Chef Fran Costigan

The Abundance Diet by Somer McCowan

The Abundance Diet by Somer McCowan

The press release for the Abundance Diet states, “This is a groundbreaking cookbook and diet plan for anyone who wants to take control of their health through the power of plant-based foods.” When I read through the book, I felt, well, it is plant-based, but this is a cookbook for anyone who likes good food. After reading the forward by Dr. Neal Barnard, M.D., I started at the beginning with Part 1. Somer shares her personal journey with us, and discusses food addictions before telling readers how to reinvent their kitchens. The layout of the book makes sense to me and the full color photos are plentiful and appealing.

The Abundance Diet is a cookbook and diet plan to manage your weight and eat abundantly with plant-based whole foods. Somer McCowan’s 28-Day Diet Plan includes over 100 delicious recipes (all gluten-free) and is customizable to suit individual tastes. These delicious, nutrient-packed recipes to enjoy on your weight-loss and health journey include:

  • Cheesy Cauliflower and Potato Bake
  • Homestyle Mexican Casserole
  • Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Lasagna
  • Bananas Foster Pancakes
  • Cheesy-Smoky-Spicy Black Bean Soup
  • Blueberry Peach Tart with Apricot Crumble
  • Many more…

Somer, whose blog is, reversed severe ulcerative colitis through her plant-based diet. Many who have tried her plan lost weight quickly and safely while feeling full and eating an abundance of whole plant-based foods. Without counting calories, Somer assures us that you can dramatically change your overall health, eliminate bad cholesterol, take control of your blood pressure, and shrink your waistline. The Abundance Diet also shows you how to incorporate exercise, regardless of your fitness level.


Apple Pie Green Smoothie from The Abundance Diet by Somer McCowan

Apple Pie Green Smoothie

This smoothie is surprisingly reminiscent of apple pie. It is really delicious and I think you’ll find it one of your fast favorites. The fiber from the apples also keeps your stomach full for a long time, so this is a favorite smoothie of mine to take out and about when I’m running errands all morning and need something to tide me over until I get home. (Recipe from The Abundance Diet, © 2015 by Somer McCowan. Photo by Ann Oliverio. Used by permission from Vegan Heritage Press LLC.)


  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups packed organic baby spinach
  • 1 medium banana
  • 2 small apples, cored and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon organic apple butter or 1 date, pitted and snipped into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups ice cubes
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed, chia seed, or hemp seed (optional)
  • Liquid stevia, to taste (optional)


In a blender, combine the water, spinach, banana, apples, apple butter, cinnamon, ice, and flaxseed, if using. Blend the mixture until completely smooth, creamy, and well combined, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the liquid stevia, if using, and pulse to incorporate.

Makes 1 serving (about 1 quart)


Recipe from The Abundance Diet, © 2015 by Somer McCowan. Photo by Ann Oliverio. Used by permission from Vegan Heritage Press LLC.


I have a copy of The Abundance Diet for one lucky reader this week. U.S. residents only, please. Follow the instructions below to enter. Contest ends at midnight eastern time on August 30, 2015. Good luck!


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Chocolate, Date, and Coconut Chia Pudding

Chocolate Date and Coconut Chia Pudding from Vegan Chocolate by Fran Costigan

No Chia Pet jokes here, friends, just the facts about a healthy chocolate breakfast or anytime pudding. If you like a thinner pudding, add more nondairy milk. If you like a sweeter pudding, add more maple syrup. After eating 2 to 3 gelatos a day in Italy for the last few weeks, I turned to this recipe to help me transition back to more normal eating. I hope you will enjoy this simple to make pudding too. Even if you haven’t liked the consistency of chia puddings before, I hope you will try this one. Don’t skip the stirring, waiting, stirring steps. It where the magic happens.

Chocolate, Date, and Coconut Chia Pudding

Makes 3 to 4 servings


  • 2 ounces / 60 grams pitted Medjool dates (about 4 large) or an equal amount of another variety of date
  • 1/3 cup / 80 ml very hot water
  • 1 1/4 cups / 300 ml almond milk or coconut milk beverage, divided
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon / 26 grams dried shredded coconut, divided, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons / 12 grams Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons / 45 ml pure maple syrup, Grade B or dark amber
  • 1/4 cup / 40 grams chia seeds, white or black


  1. Put the dates in a small bowl. Pour the water over the dates and set aside for 15 minutes or until very soft.
  2. While the dates soak, purée 1/2 cup / 120 ml of the milk, 3 tablespoons of the coconut, the cocoa powder, and the salt in a blender. Add the remaining milk and the maple syrup and blend for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the dates and any soaking liquid and blend until mostly puréed (some small pieces of dates are fine).
  4. Pour the mixture into a 2-cup measure. Add enough additional milk to equal 2 cups / 480 ml, if necessary.
  5. Mix the chia seeds and the remaining 2 tablespoons of the coconut in a medium bowl.
  6. Pour the liquid ingredients over the chia and coconut and whisk vigorously. Repeat twice at 5-minute intervals. Wait 10 minutes and whisk again.
  7. Refrigerate the pudding for at least 6 hours or up to 2 days ahead. Whisk a few times, when you think of it, to prevent clumps of chia in the pudding.


Whisk the pudding and serve in small bowls sprinkled with toasted coconut.


The pudding can be refrigerated in a covered container for up to two days. Whisk before serving.

The photo by Annie Oliverio shows this pudding dressed up with cream. I’ve done the same by layering the pudding with the Cashew Cream in Vegan Chocolate. You could make the pudding even more of a serious dessert by drizzling some chocolate sauce over the top too. What do you think?


Recipe reprinted with permission from Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, by Fran Costigan, (Running Press 2013). Photos by Annie Oliverio.



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Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen

Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen by Richa HingleVegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen is the ultimate plant-based Indian cookbook from Richa Hingle. From delicious dals to rich curries, flat breads, savory breakfasts, snacks, and much more, Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen brings you Richa’s collection of plant-based Indian recipes inspired by regional cuisines, Indian culture, local foods, and proven methods.

Whether you want to enjoy Indian cooking, try some new spices, or add more protein to your meals using legumes and lentils, Vegan Richa has got it covered. You’ll explore some well-known and new Indian flavors that are easy to make in your own kitchen. Learn the secrets of eclectic Indian taste and textures, and discover meals in which pulses and vegetables are the stars of the dish.

The recipes have been designed to simplify complex procedures, and Richa’s workflow tips incorporate modern appliances and techniques from other cuisines to reduce cooking times. Replacement spices are indicated wherever possible, and Richa also provides alternatives and variations that allow people to be playful and creative with the spices called for in the recipes.

I absolutely flipped over this book. Truth be told, I don’t eat much Indian food. I have a ‘delicate’ palate– read I don’t like spicy food, or oily food. These recipes are nuanced and I just wanted to make everything!


Roasted Cauliflower and Radish with Mustard, Nigella, and Fennel Seeds from Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen by Richa Hingle

Roasted Cauliflower and Radish with Mustard, Nigella, and Fennel Seeds

Prep: 20 minutes | Active: 10 minutes | Inactive: 20 minutes | Serves 4

This recipe is super-easy and addictive. Fennel and nigella seeds give the vegetables an Indian pickle flavor profile. Roasted cauliflower is always a hit, and here you can try roasted radish as well. I like to use baby red radishes because they make the dish look so colorful. Serve this with Northeastern dals such as odia dal or cholar dal, and with spicy curries that use fennel seeds. ()


  • 4 cups cauliflower florets
  • 15 to 18 small red radishes, sliced (2 to 3 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon safflower or other neutral oil
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice, for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place the cauliflower and sliced radish in a large bowl. Add the oil and rub lightly to coat.
  2. Pulse the fennel, mustard, nigella seeds, pepper flakes and salt to a coarse mixture in a spice grinder or blender. Add them to the vegetables and toss well. Spread the vegetables on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 25 minutes or until the cauliflower is golden and tender to your preference.
  4. Garnish liberally with cilantro and lemon juice before serving.

Recipe from Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen  Copyright © 2015 by Richa Hingle. Used by permission Vegan Heritage Press, LLC.


I have a copy of Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen for one lucky reader this week. U.S. residents only, please. Follow the instructions below to enter. Contest ends at midnight eastern time on August 20, 2015. Good luck!

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