I’m getting a little tired of the plant based meat substitute trends in cookbooks, which seems to still be going strong. Still, I picked up Plant-Powered Protein out of curiosity, and it’s actually got some interesting things in it. Two of the best parts is the review in an appendix of the nutritional properties of many plant-based meats that are becoming increasingly commercially common. It’s not a full nutrition label for everything, but it is a list of the major brands ,what they tend to rely on as the main sources of protein, and the products available. I also appreciated the review of plant based protein sources in the introduction. As in, an actual list of most of the common options and how much protein per serving. For example, almonds are slightly higher in protein than peanuts, barley surprisingly has more protein per serving than quinoa, and pumpkin seeds beat hemp, flax, chia, and sunflower. I appreciated the research and discussion of why sometimes the pre-made substitutes (like Beyond Meat, etc.) aren’t necessarily healthy (mostly to do with high levels of sodium).
The recipes also include options for most proteins; for example, with “Baked Spaghetti Pie” (most recipes lean towards American comfort), the “Plant Protein Options” are purchased plant-based beefy crumbles, vegan burger patties crumbled, or “1 recipe Walnut, Grain, and Mushroom Crumbles” (recipe referenced elsewhere in the book). There’s also a reliance of pre-made items like 1 jar marinara sauce; that’s not a bad thing, but also something to be mindful of if you’re really watching certain nutritional things (most pre-made sauces can be trouble with salt, sugar, etc.). Likewise, when your pantry staples list includes “simmer sauces” (which in its defense does refer you to another page for more info), the sheer variety that might fall under that category needs addressing because usually that kind of list is meant to help with using the book. So how do I know what kind of sauce to keep on hand if I’m going to sue this book? The intro isn’t that helpful, and it turns out very few recipes included in the book actually would require something like that. Sure that might be a handy convenience thing to have around, but why bring it up if it’s not really that relevant to using the cookbook?
There are two things that bugged me though. One is an inconsistency in the options. Most of the full meal recipes have them, but many of the sandwiches do not for example. Same for the taco and burger sections. Some salads do have the options, some don’t. There’s no real reason for the lack of options with “Thai-style Beefy Salad” not having options (there’s beef-based recipes that have them elsewhere in the book after all), but Cobb Salad does (both for the chicken and bacon elements). On a related note, thing number two that bothered me was the general lack of options for anything seafood based, which to me seems like the recipes that might need it most given that that’s the least commercially available option as of now. Several recipes ask for “plant-based tuna” or “shrimp”, but only one has non-premade options, and those are kind of hidden in a ‘Variations’ sidebar. I also happen to know that there are recipes for making facsimiles that aren’t that difficult or obscure because I’ve seen them in other books of this sort.