When my husband was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, I looked to the Internet and library books to teach me about healthy nutrition and lifestyle. Dreena’s site was one of the first sites I discovered and loved reading (and still do) regularly. Although she does not talk about cancer prevention and treatment on her site, I wanted to learn how to incorporate more plants into my family’s diet and Dreena helped me immensely in my journey.
Dreena and her family (husband and 3 daughters) have been enjoying a plant-based diet for many years. Dreena is the creator of Plant Powered Kitchen, a kid-oriented site where she shares many delicious kid-friendly vegan recipes, nutritional tips, and talks about raising her daughters on a plant-based diet. Dreena wrote five plant-based cookbooks so far and I am sure there are many more to come.
Dreena’s fifth cookbook, “Plant-Powered Families” has over whole-foods 100 recipes, all kid-tested and approved. Each recipe has a page-size color photo. I love cookbooks with photos for each of their recipes! The book also includes a vegan pantry list, meal plans, school and lunchbox solutions, picky eater tips, and many more.
As you probably know if you have been reading my blog for a while, my family and I are not vegans, but we include many fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains in our diet. From talking to my clients and to my friends, I know that most families try to include more vegetables in their children’s diets. Keeping Dreena’s “Plant-Powered Families” cookbook in your kitchen, and having fun choosing and making her recipes with your children, will give you many yummy plant-based alternatives to foods that your child is probably currently eating. You’ll also discover new delicious recipes that I am sure you’ll add to your regular recipe rotation.
As my son has gluten and dairy sensitivities, I am happy to say that I had no problem finding many recipes from Dreena’s cookbook that my son was able to eat as all of the recipes are dairy-free and most of them are gluten-free.
Here are some of the recipes we made and LOVED: Ultimate Teriyaki Stir-Fry, Protein Power Balls, Chickpea ‘N Rice Soup, and Artichoke Spinach Dip. Dreena was very kind to allow me to share the Ultimate Teriyaki Stir-Fry recipe with you. I hope you will enjoy it as much as we do and include it in your meal rotation.
- 1½ tablespoons arrowroot powder
- 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh ginger
- 3–4 medium cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup water
- ⅓ cup tamari or coconut aminos
- 3½ tablespoons pure maple syrup
- ½-1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
- 4–6 teaspoons water, divided
- 1 cup sliced carrot (in discs or half-moons)
- 1–2 pinches sea salt
- 1 cup sliced zucchini or green beans cut into bite-size pieces
- 4–5 cups broccoli florets
- 1½ cups red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, cored, seeded, and sliced (1 medium-large)
- ¾–1 cup cubed baked tofu or marinated tempeh (optional; see note)
- ½-¾ cup roughly chopped or crushed raw cashews
- Using a blender or immersion blender, puree all the ingredients for the sauce.
- In a sauté pan over high heat, add 2–3 teaspoons of the water, carrot, and sea salt. Reduce heat to medium-high, cover, and let the carrot steam for a few minutes. Remove the cover, return heat to high, and add the zucchini. Toss through to let sear slightly, then add remaining 2–3 teaspoons water, broccoli, and bell pepper. Toss through, cover, reduce heat slightly, and cook for 2–3 minutes, just until broccoli turns bright green (the veggies will continue to cook in sauce, so do not overcook).
- Add the teriyaki sauce to the vegetable mixture, and tofu or tempeh, if using. Toss to coat, and let the sauce come to a slow boil over medium-high heat. Once the sauce has reached a slow boil and thickened, add the cashews and toss to combine. Remove the pan from the heat and serve immediately over brown rice, quinoa, or soba noodles.
- My original recipe included a step to cook tofu. To save time, I now use prebaked tofu or Simplest Marinated Baked Tofu (page 78) that I have prepared ahead of time.
Here are Dreena’s answers to my questions. Interspersed with the questions and answers you will find photos of some of her delicious recipes.
1. Dreena, tell us a bit about yourself. Who were you at the beginning when you started your blog and where are now in your health and nutrition journey, as a mother, wife, and author?
I’ve been vegan about 20 years. I grew up eating a very standard diet, and had quite a love for junk food. When I was in my early twenties, I started to educate myself about our dietary choices. During university, I did not feel how I thought I should feel at that time in my life. My energy was low, I felt very sluggish and drained after eating, my digestion was slow, and I had pain in my knees and also experienced gout. I read Fit For Life and Diet For a New America, and the references to the health implications of the standard diet really resonated with me. Over time, I read more, and connected to the ethical side of eating a plant-based diet. My husband and I were just married, and we made the transition together. This was before vegan was hip, and so there were not many resources available in the way of cookbooks, or even online support. So, I began writing my own recipes and eventually wrote my first cookbook. After that book was released, our first daughter was born. As our family grew, so did my love for writing recipes and helping others. I began blogging, and continued my cookbook journey.
2. “Plant-powered families” is your fifth cookbook. What were your goals when you decided to write it?
I really wanted to show families that it’s not just “safe” to eat a vegan diet, but that it’s a beautiful, abundant, healthy, and compassionate choice. I also wanted to show folks that anyone can enjoy these recipes. Even if you don’t consider yourself completely plant-based, these are healthy, easy, delicious foods that any family – or busy person – will enjoy. Finally, I wanted to share my experiences as a mother with three kiddos (“weegans”)! There are chapters covering picky eaters, packing school lunches, birthday parties, and nutritional FAQs. I felt the timing was right for this book. Veganism is on the rise, and yet there hasn’t been a lot to help families feel comfortable with this lifestyle.
Best Banana Bread (from “Plant-Powered Families”)
3. How had your creative process developed for “Plant-powered families” compared with your previous cookbooks?
It’s like the saying “necessity is the mother of invention”. My cooking has evolved out of sheer necessity with the busy nature of being a mom and having three kids. So, I am inspired to create delicious food with fewer steps and with wholesome ingredients that most of us have – or can easily find in stores.
4. Please share three of your family’s favorite recipes from “Plant-powered families” with us.
Wow. That’s hard. A few top picks are the “Best Banana Bread”, “Artichoke Spinach Dip”, and “Crazy Brownies with Chocolate Ganache”.
Artichoke Spinach Dip (from “Plant-Powered Families”)
5. Please share three recipes from your site that your children could not live without.
Now that one’s a little easier! Our girls love these recipes and I make them weekly:
Hummus (there are a number of recipes here, the basic Creamy Hummus is one of their faves)
6. What are the three ingredients you always have in your fridge and/or pantry?
Beans and lentils, rolled oats, and plenty of fresh fruit and greens.
7. Do you have any favorite foods that you could eat daily without getting tired of them?
For sure. Personally, I’m a bit of a creature of habit. I have a green smoothie every morning and never tire of it! Here are my tips for green smoothies taste fabulous.
Crazy Brownies (with Chocolate Ganache) (from “Plant-Powered Families“)
8. Do you have any tips on how to make healthy meals while staying on budget?
Focus on what I call the “vegan basics”. Foods like whole grains, beans, potatoes, vegetables, and fruits, are pretty affordable. Nuts and seeds can be more expensive, but we tend to use those in lesser amounts anyhow. It’s the convenience foods and vegan substitutes that add up quickly on our grocery bill. We use them too at times, it’s fine to include them in our meals at times. Generally, though, our meals are more nutritious and less expensive when we use more of the basic whole foods.
9. Sometimes life gets in the way and we eat less healthy than we would like to for a while. What do you do to get back on track?
I love to incorporate more leafy greens in my diet, through smoothies, salads, and other dishes. Also, sometimes a big bowl of hot grains or plate of potatoes is immensely satisfying with a simple dressing or seasoning, and we are reminded how good simple food is once again!
10. What makes you happy that not many people know about?
Simple quiet times. I enjoy being at home with simple comforts. And a bowl of vegan ice cream. 🙂
Teriyaki Stir-Fry (from “Plant-Powered Families”)
11. What do the words “Plant-powered families” mean to you?
Families that enjoy healthy, compassionate foods together, and it’s simply their “normal”.
Thank you, Dreena, for your balanced approach to plant-based foods and for sharing delicious and kid-friendly recipes with us!
As I can’t help myself since the outcome was so delicious, here is a link to a cookbook recipe that Dreena shared on her site. I made these Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Cookies and they were a hit in my family!
This giveaway is open to readers residing in Canada and USA. Skill testing question required. No purchase necessary.
There are the 3 ways to enter this giveaway for one copy of Dreena’s cookbook “Plant-Powered Families”.
You can receive up to 3 entries:
- Subscribe to the Orgali blog by email. You can see the link to subscribe (green rectangle) on the right side on this page.
- Mention this giveaway on your Facebook page and let me know you did this in the comments section.
- Let me know in the comments section what is your family’s favourite plant-based recipe.
The giveaway begins on Tuesday September 22nd and closes on Tuesday, October 6th, at 8 pm Mountain Time.
A winner will be chosen using a random number generator and announced on the blog on Wednesday, October 7th. The odds of winning depend on the number of entries received.
I will contact the winner by email and then I will post the result on the blog. The winner will have forty-eight hours to respond. If no response is received within forty-eight hours, another winner will be chosen.
The giveaway is now closed. Michelle Ferrari-Johnson is the winner.