Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Book of the week: Plant-Powered Families by Dreena Burton & a giveaway.

I had a nap yesterday. It was an amazing experience after, oh, about 6 months worth of broken sleep. I know that sounds hardcore but I really wouldn't change a thing. When I wake up to see the glow in my daughters eyes, a smile immediately crawls across my face, despite how completely exhausted I'm feeling. She's more than worth it.

Being that I'm new to this whole parenthood game, I am always looking at ways to get this thing done well.  I love reading books and when I came across this little gem called Plant-Powered Families- over 100 kid-tested, whole foods vegan recipes by Dreena Burton, I found that it will be a great addition to my parenting arsenal as my babe grows and starts to throw more food at me than she already does.

Dreena Burton has written this book with not only kids in mind, but the parents who are dealing with entertaining and teaching these kids through food. As I flicked through it, I noticed a lot of recipes that I recognised as "comfort food" such as home fries, sloppy joes (Shipshape Joe's) and brownies (Crazy Brownies). On closer inspection, I realised that these recipes are made form whole foods and full of all the vitamins and nutrients that a healthy little body, or any body for that matter, requires.

I love the idea of taking comfort foods and reinventing them to be something that not only tastes good, but leaves you feeling good too. For me, that's a huge plus to employing a plant based lifestyle. Each recipe has a photo to go with it and each one looks fantastic. Having good photos in a cookbook is a huge plus for me. I want to look and see something beautiful and delicious and that is exactly what Dreena Burton has offered.

Plant-Powered Families instils in its pages that which I want to instil in my child: that food is fun, delicious and most important of all, the fuel that our bodies need to grow and to essentially work. We often look for quick fixes when we are tired or down or whatever but we know that these foods will not sustain us. I feel an essential need to teach my baby this from the start, so that she will never be confused about this with all of the advertisements and shiny, plastic packaging being thrust at us from supermarket shelves. Being that I have worked both in childcare with kids at risk and in the Emergency Department as a nurse here in Adelaide, I have seen first hand what a diet full of all the wrong things can do. That's not to say don't live your life. God knows I love ice-cream. It's just fundamental to know the good from the bad right from the start so that we can all make an informed decision about how our bodies work. This book helps me to do provide that information for my family by providing tools on how to deal with picky eaters, how to stock your cupboards with staples, ideas for lunch boxes and birthday parties as well as a sample plant-powered meal plans. Burton also provides a nutrient guide so that we can rest assured that we are giving our loved ones everything they need.

To test out Plant-Powered Families, I gave The Great Pumpkin Pie recipe a go. Being Australian, I have only really known pumpkin as a savoury food. A food that you would find in soups, salads or a roast dinner, for example. Growing up, I would always see the infamous pumpkin pie make its way around the table on television and movie screens and wonder what it was all about.

Well, this example of a pumpkin pie is delicious. It's spicy and creamy and sweet. I made my own pumpkin puree by boiling up some pumpkin on the stove and pureeing in a blender because canned pumpkin puree is something that just doesn't exist here in Adelaide. I was really happy to find that I could just throw the rest of the ingredients in the blender, too.

This recipe didn't even call for one bowl, just the use of the blender and a pie tin which is fantastic because dirty dishes are the enemy right now. I really like this pie. I'm not really sure how to describe it other than to say it tastes like Christmas. If you are worried that the pumpkin flavour may be overwhelming, it's not even a factor. I can barely taste it underneath the beautiful mix of nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, clove and vanilla. The Great Pumpkin Pie has such a lovely texture that it feels much more decadent than it is.

If this pie is indicative of the rest of the recipes in this book, I'll be making a shitload more.

Thanks to the lovely people at BenBella books, I have a copy of Plant-Powered Families to give away. To win a copy of this book, leave a comment below, or go to instagram or Facebook for other options.  The winner will be drawn on Monday the 27th of July, Adelaide time. 

The Great Pumpkin Pie!

Makes 1 pie

This pumpkin pie is indeed GREAT! The crust is buttery and nutty, and the filling is irresistibly creamy. A must for your holiday menu!

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 packed cup pitted dates
1/8 teaspoon sea salt (see note)
1/3 cup unsalted almond butter
2 tablespoons nondairy milk

1 can (15 oz) pure pumpkin puree
3/4 cup raw cashews
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
11/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 rounded teaspoon sea salt
2–3 pinches ground cloves
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/3 cup plain unsweetened nondairy milk (see note)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean powder

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly coat a pie plate with a dab of oil.

To make the crust: In a food processor, add the oats, dates, and sea salt. Puree until crumbly. Add the almond butter and puree for about a minute. Add the milk and pulse until the mixture becomes sticky (that is, can hold together when pressed). Transfer to the prepared pie plate, pressing in evenly around the base and up the sides of the plate.

To make the filling:In a blender (high speed works best; if using a regular blender you will need to blend longer and scrape down the blender several times), combine the pumpkin puree, cashews, arrowroot powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, sea salt, cloves, maple syrup, milk, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Puree until very smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

To assemble:Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Gently tip the pan back and forth to evenly distribute the filling. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F and continue to bake for 25 minutes, until golden and set (the center may be soft, but it will set further as it cools). Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before slicing and serving.

Salt Note: If your almond butter is already salted, you can omit the sea salt added to the crust.

Milk Note: I prefer almond or soy milk in this recipe.

Serving Suggestion:This pie is positively irresistible with vanilla nondairy ice cream or whipped cream.


  1. I have never had a pumpkin pie either. Like you it has always been a savoury component of a meal. This version looks delicious.
    I love the idea of creating healthier versions of comfort foods. And getting children to understand the importance of eating well (even as a vegan) cannot be over emphasised. This looks like a great addition to my vegan cook book repertoire. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Cheers Nina xx

  2. Cool! Dreena's Eat Drink and Be Vegan was one of the earliest vegan cookbooks that I got and has some great recipes. I love to hear that her new book has a photo with every recipe - I totally eat with my eyes first, so it's perfect.

    1. You are the winner! Please email me at with your details and I will get the book shipped to you thanks to BenBella Vegan Publishing. :) xx

  3. I'd love to win a copy of Dreena's new book to give me some inspiration of healthy, delicious meals to cook for my family :)

  4. I want to thank you for posting such an educational blog. And also will wait for your next post. Jessica @ Fresh Food HQ