Nationally known author and chef hosts book signing in Crystal Lake

Sarah Copeland fell in love with the vibrant colors of fruits and vegetables and has made it her mission to make her recipes just as vibrant.

The food director for Real Simple magazine in New York City spent six years as a lead recipe developer for Food Network, and has appeared as a guest chef on "Good Morning America" and "The Martha Stewart Show."

Inspired by her vegetarian husband and a desire to make rich and satisfying meals, she authored "Newlywed Cookbook" a couple of years ago. The book soon became the go-to cookbook for thousands of new cooks throughout the country.

Her latest book, "Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite," delves deeper into her effort to showcase the global range of flavors available in vegetarian meals.

"I dug in and thought about the diverse and cultural experiences of New York City," Copeland said. "I realized there are all different ethnic cuisines. There are wonderful options that are vegetarian based. Even the things that do include meat can be remade to not include meat, without using tofu.

"I didn't want meals with processed foods like vegetarian sausages and things like that. I wanted natural, whole foods that didn't have meat in them."

The resulting book includes recipes ranging from the peppery cuisine her Hungarian husband enjoys to the bibimbap (a mixed rice dish) she fell in love with in New York's Koreatown.

Copeland, who has family in the McHenry County area, is hosting an interview session and book signing from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. May 3 at the Barnes and Noble, 5380 Route 14, Crystal Lake. The event takes place as part of a day's worth of Mother's Day-themed activities at the store. Copeland will donate a portion of the book sales that day to ??? School in Cary, where her sister's children attend.

Among her favorite of the roughly 140 recipes in her new book are breakfast meals, such as country eggs and gravy and a breakfast pizza. She also likes the spring pea soup and her go-to meal for guests – eggplant parmesan.

The book is organized by type of meal: breakfast and brunch, little meals, salads and sides, sandwiches and tortillas, meals in a bowl, platefuls, meals to share, sweets and more.

Some of the recipes include whole-wheat semolina pancakes and peaches, kabocha squash soup with spiced fennel butter and raw kale and strawberry salad.

"It is the kind of food that supports life – your life, and the life of the planet around you," Copeland said. "It is food that's electric with flavor and loaded with nutrients."

Nominated for a James Beard award, one of the highest honors for cookbook authors, Copeland's articles and recipes also have appeared in numerous magazines, including Food Network Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, Saveur and Food & Wine.

Originally starting out as an assistant photo editor, Copeland soon found her favorite photo shoots involved food.

"It was making art with food," she said. "It's the most incredibly inspiring palate because there's every color you can imagine. I was totally captivated by that. I really came to food visually and realized all of those things have a great texture and taste as well.

"It just feels like such an alive subject. Food is always changing, and there's always more to learn."

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