Thursday, February 4, 2016

Light-year Cookbook Reviews: A Girl and Her Greens: Hearty Meals from the Garden

Cookbook reviews shouldn't take a year, in my speed of light summaries I'll do it in less than 365 words! Even if you read one word a day, you will have at least .25 days left. I give you the "skinny" for every cookbook on some key points:
  • What is the aim of the book
  • How pretty it is
  • How readable the recipes are
  • How feasible the recipes are
  • How well the book supports good health (the horrible pun comes back around!)
  • Is the book good for vegetarians? 
  • Is the book good for vegans?



    Today we have A Girl and Her Greens: Hearty Meals from the Garden by April Bloomfield.



    Aim


    The author, a professional chef, shares her favorite plant-centered dishes. The book is made to be accessible and mostly based on vegetables, but also adding polish and sophistication to add interest.

    Look


    The book has stunning artistic recipe photos. Recipe pages also have adorable yet quirky vegetable-themed illustrations, which have a watercolor/fingerpaint feel. Fonts are nice and comfortable, though I could skip the page footer font.

    Readability


    The ingredient lists have a bit of a chef-like specificity (specific brands/types of simple ingredients) which aren't too pretentious but make it harder to read the lists quickly. Instructions are short, but jammed together a bit. The recipes are easy to understand but hard to quickly reference.

    Feasibility


    Despite the ingredient specificity, the dishes are actually all relatively easy to make. Nothing is overly complicated technique wise. Instructions are very specific, which I think can actually be very helpful for less experienced cooks. Some dishes have long cook times, but there are plenty of quick weeknight affairs too.

    Health


    This is about taste, healthy side effects are incidental.

    Vegetarian


    Almost all of the dishes are vegetarian, or could easily be made so. There are certainly some meat dishes but most use it more as a condiment. Cut the bacon and substitute vegetable broths and you'll still make some tasty meals.

    Vegan


    There are some shining stars in here that make the book worth reading for an aspiring vegan chef. That said the heavy use of cream and eggs may create some barriers. That said there is a ton in here ripe and ready for some simple substitutions, but it will be a do-it-yourself arrangement.



    If you would like to buy this book, please consider using the links in this post, a small bit trickles back to me if you do.

    Sometimes I receive complimentary copies of books I review, in this case I did not. I will always disclose this, but all opinions are always my own.

    Suggestions? Want to point me toward a book? Feel free to comment here, or ask me on twitter @RedHealthPotion.

    Monday, February 1, 2016

    Light-year Cookbook Reviews: Vegan under pressure

    Cookbook reviews shouldn't take a year, in my speed of light summaries I'll do it in less than 365 words! Even if you read one word a day, you will have at least .25 days left. I give you the "skinny" for every cookbook on some key points:
    • What is the aim of the book
    • How pretty it is
    • How readable the recipes are
    • How feasible the recipes are
    • How well the book supports good health (the horrible pun comes back around!)
    • Is the book good for vegetarians? 
    • Is the book good for vegans?



      Today we have Vegan Under Pressure: Perfect Vegan Meals Made Quick and Easy in Your Pressure Cooker by Jill Nussinow



      Aim

      This cookbook aims to set up a corpus of vegan dishes that can be made quickly and simply using a pressure cooker. It is designed for the home chef.

      Look

      The book has nice photography and a clean visual style with simple lines and pleasing colors. Visual cues are used frequently. There are call-outs for cook times that are in the same position for every recipe.

      Readability

      Fonts are large enough to read and in legible fonts. Recipe instructions are clearly numbered with relatively short entries. The tables for cooking single ingredients are exhaustive but easy to read.

      Feasibility

      Nothing in the recipes are too complicated. Most recipes involve prepping vegetables, a short saute of onions, and then pressure cooking. Aforementioned cook time call-outs make it easy to check how long to set the timer from a few feet away

      Health

      Health is not the central focus, but pressure cooking recipes are naturally lower in fat--here the author uses at most 2 tablespoons of oil in any recipe. The simple trick to saute onions in water instead would remove 90% of the oil.

      Vegetarian

      See vegan, below.

      Vegan

      The central focus of the book is a vegan diet. All recipes are vegan, including the use of naturally-derived sugars. Most recipes are edible meat eaters would eat, but aren't adding lots of heavily processed fake meats. Clearly these recipes were built up from scratch, instead of trying to convert meat-centric recipes.




      If you would like to buy this book, please consider using the links in this post, a small bit trickles back to me if you do.

      Sometimes I receive complimentary copies of books I review, in this case I did not. I will always disclose this, but all opinions are always my own.

      Suggestions? Want to point me toward a book? Feel free to comment here, or ask me on twitter @RedHealthPotion.

      Sunday, January 24, 2016

      Light-year Cookbook Reviews: 400 Calorie Fix: The Easy New Rule for Permanent Weight Loss

      Cookbook reviews shouldn't take a year, in my speed of light summaries I'll do it in less than 365 words! Even if you read one word a day, you will have at least .25 days left. I give you the "skinny" for every cookbook on some key points:
      • What is the aim of the book
      • How pretty it is
      • How readable the recipes are
      • How feasible the recipes are
      • How well the book supports good health (the horrible pun comes back around!)
      • Is the book good for vegetarians? 
      • Is the book good for vegans?



      First up we have 400 Calorie Fix: The Easy New Rule for Permanent Weight Loss!



      Aim


      This book provides a way to calorie count without stressing out and counting every chip you eat.

      Look


      The photography in the book is excellent. The large photo spreads throughout the book are paired with visuals of nearly every recipe, which enhance the reading experience.

      Readability


      Title and ingredient fonts are large and legible. Every recipe is straightforward, although the directions often could have been broken down into smaller steps.

      Feasibility


      None of the recipes are challenging. There are extensive sections covering quick meals, fast food, restaurants and social gatherings.

      Health


      Within the 400 Calorie Fix there are several tools to help very realistically help the reader make improvements in their diet. Calorie counting is a reliable way to lose weight. However, if it is the only tool you use it can lead to unbalanced nutrition, reliance on processed meals, and stress over exact counts. These issues, when combined, can lead to cheating and abandoning a diet. Each of these issues is addressed in the 400 Calorie Fix. Every recipe in the book has a rating of how well it addresses basic nutritional needs with a detailed nutrition panel. Quick meal recipes help break the rut of frozen diet lunches, but there is also advice for making the healthiest snack machine and packaged meal selections. The daily target of 4-5 meals of 400 calories allow for the reader to build meals tailored to their needs. Once these are rote you do not have to tick off each ingredient in a calorie diary. The author also knows that staying on a plan is hardest at an office party or buffet. There are sections that outline how to eat enough to be satisfied without missing out on your favorites entirely. Success stories with photos of real people reinforce that you can lose reasonable amounts of weight at safe speeds.

      Vegetarian


      Excellent vegetarian suggestions are present nearly everywhere. Many meat recipes use the meat as a seasoning, and can easily be omitted.

      Vegan


      There are only a couple of recipes that are vegan, and only a handful more that could be converted. The sections on food pacing and visual guides are still helpful.



      If you would like to buy this book, please consider using the links in this post, a small bit trickles back to me if you do. Sometimes I receive complimentary copies of books I review, in this case I did not. I will always disclose this, but all opinions are always my own.

      Suggestions? Want to point me toward a book? Feel free to comment here, or ask me on twitter @RedHealthPotion.