laurels kitchen

Laurel’s Kitchen made its debut in 1976 as a hand-bound publication from three dedicated foodies who were as concerned about the health of their patrons as the health of the planet. The diet they support protects against cancer, diabetes, diverticulitis, obesity, tooth decay, and osteoporosis. It does not harm animals, birds, or fish. And it focuses on whole, unprocessed foods.

By 1986, the book had made its way into a publishing house with support by a broad network of enthusiasts. That edition includes a gaggle of scientific data on nutrition, detailed information on the ingredients (e.g., vegetables, grains, legumes) and how they’re prepared, and some delightful essays on embracing a lifestyle that extols the value and sacredness of kitchen work.

The recipes come from daily living. We sampled about a quarter of them, largely in deference to my dairy and gluten sensitivities. We found them to be less complex than ones we sampled in other cookbooks, but that’s a good thing if you’re a cook who wants to master the basics. If you work through this cookbook systematically, you’ll learn to prepare delicious foods without having to refer to a collection of recipes.

The food guidelines that underscore all of their recipes include:

  • Reduce or eliminate meat, processed foods, and fried foods. Focus on whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits.
  • Explore ways to flavor food without fat: parsley, lemon juice, exotic vinegars, citrus peel, yogurt, cottage cheese, shoyu, herbs, horseradish, spices. When planning dinner, allow for 2 teaspoons of oil or equivalent per person maximum.
  • Choose lower-fat milk products, and substitute them for higher fat ones in cooking.
  • Make your own salad dressings. (It’s not hard!) Commercial options are loaded with fat and chemicals.
  • Reinvent sandwiches by using bean and pea spreads instead of mayonnaise, cheese, and nut butters. They’re delicious with fresh or grilled vegetables.
  • When planning a meal, aim for balance. If you want to serve a rich dish, make the rest of the items on the menu especially low in fat.

Sandwiches have been the mainstay of American lunches for as long as I can remember. However, they tend to carry a lot of calories in excess fat (butter, mayonnaise, cheese) and marginally nutritious breads. Laurel and friends opt for bean spreads and fresh vegetables. For the sake of convenience, I simply used crackers and celery sticks.

Soy Spread with Crackers
Soy Spread with Crackers
Garbanzo Spread on Celery
Garbanzo Spread on Celery
Refrito Spread
Refrito Spread
Soy Pate with Crackers
Soy Pate with Crackers
Tempeh Bars
Tempeh Bars
Avocado Spread with Crackers
Avocado Spread with Crackers

I love eating salads but rarely get around to making them. So I’m grateful when my romp through a cookbook affords the opportunity to experiment with some new recipes. The clear winner was the Disappearing Carrot Salad, a delicious concoction of carrots, apples, currants, and walnuts with a ginger-citrus dressing.

Astonishing Salad
Astonishing Salad
Greek Salad
Greek Salad
Ceci Salad
Ceci Salad
Mexican Salad Bowl
Mexican Salad Bowl
California Tossed Salad
California Tossed Salad
Spinach and Mushroom Salad
Spinach and Mushroom Salad
Roasted Red Peppers
Roasted Red Peppers
Slaw Chez Nous
Slaw Chez Nous
Red Rogue's Delight
Red Rogue’s Delight
Carrot Salad
Carrot Salad
Disappearing Carrot Salad
Disappearing Carrot Salad
Winter Salad
Winter Salad

I’ve continued my love affair with soups. They’ve moved from a Fall/Winter lunchtime favorite to a year-round thing. Favorites from this cookbook include Whole Beet Borscht, Minestrone, and Fresh Corn & Tomato Soup.

P.S. I’d serve Early Autumn Fruit Soup as a refreshing summer meal starter!

Whole Beet Borscht
Whole Beet Borscht
Minestrone
Minestrone
Old Favorite Green Soup
Old Favorite Green Soup
New Favorite Green Soup
New Favorite Green Soup
Asparagus Soup
Asparagus Soup
Creamy Cauliflower Soup
Creamy Cauliflower Soup
Carrot Soup
Carrot Soup
Kale-Potato Soup
Kale-Potato Soup
Corn Chowder
Corn Chowder
Gingery Tomato Soup
Gingery Tomato Soup
Fresh Corn and Tomato Soup
Fresh Corn and Tomato Soup
Hearty Pea Soup
Hearty Pea Soup
Black Bean Soup
Black Bean Soup
Early Autumn Fruit Soup
Early Autumn Fruit Soup

“Soon after people become vegetarians, they are likely to make a marvelous discovery: vegetables.”

How true! If you’ve grown up on the Standard American Diet, vegetables were a condiment relegated to a tiny space on the outer edge of the plate. Now they’re front and center in meal planning. By way of introduction, Laurel’s Kitchen provides a lot of helpful information about vegetables in addition to some suggestions on how to prepare them.

Artichokes Tellicherry
Artichokes Tellicherry
Chinese Asparagus
Chinese Asparagus
Green Beans Hellenika
Green Beans Hellenika
Spicy Green Beans
Spicy Green Beans
Whole Golden Beets
Whole Golden Beets
King Cole Curry
King Cole Curry
Brussel Sprouts-Squash Casserole
Brussel Sprouts-Squash Casserole
Brussel Sprouts and Bell Peppers
Brussel Sprouts and Bell Peppers
Bubble and Squeak
Bubble and Squeak
Greek Cauliflower
Greek Cauliflower
Tomato Kale
Tomato Kale
Crumbly Greens
Crumbly Greens
Sesame-Glazed Parsnips
Sesame-Glazed Parsnips
Zucchini Provencal
Zucchini Provencal
Stuffed Acorn Squash
Stuffed Acorn Squash

As folks who eat a lot of grains and beans, we’re always open to new ways to prepare them. This cookbook did not disappoint. The rice and quinoa recipes were quite satisfying. We loved the Tomale Pie, and the Chili con Elote, Black Eyed Peas Virginia Style, and Boston Baked Beans were quite tasty and easy to prepare.

Confetti Quinoa
Confetti Quinoa
Spanish Rice
Spanish Rice
Teresa's Spanish Rice
Teresa’s Spanish Rice
Wild Rice
Wild Rice
Tempeh a la King
Tempeh a la King
Tempeh Cacciatore
Tempeh Cacciatore
Tempeh a l'Orange
Tempeh a l’Orange
Tomale Pie
Tomale Pie
Chili con Elote
Chili con Elote
Boston Baked Beans
Boston Baked Beans
Black-Eyed Peas Virginia Style
Black-Eyed Peas Virginia Style

We sampled a lot of tasty treats in the course of working our way through several cookbooks. Our waistlines have let us know that we’ve sampled enough! So, we opted to try just a few of the recipes in this cookbook. The winner by far was Diane’s Apple Crisp. It’s a “go to” recipes that we’ve made again and again (with a little extra topping.)

Baked Apple
Baked Apple
Diane's Apple Crisp
Diane’s Apple Crisp
Sunshine Bars
Sunshine Bars