Alberta Cancer Foundation

Vegans Have Fun, Too

The Great Life Cookbook: Whole Food, Vegan, Gluten-Free Meals for Large Gatherings
By Priscilla Timberlake and Lewis Freedman, RD

“Nearly every Friday for the last 17 years, we have hosted locally grown, macrobiotic vegan dinners in our country home in upstate New York,” writes Priscilla Timberlake. “Our intention with this book is to offer a blueprint so that others can use it to build community around nourishing macrobiotic/vegan meals.”

Macrobiotics, Timberlake goes on to explain, is a philosophy of life, one that translates as “great life.” The blueprint for vegan entertaining in the hefty cookbook offers 12 full meals, one for each month of the year. Recipes serve 20 to 24 people, although you’ll find a handy guide to scaling down recipes at the end of the book. (Timberlake says she often doubles the recipes to serve 40 or 50 guests.)

Before readers start the recipes they’re guided through some history, including how Timberlake met Lewis Freedman (her husband and co-author of the book) and the couples’ experience with a whole-foods, plant-based diet.

For each month, the book shows recipes for eight dishes including soups, grains, vegetables and desserts. It may seem overwhelming to tackle so many recipes and serving upwards of 20 people, but the book has ample pictures and clear instructions. There are also suggestions for alterative ingredients if some of the more exotic ones listed are not available.

Also handy is “The Apprentice’s Guide,” at the back of the cookbook. It introduces 10 less common ingredients Timberlake reccommends, and provides a list of utensils that the authors consider essential. If you’re unfamiliar with sea vegetables (alaria or dulse, anyone?) or a suribachi (a ceramic bowl with ridges used with a wooden pestle to grind various condiments), this section has you covered. A comprehensive index also makes it easy to find the recipe you want, in case an eight course dinner is not your thing.

“Offering healthy, delicious food is a very practical way to benefit others,” Timberlake writes, “Cooking with mindfulness fosters one’s own inner peace and joy.” She’s hopeful users of this cookbook will feel the joy.

Steamed Vegetables with Orange Sesame Dressing

Adapted from the Great Life Cookbook (Coddington Valley Publishing, $26.50)


  • ¾ pound of asparagus
  • 2 medium carrots
  • ½ head small cauliflower

Orange Sesame Dressing:

  • Juice of one orange (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Parsley for garnish

Whisk orange juice, tahini and salt together until smooth. If dressing is too thick add a few tablespoons of water to thin.

Cut asparagus into 5-cm lengths, discard tough ends. Peel and cut carrots into roughly the same size asasparagus. Cut cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. In a vegetable steamer add the carrots first and steam for five to seven minutes. Add the cauliflower, steam for another five to seven minutes. Add the asparagus and steam for an additional five minutes or until are vegetables are cooked to desired firmness.

Toss vegetables with Orange Sesame Dressing and serve.