Become a vegan diva

Become a vegan diva

"The Vegan Divas Cookbook: Delicious Desserts, Plates, and Treats from the Famed New York City Bakery" by Fernanda Capobianco (Harper Wave, $27.99).

If you don't want to be an overweight diva by the time the holidays are over in a few months, then it might be in your best interests to become a vegan diva, instead.

A vegan diva? Isn't that an oxymoron?

Not according to Fernanda Capobianco, the founder of Vegan Divas Bakery in New York City, who has munched on at least as many pieces of the spicy carrot cake with creamy frosting she created as she has lone carrots.

Her book is stuffed with sweets and treats, and she claims every vegan should follow suit.

"Despite the common notion that vegans have a highly restricted diet, the truth is that there are a wide variety of food options included in a plant-based diet," writes the slim Brazilian, who had a weight problem as a meat-eating child and watched beloved relatives die of diet-related illnesses.

"You might be thinking, 'How can I serve vegan food to non-vegans?' she continued. "It's easy — just serve food that tastes good, and people will love it. It's a great way to show your friends that being vegan doesn't necessarily mean that you only eat tofu, and that shifting to a plant-based diet is not only a smart decision, but a delicious one."

To whet their appetites, you might first just show your family and friends Capobianco's color-photograph-filled delicacy of a read. After flipping through it, they'll probably be begging for some samples, like chocolate pudding cake, coconut-lime ice cream and chocolate-hazelnut biscotti.

What's most fulfilling are the healthy habits cooks will create along the way, like using sucanat, unsweetened applesauce and unsweetened coconut — as well as many other innovative choices — at times in place of refined sugar.

Animal product replacements, like tofu and vegan butter, get the royal treatment and should. When you add tofu to a "cheesecake" or pudding, for instance, it creates a finished product more velvety than the original that soaks up all the flavors around it. Since such products are flavorless on their own, most people would never know they are being used in their lower-cholesterol, lower-calorie dish.

Another benefit: Most of the ingredients have become household names in recent years and, therefore, are exceptionally easy both to find in major supermarket chains and to use.

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