YumUniverse by Heather Crosby is a great guide for anyone exploring a gluten-free, plant-based diet. Heather is the creator of the YumUniverse blog that she created after suffering from an inflammatory condition called, "acidosis." She realized that her diet was largely to blame and began reducing her intake of acid-forming foods like animal products, gluten, sugar, and processed foods and increasing her intake of alkaline-forming foods such as green vegetables to balance the pH in her cells. But, what is remarkable, is that all of this is coming from someone who, before suffering from digestive issues, did not like vegetables. And I think a lot of people who eat the Standard American Diet will be able to relate to her as she describes how she made her journey to wellness.
Heather does an excellent job of highlighting the benefits of a plant-powerful diet and the considerations one should make when contemplating whether to include or exclude gluten from his/her diet. She cites scientific research that demonstrates a plant-powerful diet's effectiveness in reversing and preventing a number of chronic diseases and how modern wheat can cause inflammation in the gut.
But, my favorite part is how she talks about Big Food or the top processed food and beverage companies and how they trick consumers into eating sugar and fat and believing it is healthy. She also talks about the dangers of consuming genetically modified foods and how to read an ingredient label.
In the second chapter, she guides you through the journey of becoming plant-powerful yourself and how to organize your meal plans. Then, she really walks you through what tools you need in the kitchen. She even demystifies how to buy the ripest fruits and vegetables and how to store oils, herbs, etc. It's like a complete reference guide.
Not only is it just a great book to read, but the layout and graphics are superb. It is no secret that her background is graphic design. Once you've finished reading the first 155 pages, you get into the recipes. I found two out of the three recipes I tried to be a bit bland, but the third was really good.
The first one I made was the Creamy Broccoli and Red Pepper Macaroni. I'm not a huge fan of gluten-free noodles, but her deliciously creamy cashew-based sauce was a hit with these noodles, and with red peppers and broccoli -- they added the right amount of crunch in this delicious pasta dish. It was a little bit blander than I'd prefer, but with a little hot sauce, it was right on the money.
The Multi-Bean Chili wasn't quite as tasty as I had hoped for either. With black beans, red kidney beans, chickpeas, and green lentils along with bell peppers, it sounded pretty hearty. I would say that it is a good base, but it needs more spice and more veggies. After adding fresh avocado and more spices to it to give it the oomph that it needed, it was much better.
Lastly, I tried her Black Bean Soup and it was simple, yet luscious. This delicious black bean soup is topped with cashew sauce that serves to not only thicken it, but also adds creamy texture and flavor. It's the prefect combination of spices and fresh herbs...so simple, yet luscious. And it's even better the next day!
So, all in all, I think Heather wrote an incredible book. It is a great book for a seasoned vegan looking to go gluten-free or an omnivore exploring other ways of eating and getting healthy. There is a nice variety of recipes from breakfast to dessert and everything in between and beautiful pictures for each recipe, although you may need to spice some of them up. But, for only about $14 on Amazon, it is a great deal and if nothing else, the reference guide, which is the first 155 pages is well worth the money. You can buy your own copy here.