Blending the sweetness of story with savory culinary adventures, Ellen Kanner’s Feeding the Hungry Ghost (New World Library, February 2013) combines elements of humor, spirituality, cultural food traditions, current science about health and diet, and seasonal recipes in a wildly delicious read. As the Meatless Monday blogger for Huffington Post and a syndicated columnist (The Edgy Veggie), Kanner shares the importance of food that nourishes both heart and soul while supporting a more sustainable approach to raising the food that graces our tables.
The “hungry ghost” of the title is a Tao concept, evoking restless souls still hungry, still seeking, even beyond the grave. Food alone does not satisfy this hungry spirit within each of us, illustrated by the rise in obesity and sense of disconnection from the very food we gobble. Spirituality alone doesn’t fulfill all our human needs, either, which is why we need to combine these hungers and learn to eat mindfully, in harmony with our natural seasons and in relationship with our family and wider communities, no matter what form they take. Ellen Kanner’s stories, centered around the seasons and the moods they evoke, nudge us to think and feel more deeply about how we live now. Yet, Kanner knows all the spiritual cheerleading in the world can’t get the average person to change their habits, so she offers bait: specifically, delicious vegan recipes from her personal arsenal, many of them re-workings of cultural favorites from around the world. Recipes include vegan alternatives to staples such as zucchini bread, seed cake, chocolate cake, and matzo flatbread as well as exciting combos that will please any foodie, such as Wake the Dead Noodles, Turkish Millet and Greens, and Moroccan Carrot Salad.
Feeding the Hungry Ghost addresses questions explored by food and health writers, such as why French women are thin though they eat cheese, croissants, and drink wine; or how sustainable agriculture and eating locally sourceed food can increase your well-being and the well-being of the planet. She describes why simple choices can begin to change habits and alter behavior, how these small steps can lead to a healthier, happier person and healthier, more peaceful planet. Her advice is seasoned with humor, empathy, and insight. Whether offering hilarious stories of her first experience of brunch at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco or eating fava beans in Egypt, Ellen Kanner serves up food and writing that excite our appetites and sustain body, mind, and spirit.
Ellen Kanner is the Meatless Mondays blogger at Huffington Post and contributes to publications including Bon Appetit, Vegetarian Times, and Every Day with Rachael Ray. She is active in numerous food-based social projects, such as Slow Food Miami, and lives in Miami, FL. Her website is www.ellen-ink.com.