Cookbook Review: The China Study Family Cookbook

*Head over to Instagram for some more pictures of recipes I tried from The China Study Family Cookbook & enter to win a copy of the book. Winner will be picked randomly on Saturday, June 10th at 9 am EST.*

The China Study Family Cookbook is the latest book under the China Study umbrella that aims to bring healthy recipes and tips that the whole family will enjoy at a plant-based dinner table. The recipes guide parents to safely engage their children in the kitchen with fun flavors to distract from eating healthy and provides age appropriate cooking tasks to foster a love for cooking early on.  The China Study Family Cookbook delivers whole food recipes that make cooking enjoyable for the entire family.

Kids or not, this book is great for anyone eating a plant-based diet for health reasons, as all of the recipes include nutritional information, and shy away from added sugars and highly processed ingredients.

I especially like the fact that the book has a special focus on “blended” families, where some members eat plant-based and some don’t, since that’s how my house is.  By weaving stories from similar families into recipes and cooking tips, the China Study Family Cookbook creates a sense of empowerment around eating plant-based, regardless of how or if you prescribe to this lifestyle. For parents, these tips are great for getting your children to try new foods and give them a hands-on experience with food, which is integral in creating a positive mindset around eating healthy.

Some of the recipes include:

  • Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal (recipe below!)
  • Sweet Potato Hummus
  • Ode to Pimento Spread Sandwiches
  • Twice-Baked Samosa Potatoes (recipe below!)
  • Blondies
  • and 95 more!

The only caveat here is that some of the recipes take a decent amount of time. Use the resources at the beginning of the book to help you plan your meals out, and pay attention to what you might be able to do ahead of time, to make weeknight meals a little less time consuming, but still nutritious and delicious!

The China Study Family Cookbook - Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal

  • Servings: 6 to 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Think soft granola bars. This comes together like a giant bowl of oatmeal that you’ll bake and then cut into bars. I froze leftover bars to pull out as I need them for a nutritious snack or breakfast on the run.

  • 2 cups regular rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans (see Note; optional)
  • 2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened plant milk
  • 1 1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup Date Puree (see below)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the rolled oats, toasted pecans (if using), baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, and sea salt. Mix well and set aside.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the plant milk, carrots, date puree and vanilla. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until combined. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes.
  4. Pour the batter into a nonstick 9×13 baking dish. Bake until lightly browned on top, 35-40 minutes.
  5. Let cool for about 10 minutes, then slice and serve.

Note: You can toast nuts in the oven or on the stovetop. Oven: preheat to 350F. Coarsely chop the nuts and spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake the nuts until fragrant and lightly browned, about 7-8 minutes. Stovetop: coarsely chop the nuts and toast them in a skillet over medium-low heat, shaking the pan frequently, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 4-5 minutes.

Date Puree (makes about 3 cups):  This is used in a lot of recipes in the cookbook to replace processed sugars. It’s not as sweet and gives a more caramel-like flavor, natural sweetness to baked goods.

  • 2 cups pitted dates
  • 2 cups water
  1. Combine the dates and water in a small saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat until the dates are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and reserve the cooking water.
  2. Puree the dates in a blender, adding just enough water to make a smooth, creamy consistency (don’t add too much water because it’ll mess with the recipes you use it in!). Let cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight container for up to a week.

The China Study Family Cookbook - Twice-Baked Samosa Potatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This recipe turns the traditional East Indian Samosa appetizer inside out.  Potatoes, tofu and fresh veggies come together to deliver a nutritional punch that’ll put a baked potato on the center of the dinner plate.

  • 4 large russet potatoes
  • 1 (12-ounce) package extra-firm silken tofu
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup green peas
  • Sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Scrub the potatoes well and pierce each a few times with a fork. Place them on a baking sheet and bake until tender, about 1 hour.
  3. While the potatoes bake, puree the silken tofu in a blender until smooth. Set aside.
  4. Sauté the onion in a large saucepan over medium heat until it turns translucent and starts to brown, about 8 minutes. Add water 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time to keep the onion from sticking. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the jalapeño, ginger, cilantro, mustard seeds, garam masala, coriander, and cumin. Cook for 4 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat. Add the peas and pureed silken tofu. Season with sea salt to taste and mix well.
  5. When the potatoes are tender, let them cool until they are easily handled. Cut each potato in half lengthwise and scoop out all but a 1/2-inch wall of the flesh. Add the scooped potato flesh to the pan with the tofu mixture and mix well.
  6. Spoon the filling into each of the baked potato halves and place them back on the baking sheet. Bake until the tops of the potatoes are browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve.

Whether you’re trying to increase the whole foods in your life – and I’m talking fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and minimally prepared foods, not the grocery store – this book is for you. It was created to be a resource for parents, but it delivers helpful tips and nutritionally sound recipes for any cook.

 

Laura Ryan