ABOUT THE BOOK
Cara: Every time we met, Nettie and I inevitably discussed food. We found we shared a mutual adoration for vegetarian protein sources like beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. That's where this book was born. We wanted to pay homage to these nutrient-dense plant foods that are underutilized in most diets but are so good for you! We set out to create a book that has a bean, nut or seed in every recipe but still includes familiar foods. It's our way of infusing the goodness of these whole foods into the diet by introducing them to foods you already enjoy.
While the book is filled with many vegetarian ingredients, it's not a vegetarian cookbook.
We both live in households with meat eaters, so we wanted them to love the recipes too. Meat, chicken, fish and seafood all make an appearance alongside vegetarian and vegan recipes—so there is something for everyone!
And the best news? An eating plan that's based on whole, unprocessed food is the recommended diet for preventing obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, dementia, cancer, hypertension, diabetes and other health concerns that may be on your mind. Eating real food made from recognizable ingredients is great for whole body health!
Our hope is that this book gets you into the kitchen to cook. These recipes use nutritious whole food ingredients. With every bite, you're making better choices for a healthier lifestyle.
HOW THIS BOOK CAME TO BE
Nettie: I first met Cara six years ago at a Women's Culinary Network meeting. This network is an organization of culinary professionals, and we organize events themed around food. I was introduced to Cara, a culinary dietitian, as a new member who specialized in educating the public about healthy eating. But Cara was no ordinary dietitian. She is a passionate gourmand who cooks daily and follows the latest food trends.
Cara gave me a huge smile and asked me half a dozen questions about sourcing and cooking ingredients central to my vegetarian diet. I felt respected, appreciated and thankful. Here was a person I could work with and learn from.
Coming from a vegetarian, plant-based perspective, I come across a lot of alternative dietary information that makes health claims without any merit. Being able to reach out to Cara for her expertise and knowledge has made me a better chef and culinary instructor, and allows me to share ingredient information with a nutritional focus based on fact and not popular opinion.
When the opportunity came to write my next book, I knew that Cara was the right partner. We wanted to balance the culinary perspective with a sprinkling of nutrition, and ensure there was no junk or bunk. Everything is evidence-based, and because of Cara's background in communication, it's not overly scientific or complicated. It's actually fun, and I've learned so much from her over the past year.
Cara: Running my own business from a home office is rather isolating, so I am always looking for networking opportunities to meet like-minded foodies. When I stumbled upon the Women's Culinary Network, I immediately joined and began attending their events. I met the network chair, Nettie Cronish, and what I liked about her was her ability to engage anyone in very interesting conversation, and then pull others into the chat, continuously making connections and introductions. My contact list grew exponentially after just one event.
When Nettie asked me if I'd like to collaborate on her next book, I did not hesitate! I have always loved to cook, and I knew that I would learn so much about recipe development and testing by working with a published cookbook author. And that's precisely what happened.
Nettie and I spent a year developing and testing recipes along with Heather Howe, a professional home economist, recipe tester and cooking instructor. What a perfect fit Heather was to our team! Nettie knew her from a past job, and I knew her from our overlapping time at Canadian Living magazine. Plus, since Nettie is vegetarian and I eat fish and seafood but no meat, Heather was also our professional taster for dishes that contained meat or poultry.
The three of us worked harmoniously to plate 12 dishes in a typical eight-hour work day, breaking for lunch to taste and evaluate our creations. There were many mishaps, lots of "Wow—that's amazing!" exclamations, tons of storytelling and loads of laughter. Food brings people together. Both of these amazing women have taught me so much about cooking and embracing food. I am forever grateful for this experience.