Impeccable taste

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 July, 2009, 12:00am

Healthy, 'natural' vegetarian and gluten-free dining brings to mind a dreary diet of tofu burgers and steamed vegetables - food eaten for nutritional value rather than for any pleasure it may give. Heidi Swanson, of 101 Cookbooks (, argues that healthy, natural eating doesn't have to mean austere and tasteless meals. The website has recipe categories for vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, whole grain and high-protein diets - as well as chocolate, cookie and dessert listings - but very few of the dishes sound like they'd need to be forced down. The vegan list includes cauliflower tossed with garlic, chives, lemon, parmesan and sea salt; fresh pea salad with mint and date dressing, shredded romaine and toasted pumpkin seeds 'for taste and texture'; and porcini mushroom soup. Desserts include rich-sounding fudge (made with Scharffen Berger chocolate, butter and organic cane sugar), chocolate-stuffed poppy-flecked brown butter sandwich cookies and toasted pecan toffee. Swanson's version of healthy and natural foods sounds tempting, rather than off-putting.