Robin Asbell’s colorful new cookbook, Big Vegan (Chronicle Books, 2007), includes 350 meat-free, dairy-free vegan recipes organized into categories including Breakfast, Breads, Salads, Soups, Main Dishes, Desserts and more.

Though Asbell states the benefits of a vegan diet, she isn’t preachy. She advocates veganism more for its health benefits than for its political ideals.

Whether you’re a veteran, newbie or part-time vegan, Asbell’s book will suit your needs. She covers all the basics of cooking vegan, including special ingredients, such as nutritional yeast, seitan and soy. She also includes tips for vegan baking and a lengthy section on the nutritional components of a vegan diet.

Who wouldn’t want to wake up to an Almond-Apple-Date Breakfast Burrito or a bowl of Fruit-Sweetened Chai-Spiced Granola with Pecans? How about a dinner of Harvest Vegetable Stew served in Mini Pumpkins or a dish of Corn and Cauliflower Stir-Fried Noodles with Peanuts?

From Greek Beet and Orange Salad and Tuscan Potato Gnocchi to Tibetan “Beef” Fried Noodles and Szechuan Eggplant with Peanuts, you’ll find bright, tempting, worldly flavors. Some ingredient lists are long, but most are short, and all recipe instructions are lucidly written and easy to follow.

— Susan Russo

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