'Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes' (cookbook review)

Isa Does It cover
via Amazon

This cookbook has the power to convert anybody to veganism because its recipes are so delicious, straightforward, and satisfying. Buy it and you'll keep reaching for it.

In honor of World Vegan Day, I’d like to tell you about my favorite cookbook. It is called “Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week” (Little, Brown and Co., 2013) by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. The author also has a vegan food blog called Post Punk Kitchen.

While trying to change my family’s diet and eat much less meat, I checked this book out of the library on the recommendation of a vegan friend who said it changed her life. Sure enough, that book went through two renewals and racked up a hefty fine before I reluctantly returned it to the library. Since then, I’ve purchased the cookbook and refer to it nearly every day.

Isa’s recipes are fabulous. Most importantly, they make vegan food sound appealing and gourmet. Compared to the obligatory vegetarian section in every other omnivorous cookbook I own, filled with uninspired and repetitive meatless recipes, Isa’s make me want to cook.

And cook I do. Chana Masala, Red Lentil Thai Chili, Cast-Iron Stir-Fry with Avocado, Basil & Peanuts, Everyday Pad Thai, Chipotle-Oyster Mushroom Tacos, Black-Eyed Pea & Collard Tacos, Coconut French Toast, and Chocolate-Zucchini Bundt Cake, among many others, have become staples at our table.

The recipes are hearty, satisfying, and sufficient for my hungry family of five. Most are quick, in the 30-minute prep range, with no finicky details. I reach for this book when it’s 5 p.m. and I need to get dinner on the table as fast as possible; that alone makes it a treasure.

The photography is glorious, with many full-page photos of nicely styled foods. This is something I personally love in a cookbook, since I spend many hours perusing cookbooks and food magazines for fun and pictures inspire me to try new recipes. While my versions of Isa’s recipes don’t turn out looking quite as good, it’s a close enough approximation that I don’t feel irritated about being misled, as some cookbooks seem to do.

Since my family isn’t fully vegan, I am constantly surprised at how much I gravitate toward this cookbook. Occasionally I substitute non-vegan ingredients, i.e. grate some cheese to top tacos or add a splash of cream, but more often than not, I make the recipes as written because they’re so delicious.

“Isa Does It” is the perfect ambassador for veganism because it does, with ease, the hard job of convincing people that vegan food can be just as easy, delicious, and filling as cooking with meat. If you are looking to purchase a new vegan cookbook – or any cookbook, for that matter – I highly recommend this one.

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