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Mindful Decadence

The crop of plant-based cookbooks that came out in 2020 held so many mouthwatering eats. We’ve curated some of the best for your holiday dining pleasure.

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Cooking and baking took on an outsized importance this year. Once-neglected cookbooks were pulled off the shelf, thumbed through, and cooked from. Although we were eating out less, we were eating more adventurously. And we wanted even more inspiration. Thankfully, some ambitious and inventive plant-based cookbooks were published in 2020. We’re highlighting some standouts in the pages ahead. The common thread? The authors found new, healthy-ish ways to riff on the decadent dishes we all crave from time to time. Of course, “decadence” means different things to everyone. For some, it’s a stack of pancakes streaked by rivulets of syrup. For others, it’s the sweet smell of warm grit cakes. It could be soft and savory stuffing … or melt-in-your-mouth meringue. Bubbling fondue or glistening glazed donuts. We’ve included every type of decadent fare we could think of in this collection of recipes—and each dish is healthier than these types of food would typically be. So go on. Get out the copper mixing bowl and cast-iron pan. Cue up the recipe authors’ suggested songs on Spotify. Relax into the flow of cooking with no agenda other than delight. That’s true decadence.

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Our featured cookbooks

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The Friendly Vegan Cookbook

A taste of what it’s like:  Authors Toni Okamoto and Michelle Cehn describe their cookbook as full of “familiar, perfected, un-mess-up-able staples that are tasty enough to share with your self-proclaimed carnivorous neighbor.”

Gift this book to … your friend who wants to eat more plant-based meals in 2021 but doesn’t want to hunt for obscure ingredients.

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The Classics Veganized

A taste of what it’s like: Author Doug McNish, a classically trained chef, takes pro techniques—even a hint of molecular gastronomy!—and makes restaurant-style comfort food doable at home.

Gift this book to … your foodie friend who just invested in a full set of Le Creuset cookware.

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Vegetable Kingdom

A taste of what it’s like: Author Bryant Terry has zeroed in on 31 different vegetables and developed more than 175 recipes around them. “This book features ingredients and flavors from East and Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, and the American South,” he explains in the intro.

Gift this book to …  your friends with kids. Bryant Terry created these recipes with his own daughters in mind.

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Love Is Served

A taste of what it’s like: Penned by the executive chef of the wildly popular Café Gratitude, Seizan Dreux Ellis, many of the recipes highlight this chef’s “understanding of how to celebrate the flavors of plants in their most natural state,” while others “scratch the deepest of indulgent itches,” according to the intro.

Gift this book to … your friend who got deep into yoga and meditation during the pandemic. Each recipe title contains an affirmation!

Indulgent holiday favorites Eggnog from The Friendly Vegan Cookbook

StuffingMushroom Gravy

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No-compromise comfort foods 

Gooey Cheese Fondue from The Classics Veganized

Luscious Lemon Meringue Pie

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Dressed-up veggies

Spinach and Kale Grit Cakes with Creamy Creole Sauce from Vegetable Kingdom

Spinach and Kale Grit Cakes with Creamy Creole Sauce

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