If you’re transitioning to a plant-based diet or you just want some ideas for preparing scrumptious veggie dishes, Heather Crosby provides a step-by-step guide to simply adding more delicious, health-boosting meals to your existing routine, whether you’re a meat-eater or a vegan.
YumUniverse: Infinite Possibilities for a Gluten-Free, Plant-Powerful, Whole-Food Lifestyle offers a creative collection of more than 150 crave-worthy recipes without meat, dairy, gluten, or soy. But this is more than just a cookbook—it’s a treasure chest that will help you build health-promoting habits and recipes of your own for a lifetime. As a former veggie-phobe, Heather knows firsthand how overwhelming yet rewarding the transition toward a plant-powerful diet can be, so she offers expert advice for folks seeking to adopt and maintain a whole-food approach to what they eat.
Fans of YumUniverse, Heather’s inspirational food blog, and new readers alike will discover recipe goodness like her Fig & Caramelized Onion Tart and Almond-Cardamom Cream Chia Pudding with Fresh Berries, as well as divine desserts like Mexican Unfried Ice Cream and Chocolate & Salted Caramel Layer Cake with Chocolate Frosting.
A plant-powerful, gluten-free lifestyle is delicious and doable. So, say “goodbye” to the dieting roller coaster and embrace a long-term wellness adventure with tasty, healthy, plant-inspired cuisine.
“While offering a cornucopia of outstanding recipes, YumUniverse offers a great deal more with an informed and informative commentary on why and how to live a plant-based dietary lifestyle.” —Midwest Book Review
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About the Author
She’s not interested in labeling you. Instead, she’s dedicated to helping folks incorporate more health-boosting whole, plant-based foods into their lives so we can all say goodbye” to dieting and hello” to building a healthful, inspired lifestyle for the long haul.
Read an Excerpt
SECTION: 1 Why
I'm all about new perspectives. Questions. The truth. And here comes a bunch of it. So curl up in a comfy chair and let's talk honestly about food. And life. And YU.
There are many wonderful, world-wise reasons to consider a plant-inspired diet and super-smart rationales that go well beyond the basic and incredible health benefits. Books, scientific studies, and anecdotal evidence have raised awareness about the power of plants these days. Once we venture down one "reason" road, it often forks into three others, then four more: animal welfare, personal health, chemicals and GMOs in our food, environmental concerns — and that's just a few forks in our food. It can be overwhelming. Disorienting. Even a bit of a bummer.
My favorite reason of all to go plant-powerful? It's an opportunity to build a healthy and informed relationship with food. That's where the wellness and happiness we all want in this life begins. But whatever catalyst put this book in your hands, it's enough — because now you're here — and we can get started bringing more "life" to your life. Let's begin responsibly, with an understanding of the big picture.
I'm a foot-stomping fan of being accountable for the choices we make in our lives, but if you're confused about what it takes to be healthy, it's not entirely your fault. There are countless reasons why we're unclear about how to take good care of ourselves, and the noise and contradiction out there is borderline deafening.
All you have to do is turn on a television set, compare family photos from the 1940s to the 2010s, or just look around in a public place to see that we're a nation of overfed (yet undernourished) folks who tend to be more preoccupied with quick weight loss than long-term health gain.
More than one-third of adults in the United States are obese. Not just overweight (that's almost 70 percent of the population), but obese. Now, I know that stats don't always have the emotional impact that we really need to understand the gravity of a situation, but think about that one for a minute. "One-third" means that when we find ourselves in line at the grocery store, odds are that one out of every three adults in the same store will end up suffering from some form of preventable obesity-related condition like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even certain types of cancer. And each diagnosis is much more than devastating words presented from a doctor to a patient. Every single one of these people has a family, friends, and loved ones who will have to suffer along with them (think about who these people would be for you). And since almost one out of every four children and adolescents aged 2 – 19 are also obese, the future health of Americans looks pretty grim. These obese kiddos are simply more likely to become obese adults. Friends, we're experiencing an unprecedented health crisis and it affects us all.
Would you believe that the health risks associated with obesity now rival those from smoking? It's true. What we're eating is killing us, and as with smoking, many of us are actually addicted — to convenience and to the chemicals and ingredients in processed foods. If Americans continue on this path, it's going to cost the United States about $344 billion in medical-related expenses by the year 2018. (Hello, taxpayer!) And if we bring it on home, the average cost of a family healthcare policy has jumped from $6,000 a year in 2000 to $16,351 in 2013 — an almost $800-a-year increase! The saddest of sad ironies is, the United States spends more money per capita than any other country on healthcare, but we rank near the bottom of the list of the world's healthiest.
How Did We Get Here?
Well, it's a lot like headphones. You wrap them up as neatly as possible, put them in your purse or backpack, and within a few minutes, they're a tangled mess. They're tentacles that have somehow knotted over a few times and grabbed onto your lip balm (opening it, no doubt), a pen, and car keys in the process. Well, the state of our food system is kinda similar: it's a mess of flawed systems, wrapping around each other and tangling into what seems like a point of no return.
See, billion-dollar industries depend on sickness and confusion to make a profit. And marketing efforts tap into our fears and hopes to sell products that make us sick. Hamster wheel, anyone? It's a time in history where profit and lobbying power win out over the health of the public almost every single time. And simply, we've become disconnected from ourselves and our instincts, and distracted in too many ways — gadgets, social media (with kids easily falling prey to these distractions). However, if we put this jumble through the strainer, turn down the relentless marketing noise, and take off our blinders, we'll begin to see a through-line: that despite the aggressive efforts of food engineers, agricultural biotechnology, and countless pharmaceutical developments, our health as a nation continues to rapidly decline. We don't need more diets, more pills, more gadgets, more processed foods, or even more time. What we need is to start being honest with ourselves. We need to find the courage to look behind the curtain and finally become accountable for our health. (And a green smoothie can help, too. ->)
Where Do We Begin?
Let's look through a new lens as we venture forward. There's a canal towpath along the river by my West Virginia home, and it's a beautiful trail. I'm not the only one who knows how lovely it is; on any day, year-round, you'll see families, folks with their pups jogging, and loads of cyclists.
One morning while taking a run, I noticed a large tree had fallen down across the path up ahead and a bunch of colored dots were scattered all around it. The closer I got, the more the shapes of people came into view — a park ranger and a fit group of about 15 with bicycles. They were all buzzing around and I overheard the ranger say, "It's safe to continue on, we'll be cutting it apart in an hour or so." Now, there was walkable ground around the path; it just wasn't manicured into a proper, "official" trail. There were also low, wide spots in the tree (a mere step over) that the group could easily lift their bikes to overcome. But no one was moving. They all stood around perplexed, disappointed, waiting for someone to stand up and make a decision about what to do next. So I smiled, gently patted some shoulders, said, "Excuse me," and weaved my way through the stagnation of indecision, hopped over the tree, and kept on running. The other side of the trail was clear and open and quiet — fresh and ready to be explored. To my surprise, on my way back a good thirty minutes later, the tree and the group were still there. Waiting for someone else to tell them what to do. And because of it, they'd missed the new blankets of emerald and lime moss growing on the cliffs, Mr. and Mrs. Duck and their fuzzy babies toddling across the trail, the crackle and sparkle of the river flowing by, the blue jays, cardinals, woodpeckers, and life beyond the fallen tree.
That new lens I mention: when we're confronted with unpleasant decisions, news or circumstances, we can let them slow us down, even intimidate us, or we can use them to empower us. We have the choice to assume the role of victim or adventurer. Ready to be adventurers?
Fire up curiosity. If we make an effort to ask questions instead of doing what we're told, the unobvious becomes obvious, and we'll forge ahead in informed fashion (and everyone looks stunning in "informed fashion"). So let's connect some dots here: the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) — was there ever a more accurate acronym than S.A.D.? — is composed of 25 percent animal products, 62 percent processed foods, and only 5 percent of calories from fruits and vegetables.
Now, it's widely accepted that more fiber, less cholesterol, and less saturated fat prevents disease. But did you know that whole plant foods have no health-diminishing saturated fat or cholesterol, and tons of health-promoting fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients? While on the other hand, animal foods all contain saturated fat and cholesterol, and they possess zero disease-fighting fiber, antioxidants, or phytonutrients? Also, when you cruise the aisles at a traditional grocery store, almost three-quarters of the foods that line those shelves contain genetically modified ingredients, and many of them contain dyes and chemicals that are banned outright in other countries. Since only a teeny fraction of the S.A.D. comes from plant-based foods and the vast majority comes from animal-based and processed foods, it's pretty plain to see why we're overweight and sick — it's simple cause and effect.
Consumers are catching on, though. We're learning every day about the changes that need to be made, and WHY. It's the HOW that can be the biggest hurdle for us. We have rich family traditions, busy lives, emotional attachments to food, actual food addictions (that manufacturers insidiously exploit), and decades' worth of habits that could use some adjustment. As a former processed-foods junkie, I know it can be done. We need to find the courage to trust our instincts, especially when they take us away from the comfort and perceived safety of mainstream beliefs and approval.
Starting at this very moment, we have the power to prevent and heal from disease without meds. We have the potential for incredible energy, strength, and resilience as we age. And whether you know that outright or a little voice inside has been whispering it to you, the fact that you're reading this book tells me that you have the curiosity to open doors and the bravery to go after what you want. That's a magical combination, and if you nurture it, you can create healthy habits that last a lifetime.
When it comes to what we're "supposed" to eat for maximum health gains, there couldn't be more approaches to try out. Should we go Paleo, Vegan, Fruitarian, Raw Foodist, Pescetarian, or Vegetarian-Who-Eats-Bacon-on-the-Weekends? While labels like these help locate other like-minded folks and create a sense of community in the beginning of a wellness journey, they can establish boundaries that inhibit exploration and stifle growth. We can't discover what's best for us if we can't venture outside of our "label" to investigate and experiment. So for now, skip hemming yourself into a label. Instead, let's look at the common denominator for most of these dietary approaches and begin there. The simpler we keep things, the easier it will be to navigate through the mess of information and find what works for our special selves. Author, journalist, and activist Michael Pollan sums it up most succinctly:
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
— Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and Food Rules
That's how we begin — by eating more whole, plant-based foods as often as possible; by learning to identify and keep processed foodstuffs out of our bodies; by educating ourselves and becoming responsible for our choices; and by committing to our intentions and our actions, rather than our excuses.
This beginning will involve learning about how and when we're being played by food marketers and industries with deep pockets and substantial lobbying power. And it will provide us with the chance to vote for the kind of food system and world we want through our wallet.
And while we're at it, let's forget about dieting altogether.
That's Right, Never Diet Again
You probably don't need me to tell you this, but diets don't work. They're a regimen designed to achieve a temporary goal in a short amount of time — not a sustainable plan for a healthful lifestyle. "Diets" also bog us down with guilt and resentment, and those feelings never motivate.
Understand that when I use the word "diet" in this book, I'm referring to what we're biologically designed to eat for the long haul — meals either entirely or primarily composed of nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits, and vegetables that come from nature (not a lab or factory). It's important to know that what we eat for health and what we eat for enjoyment don't have to be mutually exclusive. This book will prove it. Once we learn how delicious a plant-powerful diet can be and we have the tools and know-how we need to start changing bad habits into health-promoting new routines, we'll look forward to each new week, new recipe, new discovery, and guess what? The extra weight will fall away. No need to assign points to food, or weigh it, or measure it, or feel like we're missing out. If we can simply say "goodbye" to the health-diminishing junk that congests our food system and bodies, if we can turn away from contradictory marketing noise and return to our biological diet, our bodies will find their healthy, happy weight.
Plant-Powerful Is Freedom
This book focuses on a particular approach to food that has helped me, and thousands of others, heal from disease. Even though these recipes don't include meat, eggs, dairy, fish, gluten, or highly processed foods, it's not about deprivation. Quite the opposite, really. (See, there are even chocolate chip cookies! ->)
Once we have the know-how to realistically incorporate a variety of whole foods into our routines — step by step — we'll realize that there's tremendous freedom with this new lifestyle. We'll get in sync with our bodily needs, knowing what to give it so it won't hold us back with ailments. We'll be stronger and more pain-free than ever. We'll feel happier. And we'll have more energy to exercise, to play with our families, or to dive into a new project that we've wanted to get to for years. We'll not only see things differently, but we'll feel and taste things differently. And the new experiences are ones we won't want to give back. This is an approach to eating that empowers.
My mission is to help us all incorporate more good stuff into our diets, because some plants in the mix is better than no plants in the mix. I'm not here to judge. I'm here to share tools and ideas that can help us all build our happiest, healthiest lives sooner than later. I'm a guide. A copilot. A head cheerleader for Team Plant-Inspired.
The catalyst for a plant-inspired diet is different for everyone. You may have picked up this book because you're frustrated with digestive issues and the lack of answers coming from your doctor. Maybe you have a respected friend who shared a powerful article, nutritional study, or documentary with you.
Perhaps you've been a vegan for years now, but you're ready to say goodbye to gluten and processed vegan foods. Or maybe someone lovely served you my Almond Crunch Kale Chips recipe ->. No matter how you arrive at this door, you've no doubt heard about a plant-powerful benefit or three. And the best reason is the one that brought you here and put this book in your hands.
Let's Start with Being Disease-Free
A long, vibrant life free of ailments, pain, and disease is the kind we all want. And there's a growing body of evidence based on more than 40 years of scientific research that demonstrates a plant-powerful diet's effectiveness in reversing and preventing chronic diseases. But it's not just diabetes and heart disease that respond to a whole-foods, plant-rich diet. It may also help protect us from autoimmune diseases, depression, colds and flu, high cholesterol, hypertension, Alzheimer's, and bone, kidney, liver, eye, and brain diseases. That's a mouthful of badness you can avoid with the goodness of plant-inspired eating.
For several decades, genetics have been blamed for the likelihood that we'll contract a particular disease, but it's actually our diet and lifestyle that determines whether those genes are switched on. I have a pal who's father died of heart disease in his 40s, and his father's father also died of heart disease young — in his 40s. Naturally, this friend was concerned about his genes. Both Dad and Grandpa were meat-and-potatoes kind of men, so my buddy did some research and decided to lead a different lifestyle. He found an exercise routine that he enjoyed (not resented) and diet-wise, well, you may know where I'm going here: more plants, less processed. His family doctor is in a constant state of disbelief at how good his medical tests look compared to the other men in his family.
Just because we have a family history of illness doesn't mean that we have to go there, too. A change-up in the family eating patterns may just do the trick. There are foods that promote health and there are foods that diminish health — every bite you take is either going to add to your quality of life or diminish it. Keep that in mind when shopping, eating out, and planning meals. It's a simple guideline that can help tremendously.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "YumUniverse"
Copyright © 2014 HEATHER CROSBY.
Excerpted by permission of BenBella Books, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Brendan Brazier,
Plant-Powerful & Plant-Inspired,
Turning Down the Noise,
The YU Approach,
What YU Need,
New Adventure, New Outlook,
Plant-Powering Your Kitchen,
Shopping & Storage,
Prep, Cooking & Baking,
Let's Eat 3,
Breakfast & Brunch,
Sides & Small Plates,
Toppings, Spices & Sauces,
Soups, Stew & Chili,
Salads & Dressings,
Lunch & Dinner,
Spreads, Dips & Condiments,
Desserts & Treats,
Measurements & Conversions,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
My friend told me about YumUniverse the website, and I discovered the book and knew I had to check it out! I'm a gluten-free vegan, but I love how this book isn't about one particular way of eating, but about how to just incorporate a healthy lifestyle with lots of whole foods. It's not about eating meat or not although the vegan recipes are perfect for how I've chosen to eat. I saw some reviews where people were disappointed about the lack of recipes (there are lots, trust me) so if you're just expecting recipes from page one to the end you might feel a little disappointed. It's really a book about incorporating a whole, healthy lifestyle and giving you practical tools to do it with plenty of recipes and tips to get you started! (Heather is a great writer too and you'll feel encouraged, not discouraged!). The first part of book she shares her own story, and there are tips and information and concepts about health in the first part that she makes super easy to understand. I'm learning tons and I recommend this book!
Beautiful book to add to any cookbook collection. It is a plant strong guide that will lead you to a healthy lifestyle. For anyone new to our lifestyle, it's a great place to start. If you are a long time vegetarian/vegan it's a great refresher to keep you on track. Lots of great recipes.To reclaim our health we must get back to whole foods, a clean simple diet plant based and unprocessed. Highly recommended.
I was blown away by this book! You don't have to be a health nut or a foodie to easily incorporate plant-based, gluten-free foods into your life. YU just have to start. YUMUNIVERSE by Heather Crosby is an amazing, inspirational step-by-step guide to making positive changes in your existing routine. It allows you to take baby steps towards a delicious plant-based, allergy-friendly diet and includes more than 150 recipes that are scrumptious and easy to prepare! Don't expect a guilt trip! Heather is very non-judgmental and isn't interested in labeling people by what they eat. She simply advocates eating more plants and whole foods, and encourages the reader to take what they want from the book. YUMUNIVERSE is so much more than a cookbook! It's a road guide to health.
Take me she whispered