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THE BEST OF VEGETARIAN COOKING (article first published : 2003-01-11)

After the excesses of the festive season, we often make resolutions to lose weight, cut down on red meats and eat more healthily.

Lynn Bedford Hall’s The Best of Vegetarian Cooking has stood the test of time and has now been reprinted in soft cover format. Renowned in South Africa as a creator of tasty dishes with substance, she is not a vegetarian herself but loves meals suitable for those who are. She states: “I have written this book, plump with hearty dishes, as a reference book for myself and others who are interested in cutting down on their intake of animal protein and stepping up on other natural products.”

Urging readers to be sensible and moderate, she also maintains that: “Food is interesting and exciting and eating should be a pleasure. To deny yourself the enjoyment of sampling all kinds of foods can simply stamp you as an eccentric and leave you undernourished.”

She takes vegetarian cooking to a more appealing level, her intention being to create recipes that “would fill people up and not leave hungry diners longing for chops or chicken.” A cook that focuses strongly on balance and individual preference, she encourages: “If eating vegetarian dishes makes you fee lighter, healthier and happier with yourself, then go for it.

Substituting a couple of meals a week with vegetarian dishes makes economic as well as healthy sense. She has done a great deal of research into creating nutritionally balanced meals. The ingredients used are readily available and familiar and a lot of the dishes are really quick and easy.

Contents include salad and egg dishes as well as pasta, pizza and quiches, rice and other grains, pulses, vegetables, breads and rolls and a comprehensive index.

In comparison with some of the superbly produced and excitingly presented cookery books on the market at present, The Best of Vegetarian Cooking doesn’t stand up very well. While one appreciates the costs of redesigning a publication, the book appears very dated in its layout and format and I venture to suggest that it could have done with a makeover - particularly considering the status of its author.

This aside, the contents of the recipes must not be under-rated and it’s a good and sensible cookery book. Considering that most of the new recipe books I have reviewed lately cost over R100, the retail price of this publication at R79.95 is very reasonable.

The Best of Vegetarian Cooking is published by Struik. – Cherry MacIldowie




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