These Plant-Based Recipes Are Magical

Roasted purple yam from Unicorn Food
Photo Credit: AJ Meeker

September 6, 2018

It isn’t your imagination—food really does taste better when it looks beautiful. So it’s no wonder the trend of unicorn food—smoothies, lattes, cupcakes and more—became a thing.

Food journalist Kat Odell took that idea and created Unicorn Food, a new cookbook full of healthy, plant-based recipes that offer the vibrant colors and fun of the “unicorn” trend, without using artificial dyes and other less-than-optimal culinary tricks. Instead, she incorporated “ingredients straight from nature, and likewise fortified with myriad good-for-you properties,” such as spirulina, turmeric, bee pollen and more, she writes in the book’s intro.

Unicorn Food book cover

Here are two recipes from the book so you can get a taste of these great-for-you, gorgeous dishes.

Frozen Turmeric Lassi

  • Serves: 1
Turmeric lassi


  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes, plus extra for serving
  • 1/4 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
  • 3 ounces frozen mango chunks
  • 2 ounces frozen pineapple chunks
  • 2 teaspoons raw honey
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated peeled ginger (from about 1-inch piece)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon probiotic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of ground cloves


  1. Combine the coconut milk, ice cubes, avocado, mango, pineapple, honey, ginger, turmeric, probiotic powder, cardamom, cinnamon, pepper, and cloves in a blender and puree until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour into a glass with ice and serve immediately.

Milky golden drinks spiked with turmeric are everywhere these days, beloved for their exotic flavor and sunset-colored hue. Turmeric, a rhizome popular in Indian cuisine and traditional medicine, has recently become a darling of the American wellness world, lauded for its anti-inflammatory properties, among other benefits. Here, I spliced together a turmeric latte and a mango lassi—a common Indian refreshment made from mango, milk, and yogurt—to create one summer-friendly drink. Since mango lassis naturally contain probiotics from the yogurt, I added in a bit of probiotic powder (see page 17), plus coconut milk and avocado for richness.

Excerpted from Unicorn Food: Beautiful Plant-Based Recipes to Nurture Your Inner Magical Beast by Kat Odell (Workman Publishing). Copyright © 2018. Photographs by AJ Meeker.

Roasted Purple Yam with Coconut, Lime, and Tahini

  • Serves: 2
Roasted purple yam from Unicorn Food


  • 2 medium purple yams
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1/2 lime, plus extra for serving
  • 1 teaspoon bee pollen
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Prick the yams all over with a fork, place them on the baking sheet, and roast in the oven until soft when pierced in the middle with a fork, about 25 minutes. Set the yams aside to cool slightly.
  3. Using a paring knife, carefully peel the yams while they’re still hot; discard the skins. Slice the yams in half lengthwise and transfer them to a platter (or individual plates). Using a fork, gently press the yam halves into the plate(s), mashing them slightly.
  4. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of the coconut oil to each yam half, distributing the oil evenly with a knife to coat the yam. Drizzle each yam half with 1/2 teaspoon of tahini, then squeeze the lime half evenly over each and grate the lime zest atop. Finally, top each with 1/4 teaspoon of the bee pollen and a pinch of salt. Serve immediately with the remaining lime alongside.

I love the slightly tropical flavor of this simple dish. You’ve got the natural sweet caramel flavor from the yam, mixed with coconut for an extra exotic note and acidity to brighten. Tahini mellows the potato’s sweetness with an additional creamy note.

Excerpted from Unicorn Food: Beautiful Plant-Based Recipes to Nurture Your Inner Magical Beast by Kat Odell (Workman Publishing). Copyright © 2018. Photographs by AJ Meeker.

Kat Odell of Unicorn Food
Photo Credit: Nicole Franzen