I’ll admit that when I ordered The Vibrant Life cookbook by Amanda Haas, I thought I was ordering The Anti-Inflammation Cookbook which she also wrote. I was dealing with a neck injury and figured that learning some low inflammation recipes would expand my repertoire and help me heal.
Haas’s introduction, though, won me over.
Haas, the former culinary director for swoon-worthy cookware store Williams-Sonoma, talks about reaching the age of 45 and experiencing chronic fatigue along with other health complaints. She’s not advocating for turning back the clock – she says, “I love that age has provided me with a stronger sense of self, courage and compassion.” Instead, she talks about having people who showed up in her life and helped her redefine what aging looked like.
The Vibrant Life is Haas’s answer to wanting to resolve her health issues to feel great. It’s a wellness cookbook that includes recipes and lifestyle recommendations ranging from yoga and strength-training to acupuncture, cryotherapy and meditation.
I’m the same age as Haas and can relate to her call to live her best life.
The book is well designed and full of easy to follow, unfussy recipes and excellent photography. It’s moderate and balanced in terms of the diet presented. Although gluten-free, many of the recipes include meat, fish or dairy.
Because many of the ingredients for many recipes wouldn’t be found in a regular, well-stocked kitchen (e.g. tarragon, Marcona almonds, pistachios, sour cherries, fennel bulbs, adobo sauce, crème fraiche, King Trumpet mushrooms, golden raisins), this wouldn’t be my everyday go-to recipe book.
Although recipes like the chocolate ganache tart with grand marnier, tequila old-fashioneds, and roasted Moroccan chicken with cauliflower “couscous” sound delicious, I was, frankly, expecting more wholesome plant-based dishes from a wellness cookbook. Instead, there seem to be a disproportionate number of recipes in the “Land and Sea” and “Sweets, Treats and Cocktails” chapters.
I didn’t have some of the ingredients required on hand, so tried some of the simpler recipes, including:
- The drinks like maple-turmeric golden milk and coconut almond matcha, both made with almond milk
- Sophia’s toasted almond granola – a tasty recipe featuring dark chocolate, sour cherries, maples syrup and cardamom
- Wild rice, butternut squash salad with pistachios, cherries and mint
- Blistered curry cauliflower with mint, currants and toasted almonds
The shaved brussel sprout salad with roasted root vegetables and pomegranate seeds is next on my list.
The final word
I can see myself cooking some of the recipes for special occasions, but don’t imagine that this cookbook will make it into my regular rotation. For a wellness cookbook, too, I would have liked to be nudged further along with truly inspiring, downright healthy food.
This book would make a great gift for an omnivore, who enjoys making colourful, tasty, fresh food to entertain friends.
With Haas’s simple, but sincere wellness recommendations, it would also make sense for someone who has experienced some health challenges and is just starting out on a wellness path.
Thanks to Raincoast Books for sharing this cookbook!