This month, our executive director Pam Bryan explored Minimalist Baker, a food blog that is about much more than just baking. It is dedicated to simple cooking; all recipes take ten ingredients or less, one bowl or one pot, or under 30 minutes to prepare. The site is created by Dana and John Shultz and focuses on vegan-friendly recipes, with lots of plant-based ingredients and gluten-free choices.
Don’t be misled by the title of the blog. Minimalist Baker does offer tempting treats such as “The World’s Easiest Cinnamon Rolls”, but she doesn’t stop there. You’ll also find a wide variety of recipes from breakfast to snacks, entrees to side dishes and even beverages. Dana is not only a talented cook but an awesome photographer. This really shows in the high quality food photos.
I was drawn to the Minimalist Baker by the promise of simple, fast and tasty vegan recipes and was not disappointed by the variety and flavours. Some recipes go over ten ingredients, but are still quick and easy. The time required to complete them is clearly indicated, and the extra ingredients are often spices. Meals go from boring to delicious and are still on the table in under 30 minutes!
And now, dear reader, here is the big reason I’ve fallen completely head over heels in love with the Minimalist Baker. As someone relatively new to a plant-based diet, I often feel confounded in the kitchen by vague recipes and cookbooks that assume a higher level of knowledge. However, the Minimalist Baker provides a ridiculously helpful how-to section that has opened up a whole new world of opportunities to me. The section provides instructions for all those things no one ever told me and includes how-to, tips, photographs and videos. Dana has a friendly, down-to-earth style that resonated with me. It feels as though I am learning new tricks in the kitchen with my best friend. What used to feel intimidating and overwhelming now feels not just possible but fun and exciting.
The how-tos include a range of esoteric vegan cooking skills, such as how to make a flax egg, vegan parmesan cheese, coconut bacon, cauliflower rice, and aquafaba meringue substitute (from chickpea liquid!).
After I transitioned from drooling over photographs to testing in the kitchen, I started off simple with the “Mango Ginger Kale Green Smoothie”: a recipe that took five minutes total and five ingredients. Dana gives credit to Jamba Juice for the inspiration. The result is tart and sweet and very refreshing, thanks to the addition of lemon and peaches to the title ingredients. I stepped it up a notch further and added three tablespoons of hemp hearts for protein and Omega fats, and it really felt like a whole, delicious and refreshing meal.
Next up in my kitchen will be “Simple Chickpea Bolognese”, a robust, satisfying entree without meat, cheese or noodles. The real reason for making it, though, is to have an excuse for a mouth-watering dessert using the aquafaba made from the chickpea liquid. Options include ”1 Bowl Ginger Cookies”, “Vegan Pumpkin Roll”, and “30-minute Baked Vegan Chocolate Donuts”. Care to join me?
Now, what about the food photography? This is where we get to the “so much more” part of the Minimalist Baker. The site is run by Dana, the recipe developer and food photographer, and her husband John who handles all-things technical, design and branding. Between them they offer two sections most food blogs don’t have, and which could be whole websites unto themselves: extensive blogging resources and food photography tips.
Once you are hooked on Minimalist Baker you can get more inspiration from their two books, Minimalist Baker Everyday Cooking, 101 Plant-Based, Mostly Gluten-Free, Easy and Delicious Recipes, available in print, and 31 Meals, A Month of Healthy Simple Dinners in digital. I like the digital for all the extra it provides, such as shopping lists and recipes coordinated so no ingredients are wasted (like aquafaba). With truly tasty and different recipes and tools, Dana helps make dinner at home quick, tasty, fun, exciting, and cheaper than eating out.
Pam Bryan is the Executive Director of Parvati Magazine, and a business professional living in Edmonton, Canada. She volunteers with Parvati.org and is on the Board of Directors for the Tour of Alberta professional cycling race. In her spare time she is learning how to container garden on her balcony, and hopes for a bumper crop of carrots this year.