HAPPY FRIDAY! Hope everyone is having a wonderful day–I know I am! I dragged my little sister to a sweaty session of BodyAttack and Zumba this morning–we’re both on the couch recovering. Marathon training looms with a 5-miler on the schedule, but we’ll see about that–I’m hoping for a long afternoon of MarioKart on my horizon. Wii counts as exercise, I heard.) Oh, the joys of being (hopefully temporarily) unemployed!
Right before I returned home to America, I was sent a copy of The Real Food Diet Cookbook by Dr. Josh Axe (great name, right?) to review on the blog (the book was sent to me, but all the comments here are my own). I finally had time to sit down and review it and I want to share it with all of you (and give one away too!).
Plus, it gave me a good opportunity to get into the kitchen–these first few weeks I’ve been back, I’ve barely been cooking at all and I really want to settle into routine. And plus I got a cute new apron from Sur La Table, so I kind of had to use it. (Best store ever. Anyone agree?) Whatever works…
One thing I liked about this book is that it’s definitely not JUST a cookbook: it has a ton of information about healthy eating in general and is very easy to understand. I consider myself pretty “up” on nutrition information but I definitely learned something too! The basic concept–if you can’t tell by the title–is eat real food. It encourages readers to base their diets on fruits and vegetables, details the author’s favorite “real” foods, and outlines the dangers of processed foods and additives. There’s also a lot of concentration on glycemic index and glycemic load, which is still something I am trying to learn more about. He mentions tons of simple substitutions to lower the glycemic load of your meals (and thus their effect on your blood sugar) which I really appreciated. The information is really useful–a lot of us know the basics (processed foods BAD, real foods GOOD) but I do appreciate learning a little more of the WHY, if that makes sense.
In addition to the helpful healthy-real-food-diet at the beginning of the cookbook, the recipes (130) are divided into a number of sections: breakfast, beverages, salads, soups and stews, sauces and dressings, main dishes, side dishes, snacks, and desserts. The best part about this cookbook? The recipes are all made up of “real foods,” and they are all EASY to make. I know I’m still super intimidated by recipes with miles-long ingredient lists and verbs in the instructions that I have never heard before–definitely not this one. My limited kitchen abilities would be more than enough to make any/all of these recipes, which is an A+ in my book.
There’s also a helpful key for the kitchen hopeless (read: me) to make it easier to pick recipes, using little symbols to designate recipes that are “kid-friendly,” good for “post-workout,” for times when you have “low energy,” “raw foods,” and so on.
There are a lot of classics (but healthified, as we bloggers might say) as well as a lot of interesting recipes I really want to try, like mashed faux-tatoes (made with cauliflower), mac and “not cheese,” raw ice creams and cheesecakes and other desserts, and so on. Definitely inventive. He’s anti-soy (due to the risks associated with the phytoestrogens) and there aren’t a lot of traditional dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese) used. So dairy and tofu lovers, don’t expect a lot, but the majority of recipes ARE vegetarian and there are interesting dairy alternatives used.
One aspect of this book that deserves mentioning is that it encourages people to count nutrients, not calories. The motto is to focus on healthy food choices, not numbers. Going along with this, no nutrition information is provided for the recipes. I personally agree with this concept and find calorie counting restrictive (for me) and leads to me thinking about food way too much. BUT with that being said, calorie counting is simply what WORKS for a lot of people, and others might just want to know a recipe’s caloric, fat, protein, carbohydrate, what have you, content before they cook it. Granted, the recipes are not super complex so it wouldn’t be hard to plug it into CalorieKing or SparkPeople to figure it out, but I think that needs to be noted as well. I’m totally on board with the concept, but I know not everyone measures their food choices in the same way.
Paying homage to the title of my blog (okay, they just sounded really good) I decided to test out the pumpkin-blueberry pancakes for a variety of reasons. Mainly because I love pumpkin, blueberries, coconut, cinnamon, and vanilla (all ingredients in the pancakes) and because I haven’t had pumpkin yet since I got home! Woohoo!
The ingredients were easily assembled and mixed. This was my first time cooking with gluten-free anything, and I was really curious how I was going to like the taste. (I didn’t notice any difference!)
Only a few came out super ugly. Is it an unwritten rule that at least one pancake out of every batch has to be a huge fail? I always get overzealous with one that’s not quite ready to be flipped, ultimately leaving a nice puddle of batter across the pan. Lovely.
Pumpkin side note: I know pumpkin is all the rage in the blogosphere, but due to my living in Africa until very, very recently, this is my first can and now I’m supposed to use it within a week, according to the guidelines. What should I do with it?? I am very open to suggestions. Eating it raw has crossed my mind but I am not quite ready to stoop to that yet.
Hardly any sugar in these and I have a roaring sweet tooth with breakfast foods, so I dipped mine in some maple syrup. But overall, great! If you are looking for a cookbook with simple recipes and some good cooking and eating guidelines, this is a good choice.
I really need to start collecting cookbooks! I am not the most inventive person in the kitchen so I really want to draw more inspiration from people who cook a whole lot better than me. Any suggestions?? I can’t do super complicated things and I love veggie and vegan recipes. Any suggestions appreciated.
Now the fun part! I HAVE A COOKBOOK TO GIVE AWAY!! Bear with me in my cheesy excitement, because this is the first time I have given something away on my blog. There are several simple ways to enter:
1. Leave a comment on my blog! Tell me a cookbook you recommend or something I should do with my leftover pumpkin (or just say something else. Anything counts.)
2. Follow me on Twitter! @CourtPancakes. Now that I’ve been back in America for a couple of weeks it’s time to figure out how to use Twitter and I’d love to get in touch with my friends and blends that way
3. RT my giveaway, share it with others!
4. Ad me to your blogroll if you have one! I feel like I’m just starting out as a blogger in some ways ow that I’m in America (blogging from Africa was a very sporadic thing at best, due to circumstances!) And I would love to A. find new blogs and B. have more people find mine–I’m redoing (okay, doing) my broll next week and I’d love to add you guys too, let me know
Just leave a comment here to enter plus one for anything else (twitter, RTing, etc.) so I can count the entries and I’ll randomize a winner on Tuesday, January 18! My blog is tiny, so good chance of winning
Okay, MarioKart calls. Have an awesome weekend, everybody!