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In Mayim’s last book Beyond the Sling she discussed how sometimes she brought a vegan whole wheat bran muffin to birthday parties so her children wouldn’t be tempted to indulge in a non-vegan sweet treat. So, my expectations for a delectable and must-have cookbook from her were honestly not that high. Luckily for all of us, Bialik surpassed them with over 100 vegan recipes that range from super simple (“sushi in a bowl” which is basically throwing some avocado on sushi rice) to fresh and flavorful (tomato soup with Israeli couscous, pictured above) to deliciously decadent (dark chocolate peanut butter pie, anyone?).

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Bialik’s and Gordon’s recipes include favorites such as guacamole, mac n cheez, and soft pretzels as well as several DIY, build-your-own meals (including the chickpea burger shown above) designed with picky eaters in mind. Bialik’s vegan takes on traditional Jewish fare such as rugelach (yummy rolled cookies) and matzoh ball soup also add something special to this veg-friendly recipe collection. My only gripe with a few of the dessert recipes was that they go against the whole-foods approach that Bialik and Gordon tout in the book: at a certain point, using too much margarine (even if it’s vegan) is just not a good idea. The vast majority of the recipes however, do follow a fresh, whole-foods approach and incorporate plenty of vegetables, fruits, and healthy grains. While the recipes are not as exotic or inventive as a tome like Veganomicon, Bialik and Gordon have compiled a good basic foundational cookbook for families who are dabbling in vegan waters. I also appreciate that the cookbook does not rely heavily on processed vegan “meats” or overly elaborate recipes that are too time-consuming for busy parents.

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In addition to the recipes, the cookbook contains basic nutritional research as well as their personal approaches to a vegan diet. Creating healthy habits at an early age is of great importance, and equally so is creating a healthy mindset about eating. Dr. Jay’s reasonable approach to eating, with his list of food “have to’s” such as “you don’t have to make it all gone” and “you don’t have to do something to to get food as a reward” combined with recommended foods options for each meal, are helpful reminders to us all without being overwhelming. Bialik and Gordon don’t go overboard with the vegan proselytizing and preaching, but they offer sound information and easy ways to get the whole family on board with a plant-based eating approach. And with dishes such as tofu banh mi, minestrone, and make-your-own pizza, you’re likely to get happy kids with happy bellies. Mayim’s Vegan Table is a should-read for any families transitioning to veganism, to new vegan cooks in general, and anyone hoping to incorporate some kid-friendly and vegan recipes to their repertoire.

+ Mayim’s Vegan Table $14.88

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Mac N Cheez

From Mayim’s Vegan Table: More Than 100 Great-Tasting and Healthy Recipes from My Family to Yours by Mayim Bialik with Dr. Jay Gordon. Reprinted courtesy of Da Capo Lifelong Books.
Serves 8

  • 1 (16-ounce) package pasta, such as farfalle, rigatoni, penne, shells, or large macaroni
  • 1 1/4 cups nondairy milk (almond milk works best)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour or white or brown rice flour
  • 1 (8-ounce) bag shredded vegan cheese, preferably mozzarella or cheddar
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (optional)

1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain when al dente and place in a large bowl.

2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

3. Heat 1 cup of the nondairy milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

4. In a cup, whisk the flour into the remaining 1/4 cup of milk until dissolved. Add it slowly to the heated milk, whisking as you go. Add the shredded vegan cheese and stir constantly until the cheese is dissolved and the sauce is bubbly, about 5 minutes. Pour over the pasta mixture and stir to combine. If desired, place the pasta in a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish and cover with the bread crumbs. Bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Uncover and broil until browned on top, about 5 minutes.

All photos reprinted from Mayim’s Vegan Table © Denise Herrick Borchert.