It was three years ago that the first Love & Lemons Cookbook was published. It was three years ago that I lamented in my review that feeding a toddler is hard! Fast forward three years and I have a happy 5-year-old at dinner time. I really stuck to my instinct of feeding her early — 5-5:30 pm is the sweet spot. She’s focused on eating and enjoys her time chit-chatting around the dinner table. Any later than this and you’d swear I spilled water on a gremlin! So, part of being able to get a meal cooked and ready on the early side means that I need quick and easy recipes.
This is where cookbooks like Love & Lemons Every Day become so essential because what Jeanine Donofrio is offering is plant-based, seasonal recipes that are perfect for any weeknight. I really appreciate how she details the key points of her food philosophy — the importance of seasonal cooking, information on plant-based proteins, a guide to grains and legumes, root-to-tip cooking, general cooking tips, and, her favourite kitchen tools and equipment. For newer home cooks, having this information up front means that your time in the kitchen will decrease and you’ll have more success. I’m not such a new home cook but having reminders is always helpful!
The recipes are organized into 10 chapters: Breakfast, Snacks & Starters, Soups, Salads, For Dinner, Side Dishes, Desserts, Drinks, Homemade Extras, and, Essential Sauces & Spreads. She even offers some “special occasion menus” at the end of the book full of delicious combinations for any celebration. Donofrio’s first cookbook is one that I recommend to people because it’s full of fresh ideas on how to make the most of plant-based recipes, but, you don’t have to be vegetarian or vegan to fully appreciate it! I think her recipes are flexible enough to suit any dietary need. For my vegetarian family, I love having new inspiration to liven up weeknight meals but there’s lots of inspiration for those looking to increase their vegetable intake or looking for recipe candidates for “Meatless Monday.”
When choosing recipes to try I look for recipes that will entice my husband and daughter to try new combinations — such as the recipe for Sweet Potato Wedges w/ Farro and Tahini. Roasted sweet potatoes are always a guaranteed crowd-pleaser — an easy way to hook a kid at meal time. For my husband, who could literally eat rice at every meal, I like to use different grains to keep it interesting. The herbed farro here has a nice chew to it and it tastes great warm or cold. Topped off with the most delicious Lemon Tahini Dressing it made for a great lunch! Since tahini can have a slightly bitter flavour, I opted to serve it “Sally Albright-style” (on the side) so that my daughter could just dip her wedges in it.
Speaking of sweet potatoes, Donofrio’s recipe for Sunshine Sweet Potato Curry is amazing because she uses roasted sweet potato puree in the curry sauce. The curry sauce in this dish has a great flavour — sweetness from the sweet potatoes and their creaminess is paired perfectly with the coconut milk! A squeeze of lime takes a bit of the richness out of the sauce and brightens it up. I served it on basmati rice with naan bread. Another easy meal that made enough for leftovers, which is always a bonus in my mind. And, Donofrio is correct! The curry tasted even better on the second day!
For those concerned with eliminating gluten from their diets, this book has many great gluten-free alternatives to favourite gluten-rich foods. Her recipe for Apple Cinnamon Oat Muffins is great because it uses oat and almond flour which really create a moist crumb in these gluten-free muffins. As for muffins, I could take them or leave them, but these muffins could be the best ones I’ve ever had! I baked up a batch Sunday morning so that we could enjoy them for breakfast throughout the week (a great suggestion from Donofrio). She also has a superb gluten free cracker recipe. After reading the recipe headnotes for the Everyday Sesame Brown Rice Crackers I knew that if these crackers were as good as they looked in the book, I’d have a homemade alternative to those addictive sesame sticks (a huge food vice of mine)! Donofrio’s recipe is perfectly addicting! Such a wonderful snack and these crackers would be great to serve to company with a side of dip or a smear of spread!
A little treat for you, my dear readers, is that I’m including a recipe from Love & Lemons Every Day for you to try! The publisher has kindly given me permission to share Donofrio’s Cherry Pie Chia Parfaits. Sweetened using a small amount of maple syrup, I found that these dessert parfaits were the perfect healthy-ish indulgence for my daughter. She also enjoyed layering her parfait with the chia pudding, granola, and thawed frozen cherries — a great activity for younger cooks. The extra flakes of coconut really highlight the creamy coconut milk-based chia pudding. These would also be great to serve at a weekend brunch — they could either be made ahead of time or you could have a parfait bar for guests to make their own!
I’m finding Love & Lemons Everyday just as useful as her first book, with so many produce-centric recipes and loads of meal inspiration, it’s a cookbook I’ll be glad to have on hand. With over 100 recipes you can find many seasonal, plant-based meals that are great for casual weeknight cooking. If you’re curious to see what I’ve been cooking up, checkout my custom Instagram hashtag #eatworthyloveandlemons or my dedicate Facebook post.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Penguin Canada for providing me with a free, review copy of this book. I did not receive monetary compensation for my post, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.