Groundbakers cookbook offers new twists on favorite dishes plus thoughts and analysis about our food system
Review by Rachel Trachten
60 + Plant-Based Comfort Food Recipes and 16 Leaders Changing the Food System
by Mackenzie and Kathy Feldman
(Kulani Publishing, 2022)
Vegetable lovers can rejoice in Groundbakers, a new cookbook that serves up classic comfort food that’s also nutritious, delicious, and plant based. From burgers, shakes, and hash browns to enchiladas and pizza pinwheels, these 60-plus recipes offer a range of delightful options for all eaters. Along with the recipes, you’ll meet the groundbakers, 16 influential food leaders who share stories, recipes, and a personal letter to someone who inspired them. In case you’re wondering, a “groundbaker” is defined at the start of the book as “an individual who is an originator, innovator, or pioneer in the transformation toward a just and regenerative food system.”
Groundbakers authors Mackenzie and Kathy Feldman are a powerful daughter-mother team. Kathy’s longtime interest in healthy food and food justice inspired her daughter’s curiosity and passion about improving our food system. As part of their research, the two took a road trip through California and Oregon to meet farmers and learn more about organic farming methods. In writing the book, the Feldmans wanted to reach beyond recipes into a larger conversation about how food is grown, how farm workers are treated, the difficulty of acquiring land, and how our food system can be changed for the better. Each of the groundbakers, who include luminaries Alice Waters, Bryant Terry, Sean Sherman, José Andrés, Anna Lappé, Leah Penniman, and 10 others, share stories and opinions on a range of food-related topics. Additional essays about pesticide use, GMOs and monoculture, the treatment of farm animals, industrial fish farms, and more provide essential background material for those seeking a deeper understanding.
The book is a visual pleasure, with a combination of gorgeous food photos by Hannah Kaminsky and a colorful drawing of each groundbaker by artist CE. Recipes are organized by section: breakfast, main dishes, sides, and desserts, with frequently used ingredients and equipment described in the section titled Mama’s Food Pantry. Most of the recipes were created by the authors, and each groundbaker also provides a favorite, ranging from Michel Nischan’s Summer Heirloom Farro to Aileen Suzara’s Ginataang Sitaw At Kalabasa (Long Bean and Squash in Coconut Milk).
Student Activism Against Herbicides
Edible East Bay first covered Mackenzie Feldman in 2019, when she was a senior at UC Berkeley. As a member of the Cal volleyball team, she and her teammates were warned about practicing on fields where toxic chemicals had recently been sprayed. This concern sparked Mackenzie and fellow student Bridget Gustafson to create the organization Herbicide-free Cal aimed at ending herbicide use on the Cal campus. Having grown up on O’ahu, Mackenzie was already attuned to environmental issues and aware of the damage caused by industrial agriculture throughout Hawai’i.
After graduating, Mackenzie broadened her work to form Herbicide-Free Campus, aiming to reach colleges and universities across the country. In 2022, Herbicide-Free Campus joined the nonprofit Re: Wild, an organization committed to protecting and restoring the wild. Re:wild Your Campus gives students the resources, training, and coaching needed to help them collaborate with campus groundkeepers and administrators to eliminate the use of herbicides and transition their campus to organic land maintenance. Eleven schools, including California State University Long Beach, are participating this year. Mackenzie notes that the U.S. has nearly 4,000 college and university campuses, which translates to a significant amount of land and influence. “These campuses can help promote biodiversity and climate resilience as we empower the next generation of leaders to revolutionize land care.” (Note that Re: Wild Your Campus is responsible for its own fundraising, and you can support their efforts here.)
Even as Mackenzie collaborated with colleges around the country, she and Kathy continued to develop and test recipes for Groundbakers. The result is a book that’s packed with creativity, food for thought, and tasty plant-based recipes. For example, after many attempts, the Feldmans came up with a gluten-free bagel that’s light and chewy and perfect with their gluten-free vegan “lox.” Other family members pitched in with ideas, leading to dishes like Matt’s Loco Moco, Dad’s Hearty Chili, and Mel’s Favorite Black Bean Avocado Brownies. All in all, there’s plenty to choose from next time you’re craving nutritious comfort food!
Purchase the cookbook: here
(Note: Book reviewer Rachel Trachten was also an editor for Groundbakers.)
The recipes below are reprinted with permission from Groundbakers: 60+ Plant-based Comfort Food Recipes and 16 Leaders Changing the Food System by Mackenzie and Kathy Feldman, photos by Hannah Kaminsky.
Sweet Potato Chickpea BBQ Wraps
Pre-prep: If using dried chickpeas, soak 6 hours or overnight and cook for 1 hour.
If making Texas BBQ Sauce, 10 minutes
If making Caesar Dressing, 10 minutes
Prep time: 40 minutes • Cook time: 40 minutes
Makes 4–6 wraps
These wraps are bursting with flavor! The combination of sweet potato and BBQ-covered chickpeas, drizzled with Caesar Dressing and paired with the crunchy cabbage is truly incredible. To make this recipe as simple as possible, prepare some of the staples beforehand, such as the Cassava Tortillas, Texas BBQ Sauce, and Caesar Dressing. Or, to make it even simpler, you could purchase these additions in your local market. This recipe is a great go-to for lunch or dinner.
- 4 cups sweet potatoes, uncooked, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, any color, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups chickpeas, cooked or canned, drained
- 3/4 cup Texas BBQ Sauce (see recipe below) + extra for spreading
- 4–6 large tortillas of choice (or make with recipe below)
- 1 cup corn, either canned or frozen, steamed for 5 minutes
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- Caesar Dressing to drizzle
Preheat oven to 415°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Spread sweet potato cubes evenly over the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Flip potatoes and bake another 15 minutes, until golden brown.
While potatoes are roasting, add oil to a frying pan and heat to medium high. Add onions and bell pepper and sauté for 5 minutes. Set aside.
Add chickpeas to a small pot with 3/4 cup of barbecue sauce. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes until hot.
Heat a second frying pan to medium heat and drizzle pan with oil of your choice. Cook each tortilla for 1–3 minutes on each side, until it begins to brown.
Spread extra barbecue sauce on tortillas. Add chickpea/barbecue sauce mixture on top of sauce. Add sweet potatoes, corn, and onion/bell pepper mixture. Top with pumpkin seeds and shredded cabbage.
Drizzle Caesar Dressing over each tortilla. Roll up each tortilla and serve. Store extra sauces in refrigerator for later.
Texas BBQ Sauce
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Makes: 2 1/2 cups
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons regular molasses (not blackstrap)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chile powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coffee or espresso
Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add to a pot over medium heat. Once the sauce begins to simmer, cook for 3–5 minutes, stirring until spices cook through and it is warmed. Use immediately or store in refrigerator.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Before serving: Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes
Makes: 1 cup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 heaping cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Heat olive oil in a small frying pan. Add garlic and sauté for 4–5 minutes. Add garlic and all other ingredients to a small food processor and blend until very smooth and creamy. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Cassava Flour Tortillas
Tortillas are a great staple to have in your kitchen and can be used for a variety of recipes, such as breakfast tacos, Sweet Potato Enchiladas, or Sweet Potato Chickpea BBQ Wraps. Plus, cassava flour serves as a wonderful wheat replacement and makes these tortillas gluten-free.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Makes: 5 tortillas
- 1 cup cassava flour
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Extra oil for frying
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until well combined. Divide the dough into 5 equal parts and shape into balls. On a piece of parchment paper dusted with cassava flour, pat each shape into a thin tortilla. Using your hands to shape them works well, but dust them first with cassava flour.
Heat fry pan to medium heat. Drizzle pan with oil of your choice. Cook each tortilla for 1–3 minutes on each side, until it begins to brown. Serve or let cool and save for another use.