Get It Ripe!

Sifting through the recent deluge of new vegan cookbooks, it’s hard to judge a cookbook by its cover. Though some may claim to promote “healthy eating,” (and really, what does that mean?) as most do these days, it’s almost impossible to know if the author means to imply that just by virtue of being vegan that their dishes are magically forgiven of any other nutritional sins. Information overload quickly creeping out like a wet blanket over my brain, I’m grateful to have at least one reliable text to fall back on, one that can be trusted to make both nutritionally sound and tasty meals. Get it Ripe, written by my good friend Jae Steele, is so much more than a recipe book; Complete with advice on digestion, ingredient explanations for the more unusual items, cooking tips, suggestions on pantry essentials, and so forth, it’s a great place for newbie vegans to start, and still advanced enough in the recipe department to teach a few “old” vegans like myself some new tricks.

With a focus on organics and whole foods, there’s no dubious health claims or miracle diets to be found here, thank goodness. Jae is a registered holistic nutritionist, and she knows her stuff! Happy to err on the more wholesome side for a bit, I was also thrilled with her sense of seasoning- Plenty of spicy, ethnic foods, Asian flavors, and of course, a good bit of homey comfort food thrown in. No bland twigs and grass clipping-type dishes here.

Moving right into the breakfast section, the Buckwheat Blueberry Muffins immediately caught my eye. Made from whole grains, no flour at all, and no refined sugars, I was just too curious to pass them up. Impressively moist and tender, I was truly surprised at how well these lightly sweetened breakfast cakes turned out. Though I personally might enjoy them a bit sweeter, it’s true that I’m somewhat known for my sweet tooth, so I’d leave that judgment up to your own discretion. A light and fluffy treat this is not, but if you’re after a more hefty option that will keep you full and satisfied through a long morning, this recipe is a welcome breath of fresh air.

When it came time for a sit-down meal, I knew even before I had the book in my hands what I wanted to cook first. The Sesame Kale Soba was positively calling to me, leaping off the pages. Whipped up painlessly and in an instant, it was exactly what I had been hoping for: Lightly but well-dressed with a simple tamari and sesame oil mixture, the contrast between toothsome noodles, barely wilted kale, and briny sea veggies made every bite engaging. Super simple to make, utilizing very few ingredients, this is now a staple in my daily menu.

Tempted by the more complex dishes, I set aside some extra time for dinner one night and selected the alluring Andrew’s Butternut Risotto, brimming with vibrant orange squash, roasted garlic, and fresh herbs. So luscious, richly flavored and creamy were the end results, that the extra effort seemed like nothing at all. This is the sort of dish you could make for company and elicit “wows” all around the table, whether your diners are vegan or not.

Being somewhat biased in my opinions of what makes a good dessert, I opted to go for something I would normally not make for myself, so I had few previous eating experiences that might color my opinion. A childhood classic with a little kick, the Cardamom Tapioca Pudding proved to be a happy surprise. Though I used maple syrup instead of stevia, it was the perfect, light ending to a more decadent meal. That tiny pinch of spice really elevated the flavor to a whole new level, changing my initial thoughts about how boring tapioca pudding would be.

At times when I’m at a loss for what to cook, be it just for myself or for a sizable crowd, I’m happy to have Get it Ripe on my shelf. It’s a tried-and-true text that has yet to fail me, either in the nutrition or taste department.

28 thoughts on “Get It Ripe!

  1. I’ve been on the hunt for a good vegan cookbook. Although I was a vegetarian for 10 years, I have always had a rough time with vegan baking especially. These muffins look lovely! Thanks for the book tip!

  2. Wow…that looks like a great book! I’ll have to go look for it at the bookstore, or get it online. Thanks for sharing. (and yay for flourless muffins)

  3. That butternut squash risotto looks divine! I have a vegan cookbook addiction and sadly this book is not yet on my shelf – adding it to the amazon wishlist, thanks for the review :)

  4. For someone who is not vegan (yet), I am collecting quite a library of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks! Yet this is one I haven’t got (yet). The recipes that you post are so good that even my husband (who will probably never give up his meat entirely) enjoys them. Next recipe I try will be the risotto. Getting company tomorrow so that might just be the day. Thanks!

  5. Get it Ripe has been in my collection for over a year and I still haven’t cooked anything from it. That’s such a shame because the recipes seem completely up my alley! The soba is definitely calling my name and I’ll hopefully get a chance to whip it up soon…thank goodness it’s a quick-to-make meal. Oh, and I do so love tapioca! I probably would’ve passed it by because I don’t have stevia, so I’m glad to know that maple syrup will work, too.

  6. I have the Get it Ripe cookbook! It’s a great one with lots of healthy recipes. I’ve made the maple roasted root vegetables and pumpkin pie for potlucks and people really liked them.

  7. I love vegan cookbooks. Even though I am not actually a vegan I find that the flavor combinations can be more adventurous than the omnivore counterparts. What I really want to do is explore more raw cooking. I’ve been a little disapointed with the few cookbooks I’ve picked up so far, but I ate dinner at a local raw vegan restaurant with a friend over the weekend and it was amazing.

  8. Amazing as usual, Hannah! Thank you for the review.. I’m always looking to add more cookbooks to my collection- I don’t have this one! Everything you made looks awesome, especially the risotto. I’ve made it once, but it definitely did not look that good!

  9. I’ve been considering purchasing this book for a while now, and a glowing review from you definitely helps its case! I really enjoy reading Jae’s blog, so I’m sure the book will be just as fun. Those muffins look so good :) Thanks for the review!


  10. Hey Hannah, your review has really turned me on to Jae’s cookbook. It sounds collection-worthy, as these are all of my favorite dishes with a twist in my style. When I’m back in the English speaking world again, I will seek out Jae’s (and your) cookbooks!

  11. WOW! What a glowing review, I love it. All of the dishes look spectacular, especially that risotto. What creamy fantastic deliciousness!

    I love that you mention there are a lot of spicier dishes in there, that is always my favorite.

  12. I agree that it almost seems that the word healthy has become some sort of term that everyone uses at their own convenience! I will check out the book of your friends as the dishes you’ve given here look delicious!

  13. I stumbled upon Get it Ripe while buying Christmas presents for my omni-friends (my fav form of activism is to give cookbooks). I couldn’t put it down & decided to keep it for myself. It not only has been my go-to cookbook for the two months, but I learned so much more about nutrition that I didn’t already know. Actually one of my fav recipes has been the kale & soba noodles too, even my 3yr old keeps asking to have “that chinese food”!

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