Book Review: YumUniverse by Heather Crosby + Sweet Potato Gnocchi Recipe!

January 30, 2015

Even though I have no shortage of beautiful recipes on Peaceful Dumpling on my iPad, plus hundreds more on my Pinterest boards, I love a great cookbook. I’m a book lover and something about having a real folio (that’s a bound book in nerd speak) while cooking makes it so fun and calming. (As opposed to getting goo on my iPad).

Recently I received a new vegan cookbook, YumUniverse by Heather Crosby (founder of If you’re looking for a charming, beautifully photographed whole plant-based cookbook, this is it. Heather takes the nutritional program for healthy, gluten-free vegan lifestyle step-by-step, so that even people who are not familiar with that lifestyle can ease their way into it.

YumUniverse Book Review + Sweet Potato Gnocchi Recipe!

Before making the transition, Heather was actually a veggie phobe who grew up on a farm. But eventually, she started experiencing serious stomach pains and nausea. After struggling with invasive and ultimately unproductive medical treatment, she turned to an acupuncturist, who simply told her to quit dairy because “we are not cows.”

From then on, she went on to slowly cut out meat and dairy from her diet, and eventually became a full-on gluten-free soy-free vegan. Her illnesses disappeared, and she re-gained her health. That first-hand experience informs this book, and infuses it with her passion for helping others to do the same. She devotes many pages to practical, no-nonsense tips on how to make healthy eating happen on a daily and weekly basis: from making a weekly menu, to doing a big prep day once a week. Meanwhile, she also dispenses wisdom that even experienced vegans can take away. Some of my favorites:

– Save your food scraps in a container as you cook. Put this away in the fridge and next time you cook, boil it all together to make your own veggie stock. Simmer, cool, and strain.

– Place 1/4 cup of buckwheat groats, 1/4 cup oatmeal, some spices, a little raw sugar, etc, in a jar. Just add water for hot breakfast on the go! (So smart–why didn’t I think of that?)

– To make a nice, crack-free and gluten-free wrap of any kind, use collard greens–just steam for about 1 minute on each side to make them easier to work with! (Again, genius!)

Of course, this is most of all a recipe book, not just a compendium of tantalizing bits of cooking wizardry. There are 150+ absolutely stunning gluten free, soy free, vegan recipes here, from comforting (individual Super Veggie Pot Pie) to truly creative (Beets, Onion, Apple Gratin; Toasted Pecan Florentine). There is even a whole section devoted to allergen-free cheeses and dips! Here is just one of the most mouthwatering recipes in the book. For the others, feel free to get yourself a copy of YumUniverse! 🙂

YumUniverse Book Review + Sweet Potato Gnocchi Recipe!

Gluten Free Vegan Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Courtesy of BenBella Books

2 –4+ Servings (Makes 120 1” Gnocchi)
“I have worked on this recipe for years and finally have something that my sweetie says “tastes as
incredible as the first bowl of gnocchi I ever had.” And from a man who loves pasta, I’ll take that as a
double thumbs-up.”

4 cups sweet potatoes, diced
1½ cups oat or sorghum flour, plus more for dusting
¼ cup brown rice flour
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons arrowroot starch/flour
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon psyllium husk powder
2 cloves garlic, sauteed
2 teaspoons sea salt

Easy Tomato Sauce (below)
2 teaspoons coconut oil
Handful of basil
leaves, chiffonade
½ cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half and roasted*

1. Using a double boiler or a steaming basket, steam sweet potatoes until soft, about 20 – 30 minutes.
2. Place all Gnocchi ingredients into the food processor and pulse until a dough forms. Transfer to a large bowl.
3. Dust a flat work surface (counter top) with extra oat or sorghum flour. Pinch off some dough and roll out a 1″-wide, long strip. Using a chef’s knife, cut the strip into 1″ pieces. If you want, lightly press the top of each gnocchi with the back of a fork. Reshape if you need to. Repeat these steps until all gnocchi are formed.
4. In a pot heated to medium-low, warm Easy Tomato Sauce. Stir occasionally.
5. Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, drop gnocchi into the water and stir. Cook for 2 minutes, remove, and rinse.
6. Heat a skillet to medium-high and add oil and gnocchi. Let them sear for 1 minute, flip, and sear on other sides so the outside gets crispy.
7. Transfer to a bowl and toss with sauce, fresh basil, and roasted tomatoes. Serve warm.

Note: If you go oil-free on this one, you won’t be able to get that brown, crispy sear on the gnocchi, so skip step 6.

Freeze these gnocchi for speedy meals on busy nights.

Try adding fresh herbs and spices to the gnocchi dough like rosemary, basil, thyme, sage, or even cinnamon!

Easy Tomato Sauce

Toss this sauce with noodles (gluten-free or veggie), homemade Skillet Crusted Sweet Potato Gnocchi, or cooked grains, pseudograins, veggies, kale, or use it as a pizza sauce for Kale Pizza.

1 tablespoon coconut oil*
1 yellow onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
10 large tomatoes, blanched and skins removed
2 cups pure water
Sea salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
1. Heat a large stockpot to medium-high, then add oil and diced onion, celery, and carrots. Sauté for 15 minutes, and add garlic. Stir veggies for 3 minutes.
2. Chop blanched tomatoes, add to the pot with water, and bring to a boil, stirring often.
3. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Transfer to a blender (or food processor) and purée. Add salt and pepper to taste.

More vegan book reviews: Clean in 14 Detox Book Review + Recipe

Nutrition for Beauty by Jolene Hart

Clear Skin Detox Diet by Lauren Talbot




Photo: Heather Crosby

Juhea is the founder and editor of Peaceful Dumpling and the author of bestselling novel Beasts of a Little Land. Follow Juhea on Instagram @peacefuldumpling, @juhea_writes and Pinterest.


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