Book review: Plant power

06 February 2020 by
Annie Bell Plant Power cover

  • Plant Power, by Annie Bell
  • Kyle Books, £17.99

Annie Bell heralds the sea change in public eating habits towards a flexitarian lifestyle. Having cultivated a formidable reputation as a nutritionist, chef and author of 20 health-led cookbooks, it is her science-based qualifications and her regular flirting with vegetarianism that makes Plant Power stand out in its presentation of rustic meals of substance. Vegan cookery books can be overly pious.

Recipes can sometimes be served up with an antipasto of moralising, where you can almost see the author wagging their finger at you through the pages of the book – thankfully, there is none of that here. Bell acknowledges the multitude of reasons people come to eat plant-based meals, be it health, ethical or environmental, and it's refreshing.

Plant Power has more than 75 protein-rich recipes covering all mealtimes, using whole food ingredients that don't rely on meat facsimiles loaded with additives. Bell's master's degree in human nutrition and her work running a nutritional consultancy means she's expertly positioned to explain the need to consume key protein sources and vitamins. The recipes will be a useful addition to any chef who wishes to expand their repertoire of vegan dishes.

One of my favourites is a brunch dish of baked eggs with smashed peas and burrata; just add sliced fennel and sprinkle with parsley to make a delicious and satisfying meal that is ready in 20 minutes. For a main course, the shepherd's pie also appeals. It uses inky mushrooms and lentils as a filling alternative to lamb. Layered with celeriac and tomatoes, it fulfils.

Another standout dish – and easy to prepare – is teriyaki tofu, fried, spiced and crispy. For a sweet treat, I enjoyed the treatment of one of my favourite Mediterranean fruits, figs, here served with pecan vanilla butter.

More people now have an awareness that reducing meat intake is healthier, but the dilemma is ensuring meals are as nutritional as they are enjoyable. Bell succeeds by offering a collection of protein-rich meal options that taste as good as they are wholesome.

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