This new cookbook by Blanche McCord, formerly head chef at the Expanding Light Guest Retreat, is an excellent introduction to vegetarianism in general. Vegetarian Cooking for Starters answers all the common questions about vegetarian eating: what to eat, different types of vegetarianism (dairy and non-dairy, for example), and the spiritual reasons for not eating meat or animal products.

Included also are easy-to-follow guidelines for successful cooking, healthy diet, as well as tips on shopping for food and utensils.

Diksha has selected from her extensive repertoire of outstanding recipes dishes that are not only delicious and imaginative, but also healthy and easy-to-prepare. Rich in taste and texture, these dishes will please the most discriminating gourmets.

Crispy Herbed Tofu

This wonderfully textured tofu can be served as a snack, mixed with salad, or as a main dish for lunch and dinner.

Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves: 2-3

Drain and wrap in a paper towel to absorb excess water:

1 lb. firm tofu

Cut tofu into 1 inch cubes
Sauté  in a pan, on medium-high heat for 5 minutes:

2 tablespoons safflower oil
tofu cubes

1 teaspoon garlic powder, sprinkled on top
Sprinkle on tofu pieces and stir:

1 teaspoon dried thyme (optional)
1 ½ tablespoons nutritional yeast

Sauté, stirring frequently, until tofu pieces are golden and crisp on the outside, about 10-15 minutes. Turn heat off and add:

1 ½ tablespoons tamari or Bragg (or to taste)
squeeze of fresh lemon juice (optional)

Spiritualize Your Relationship with Food

  • Eat only when you are hungry. Learn to distinguish between true hunger and trying to fill a void caused by emotional upset, stress, or boredom.
  • Don’t overeat. When you finish a meal you should feel comfortable, and as if you still have room in your stomach.
  • Avoid eating late at night. Falling asleep shortly after easting causes food to lie in the stomach without being properly digested.
  • When you eat too much, or too little, or too quickly, accept it with humor and understanding. Resolve to keep trying to improve, and move forward.
  • Be creative, patient with yourself, and enjoy the process of transforming your diet.
  • Remember that food is not just a bunch of nutrients; it’s part of Spirit.
—From Vegetarian Cooking for Starters. Blanche McCord, a Lightbearer and Ananda Village resident, is the author of The Expanding Light Cookbook and teaches at The Expanding Light guest retreat. To order Vegetarian Cooking for Starters and The Intimate Vegetarian, call 800-424-1055 or e-mail

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