First, thanks everyone for your kind and wonderful comments recently. I am slowly working my way through replying to them.

I was given a Barnes and Noble gift card for Christmas (Thanks Paddy!) and Bookman and I ventured out to the Mall of America on Christmas Eve so I could spend it. I am not a fan of the monstrosity that is the Mall of America, but it houses the closest Barnes and Noble to my house. It is also one of the very few large places a person can go stroll around for a length of time in the winter without a coat while holding the naked hand of their sweetie. To the mall’s credit, they do a bang-up job with the Christmas decorations so there is some visual pleasure mixed in with the in-your-face consumerism.

What did I get at the bookstore? A new cookbook! Those of you who know that I only cook once a year for the Winter Solstice may find this hilarious. I am a person who doesn’t like to cook but who adores reading cookbooks. Thankfully Bookman likes to cook and he doesn’t mind me telling him what to make. How lucky am I?

The cookbook I got is No Meat Athlete by Matt Fitzgerald. He is a plant-based triathlete (did you know plant-based and vegan are not the same thing even though the food is vegan? That is something for a post another day) and he wrote a memoir about his transition from a confirmed meat-eater to a plant-based athlete. His cookbook is awesome even if you aren’t an athlete.

Fitzgerald talks about sports nutrition but what I am learning is that sports nutrition is pretty much good nutrition regardless. The recipes are whole food focused and most of them don’t use oil because Fitzgerald, rightly, considers it processed and he stays clear of processed whenever possible. He has what he calls “blueprint” recipes — a basic recipe that you can build on depending on what flavors you want. Like a bowl which is made up of a grain, a green and a bean. Fitzgerald suggests ratios and then has lists of various grains, greens, beans and flavor spices to mix and match. That is the kind of recipe and cooking even I don’t mind doing!

His more specific recipes often have variations too. And even better, he makes suggestions on meals you can make out of the leftovers and provides a week of a sample meal plan. Super useful!

So far I made the chocolate lava mug cake. Athletes like treats too! It was easy to make and came out great. Plus it is only one serving so there is no big cake left over for temptation. It took me longer to combine all the ingredients than it did to bake it in the microwave for 90 seconds.

Bookman is making a beet and lentil stew from the book for dinner Thursday. It has beets, a mix of lentils, potatoes, carrots, cremini mushrooms, onion and some herbs and spices. Perfect for dinner on a day when the temperature is only going to warm up to 1F/-17C. I can hardly wait to try it!

I highly recommend No Meat Athlete to anyone, athlete or not, who is looking for some excellent (and pretty easy), nutritious plant-based meals.