by Heidi Swanson Celestial Arts, 2007 Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Oct 30th 2007
Super Natural Cooking is a glorious collection of unusual vegetarian recipes. Swanson uses whole and natural ingredients, and avoids processed ingredients. So, as you would expect, she warns against artificial sweeteners and white sugar, and recommends honey, maple syrup, and more unusual items such as pomegranate molasses. For oils, she surprisingly recommends coconut oil and cultured organic butter as well as the more standard choices of olive oil; she takes a stand against canola oil, corn oil, and grapeseed oil, because they are refined. This gives a hint that Swanson's approach is unconventional and often quite different from that found in most cookbooks that emphasize healthy ingredients. Her recipes are distinctive and wonderful. There are five main sections, on stocking the pantry, grains, colors, superfoods, and sweeteners. In the grain section, she has suggestions for seed-crusted amaranth biscuits, quinoa and corn flour crepes, creamy wild rice soup, and a spring minestrone with brown rice, which has sugar snap peas and asparagus. In the Colors chapter, she has among other recipes, baked purple hedgehog potatoes with yogurt mind dipping sauce and sweet potato spoon bread. For superfoods, she includes lime-bathed peanut salad, a chunky lentil soup with butternut squash, tomatoes and parmesan cheese, and sprouted garbanzo burgers. Swanson ends her book with delicious sweet items such as spiced caramel corn, ginger-amaranth shortbread, and mesquite chocolate chip cookies. The whole book is illustrated with beautiful and appetizing photographs. While this book isn't for everyone, and it may be difficult to find the ingredients in some locations, it is a very refreshing and exciting approach to vegetarian food, full of healthy recipes that will make your mouth water.