Yum Universe – Review and Giveaway

October 21st, 2014 · Lisa · book review, Vegan · Comments


I love October. Where I live October is vibrant and colourful and full of richer flavours, bold spices and the brilliance of harvesting the bounty of our local growing season.

So it seems the perfect time to be celebrating Heather Crosby’s beautiful book. Heather is the creator of Yum Universe the online destination for all things whole foods and plant-based. Just like the eBooks and the amazing community Heather created and supports online, her first book is a one-stop source for all the information, encouragement, joyful enthusiasm and practical tips anyone taking steps toward a healthier, more nourishing lifestyle could ask for.

Quite seriously, she’s thought of everything. And of course because this book comes from the Heather Crosby it is stunning, and organized, and accessible, and inspiring, and vibrant, and flavourful and…brilliant.

In the pages of Yum Universe, Heather does what’s she’s always done best, she breaks down the how-to into helpful, exciting, easy-to-manage steps. I can’t think of a single question I’ve been asked over the past 30 years that I’ve been vegan that Heather hasn’t tackled in the first 150 pages of her book. Making Yum Universe much more than a typical cookbook, it is your answer everything, find something delicious, and make it quick and fun, solution to life.

I know that sounds a bit unbelievable, so let me show you what I mean:

  • She talks from heart about her own journey from a salad avoider to a full embracer of a plant-powerful, whole-food lifestyle.
  • She answers all the “whys” with powerful details about how eating animals effects our wellbeing and that of the planet.
  • She highlights the information and insights that shifted her own perspective toward understanding the connection between disease and diet.
  • She not only lays out all of the facts but she creates a plan, a day-by-day strategy for success.
  • She gives you all the information you need to create a joyful, fulling, delicious plant-plentiful life. Plus she does it with this infections enthusiasm that makes her love for whole foods contagious. The photos in the book highlight how attracted we are to bright, colourful fruits and vegetables.

When you pick up your copy of Yum Universe, I’m sure you’ll find your own favourite pages but here are some of my personal picks. Since I’m a soul that love lists I found myself bookmarking pages like:

  • Build your own On-the-Go Salads (pg.90)
  • Build your own On-the-Go Breakfasts (pg 91)
  • Soaking times for nuts, seeds, and beans (pg.140)
  • Freezability of fruits and veggies
  • Yields and cook times for beans and grains

Oh and…it is also has over 130 pages full of recipes and meal ideas. I’ll show you what I’ve made so far, but first memorize this cover and either run to the store to pick up your copy, order it online, or scroll to the end to WIN ONE!


This is how I know Heather and I are soul sisters because she writes lots of recipes for chickpeas (my very favourite bean). These Crispy Chickpeas make it easy to enjoy these protein-packed staples out-of-hand, on top of salads and as a crunchy boost to big bowls of soup. So simple and so good.


Chickpea Flatbread with Greens and Avocado

Yup, see chickpeas again but this time as the main attraction. This accessible gluten-free flatbread take no special skills other than stirring and pouring but it comes out impressive enough for a dinner party or a fancy brunch. Heather provides lots of topping variations but I went with the one that called to me first – green and avocado. Delicious.


Orange & Pepita Granola

Here we are at the sneak peek recipe I can’t wait to share, a fall-inspired breakfast treat. It is sweet and crunchy and delicately infused with orange essence.  A healthy way to start your day or a hearty snack to take with you on the go.

I combined it with persimmon and coconut yogurt for a wonderful weekend parfait.


Orange & Pepita Granola


  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Dry
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup almonds, roughly chopped
  • Zest from 2 navel oranges
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Pinch ground cardamom


  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together wet ingredients.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together dry ingredients.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry and fold well.
  5. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or just one — you can split the batch, baking one half at a time).
  6. Bake the granola for 20 – 25 minutes. Granola should look slightly browned and toasted.
  7. Remove from oven and repeat if you are splitting your batch. Granola will harden as it cools.

Thanks to Heather and BenBella Books, I’m thrilled to offer all of my US and Canadian readers a chance to win a copy of Yum Universe. A random winner will be selected on October 28th, 2014. For your chance to win, leave a comment below letting me know one tip that has helped you to eat and enjoy more whole foods.

Congratulations to Corrine who won her very own copy of Yum Universe.



  1. Kristina
    Posted October 21, 2014 at 10:05 am

    One thing that helped me a lot was learning that hummus and nut butters were super easy to make at home. Storebought versions are expensive and I am a poor grad student, so learning to make them myself was fun and super useful.

    • theveganlisa
      Posted October 21, 2014 at 10:31 am

      Fantastic! That is such a great tip. I love warm hummus straight from the food processor.

  2. Heather Crosby
    Posted October 21, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Thank YU so much for this wonderful review of YumUniverse, Lisa—the photos are stunning and your words are so kind. I’ve got some coconut yogurt culturing on the counter and you’ve inspired me to make a parfait tomorrow! I’m super happy that you’re enjoying the book so far and high fives for chickpeas, sister 😉

    • theveganlisa
      Posted October 21, 2014 at 10:31 am

      It is such an amazing book Heather! Thank you for sharing it (and all your knowledge,tips and tricks) with all of us.

  3. Teresa Pitman
    Posted October 21, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Looks fantastic! I remember walking into Sweet Tomatoes with Sebastian; he looked at the salad bar and said “Oh, they have chickpeas! Chickpeas are my favourite beans!”

    • theveganlisa
      Posted October 21, 2014 at 10:31 am

      They are a family favourite. 🙂

  4. Sonja
    Posted October 21, 2014 at 10:32 am

    I adore chickpeas yet I have never thought to make them a fingerfood snack. the photos look fabulous and your review convinces me I need this book. 🙂

    • theveganlisa
      Posted October 21, 2014 at 10:57 am

      Thank you Sonja! Good luck. I’ll post the giveaway winner on the 29th. 🙂

  5. charj
    Posted October 21, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Being willing to use recipes as guides for using what foods I have on hand and not feel like I have to hunt for ingredients to follow recipes exactly.

    • theveganlisa
      Posted October 21, 2014 at 11:28 am

      Cooking should be fun and creative. I like your style.

  6. Tiffany
    Posted October 21, 2014 at 11:27 am

    The photos are awesome and make we want this book even more! What has helped me enjoy more whole foods is trying new recipes on occasion and then tweaking them to make them my own. I don’t always have success with many of the recipes I try, but sometimes changing the seasonings or mixing the ingredients help.

    • theveganlisa
      Posted October 21, 2014 at 11:28 am

      That’s the best way to get to know your own palate. Good luck in the giveaway.

  7. Tracie
    Posted October 21, 2014 at 11:37 am

    My best tip is to keep things simple. I used to stress over recipes, but now I find that I can just throw things together that I love to eat. I don’t always need a recipe or lots of complicated steps. Sometimes simple is best.

    • theveganlisa
      Posted October 21, 2014 at 11:56 am

      And extra free time means extra enjoyment.

  8. Josiane
    Posted October 21, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    That book sounds great! Exploring cuisines from different parts of the world has contributed to introducing me to a wider variety of ingredients and preparation methods. It’s a terrific way to discover what to do with this never-tried-before vegetable or bean you’ve just found (there are so many varieties!), or to reinvent old favorites and turn them into something new.

    • theveganlisa
      Posted October 21, 2014 at 3:22 pm

      Excellent suggestion. I have discovered so many amazing recipes by exploring Indian, Indonesian, Ethiopian, Peruvian, Japanese and Korean cuisines.

  9. Linda Ruth
    Posted October 21, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    My best tip, honestly, is keep reading recipes that use whole, healthy foods and be willing to be adventurous. My favourite way to prepare kale is your raw kale & avocado salad, Lisa. I never would have thought to use kale *raw* before – but your mom posted it on her Facebook page and I thought, “why not?” So. delicious. And simple! It’s my go-to recipe now.

    • theveganlisa
      Posted October 21, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      I’m thrilled to hear you’re loving the kale & avocado salad. I had a version of that just last night. 🙂

  10. Amanda
    Posted October 21, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    I replaced snacks with whole foods – that was it. Most of the snacks I used to eat were processed junk food, and once I replaced those with whole foods, the rest fell into place.

    • veganlisa
      Posted October 21, 2014 at 7:50 pm

      Great advice Amanda.

  11. Becca Ferguson
    Posted October 21, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    When shopping I stay clear from the middle of the store! This way I avoid the sweets 😉

    • Guest
      Posted October 21, 2014 at 7:48 pm

      Excellent tip.

    • veganlisa
      Posted October 21, 2014 at 7:49 pm

      Excellent tip!

  12. Posted October 21, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    This granola sounds so good! I don’t know that any one thing has helped me eat whole foods — it’s more a general lifestyle. But knowing how to cook helps the most! Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

    • veganlisa
      Posted October 21, 2014 at 7:50 pm

      Good luck. 🙂

  13. Mary
    Posted October 21, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Making smoothies has helped me eat more whole foods. From nuts to greens to boosters, blending them together is a great source of whole foods!

    • theveganlisa
      Posted October 22, 2014 at 9:03 am

      I love adding extra greens to my smoothies to make sure I’m getting what I need. Great suggestion.

  14. VeggieNextDoor
    Posted October 22, 2014 at 9:41 am

    I use the shelf-stable cartons of soy milk. This means I can keep a lot in my pantry and I never run out!

    • theveganlisa
      Posted October 23, 2014 at 10:43 am

      It is great to have them on hand when you need them.

  15. owsla
    Posted October 22, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Cooking from scratch has helped the most.

    • theveganlisa
      Posted October 23, 2014 at 10:44 am

      I like cooking from scratch too. I tend to enjoy meals more when I know the work that went into them.

  16. Corrine
    Posted October 22, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Not buying junk food and “treats” at the store. If they are not in the house and we only have the healthy foods it makes it easier.

    • theveganlisa
      Posted October 23, 2014 at 10:43 am


    • theveganlisa
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 2:28 pm

      Corrine you are the winner! Congratulations!!! Please let me know how I can best get in touch.

      • Corrine
        Posted October 29, 2014 at 5:15 pm

        Very exciting! Please email me at corrg14 at gmail dot com. Thank you so much!!!!

  17. Ana
    Posted October 22, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Looks like a great book! I’ve found that the key for me is grocery shopping, because if it’s in the house, I will eat it. Unfortunately, my husband is usually quite happy to add a few bags of chips to our cart…

    • theveganlisa
      Posted October 23, 2014 at 10:43 am


  18. Amey Mathews
    Posted October 23, 2014 at 12:21 am

    the first thing that really got me eating more whole foods was when I subscribed to a CSA (or Community Supported Agriculture) – it was a huge weekly box of produce that I had already paid for and was determined to eat. I only did that for a couple of years, but nowadays I go to the farmers market twice a week, and I just find all the beautiful produce so compelling and so inspiring – I just don’t have time to eat the other junk in the world!

    • theveganlisa
      Posted October 23, 2014 at 10:42 am

      You are a superstar!

  19. MelissaRatti
    Posted October 23, 2014 at 9:19 am

    One of the best tips I’ve learned and used in order to eat more whole foods is to cook dried beans in the crock pot! Beans are affordable, are full of fiber and protein, and are great in soups, salads, and even on sandwiches/in wraps. I just put a big batch in my crockpot overnight and the next morning, they are ready to go 🙂

    • theveganlisa
      Posted October 23, 2014 at 10:42 am

      What a great idea.

      • MelissaRatti
        Posted October 24, 2014 at 4:23 pm

        Sure thing! 😉

  20. Elizabeth
    Posted October 23, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    The YU cookbook looks wonderful! Buying a Vitamix has helped me enjoy more whole foods. Soups, green smoothies, dips, fresh nut butter, almond milk and pestos!

    • theveganlisa
      Posted October 24, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      Blenders are the best! I’m a Blendtec fan and have come to rely on its power daily. Best sous chef ever.

  21. Sonja
    Posted October 24, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    What helped me the most was having my doctor tell me that I needed to lower my cholesterol and NOT wanting to take the medication I had read so many bad things about. And then of course finding blogs like Heather’s and many others. I knew deep down that if I wanted to feel and be better that I needed to do this. So, baby steps and sometimes I fall on my face but I feel so much better when I eat things my body needs to be strong and healthy.

    • theveganlisa
      Posted October 24, 2014 at 3:26 pm

      As much as health concerns can by scary, sometimes those early warnings can be just the push we need to make changes that give us new strength, energy and passion. Congratulations on taking the steps, falling and getting up and continuing forward. You’re amazing.

  22. Doris Romano
    Posted October 27, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Adding spinach to my smoothies…I don’t think I could live without my BlendTec! Heather’s book would be a beautiful and welcome addition to my bookshelf. Thank you, Lisa (and Heather!).

    • theveganlisa
      Posted October 28, 2014 at 10:02 am

      Good luck Doris!

  23. Corrine
    Posted October 31, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Hi! I sent you a message through Facebook with my email address and I also listed it below. Thanks!

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