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Ripe from Around Here

For holistic nutritionist, eating well is vital to being well

By Caley Moore

Ripe from Around Here
By jae steele
(Arsenal Pulp Press) $24.95

Some people see veganism as a joyless austerity: no meat, no eggs, no cheese, even no honey. What’s left to eat? Plenty, as jae steele demonstrates in her new cookbook, Ripe from Around Here, a follow-up to her popular Get It Ripe.

For steele, a holistic nutritionist, eating well is vital to being well. The first 75 pages of Ripe from Around Here offer a host of tips about how to eat more locally and in season.

While a plant-based diet tends to be easier on the environment, steele’s approach to veganism is all carrot (roasted in a yummy ginger glaze, perhaps) and no stick. She doesn’t issue rigid commandments but simply urges us to embrace food choices that nourish our health and ground us in our community. As steele told the National Post, “I’d rather see everyone eat 25 percent fewer animal products each week than have four or five people become strict vegans.”    

I stopped eating meat over a dozen years ago but have no immediate plans to abandon cheese. That being said, I think some of the most creative cooking right now is happening in vegan kitchens. Just as a formal constraint can give life to a poem, so too does the absence of animal products open up a new world of flavours.

Chipotle pepper and molasses, for example, lend a rich, smoky quality to steele’s slow-cooked baked beans. And homemade almond milk, a cinch to whip up, adds a nutty depth to cinnamon-laced peach and pecan muffins.

While you’ll need to visit a health-food store to find certain ingredients, a surprising number of recipes call for standard pantry items.

Whether you’re a committed vegan or merely curious, Ripe from Around Here will put a spark in your cooking routine with tasty, inventive dishes good for both you and the planet.

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