Review: The Greenhouse Cookbook by Emma Knight and Hana James

The Greenhouse Cookbook: Plant-Based Easting and DIY Juicing from the Toronto based juicery, is a seemingly endless collection of plant based recipes covering breakfasts, lunches, dinners, sides, desserts, juices, smoothies, nut milks, tonics and cleanses spread over nearly 500 pages. The book begins with a chatty and passionate introduction to the Greenhouse team and ethos; it is designed to spark “healthy change”, just like the juiceries themselves and includes recipes for every juice, milk and tonic served in house.

For anyone wanting to eat a more conscious and ethical diet but unsure of how to make a meal of plants, this is a brilliant introduction to the world of plant based dining. From simple smoothies to more elaborate dinners, the recipes in The Greenhouse Cookbook will please even the most vegetable phobic among us and for those of us already accustomed to a plant based or vegan lifestyle there are new and interesting takes on old favourites.

The aim here is to “demonstrate how easy it is to create delicious and decadent plant-based and gluten free dishes”. There is an introduction to buzz words like antioxidants, information on juices, smoothies and tonics and a plant based pantry detailing the benefits of the team’s favourite ingredients. Recipes are clearly laid out, each has a photo and introductions explain the history of the recipe, nutritional benefits and suggestions for substitutions. Pro tips at the end of some recipes provide advice on topics such as preparation, how to get the best from an ingredient and which products to buy and the overall impression is that this book is a labour of love, created over time and designed to provide an exciting and nourishing read.

Our favourite part is the Cleanse section. There are three cleanses: Gentle, Standard and Green, each made up of seven juices to see us through the day. The authors are extremely passionate about juicing and health and take the time to explain why cleanses are recommended and how to get the best out of them. Pre and post cleanse meal suggestions are listed to ease the body in and out of a cleanse for longer lasting positive results.

We worked our way through the book making recipes with tweaks and substitutions as necessary to suit our tastes and the ingredients we had on hand – maple syrup for agave, no oil, nuts for seeds, tamari for Braggs – and everything we made came out beautifully. Our favourites are the Spiced Grain Free Granola, Flax Crackers with Black Olives, Warm Beet Houmous, Spiralized Zucchini Mac and Cheese, Chia Seed Chai Energy Bars, Sticky Ginger Cake and Sweet Potato Brownies.

We spoke with Emma about the Greenhouse passion for plant based living and motivation for the book.

Why did you open Greenhouse Juice Co.?

We opened Greenhouse Juice Co. because when my partners and I discovered cold pressed juice it was a transformative experience. There was nowhere selling raw, 100% organic, cold pressed juice bottled in glass in Toronto at the time and we wanted our community to have access to the best tasting, highest quality and most sustainable version of this product.

Our project is to make life-enhancing products, to delight palates, to build inspiring spaces, and to broaden perspectives.

I first came across cold-pressed juice while visiting my partner Anthony Green in LA, where he was working as a filmmaker. The way he explains it, he was approaching 30 and beginning to appreciate his mortality and looking for ways to keep healthy but without much time to invest in such pursuits. This strange green liquid was giving him the energy to work late nights and wake up chipper, while strengthening his immune system and improving his overall health.

Our mission is to offer widespread, sustainable access to plant-based nutrition of the highest quality.

I was skeptical but intrigued. I was living in Paris at the time and unaccustomed to drinking green things. But when I tried it, I felt what he was talking about. I drank the kale-aid and along with Anthony’s sister Sophie and Hana James, a childhood friend, we launched our dream version of a cold pressed juice shop in our hometown.

What was the response?

We launched Greenhouse in January 2014 from a miniature former coach house in Toronto that doubled as our production facility, by night and our retail shop, by day. For our first six months, the little house, which inspired our name and our logo, was buzzing twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. We quickly realised that we couldn’t produce enough juice to meet demand from such a tiny place and so in July 2014 we opened a production facility in downtown Toronto, as well as our second location. Three years later we have fourteen shops across the Greater Toronto Area, a doorstep delivery service and a network of wholesale partners across southern Ontario. We are also building a new facility that will allow us to produce with greater efficiency and make our juices more accessible, in line with our mission.

The prospect of sparking healthy change is also why we’re excited about this book.

We were very lucky: even though it was minus forty degrees out when we launched and our product had “cold” right in the name, people came. And not just our immediate relatives. Word of mouth spread – along with digital word of mouth, largely via Instagram – and we sold out every day. We sampled everything (we still do) and were amazed to see customers gravitating toward the more savoury,
complex green juices right away. Toronto was clearly ready for the juice!

What motivated you to create a cookbook?

We had been blogging from the outset; my background is in journalism and sharing plant based recipes made sense for all kinds of reasons. We had a great team of immensely creative in house nutritionists and we all really enjoyed coming up with recipes and sharing them with our digital community.

Eating more plants, more often, is a simple and delicious way to look out for our health, and for that of our planet.

Initially it would be a smoothie that used our handmade nut milk or a salad recipe that incorporated one of our juices in the vinaigrette and soon we were simply creating our plant based fantasy world and having a great time doing it. When Penguin Random House noticed our blog we were absolutely blown away. They asked us if we had ever considered doing a book. Our answer was, “Well, now we are!” Just over two years later, we still can’t believe it’s real.

What is your hope for the health of the world?

I wish everyone in the world had access to high quality, sustainable nutrition and clean water. And I am heartened to see that, among those of us who are fortunate enough to get to choose what we eat and drink from a wide variety of options, there is a shift taking place toward choices that are better for us and better for our planet.

Our goal is to make it simple to savour the present while looking out for a healthy future—ours and that of our planet.