Vegan Lunch Box – By Jennifer McCann
Please Note: This review is based upon the first edition, but we assume the second is even better!
By Alisa Fleming, www.GoDairyFree.org – Jennifer McCann is amazing! No more needs to be said, but for the sake of disbelievers I will continue. Chef Extraordinaire may be the ultimate compliment for some cookbook authors, but few can claim the title of “Creative Super-Mom.” Jennifer’s playful imagination is well matched by her overall talent in the kitchen, compassionate vegan lifestyle, and evident love for her now school-aged son.
Jennifer made her worldwide debut as the author of the blog, Vegan Lunch Box, where she memorializes the various lunches she sends to school with her son. Her following has grown exponentially in just over a year with vegans and omnivores alike. As one of her loyal subjects, I was elated to see this book come to fruition so quickly. Thus far, I have not been disappointed.
Vegan Lunch Box, the book, is fun and witty. It is enjoyable to read, not something I would usually say about a cookbook. Jennifer includes anecdotes, cooking tips, healthful hints, and product suggestions (including her favorite brand of lunch box, of course!).
Though the pictures of Jennifer’s lunch box menus are beautiful, creative, and eye-catching, the recipes are relatively simple. Most are from scratch, but she does not hesitate to use and make suggestions of shortcuts. Canned beans are typically recommended over dried; while store bought cookies, vegan sausage, dairy-free cream cheese, and other natural foods are used when it is more practical.
I also discovered that the recipes in this cookbook are kid-friendly AND husband-friendly. I thought there was no way I would get my husband to eat a pita pocket, let alone one without any meat filling. In fact, I almost didn’t serve him the Chickpea Salad Pita (with Cheezy Roasted Chickpeas) that I was preparing for my own vegan lunch box. However, his desire to not lift a finger prompted him to say, “I’ll try whatever you’re making.” He loved it! I was in shock. Armed with a freshly opened bag of whole-wheat pita, I decided to try the Pita Sandwich with Flaxy Hummus the next day. It was equally delicious, yet uncomplicated.
The chapters are themed, with “menus” throughout. This makes for a good read and lots of inspiration, though I found it a bit difficult for referencing or for seeking out recipes to use what I have on hand. However, the author has added a handy food allergy index that notes which recipes are also nut-free, soy-free, gluten-free, or wheat-free (all recipes are dairy, egg, honey, and meat free).
Whenever I am in a lunchtime rut, this will certainly be my go to book. This week, I am looking forward to trialing the “Eat Your Oatmeal” Pancakes and the Lunch Box Fondue. So many fun recipes, so little time!
Vegan Lunch Box is available from: