I was provided an abridged version of L.I.V2.E. (Latin Inspired Vegan & Vegetarian Eats): Local & Organic Recipes to Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle as a book review by the author, Melinda Gonzalez. Although it was a review of the abridged version, the opinions expressed are solely my own.
When we started our journey into healthier eating (not just vegan or vegetarian), we had to play a guessing game of what to do and what not to do. Since I was the cook, I did not know that buying and cooking whole foods was better than buying processed vegetarian foods. We are always looking to connect with people who have gone on a food journey similar to our own. Being a vegetarian & vegan Latino family is strange to some folks in our own families and connecting with folks all over the globe makes us realize that we are not alone.
We recently had a person join our Latino Vegans & Vegetarians group on Facebook. Melinda Gonzalez, who has a blog called Organic Melinda, introduced us to her blog and also made us aware that she had written a book called, L.I.V2.E. (Latin Inspired Vegan & Vegetarian Eats): Local & Organic Recipes to Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle . She asked if any blogger would be interested in reviewing her book and I signed up. I was interested in reviewing the book because any recipe that I can veganize for my partner that has a Latin twist, is something I keep on hand and forward to other’s looking to go meatless for a day or for life.
Meal Plan and Exercise Plan
The book is so much more than just recipes; it starts off with the reasons Melinda went vegetarian, to eating super healthy with the birth of her daughter. I can relate to her in the sense that I really did not go vegetarian or eat whole foods until our daughter was born.
For those who don’t know where to start when choosing a healthier meal plan, there is one for you with recipes from the book. If you are a busy family on the go or you are considering incorporating more vegetarian meals during the week, then the meal plan takes the guess work out of your cooking. Exercise is also important and I force myself to move out of the house with my dog at least twice a day, go for walks with our daughter, and swim with her to do exercise. Melinda’s book also provides an exercise plan that was created with the help of a certified personal trainer and registered holistic nutritionist.
Staple Foods for Latinos and Caribbean People
There are foods that have been a staple in many Latino and Caribbean homes that are now considered super foods and are being consumed by those looking for healthier food options. Melinda explains how foods such as Amaranth, Cacao, and even Avocados have been in the diet of Latinos for many centuries.
If I look at my mom’s recipes, we always had avocados when they were in season and if someone was going to Puerto Rico, my dad always had to have one from the island if they were in season. Living in Puerto Rico, we are lucky to have family members and friends with all sorts of root vegetables and fruit that you can’t find in the states. Ever had Grosellas for dessert?
Organics on a Budget, GMO’s, & Farmer’s Market List
We buy local organics from El Departamento de La Comida in Santurce, Puerto Rico and we don’t look at price unless it is a tight week budget wise. Melinda has some tips for those looking to purchase local organics on a budget and suggest growing your own or buying at certain times of the month to save some dollars.
Nevertheless, if you are looking to purchase fruits and vegetables that are not Genetically Modified Organisms, then the book also provides an insight on her reasons she avoids GMO’s for her family and offers other alternatives such as growing your own veggies or going to coops.
Since Melinda lives on the East Coast of the United States, she provides a list of Farmer’s Markets in New York and New Jersey. If you purchase the book,you can read more about her conversations with farmers and why sometimes getting labeled as a USDA Organic farm can be costly and lengthy process .
This section gives a wide variety of recipes not just Latino dishes. She offers recipes for the entire day; breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and desserts. The recipe that I wanted to try was the Vegan Veggie Mofongo for one simple reason; I wanted to see how baking the plantain in the oven would really taste and come close to deep frying. I have my own way of doing the mofongo which is closer to making Mangú, a Dominican dish that has one boiling the plantain instead of deep frying pieces.
Melinda provided me a tip about not over baking the plantain pieces or they would be hard as sticks. I cooked the pieces, took them out just in time, and mashed them in my mortar and pestle. I served this with mixed vegetables and an avocado salad with spinach and tomato. My partner and I agreed that texture was close to that of deep frying and was actually better than my boiling technique. It is also healthier than deep frying and gives you that bit of crunch that you find with deep frying.
Melinda offers her experience and knowledge in this book and the reasons she chooses to be a tree hugging hippie (she writes that she literally hugs trees and goes barefoot to be grounded with nature.) Purchasing the book would be a good jump start for those who are considering going vegetarian or vegan.