“There’s a Japanese term I like to think of when it comes to many aspects of life – kaizen. It means ‘change for the better’ and consciously finessing, learning, and applying new ideas and experiences to shape a stronger, more successful daily process. Wellness is all about this type of continuous improvement.” – Heather Crosby

Heather Crosby, the visionary behind the YumUniverse blog, has compiled her wisdom and kitchen creativity into her cookbook.  YumUniverse is part memoir, part nutritional guide, and part tantalizing recipe collection.  With beautiful photos and approachable menu options, this cookbook is a wonderful addition to the collection of an experienced chef and a great introduction to vegan cooking for those trying to better understand a plant-based lifestyle.

Crosby approaches the vegan lifestyle with wit and wisdom, honestly revealing her struggles with eating veggies and growing up loving junk food.  In an approachable manner, though, Crosby steps readers through a vegan pantry, transitioning to veganism, and eases readers into recipes that are both delicious, simple, and gluten-free.  With everything from how to  make a great egg substitute to how to create delicious non-dairy creams, this book is a compelling blend of resources and recipes. For example, Beautiful Breakfast Patties and Pear & Ginger Crepes are perfect complements to a weekend’s brunch. Toasted Superseed Power Bread and Chickpea Flatbread are just two of the tempting vegan gluten-free options here. Sweet Potato Sauce, Black Bean Soup, and Comforting Veggie Noodle Soup make for healthy and delicious dining.   Lentil Quinoa Kale Tacos, Asian Cabbage Salad and an entire chapter on sandwiches are a treat. Rainbow Veggie Ribbon Alfredo, Raspberry-Peach Fruit Leather, Salted Caramel Sauce, Mexican Unfried Ice Cream, and Maple Spiced Cream Sandwich Cookies are delicious! My only objection to this book is that there are only about a hundred (and not a million) menu items to choose from.

Orange & Pepita Granola


3/4 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


3 cups rolled oats

1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup pumpkin seets

1 cup almonds, roughly chopped

Zest from 2 navel oranges

1 teaspoon sea salt

Pinch ground cardamom

1. Preheat oven to 3oo degrees F.

2. In a small bowl, stir together wet ingredients.

3. In a large bowl, toss together dry ingredients.

4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and fold well.

5. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

6. Bake the granola for 20-25 minutes. Granola should look slightly browned and toasted.

7. Remove from oven and repeat if you are splitting your batch. Granola will harden as it cools.



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