The nutritional advice provided is sound, and not all at extreme, and the recipes are simple, healthy and very tasty. The Healthy Kitchen is definitely more of a cookbook than a diet book, but if you are inspired by the many tidbits of information, and by the excellent recipes to eat and drink more healthily and mindfully, so much the better.
Reviewed by Magdalena Ball
The Healthy Kitchen:
Innovative recipes for a better body, life and spirit
by Dr Andrew Weil and Rosie Daley
2002, Random House, Hardcover
ISBN: 0 09 1884422 5
The Healthy Kitchen is midway between a diet and a cookbook. Actually it is more a cookbook than a diet book, but there is enough inspirational prose on the importance of a good diet, nutritional and health principles, product labels and general health information scattered throughout the book to make it appropriate as a fully fledged guide to changing your diet and improving your health for the better. It is also an interesting read, for those who like to read their cookbooks, not just follow the directions. Dr Weil has actually written a proper diet book, Eating Well for Optimum Health and writes columns for Prevention magazine, has a website and regular newsletter on health and self-healing. He is also profession of medicine at the University of Arizona. Rosie Daley has written a proper cookbook In the Kitchen with Rosie and is a formally trained chef best known for her former job cooking for Oprah Winfrey. Together they make a good team, combining Daley’s love of food and understanding of cookery and presentation with Weil’s focus on health and the healing properties of good food. Their talents aren’t mutually exclusive either. Weil is clearly a cook himself, and Daley has obvious knowledge of food combining, nutritional principles and low calorie eating which shows in her recipes and kitchen hints. Overall however, the book focuses on good food – that is, food which tastes good and appeals to the body on aesthetic and sensual grounds, first, and health grounds second.
The book is broken up into the fairly standard structural chapters of breakfast, beverages, starters, salads, soups, main dishes, accompaniments, desserts and a section on meal planning. Each section contains detailed information at the start, and throughout the chapter, on how to eat better, tips and tricks and specific nutritional information on the foods included. For example, in the breakfast section, there is a page looking at whether eggs are good for you, tips for substitutions, spices and spicy foods, a page on fruit and eating mindfully. The recipes are quite delicious and amidst the usual fare of muesli, pancakes, muffins and granola (a nice healthy recipe which could do as a staple) are inventive breakfasts of eggs florentine, frosted orange ginger fruit salad and two-coloured fruit gazpacho. Perhaps that next “dinner party” could be a brunch? Beverages are unusually comprehensive, and include selections of smoothies, juices, tonics, teas, shakes and even mulled cider or wine. The starters are substantial enough to have as mains, and include BBQ recipes, finger foods like baked vegetable wontons (delicious and pretty easy to make), dips and pastes (try the miso pate! it almost sounds macrobiotic but is fancy enough for Christmas) and even a section on cheese. There are inventive and healthy salads, lots of innovative soups including stocks, and a section on accompaniments which provides a range of side dishes from relishes and sauces to pilafs, vegetable dishes and potatoes.
The star of the book is the main course section though, which contains a range of hearty dishes ranging from vegetarian dishes with grains, beans, glutens and tofu to chicken, turkey and fish dishes. There are chapters on meat substitutes (although Dr Weil doesn’t point out that many tinned meat substitutes liked “braised duck gluten” can be very high in sodium and even sugar and are not healthy at all), garlic, shellfish, pasta, tofu, sprouts and using leftovers. I was surprised to learn that pasta has a lower glycaemic index than bread (and therefore a better impact on blood sugar) and that it is healthier to cook al dente (pity my family likes their pasta “soft”). I was also surprised to read that sprouts are not really that healthy and that some can be toxic, having read just the opposite elsewhere. Most of the recipes are relatively simple, and although they are all healthy (but not necessarily super low in calories), the focus is always on taste. If you have very young children, as I do, you may find that many of the recipes are a little sophisticated for them, but if I only cooked dishes that appealed to my 2 year old, we’d have nothing but spaghetti and peanut butter sandwiches.
For every recipe in the book, there is more nutritional information provided than you would usually find in a cookbook, including details on the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol, fibre, protein and calories, along with details on serving quantities and a full colour photograph. Weil and Daley don’t always agree with one another (although they mostly do), and it is funny to read the odd aside: “Rosie this means you”. Desserts are primarily fruit based, and include healthy cookies (the orange oat and sultana cookies were so delicious I mitigated any health benefits by eating way too many), pies, sorbets and puddings. The nutritional advice provided is sound, and not all at extreme, and the recipes are simple, healthy and very tasty. The Healthy Kitchen is definitely more of a cookbook than a diet book, but if you are inspired by the many tidbits of information, and by the excellent recipes to eat and drink more healthily and mindfully, so much the better.
For more information on The Healthy Kitchen, or to purchase a copy at 50% off the retail, visit: The Healthy Kitchen: Recipes for a…
For more information on Andrew Weil’s own “Optimum Health” program, visit: http://www.drweil.com