As I write, the wind is howling outside of my window, blowing flurries of snow off tree branches. I woke up to a winter wonderland this morning, which was a little hard to fathom since it had been 60 degrees yesterday afternoon. No complaints, though: it’s beautiful right now, and since it’s a snow day, I get to listen to excited peals of kids’ laughter as they play outside, throwing snowballs and stomping around in their little boots. The only thing that would make the moment more cozy would be a steaming bowl of soup or stew or something hearty, so I’m currently fantasizing about Tess Masters’ gentle lentils.
This is a recipe from Tess’ newest book, The Perfect Blend. Tess is known for whipping up delicious, healthful recipes with the blender, from her characteristic smoothies to sauces and soups. Her recipes are always beautiful to look at, flavorful, and creative.
Tess is a dynamo, a spokesperson, recipe developer, actress, and performer who brings energy to everything she does. I’ve known Tess for years, and I can vouch for her vivacity and warmth. It’s difficult to imagine that she struggled for years and years with health challenges that included Epstein Barr virus and subsequent chronic fatigue.
Tess’ health journey led her to dietary changes that included macrobiotics, eating plant-based, eliminating gluten from her diet, blending, and juicing. She’s “The Blender Girl” not only because she loves to blend, but also because she found her way to healing by “blending” different dietary approaches and philosophies. She says,
Not surprisingly, given this perspective, Tess’ work always feels inclusive and generous. She’s passionate about the connections between food and wellness, but she’s not dogmatic about any particular approach; instead, she celebrates a personalized healing experience. She’s also a food lover, and her recipes feel as vibrant and abundant as they are wholesome.
The Perfect Blend is a tribute to the ingredients that have shaped Tess’ well-being. The book is organized around different health goals, such as enhancing energy, boosting immunity, or reducing inflammation. Each section features superstar plant-based foods that can contribute to the goal (so, the immunity section features ginger and turmeric, while the energy chapter features complex carbs, like banana and brown rice). Of course, different ingredients end up overlapping in the recipes, because so many plant foods are ideal for serving different health goals at once.
As usual, Tess’ food is rich and varied. Breakfast options include the mojo magic smoothie (which features a touch of espresso as well as banana and almond butter–yum!) you see above, as well as a decadent vegan French toast with caramelized bananas.
In spite of the chilly climate outside, so many of Tess’ salads and slaws are calling my name, including her Thai slaw, which features a creamy, cashew-based sauce spiked with lime zest.
Tess has a knack, too, for making rich desserts with nuts, seeds, and other plant-based foods. Her raw chocolate orange torte is one of my all-time favorite recipes, and now I’m dying to try her classic cheesecake, just as soon as strawberries are back in season.
There are so many enticing recipes in the collection, but it’s these lentils that are calling my name. I love the combination of an earthy lentil soup and an herbaceous sauce–something to warm up with while also experiencing a bright punch of flavor. Like so many of Tess’ meals, it’s a blend: a blend of textures, tastes, qualities, and cooking techniques.
In addition to the sumptuous recipes, The Perfect Blend features truly exquisite photography and sweet headnotes that include acknowledgment of all of the culinary inspiration that Tess’ friends have given her. It’s a generous and lovely collection, and I’m happy to have a chance to share it today.
Below is a giveaway for one copy of The Perfect Blend, which will run between now and next Friday. The giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents, and I’ll post the winner on the widget when the giveaway wraps up!
Wishing you all a cozy start to the weekend.
Photography copyright 2016 by Anson Smart.