Sunday, December 20, 2015

Book Review: The Best and Lightest by the editors of Food Network Magazine

I'm a big fan of Food Network and Food Network's magazine. I love to read it, I love to watch it, I love to try new things. And I have learned so much over the years. It's been a wonderful tool for me, as a home cook.

I'm always on the search for new things to try: new food, new ideas, new delicacies. Who doesn't love good food?

So, when I was offered a chance to check out Food Network Magazine's compilation of their best and lightest dishes, how could I say no? As soon as it arrived, I started plowing through, much like I do the magazine. Cover to cover, pouring over each recipe with delicate care. Reading the ins and outs and ups and downs - every ounce to seep out all the inspiration and deliciousness.

First thing I see is that one of my favorite parts of the magazine has found its way into the cookbook: the visual recipe index. A glorious index organized by category and filled with images of each dish along with the title and page number. Heaven. I love that they put it right in the front, ready for when you want to find something fast. A quick glance and there is whatever you might be ready to make in delectable and mouth-watering color. The book does not disappoint here.

This is followed by a short and simple introduction and then onto the 150 healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So many choices. Thank goodness that most of us eat three times a day, at least. And, thank goodness, there are leftovers.

As I slowly flipped through the book, there were a lot of really wonderful choices. Some I had seen in the magazine, others I didn't recall. Plenty of fairly simple dishes, a few more complex. Light, simple, easy - just as described. But, here was the strange part for me - the recipes seemed lackluster. I just wasn't excited. They looked yummy and sure, I'd eat them, if prepared. But, the pure joy of wanting to make some of them just wasn't there. I don't think they picked the most interesting recipes to add.

Light and healthy fare doesn't have to be boring. But, I must say, in comparison to what I know of Food Network Magazine, this book is a little boring. I don't think I would run right to it to make my next party fare, let alone my next meal. I might take an idea or two out of it, but it just was lacking in pizzazz.

Now, mind you, some of these recipes are really fun and I will try them: Carrot and Parsnip Fries, Broken Lasagna with Zucchini and Tomatoes, Artichoke and Pea Gratin. But, I don't think this is going to be my go-to book for fun ideas and recipes to make. The magazine - absolutely. I have so many ideas and thoughts and things I want to make from those, there is never a short supply. But, this book seems to be lacking the same great explosion of creativity. I know they have a lot of healthy and light fare throughout the magazines, many of them I have marked to make. But, the book feels rather boring when I read through it, somehow missing the same amount of sparkle the magazine carries (and no, I don't mean the higher calories).

I will probably hang onto this one for a short time, just to give it another good try. But, more than likely, I will stick to the magazine for future inspiration and daily dishes.

*This book was given to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Book Review: Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook by Pearl Barrett & Serene Allison

Trim Healthy Mama is apparently a phenomenon. These two lovely ladies created a website filled with inspiration, health, and wellness recipes for lovely mamas (and anyone interested in eating this way). I have to say, before getting this book, I had never heard of them. Maybe vaguely. And, when I got the book, my intention was to give it to my sister who is trying to lose weight.

But, now, I'm hooked. 

I had no idea this book was filled with beautiful lifestyle examples - things of which I have been an avid follower for years: protein-filled, blood-sugar regulating meals with plenty of healthy carbs and fats. Many of the recipes are grain-free (they tend to favor coconut flour, almond flour, and ground flaxseed) and they are big promoters of natural sugar-free options like erythritol and stevia, as well as aluminum-free baking powder and high-content mineral salts like Himalayan sea salt. Grass-fed gelatin makes an appearance, as does coconut oil and MCT oil. And veggies - lots and lots of veggies. Their recipes and lifestyle is all about packing the most punch with the greatest amount of flavor, all while trimming down. Pretty fascinating read.

A lot of the recipes have THM (Trim Healthy Mama...for the newbies) manufactured suggestions such as baking blends, sweeteners, integral collagen, and other goodies that are easily sold on their website (I'm always a little leery about marketing plans), but they are great about giving you direction about how to find it elsewhere, even at a local store, or make it yourself. In this case, the marketed product manufacturing is about making the plan easy to follow, not just making the authors money (although, I am sure it does that in great abundance).

They have quite a few funny little measurements like a doonk (1/32 of a teaspoon) and lots of acronyms like NSI (No Special Ingredients). But, with a plethora of all sorts of delicious-looking recipes, who cares about some of the nuisances. There are also some fun nuggets on select recipes called "Serene Chats" and "Pearl Chats" - informative messages from the authors about the recipes, life, and sometimes, hilarity. I love that they include single serving recipes, as well as family-size - enough to accommodate everyone.

With healthy recipes (tried and they are true!) like Frosted Cinnamon Muffin - delish! - and Bring on da Buttah Pancakes, this book has endless recipes. I must say, I tried both of these and felt great afterwards, not heavy, depleted, or tired. Instead, I was satiated and energized. Good stuff. And lots more to try like: Avo Bacon Noodle Toss, Egg Roll in a Bowl, Ridiculous Meatballs and Spaghetti, Waffleized Brekky Sandwich, Chocolate Waffles with Strawberries, Mini White Cake with Butter Cream Frosting, Wigglemallow Pies, Zapple Crumble, and more.

My sister probably won't get this book. At least, not this particular one. Thank goodness for bookstores and online ordering.

Here's to a healthy, new you! Thanks, Trim Mamas!

*This book was given to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. I loved it.