February 10, 2014


Tami Bivens, From Plant to Plate: Turning fresh, simple food into a delicious habit (Auburn, Calif.: Life and Health Network, 2013), 288 pages, $19.90 on www.amazon.com, reviewed by Chantal J. Klingbeil, associate director, Ellen G. White Estate.

I love cookbooks. Not that I’m a great cook—I just like looking at the creative process, and occasionally I actually try a recipe. In the case of Tami Bivens’ book it was different. I actually used the cookbook and have tried out more recipes than from any of my large collection. Why? The recipes are easy, and unlike some “healthy” recipes, the end product looks good and tastes good. In fact, this book is not just about recipes—it’s about health; and health is much more than diet.

Bivens, a registered dietitian, begins with a brief (research-based) introduction to the impact of air, water, sun, exercise, rest, temperance, and trust on our overall health. She then goes on to trace the growth of vegetarianism, and particularly veganism, and provides a Bible-based foundation for healthy lifestyle choices. As she puts it: “A plant-based diet is about being as compassionate, as conscientious, and as healthy as possible. It is so much more than a diet. It’s a lifestyle” (p. 27).30 1 1

Bivens also helps to make sense of the labels on our food in an easy reference section (pp. 28-33). Perhaps, like me, you have been mystified by the difference between “enriched” and “fortified” on the food labels. And what is the difference between the number of calories on a product and the fat content? All in all, a very practical and helpful section concluding part 1 of the volume.

Part 2 introduces the reader to the most commonly used foods in the recipe section. From Plant to Plate does not require you to stock up on unfamiliar products that can be bought only at pricey health stores. Most of the foods are readily available at any grocery store. Finally, a two-page easy guide to making plant-based substitutions for your favorite recipes is also included.

Part 3 is where you get to the exciting part—the deliciously illustrated recipes. Life is busy, and too often we don’t eat well because there just doesn’t seem to be the time to cook something elaborate. Most of us come home so mentally drained that we can’t focus on preparing a well-balanced dinner. This is where the included 21-day meal planner can be a real lifesaver.

At this point, you could just go ahead and use the book as a standard recipe book, but there is something unique. Each recipe includes a QR code that allows you to watch a professionally filmed video cooking presentation on your smartphone or tablet. You can simply scan the QR code and then use the video like an animated easy-to-follow recipe.

More than 100 recipes are divided into breakfasts, entrées, salads, soups, sides, sweets, sauces, dips, and dressings. The book finishes off with a handy index.

There is one thing I would like to be different: a spiral binding on the book would improve the usefulness of the volume quite a bit, but the Raw German Chocolate Cheesecake made up for any inconvenience—at least in my case.

The book can be purchased only online at Amazon (just search for Tami Bivens or the book title), another helpful “modern convenience.” All in all, my family and I loved the simple, tasty, and easily reproducible recipes in From Plant to Plate. This volume is a winner in the kitchen!