Cookbook Confidential: “Oh She Glows for Dinner”

My friend Bernadette from New Classic Recipe ( came up with the wonderful idea to have an on-line cookbook club with some of her blog buddies. What a fun, and great way to choose a recipe or two from the books, cook them, and review them. Then, you decide if the book is worth you shelf space! Please go to her site for other reviews.

The cookbook informs us on the cover that it is composed of nourishing plant-based meals to keep you glowing. It is divided into main dishes, sides and small bites, meal-worthy salads, hearty soups and stews, treats and drinks, and sauces, dressings, and spices. In her introduction, Angela Liddon says “Oh She Glows for Dinner is going to provide you with tools, tips, and tricks to help you get more plant based meals on the table, and in the process, you’ll hopefully fall in love with so many vibrant, balanced, and downright irresistible recipes.”

Good tips

      The book has a lot of good tips on storage, leftovers, substitutions, and other variations which I found handy.

I chose two to cook: Festive Bread-Free Stuffing Balls and Ultimate Creamy Salt and Vinegar Scalloped Potatoes.

First, the scalloped potatoes

      Scalloped potatoes are definitely part of my childhood and one of my favorite potato comfort foods, and I’ve made my mom’s recipe vegan on more than one occasion by simply substituting plant milk for dairy. She never used cheese in hers.

       I loved the idea of salt and vinegar potatoes. This recipe is very different than what we’re used to. It used very thinly sliced potatoes (2 mm) a cashew-based cream sauce, and a “Vegan Parmesan” topping. I was promised that I would fall into a heavenly trance. That’s a tall order, and sadly it did not deliver. 

Not quite a big hit

      It was OK, with just the slightest hint of the vinegar, not enough salt (I took her at her word and added tiny pinches) and pretty creamy but not ultra, and after reheating was not creamy at all. The potato flavor was lost under the nutritional yeast sauce, but most importantly, it didn’t taste anything at all like scalloped potatoes. A few onions might have gone a long way. My husband liked it (he likes the flavor of nutritional yeast), but doused it with pepper; there was no pepper in the recipe, which I also thought it needed, potatoes being potatoes. 

Recipes within a recipe

      The dish involved making the cashew sauce, in a blender, which involved pre-soaking them over night. We also had to make the vegan Parmesan cheese, another step and a food processor. Not counting the soaking time of course, the recipe took an hour to make, not 25 minutes, as noted. Definitely not a weeknight dinner side dish.

Stuffing Balls

      The Festive Bread-Free Stuffing Balls took lots of steps, dishes, etc., and 50 minutes rather than 30 to prepare. I made these while the potatoes were baking. 

      I’m not sure why these are called stuffing balls and not lentil nut balls or something because they didn’t have a stuffing-like consistency. They tasted all right, but were dense and a bit dry and definitely did need a sauce, which I didn’t make since I’d spent so much time on everything else with these two dishes. We later simmered them with some pasta sauce I had in the fridge; they held up nicely, and tasted much better.

Lots of nuts

      If you or anyone in your family has a nut allergy, this is not the book for you. A great many of the recipes use nuts or a sauce or condiment made from nuts. There is a lot of nutritional yeast in recipes as well, with a pronounced flavor, which some like and some do not.

Bounce around

      There are a lot of cross referencing to other recipes or sauces in the book, and with the two recipes I made I had to keep things bookmarked, and was frequently turning back and forth, sometimes with mucky hands. There’s a whole section of “Glow Getter Meal Plans” that have you thumbing back and forth with instructions like “Follow steps 3 (see tip below) through 5 and step 7” and you have to keep referencing back and forth to different recipes. I didn’t think any of this section was helpful.

Please give me a black typeface!

      The typeface, as with many these days, is colored grey rather than black and thus is harder to read! Why are they doing this? Additionally, one of my pet peeves with this book is the overuse of the “glow” references in just about everything. Sloppy Glows, Glow Getter Meal Plans, Glowing Lentil Soup, Glow Green Pasta, you get the idea. The first couple of references were silly, then just tiring.

The bottom line – to buy or not to buy

      The bottom line is, if you have never cooked vegan, don’t start with this book, you will be overwhelmed with the number of steps and sometimes convoluted instructions, and recipes within a recipe, with varying results. If you have cooked vegan for years, there are a lot of recipes that you might like to try, and some good sauces and condiments. But be prepared to spend more time than the recipe states, and to add what you know it is going to need. Like onions! Or pepper. Not a candidate for my book shelf.

Ultimate Creamy Salt-and-Vinegar Scalloped Potatoes

Recipe from “O, She Glows for Dinner”

  • 1 batch Garlic Cashew Cheese Sauce (below)
  • 1 batch Vegan Parmesan (below)
  • 2 pounds (900 g) Yukon Gold or yellow potatoes, peeled
  • Fine sea salt
  • A few generous pinches of fresh or dried thyme leaves, for garnish (optional)

      Prepare the Garlic Cashew Cheese Sauce, followed by the Vegan Parmesan, and set both aside.

      Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Liberally oil a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish, making sure to coat the sides and bottom completely.

      Using a mandoline, slice the peeled potatoes into very thin (less than ⅛-inch-thick/2 mm) slices (no thicker, or they’ll take a long time to cook through).

      Spread a single layer of sliced potatoes over the bottom of the casserole dish, just barely overlapping, covering the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle a small pinch of salt over the sliced potatoes. Pour a scant 1 cup of the cashew cheese sauce over the potatoes so it covers the potatoes’ surface completely, using your fingers or the measuring cup to spread it out. The sauce will look thin and watery, but will thicken while baking.        

      Repeat this layering process until you have used all the sauce and sliced potatoes, five layers with sauce the last. It will look like too much sauce, but will firm up as it bakes.

      Sprinkle all the parmesan over the sauce. Cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil., and cut slits in it to let the steam escape.

      Bake for 1 hour, then remove the foil and check for doneness by sliding a knife into the center of the casserole. There should be no resistance; if there is, replace the foil and bake for 5 to 15 minutes more, then test again.

      Serve with a sprinkling of thyme leaves, if desired.

For the Garlic Cashew Cheese Sauce:

      Place one cup of cashews in a bowl and cover with boiling water for an hour, or soak in cold water overnight. Discard the water once soaked.

      Transfer to a high-speed blender (I used my regular blender) and add 1 ½ cups water, ¾ cup (60 g) nutritional yeast, ¾ cup grapeseed oil, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, ¼ cup white wine vinegar, 8 medium garlic cloves, 1 ¼ teaspoons fine sea salt, and 1 tablespoon sriracha (optional, but recommended). Blend for 1 to 2 minutes, until very smooth. 

Note: all I tasted was nutritional yeast.

For the Vegan Parmesan

      In a food processor, combine 1 medium garlic clove (4 g), ½ cup (80 g) raw cashews or pepitas, 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, ¼ to ½ teaspoon fine sea salt. Process into a coarse meal, 10 to 15 seconds.

Festive Bread Free Stuffing Balls

Recipe from “O, She Glows for Dinner”

  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (8-ounce/225 g) package cremini mushrooms
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cups (25 g) stemmed kale leaves
  • 1 cup (25 g) fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. (65 g) gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 (14-ounce/398 ml) can lentils, drained and rinsed, or 1 ½ c. 
  • 1 cup (100 g) walnut halves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 2 teaspoons fresh)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon fresh, minced)
  • 1/3 cup (40 g) dried cranberries, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) ground flax
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (12.5 ml) sherry vinegar
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper

      Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

      Add the oil to a large skillet and turn heat to medium. Finely chop the mushrooms until they’re roughly the size of peas. Add chopped mushrooms to the pot along with minced garlic and a pinch of salt. Stir until combined. Sauté for about 6 to 8 minutes, until the water from the mushrooms cooks off, reducing heat to low if necessary to prevent burning.

      Meanwhile, put the kale and parsley into a food processor and p 20 to 25 times, until the size of almonds. Don’t overprocess. Transfer to a small bowl.

      Finely chop the cranberries and add them to the bowl of greens.

      To the processor (no need to clean it out!), add the rolled oats. Process until they resemble coarse flour, about 30 seconds. Add the drained lentils and walnuts to the processor and pulse 13 times, until the walnuts are pea sized. Set aside.

      To the pot with the mushrooms and garlic, add the cranberry greens and herbs and sauté for a minute and turn off the heat.

      Stir the flax and water together in a small cup, then add to the skillet and combine. Add the lentil mixture and combine, adding a little water if necessary, usually about 2 tbsp., so the dough sticks together easily. Salt and pepper to taste.

      With wet hands, roll into 18 to 20 balls and place on prepared sheet.

      Bake 20 to 23 minutes or until lightly golden on the bottom. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Second Chances

All was not lost. I doused the stuffing balls in left-over pasta sauce and they tasted much better. I also took my husband’s suggestion and sliced the scalloped potatoes (now quite firm) and gave them a quick fry in olive oil at breakfast. Both turned out well.

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59 Comments Add yours

  1. Mary says:

    I have to say that this seems like a lot of faff to avoid all the good things that I am more than happy to eat every day.
    I’m sure the potatoes are very tasty but it seems a lot of work to make them without anything animal.
    So I will say a polite ‘no thankyou’ to this book, AND I love recipe books!!!

    1. I know! All she had to do was make basic scalloped potatoes and substitute plant milk! I’ve done this and they are quick to put together, mostly hands free with a long bake, and absolutely delicious!

  2. Sherry Mackay says:

    yes i find that trend of using a faint font on white paper very distracting and hard to read. I don’t like the sound of flipping back and forth between recipes either.

    1. That was the worse. I think she must have had a timid editor who didn’t actually cook, or read the typeface!

  3. CarolCooks2 says:

    Like many cookbooks this seems to be a book for someone who likes to faff about or doesn’t and then its another unused book on the shelf…A good honest review, Dorothy 🙂

    1. Thanks Carol. Not going to sit on my shelf!

  4. Sheree says:

    Too many great vegan cookery books out there to bother with this one

    1. Exactly! There’s so many good possibilities, but spending all this energy to try to mimic (poorly) animal products is not worth the time and effort!

      1. Sheree says:


  5. Hi Dorothy, I see this book was not a huge success for you. None of the recipes appealed to me and I knew my family would not eat the food so I skipped this challenge. A beautiful and well laid out post. Thank you 😊

    1. Thanks Robbie! I wanted to like the book, but it was so awkward! There’s so many ways to do delicious vegan, but this wasn’t one of them. Celebrate the vegetables, don’t try to douse everything in pretend cheese that doesn’t taste anything like it!

      1. I understand exactly what you are saying.

      2. I think the next one is gong to be better. I’ve already made two dishes, and they were a hit!

      3. Alison Roman – yes, I like her recipes too. I must prepare my post for Bernadette.

      4. Have fun with it!

  6. Gail says:

    Your sense of adventure in cooking is beyond my realm. I appreciate your efforts and honesty. 👏👏👏

    1. Thank you Gail! It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be that’s for sure!

  7. Angela says:

    Apart from the recipes, the points you made about cookbook design and flow are so important. Do you remember Ruth Reichl’s Gourmet cookbook, from the time when she was editor? YELLOW TYPE! I have a ton of experience in printed materials, and I can’t imagine how any book designer could have gotten away with that. I have a number of cookbooks with type that’s smaller than I’d like. I love Barbara Kafka’s “Roasting,” but her directions are awful. So good job, Dorothy! (And Bernadette!)

    1. Thank you Angela! It seems like every other book I pick up lately has grey type! And small type as well. Have they forgotten the words are there to read?
      Convoluted instructions and directions and paging back forth are a sure way to make sure the book is closed and not opened again.
      Yellow type? What could they have been thinking???

  8. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for taking one (two) for the team on this. Gray type aside, if you’re new to vegetarian cooking or even if it’s already a way of life, give The Vegetarian Reset by Vasudha Viswanath a try. The photography is gorgeous, easy to follow recipes AND black type.

  9. Gray type aside, if you’re looking for an easy-to-follow vegetarian cookbook with gorgeous photography and delicious recipes, check out The Vegetarian Reset by Vasudha Viswanath. I’ve made 5 recipes so far in the two months I’ve owned it and all are hits so far. Thanks for taking a couple for the team here!

    1. Thank you for your recommendation Amie, I will definitely check it out!
      My daughter’s name is Amie, spelled just like yours!

  10. Thanks for the honest review. I am vegetarian/vegan so I know exactly what you mean about making the sauces and flipping through a cookbook. I must say those lentil balls do look good, but I can understand why they would need a sauce.

    1. The tomato sauce really made them tasty!
      There are so many good vegetarian and vegan cookbooks out there! Do you have a favorite, Laurie?

      1. My favorite vegetarian cookbooks are the ones Moosewood puts out. I also really like Kathyrine Taylor’s “Love Real Food.”

      2. Yes, those are good ones Laurie! I love the Love and Lemons cookbooks as well, and I received a lovely copy of “The First Mess Cookbook,” by LauraWright for Christmas and it has some lovely recipes too.

      3. I will check them out. Thanks!

  11. Well, at least you found a better way to re-use the dishes and enjoy them 😉😋

    1. Yes, the little balls were actually pretty good with the tomato sauce. My husband loved the fried scalloped potatoes, but I thought they still tasted too much of nutritional yeast.

  12. Bernadette says:

    Dorothy, I am in complete agreement with you regarding this cookbook and it is a testament to your abilities that you were able to reinvent the leftovers..

    1. Thank you Bernie! I try to make a recipe exactly as printed even though I wanted to make changes I thought would have made a better dish, but I stuck to the book. Reinventing them later was fair game!

  13. Oh Yum! Nothing more comforting than scalloped potatoes and I would love your recipe.

    1. I will do a post on mom’s scalloped potatoes, a very easy recipe that sometimes can go wrong. But the ingredients are simple: potatoes, onions, milk, flour, salt, pepper.

  14. Suzassippi says:

    The best part about this post was your entertaining review! It reminded me of something that would have been on I Love Lucy if they had done a show on her cooking vegan–covered in a sticky mess trying to balance 10 steps at once. Following this recipe would make me want to get sauced, and not with that lovely pasta sauce you salvaged the stuffing balls with!

    1. 🤣I felt a little like Lucy! How I wish it had been chocolate I was manipulating!
      I can usually find a way to salvage most mistakes! Of course, the best way would have been to dump some cheese on it all – real Vermont cheddar!

      1. Suzassippi says:

        Yes, that real Vermont sharp white cheddar! I think I will go to the store now!

      2. Suzassippi says:

        I was in the midst of replying when lightning knocked out a switch on the network and I could not finish–the spinning wheel came up. I was going to add that I could just see you doing Lucy while I was reading. Roast beef and scalloped potatoes with Vermont cheddar coming up!

  15. Jenna says:

    Thank you for the honest review Dorothy! I am sorry your time was wasted making these disappointing recipes, it’s a shame that they were disappointing…hard to have faith in this book after that!

    1. I really wanted to like it, and part of me feels bad that the review was not very encouraging, but I needed to be honest and disappointing was certainly the word.

  16. Christy B says:

    It’s tough that the recipes took longer than anticipated because during a weeknight time is limited. I appreciate your honest feedback. I was excited about “glowing” from the recipes lol the title of the cookbook made me giggle 😘

    1. I know! After about the sixth “glow” pun, I think my little eyeballs started to roll…

  17. nancyc says:

    The recipe titles sound good but it sounds like they were disappointing, and a lot of work!!! Thanks for your review! 🙂

  18. Marilyn Marilyndishes says:

    Good honest review! Thanks Sometimes there are a lot of steps to vegan food!

    1. I know! I think one of the issues is the steps it takes to try to replicate something like a cheese sauce, and usually it doesn’t really taste like cheese. Much better, I think, to just make a sauce that isn’t trying to be something else!

  19. Nancy says:

    Glad for an honest review. Thank you!

    1. You’re very welcome!

  20. Thank you for your honest review of this book Dorothy! I’m sure somebody may like the recipes but I love the recipes you post and if you don’t care for it I wouldn’t either.

    1. Ah, what a nice thing to say Diane! You’re sweet! I wanted to like this book, but it just seemed to be needlessly complicated, too many fussy extras that try to mimic, for example, a cheese sauce.

  21. Leah says:

    Very informational review of the book and the recipe, Dorothy! As someone who is “almost” vegan, I still have not jumped on the soaking the cashew nut bandwagon to make vegan cheese. It feels that it is just too much work. The closes I have been to were using oat milk from the grocery store and nutritional yeast. Luckily, I like the taste of nutritional yeast but the Mr cannot stand it! Ha! Ha! And I still prefer dairy cheese just because they are just worth it on pizza, pasta, pretty much everything else…. This is the reason why I cannot be fully vegan. I will try your vegan parmesan cheese version, though. 🙂

    1. I think we are often disappointed when we try to contrive thing like cheese look alike s that don’t taste anything like the original. Better to just use something else!

      1. Leah says:

        I am coming across some vegan cheese spread. They actually taste good but the sodium content is often a lot higher than real cheese!

      2. There’s always a catch. I’ve found a pretty good vegan cream cheese, an all right smoked provolone slice, and some blue cheese crumbles that actually taste like blue cheese. But most of them are pretty dismal, and a vegan brie-style I tried was revolting,

  22. terrie gura says:

    Oh my goodness, what a goose chase! I was both chuckling and shaking my head all the way through reading this, because the recipe (as written) validates so many of the points I made in my own post called The Problem with Recipes. For vegan cooking especially, I think too many cooks make a classic mistake of “overthinking it.” WHY would you need to whip up a batch of cashew “cream” to replace milk when there are so many delicious and creamy plant-based milks already available? It’s just so extra. My husband’s daughter is vegan and I have learned to back off a bit when I cook for her. What she really wants is flavor and texture, which is easily achieved in so many simple ways. You’re a trooper to go through all of this, Dorothy!

    And I’m still scratching my head over the name of the “stuffing” balls, wondering what it is, exactly, that makes them “festive.” The handful of cranberries? Perhaps the author made them at Christmas? Hahaha

    1. I printed the recipe as published.
      You hit the nail on the head Terrie, a goose chase. Let’s see, I’m going to make scalloped potatoes, so let’s start by soaking raw cashews overnight, and dumping in a ton of nutritional yeast so we can pretend it tastes like cheese, but it doesn’t by a mile. As I said, my mom’s scalloped potato recipe had four ingredients plus salt and pepper: potatoes, onions, milk, flour. I’ve made them with soy milk, and it tasted identical to hers. I never got out a ruler to make sure my potatoes were precisely sliced 2 mm thick. If I decided to become a vegan and needed cookbook, this would send me to the market for a pound of cheese and some heavy cream.

  23. Lillie says:

    I really liked your review Dorothy! Lots of good points about the recipes. I bought my daughter the first “oh she glows” book – now where did she put it? Now I’ll have to look!

    1. Bernadette’s project has been fun, it’s nice seeing what others thought too!

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