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Bowls of Goodness: A cookbook review

Sometimes, the right cookbook arrives at the right time. For me, it was a book called Bowls of Goodness.

Bowls of Goodness wasn't a book I'd heard of before it landed in my lap, but I'm very glad it did. It does what it says on the tin (well, the front cover) - tasty, healthy bowl food. All the recipes are either vegan or veggie with a vegan option - in almost all case, the veganisation is easy (which makes you wonder why not just make all the recipes vegan, but still - hopefully there'll be a vegan follow-up soon).

Everything I've made from the book so fa has been good, and most of it great. At the minute, I just can't stop cooking recipes from the book, because they all look so inviting, take very little cooking skill, and end up not only tasting delicious, but leaving you feel like you've done your body a favour with your food choices.

The book's divided into sections including breakfast, grain bowls, hearty bowls, and desserts. I think I've managed to make a few recipes from each! Settle in for a long post - I've been taking my inspiration from Herbivore's Heaven, who does great, comprehensive cookbook reviews.

From breakfast, I made this savoury granola:

I occasionally eat sweet granola, but savoury, not so much. Given I'd never tried it before, savoury granola went right to the top of my list of to-make dishes!

As well as fresh salad veggies - some bright pink radishes and yellow cherry tomatoes - the base of the dish is grains and garlickly kale. It's all topped with a savoury granola, made of oats, seeds, and thyme. I subbed out the quinoa listed in the recipe for some buckwheat, but otherwise, I stuck as faithfully to the recipe as my sloppy cooking style would allow. This was one of the least successful dishes in my Bowls of Goodness experiments - the oats in the granola lent it a bit of a dusty texture I couldn't really love, but I dare say I could remedy with a bit more judicious use of olive oil.

This was a much more successful recipe (most of them were, to be fair!) and it's the sort of style of recipe that the book really does well. Most of this dish, donburi, is really simple - red cabbage lightly pickled, cucumber, carrot, avocado, and rice, with a big, flavoursome topping of mushrooms and aubergine that brings everything together.

I've no idea if this is an authentic donburi or not, but it's definitely one I'd make again.

Beetroot falafel and dukkah next. As I've lamented more than once, I really can't make falafel. I feel bad about that - like I can't get my full herbivore status until I've mastered that most vegan of dishes. Also, given Mr Flicking the Vs' aversion to beetroot - he regards it as the verucca of root veg - I thought it was a bit of a risky dish to take on.

Happily, despite its seemingly doomed beginnings, it was a dish that turned out rather well, even though I baked the falafels rather than frying them. You couldn't massively taste the beetroot, which Mr FtVs thought was a blessing, and I respectfully disagreed. The dukkah was a nice touch too - the coriander, salt, and nuts gave all the flavours a lift.

Given I quite like seitan, I'm not sure why I don't eat more of it. I think it's because the readymade stuff's usually a bit expensive, and the homemade stuff is a bit ropey (well, at least it is when I'm making it). I bought some Viana seitan the other day, and thankfully, it was neither ropey nor too expensive, and ended up in this pear and seitan salad.

I normally make a lot of ramen at home, so I wasn't necessarily expecting the Ramen Wonder to be levelling up my cooking, but I was pleasantly surprised. Rather than just adding miso to the dashi stock, the Bowls of Goodness recipe adds all sort of other ingredients, including chickpea flour. Along with the silky dashi, there's the sharp spike of pickled cabbage and some cleansing cucumber. Sounds weird, tastes great. I've already made this ramen twice.

This is spring Thai salad. It's got mango in it, and smoked tofu, and various other things that I didn't imagine would actually taste nice together. Turns out they actually do. I loved the dressing - definitely a strength of this book. I'd say there's a tendency to overuse sweeteners in the dressing recipes (maple or agave, that sort of thing) so anywhere you see something sweet added, go easy and you'll be right. As a side note, in all the many and decent vegan substitutions the book offers for vegetarian ingredients, it doesn't offer any subs for honey. I guess it's not hard to swap honey for agave or what have you, but it would be good to see it acknowledged.

This is meant to be a breakfast recipe for the Green Queen, but it's a quite a liberal interpretation on my behalf - there's no buckwheat and lentils in the original, and some of the veggies in the original recipe like tomatoes and radishes I left out. Still, it was a decent and filling meal, and the miso and carrot dressing was phenomenal. I ended up with a load left over after I made the original batch and used it on everything from salads to sandwiches in the days that followed.

This is Golden Shakshuka, an all-yellow version of the original pepper, onions, and baked egg dish. Clearly, there's not going to be any eggs anywhere near me. Bowls of Goodness' vegan adaption is to just leave the eggs out. I'm not a fan of the 'just leave it out' approach to vegan cooking, because I always feel like I'm missing out on some crucial element of the dish, but in this case, by stripping the original recipe back, it allows the ingredients to really sing. This is one moreish dish. I topped it with vegan sour cream and basil leaves, but I don't really think you need either to enjoy this.

I reckon most people, whether they're vegan or not, have a recipe for bean chilli in their repertoire. In fact, I think most people probably have more than one. I definitely do, and I'm always tinkering around with various permutations of beans, veggies, and spices. Which is a polite way of saying I didn't think I'd go mad for another chilli recipe from Bowls of Goodness, despite how good most of the recipes in the book had been. I don't think this is the best chilli recipe you're ever going to have, but considering how little work it and relatively few ingredients it involves, it's a low stress, high taste recipe.

This is a miso noodle dish, with a dashi stock of miso, ginger, and garlic. One of the many things I loved about this book was it's simple approach to ingredients. Take the tofu for example. Normally, I see a bit of plain tofu and my first impulse is to marinade it or cover it in sauce or something. This recipe just said fry it up, and that's what I did. There was enough flavour in the soup to not need another bit taste in there, so plain tofu worked a treat.

This was another recipe where I was forced to admit through gritted teeth, just how good fruit can be in savoury dishes. Especially papaya. I thought I hated papaya. I don't think I've every actually bought one in the last decade, apart from when I parted with my cash to get one to use in this recipe. Papaya with marinated tempeh? Heaven. (Sorry if this looks a bit of a 70s picture, I took it at night on my cruddy phone after a very long day!)

More fruit? Yep, this time watermelon for a poke bowl. I've never had a poke bowl before, so I've no idea what one should look like or taste like, so all I can offer on this is that it tastes very good. I really was a bit sceptical that fresh, sweet watermelon would go with buttery avocado, but I had no complaints. There's a lot of avocado and red cabbage in Bowls of Goodness, but you'll get no complaints from me on either score. You'll equally get no complaint from me about how great marinated tempeh is. Seriously, why don't I eat this stuff every day?

More fruit, this time from the desserts section. It's a simple fruit salad (well, the salad is simple, the fruits aren't - check out the dragon fruit, passion fruit, and kiwi up there) but with a little extra kick from a syrup made with lime and lemongrass. I shared this with Mr Flicking the Vs, and he was a big fan, which is high praise right there.

So there you go - that's my review of Bowls of Goodness. I'm a big fan - the recipes are pleasingly simple and taste good. I can come home after a long day of studying and make one of these without much fuss, and know I'll get a good feed at the end of it. What more can you ask for?

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  1. Bowls of goodness indeed. I haven't heard of the cookbook before but all of the recipes you tried look super delicious. The savory granola is an awesome idea, I much rather have that than sweet granola.

  2. Thanks for the shoutout! I hadn't even heard of this book, but it looks brilliant. I find bowl recipes a little stressful because they usually include multiple components and I usually can't be bothered creating so much washing up in an evening, but sometimes I'm convinced to make the effort. That falafel looks especially good - baked falafel is always the best.

  3. Your photos are gorgeous and even without your praise have convinced me I need this book (and really I don't need more cookbooks) - it all looks so beautiful and colourful and healthy. I am curious about your purple black noodles which are quite striking in the photos.

  4. Wow - what an amazing selection of bowls. The Spring Thai salad holds particular appeal and I had never heard of savoury granola so am intrigued by that!

  5. Now you've got my stomach rumbling. All the bowls look enticing but my brain is now screaming, "RAMEN!" So ramen for dinner it is.

  6. I'm so hungry right now, and these all look SO GOOD. That Ramen Wonder tho <3

  7. Those bowls are the bomb! Seriously, they all look so fresh, colorful, and of course, delicious. The last thing I need is another cookbook, but you're really selling me on this one.


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