Cookbook Review-Part 4/4: Power Plates by Gena Hamshaw

*This blog post will appear in four parts, each part being a review of one specific book. Part 4 of 4  follows below:

Of the four books that I have reviewed, Power Plates: 100 Nutritionally Balanced, One-Dish Meals by Gena Hamshaw is my favoritte. It's the book that I turn to most often for inspiration and for recipes that I actually use regularly.

If you haven't yet "met" Gena, she is the author of The Full Helping Blog. Her credentials go beyond this though. She is a vegan food educator, cookbook author, and certified nutritionist who is currently working on her DI (dietetic internship). Gena writes with feeling and care about her recipes, her personal insights, and other information relevant to veganism, eating in general, health and well-being. I tune in every weekend to catch her Weekend Reading posts in which she provides links and commentary to all sorts of interesting health related articles. 

In this cookbook, Gena offers nutrionally balanced vegan recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The uniqueness of the recipes and Gena's viewpoint lies in the idea that optimal nourishment can come from a healthy balance of the three macronutrients: fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. The book isn't meant as a kind of "diet" or weight loss book but offers more of a chance to incorporate all three of the above components into a regular and long term way of eating. Many of the recipes are quick and easy to put together while some take a little more time. Of the recipes that I have tried and have read about, all would be suitable for the beginning to intermediate home cook.

One of the features that I most like about this book involves its ease of use and content. The font is large enough and dark enough and clear enough not to give me any trouble. (I wear bifocals and don't see too well in dim lighting.) The recipes themselves offer step by step instructions that make sense. The ingredients for each dish are grouped together according to which component of the dish you are working with. For example, the roasted zucchini tacos contain two components: the preperation of the tofu and the preperation of the vegetables. Those ingredients are grouped together accordingly. This is a super helpful feature of the book. And in general, each recipe and its photo are side by side so it is easy to see what the finished dish could look like as you are working with the recipe. She offers variations and substituitions for some ingredients and provides a nice, personal intro. for each recipe. This is a friendly and encouraging book. The recipes (and Gena's "voice") are extremely approachable.

For those just starting their vegan journey (or maybe trying to expand on their current plant based way of eating), Gena provides information on ingredients. There is information on how to cook various types of grains and beans, as well as instructions on how to prepare tofu. She provides a list with explanations of common kitchen staples, such as nuts, plant based milks, and nutritional yeast. The book also offers examples of meal plans to give the reader an idea of how they might combine some of the recipes to suit their own needs for all three meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner. And lastly, the photography and food styling is just lovely. It makes the book a real joy to use.

The recipes that I have made so far, numbering about a dozen or so, have all turned out well and have suited my own tastes with regard to seasoning, etc. I don't like dishes that are too salty or sugary or oily. The dishes that I have tried seem to strike the right note between those three factors. I have added extra spices with some dishes here and there but overall, I have been very happy with my results. I can't say that the book is aimed at a particular age group but maybe would be most familiar to people who are already aquainted with one dish meals (bowls). The book would also suit people who are looking for creative salads and soups as well as dishes that can be prepared on the stovetop. 

In trying to end this review (and the group of reviews in their entirety), I don't actually have anything negative to present about this book. As mentioned above this is the cookbook that I most often turn to for inspiration and the one from which I cook the most. It's the one that I would recommend for a new vegan or anyone interested in expanding their existing plant based diet. 

The other books reviewed are all fine cookbooks and I hope that I have offered points about them that may entice people to seek those books out to try for themselves. Over the years I have come to view cookbooks as being highly personal things. I choose books that reflect where I am currently in my cooking and eating journey. Looking at my cookbook shelf, I can see how that journey has progressed. Because eating and cooking can be so personal, it's hard for me to suggest that one book is better than another. It's really up to the user to figure that out and to buy something according to where they are in their own eating and cooking journey. But, with that said, I do hope the information provided in these reviews is useful. It's my hope that anyone interested but still deciding about a plant based way of eating will hop off the fence and get going! Start with the above book and go from there. Happy cooking to you!

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