipes. For those who aren’t interested in specialty stores or just want to know how to make a descent kale smoothie, this book will likely be more work than you bargained for. For all the rest of us, this can be a great resource. Just be willing to substitute where necessary and decide how you will compromise to make this work for you. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
More about this book
Simcha Gilbert is the beautiful and talented wife of the amazing Jack Gilbert. She is a recent graduate of Smith College and currently teaches math at The High School of Commerce in Springfield, MA. She is not a vegan, and likes her steak medium-rare.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review. I was not required to give a positive review.