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“Vegan Meal Prep” is the latest cookbook by local vegan expert JL Fields.

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JL Fields, our local vegan expert, has just released her fifth cookbook on the eating plan she is so passionate about: “Vegan Meal Prep: Ready-to-Go Meals and Snacks for Healthy Plant-Based Eating.”

Fields, founder and culinary director of the Colorado Springs Vegan Cooking Academy, has four other cookbooks to her name, but this one is devoted to preparation of foods for a vegan diet. Her goal is to help cooks save money.

Take lunch, for example.

“When you don’t plan ahead for lunch during the day, there’s a real good chance we’ll find ourselves at a drive-through or at a restaurant,” said Fields, who also is vegan restaurant reviewer for The Gazette.

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Beyond busting the budget, eating out can be challenging for those trying to follow a plant-based vegan diet. Fields offers loads of tips for saving money at the grocery store in her latest publication, whether you are going hard-core vegan or opting for a couple of plant-based meals weekly.

She is a huge fan of cooking in batches.

“This is an opportunity to use the bulk bins for beans, grains and even spices,” she said. “It’s a much more economical way to cook. ... Often a recipe calls for a spice you don’t have, and your instinct is to buy the $11 jar. At the bulk bin, you can just scoop out a teaspoon or two, often for under a dollar. It’s a great way to try a new flavor.”

Fields’ book includes step-by-step plans for preparing food, portioning it into single-serving meals and storing it.

“You’ll be making vegan mains and sides and some one-pot meals that can be reheated, as well as simple salads that you can grab and eat right away,” she says.

And if it’s true that we eat first with our eyes, then you’ll enjoy a visual feast with the cover photo — a beautiful layered salad in a mason jar.

“I love glass jars for food and meal prep storage,” she writes. “But did you know that mason jars are also great for salads? It’s all about how you layer the ingredients, because no one wants a soggy salad. Remember that wide-mouth jars are key, and I prefer a quart jar for salads.”

The layers look like this: dressings first; then diced veggies that are watery, such as cukes and onions; and finally, foods that soak up dressing, such as tofu and cooked grains. Add nuts or seeds for texture and stuff the top with leafy veggies.

“To eat, turn the jar upside down into a large bowl and enjoy,” she says.

The book is divided into two parts: “Vegan Made Easy” and “Recipes.” The first part details everything you need to know about batch cooking: shopping, prepping and storing foods for eight meals, one week’s worth. Recipes in this section have step-by-step prep day action plans. The second section contains 70 recipes for all three meals as well as for side dishes, dips, sauces, dressings, snacks and sweets.

Contact the writer: 636-0271.

contact the writer: 636-0271.

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Food editor

Food writer for features life section and columnist for Go! Entertainment - Table Talk column

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