Almost Vegetarian

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Typical of many contemporary cookbooks, ALMOST VEGETARIAN also focuses on the art of cooking healthier meals. Diana Shaw describes her cookbook best when she calls it “a primer for cooks who are eating vegetarian most of the time, chicken and fish some of the time and altogether well all of the time.”

Shaw begins with advice on modifying cooking techniques and recipes to eat healthier and with less fat. She then launches into a large chapter called the Fresh Vegetable Directory, describing various common vegetables, their uses, dietary benefits, and ways to serve and store them. There is also a Fresh Fruit Directory just before the dessert section.

Shaw’s recipes are typical health food favorites with abundant use of yogurt, whole grain, and tofu. Some recipes include Tangy Spinach-Yogurt Soup, Spicy Black Beans with Fresh Plums, Whole Wheat Penne with Cabbage and Cumin, Vegetable-Tofu Stir-Fry, and Fruit Yogurt Souffles. The recipes are creative and flavorful but best suited for those cooks who are not afraid of serious health food.

This primer will provide a good introduction for many cooks interested in beginning a healthier diet without plunging head-first into the world of vegetarianism or macrobiotic eating. Shaw’s cookbook includes a chapter on cooking healthier with chicken and turkey, followed by a similar chapter on fish and seafood. Shaw walks the beginner through her philosophy of cooking with nutritional breakdowns, do-ahead tips, anecdotal sidebars, serving suggestions and other helpful instructions. Shaw is clearly an expert on this style of cooking with several cookbooks in the same vein already published.