Unless you have avoided the internet and every single bookstore for the past few months you probably know that Niomi Smart has brought out her own cookbook. I have always been a fan of Niomi and her blog about lifestyle and fashion and I have followed her YouTube journey since her very first video. My favourite videos of hers are undoubtedly the videos involving cookery and fitness so when she announced the release of her cookbook on YouTube I was literally jumping with joy. I have read more than one book written by a YouTuber but Niomi’s cookbook was the one I was most excited about. The reasons for that are pretty simple – besides being a huge fan of Niomi and her recipes I am also passionate about healthy eating and the plant-based diet but unfortunately, not the best at cooking. So I can use all the inspiration I can get.
So what is Niomi’s cookbook about? It is a plant-based cookbook full of healthy recipes and the motto of her book describes its content very well : ‘What to eat in a day – every day’. The recipes in this book are kept fairly simple so that they can easily be made on a working day. I’m sure you have bought a really good-looking cookbook before but ended up making only one recipe from it because all of them required about 3 hours of preparation and 43 ingredients. I think you get the picture. And luckily, Eat Smart does not go into this category at all. But let’s come back to that later, when I’m talking about the actual recipes of this book. First of all, let’s talk about the look of this book, which in my opinion is very appealing. The cover is every blogger’s dream – a marble surface and a copper bowl. Very satisfying indeed. Honestly though, can someone please tell where I can these copper bowls? I need them. Thank you. The back of the book is just as beautiful as the front, displaying three dishes from the book. But it’s not only the outside of the book that is visually appealing, the inside is just as pretty and the book is very-well structured into different recipes groups – breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snack/side and drinks recipes.
Niomi starts off her recipe book with a brief introduction of herself and furthermore talks about her health journey, her inspiration and her reasons for maintaining a plant-based diet. She also provides nutritional information and tips for changing to a plant-based diet. Niomi describes how her initial opinion of veganism has changed and how to be healthy eating only plant-based food. Apparently she has changed her diet overnight but advises her readers to change their diet step-by-step, something I fully agree with as it is a lot easier and often more effective in the long run. When you look at Niomi’s reasons for switching to a plant-based diet it becomes clear that her health was her main motivation and she clearly points out the health benefits of this lifestyle and how good she feels in her skin. Unlike many other plant-based/vegan cookbooks she does not touch on ethical and environmental reasons and although I originally assumed that she wasn’t motivated by ethical reasons her video about animal testing and cosmetics let me believe otherwise. My guess as this point is that Niomi is afraid of coming off as ‘preachy’ and although I completely understanding where she is coming from, I would have liked it if she had taken other ‘approaches’ to a plant-based diet into consideration. I am pretty sure that most people are aware of the ethical debate but I don’t think that people know about the environmental benefits of being on a plant-based diet and just how much the meat and dairy industry is contributing to climate change. It is a topic that hardly anyone talks about in society and Niomi could have used this chance to educate young readers. But anyway, she decided to focus on health reasons and that is great, too. Her book really inspires her audience to get healthy and also to focus on sports as she briefly touches on the topic of fitness – she describes her work-out plan and explains which meals would go with it, something that is very beneficial for readers trying to be more active.
I have talked a lot about the additional content of her book but I haven’t talked about the most important thing so far – this is of course, the recipes. Niomi’s cookbook is full of easy and diverse recipes and the food photography is simply beautiful. Following the recipes is pretty easy as very clear instructions are provided. Niomi does not mention the preparation time needed for any of the meals but I don’t think that’s necessary anyway as most recipes can be made in a short amount of time. Let’s just quickly go through the different recipe categories. Her breakfast recipes are really easy and range from overnight oats to a full English breakfast. My favourite recipe is definitely avocado and strawberry on rye although I still have to try this out with the strawberries – last time I wanted to make it, I couldn’t get hold of any at my local supermarket. Concerning the breakfast recipes it does come in handy if you like bananas – I sadly don’t so there are so many recipes in there like the pancakes recipes that I can’t try for myself. Or maybe I will try to find a way around the bananas, if you have a suggestion, please live it in the comments, the pancakes look to good not to be made. The lunch category of this book mainly consists of ideas for (unusual) salads and soups. Although I am not the biggest fan of salads, there are some in there that I really like (and that says a lot!) and I love the soup recipes – soups are incredibly convenient, you can make pre-make them and have them any time during the week. They also warm you up during the cold-months and in my opinion, make for a really good and light dinner. This is probably cultural but I am used to eating a full lunch and only a small dinner and therefore usually go the dinner recipes for lunch. I am sorry if that sounds confusing to you haha.
The dinner recipes in this book are really diverse and all look delicious. The range from the classics – e.g. Nut Wellington and Shepherd’s Pie to pizza, kebabs and squashetti and meatballs. I have to admit that some recipes from this category require a lot of ingredients so I don’t think I will be able to constantly make recipes from this section of the book. But luckily, some dinner recipes can be made from ingredients that are part of my staples. Let’s now talk about my favourite category – sides and snacks. I feel like this category could be pronounced the ‘student section’ as all recipes in there are extremely easy and only require very few ingredients and very little preparation time. I have made the Spanish-style roasted mediterranean vegetables multiple times and the recipe is incredibly simple and amazing. I honestly don’t know why I hadn’t though of it myself. Apart from veggies, the recipes cover Sunday-lunch dishes, homemade tomato ketchup, guacamole, pesto and snacks that you can take to school, uni or work. I think you can hear just how much I love this section of the book. The dessert recipes are really interesting, too, I haven’t made any of them but I’m planning to change that, especially the biscuits look and sound very appetising. I haven’t tried any of the drinks either and that is because I am pretty unadventurous in terms of what I’m drinking – I love a hot chocolate and a cup of tea but I don’t feel the need to try smoothies etc. Orange juice is as adventurous as my drinks get. Ups. Anyway, after seeing Niomi’s drinks in her video I am really tempted to try one of the recipes as the always seems to have the best smoothies. So if I decide to get over my reluctance to drink anything else but water and tea, I’ll try one of her recipes and let you know.
The last thing I want to mention about this cookbook is that I find it very inspiring. In multiple ways. Even if there are some recipes in there that require many ingredients, they still provide you with new meals ideas – e.g. you could make your own pizza without following the instructions in the book to the t. And apart from giving you plenty of new meals ideas, Eat Smart is also inspiring readers to maintain a healthy lifestyle by doing fitness and by cooking healthy meals – in her cookbook Niomi clearly illustrates that healthy does not mean bland and boring and that there is so much more to a plant-based lifestyle than just eating salads. (I can confirm that, I almost never have salads). She shows us how easily we can turn our favourite go-to-meals into more healthy ones by replacing certain ingredients. All in all, I love that Niomi is encouraging her audience and therefore many young people to take care of themselves and to follow a diet that is healthy and really delicious at the same time. By publishing a plant-based cookbook like ‘Eat Smart’ she presents this lifestyle as accessible and inspires others to make a change, too. As a ‘big’ YouTuber Niomi reaches a lot of people and I am happy that she is using her influence to encourage a positive change – for ourselves, for the animals and for the environment. If I had to rate her cookbook I would give it a solid 10/10 and although 20 pounds might not be the cheapest, this book is worth every pence.