The Friday Five – Healthy eating, no fads allowed

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Healthy eating, no fads allowed

 

I don’t have a great record on healthy eating books, or certainly those of a certain mindset around “healthy” eating. Deliciously Ella lasted about 2 days in my house, and a book with a recipe for unicorn fuel is my worst cookbook of the year.

But, it’s January, and many of us are thinking about how we could eat a bit more healthily, whether for health or vanity. These ones are ones that tick the boxes in that they do have proper recipes in (although one may have avocado on toast as a recipe, close call) and are quite clearly geared up to people who like to eat and like to cook.

Jamie Oliver Super Food Family Classics

 

Jamie Oliver Super Food Family Classics

 

I’m not the biggest Jamie Oliver fan, I’ve had a number of his books over the years but none have stayed in the house too long. I was given this one though, and MGG and I have cooked from it a lot. It’s an interesting read, as well as good recipes, and is definitely geared to busy family life. We loved the pesto and curry paste recipes, these are all in the freezer. The only nay from us was the Butternut Squash Mac’n’Cheese. In MGG’s view, some things are not meant to be healthy.

 

Fitness Food/Fitness Gourmet

 

Fitness Food

 

Took me a few moments to work out this is exactly the same book, just in hardback and paperback. I liked this when I reviewed the original version, other than the incident with the coconut pancakes. Still avoid that one, the recipe looks to be exactly the same between the editions. It’s easy to follow, you can work out how to dial up dishes if it’s just you on reduced calories and you’ve got growing teens to cater for too.

 

Cook Nourish Glow

 

Cook Nourish Glow

 

Amelia Freer’s second book, and I thought that with my history I was straying into dangerous territory here. But I managed to get all the way through without one FFS, so pretty good going. There is quite a bit of raw kale, which is a no go with us, but there are plenty of tasty things like chicken breast with ginger and apricot stuffing, or halibut ceviche. I like her writing style, she talks as a fellow adult, and there are plenty of well known people who will testify to the success of her approach.

 

Ready Steady Glow

 

Ready Steady Glow

 

I’m going to get these two confused. Both second books, this one by Madeleine Shaw is about wheat and sugar free, and well written. Although I can live without a yoga routine in my cookbooks if I’m honest, but it’s right at the back so you can skip it. Apricots and chicken feature again, but also something different like slow roast beef cheeks with celeriac mash. Sounds like perfect winter cooking to me, just with healthy overtones.

 

Tom Kerridge’s Dopamine Diet

 

Tom Kerridge's Dopamine Diet

 

Okay, this one isn’t out for a few more days, and I haven’t seen anything of it other than what is on Amazon. Well, that and the change in Tom’s appearance. Let’s face it, he’s about a third of the man he was, but you can’t imagine he’s been living on rice cakes and almond butter. I’m know he’s been putting in the hours at the gym as well (I have a great story about him and a friend of mine in the sauna at the gym…nothing remotely mucky, all about getting a table at the Hand & Flowers), but I reckon if this worked for Tom then it must be good, and very tasty. I mean, you won’t think you’re on a diet if you’re eating braised beef with horseradish or Chinese pork hot pot. I may well have to order this one and give it a go.

 

Whilst I’m definitely gearing up to eat more healthily this year, I’m also not going to eat joyless food. Finding healthy food with taste is the goal, along with an awful lot more movement. Don’t wish to be a bore but loving my FitBit, really is making me think about how long I’m sat still for. Talking of which, time to move!

 

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When fitness becomes gourmet

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I definitely don’t count as one of life’s athletes. Let’s face it, the furthest I’ve run in recent years is 100m. To be fair, it was in the Olympic stadium in 2012, but that’s a whole other story!

Fitness Gourmet

 

So I’m not necessarily a natural to review a book called Fitness Gourmet, but I’m at least half qualified based on that title. And given that this book covers healthy eating whether you are looking to get fitter/weigh less, maintain what you’ve got or build up to a big race, then there probably is something for everyone.

That said, MFL is the fitness one in my life, so between us we cover both halves of this, though with the added challenge of our respective kids to feed too. Sounded like a good challenge to put the book through!

We tried two dishes, with pesto and creme fraiche chicken being the first as a good first course. Now when you see a pile of veg this bright and varied as a result of the prep, you know it’s got to be good for you!

 

A rainbow of veg

Even the addition of some creme fraiche at the end didn’t stop me feeling that way, and generally this went down really well, although the kids weren’t keen on the sweet potato. But part of the premise of the book is that it gives you different options given your “fitness” target, and for those on the “burn” option these would have got swapped for carrots anyway. If you’re into a “build” phase, or feeding teenagers, then there was the option to add pasta.

 

Ready to go

 

I liked this book, and think I’d cook from this again, for all kinds of things. But possibly for our second recipe, which was bacon maple syrup popcorn. I don’t care what phase I have to be in, this was delicious. So delicious we hid it from the kids. And ate it!

Bacon Maple Syrup Popcorn

 

This book is currently £20 on Waterstones, or direct from the publisher, Jacqui Small, for the same price including P&P with code APG307, for UK residents only. Definitely keeping it on my shelves!

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Getting your greens, 24/7

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Greens 247

 

I was sent a review copy of Greens 24/7 by Jessica Nadel just before Christmas, just as you’re really thinking of festive indulgences. So I put it away till January, which definitely feels like the time you start thinking about eating your greens. The idea of this book is to give you delicious recipes for green vegetables at every meal.

I have to admit to not really being thrilled at the thought, particularly as kale is my food nemesis. Well, one of them.

As MGG was here this weekend, I chose to test something not too unusual. I mean, what can be more usual than burger and fries? Except these are vegan burgers, made of sweet potatoes and greens, in my case beetroot greens.

 

Beetroot greens ready

 

I did have to substitute butter beans for the pinto beans, as had one of those “forgot to soak the beans overnight” moments. But overall this was an easy recipe to put together, and healthy because you oven bake these. And not dull tasting.

 

Polenta fries waiting

 

And the fries? Polenta of course. Again oven baked. Again, substituted an ingredient. Let’s face it, I love my pesto, which is the flavouring in this. I’ll save making Kale and Walnut Pesto for another day! Overall though it was a success as a meal and I’m told I can make it again.

 

Dinner is served

 

We didn’t get to a sweet course, but there were chocolate-dipped kale crisps or even the chocolate hazelnut avocado torte recipes in the book. I’ll maybe save that one for another day! I really liked this book though, it definitely pushed me out of my cooking comfort zone and I’d definitely give some of the other recipes a go.

Published by Apple Press, this is available from Waterstones at £14.99 currently.

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The Friday Five – Healthy but not dull

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We were debating in the office at the beginning of the week that there is no worse time of year to try and adopt healthy eating habits. What your body really craves is warming stews and carbohydrates, and possibly sugar and warm drinks. It’s certainly not after a salad and a cup of green tea!

So I’ve tried to find five books that are about healthy living, not faddish diets, or subsisting on cinnamon and maple syrup water.

 

Hemsley Hemsley

 

The Art of Eating Well by Hemsley & Hemsley – this does seem to be the book of the moment, and the recipes seem to turn up everywhere. Of course the girls are very photogenic, so that probably helps, and the recipes seem good, even with a preponderance of kale. It’s free from gluten, grains and processed sugar, and it seems to have produced some interesting options. I like the sound of sesame chicken with cucumber noodles, or baked broccoli fritters with spiced avocado. They sound healthy but not dull.

 

river cottage light

 

River Cottage Light & Easy – I think we all remember Hugh’s weight loss, and it’s probably no surprise that this book focuses quite a lot on vegetables, but good wholesome recipes even so. It does focus on new grains, so less dependent on wheat, as well as new oils to reduce the use of butter. But swede and smoky bacon soup has to be a lot more appealing than cabbage soup!

 

Thug Kitchen

 

Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a F**k -well, I think it’s safe to say this is the polar opposite of the Hemsley sisters, but I like a bit of attitude. Besides, it would catch people out who were being nosy and browsing your cookbooks. And who doesn’t want to learn to cook roasted beer and lime cauliflower tacos? I could be very tempted by this one.

 

The Healthy Slow Cooker

 

The Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook – I think I’ve written before about how much I’ve got to love the slow cooker I was given last year. One of the things I’ve found with many of the recipes coming out of particularly the US is that they’re not particularly healthy, as they have processed foods as a starting point. Well, I’m not often that kind of cook, so this appeals much more to me, and I have to say the joy of coming home to something that’s ready to go is a great one, particularly in these back to work days post Christmas!

 

Good without Gluten

 

Good Without Gluten – not saying that gluten free per se is healthier, but for many people it’s a choice they have made, or have to make, but it shouldn’t mean missing out on great food. These recipes were developed by a team of Parisian chefs with a passion for great patisserie, just without the gluten. It covers alls kinds of meals, not just cakes and sweet things. If it’s a choice you’re making, possibly worth a look. I have a feeling I will be.

My view remains that the only diet that really works is to eat less and move more, but you may as well make sure what you are eating is delicious and nutritionally sound. Not to mention a joy to eat, something which you can’t ever say about cabbage soup!

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Eating for beauty

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Cooking from Crepes and Galettes, a cookbook from Cafe Breizh

 

I’ve always thought that foodies should be in reasonably good health, if we manage to control excess indulgence, due to the fact most of us must be busy eating all kinds of foods, lots of fresh stuff, seasonal food, stuff we make ourselves. Compared to those living on lots of processed foods, we should be paragons of health.

And inner health surely gets reflected on the outside, so we should be absolute pictures of health. Although there’s possibly the downside of our liking for matching wine and food, but I heard that drinking wine only adds two years to your skin’s age. Smoking, for balance, apparently adds ten years, so I’m sticking with my daily vino.

But now I am part of a not very scientific experiment based on a sample trial of two of us to see if adding something to the daily wonders of great food can have a positive effect on skin. I have a friend who is a CACI facial therapist, and she has noticed a difference in a client’s skin after 1 month on Imedeen. Now, given that one of us won’t see 40 again and one’s facing into it, we’re prepared to give it a go.

We’re not changing anything else, so I’ll still be having a glass of wine most nights, two on others, and whatever I’m eating anyway. I’ll still be sticking with my Protect & Perfect (I’ve sworn by this stuff for a very long time, well ahead of Horizon), not smoking, and a lot of sun protection. I’ll be trying, as usual, to drink quite a bit of water each day. We’ll see what happens. I have seen some previous studies from researchers I would trust to suggest a skin effect from an oral supplement, but it was a very different combination to this.

Will report back, good, bad or indifferent.

 

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The Friday Five – Healthy with taste

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It’s January, it’s been colder than cold, and certainly warming, comfort food has been the order of the day.Except it’s that time of year when huge chunks of people are resolving to eat better. Eating better can mean a whole heap of things, and be for a whole host of reasons from general health through to weight loss.

So here’s 5 choices that are about healthy choices, without being dull, and without being all about lettuce leaves!

1. How Not to Get Fat by Ian Marber – I’ve got a lot of time for Ian Marber, and he does talk quite a lot of sense on the food front. However, with a title like this, I can’t help but wonder if it’s a two page book, and just says eat less and do more. If it’s like his other books, then there’ll be some good recipes too.

 

The Nordic Diet

 

2. The Nordic Diet by Trina Hahnemann – there seems to be general rise in interest in Scandinavian cookery, so it was inevitable it would spill over into the healthy eating sector. It has all the foodie buzzwords of locally sourced and seasonal, but also lots of variety. I would think you would find things to cook out of this regardless of whether you were looking for “healthy” food or not. I think this would bring some great new tastes to any table.

3. Anjum’s Eat Right for Your Body Type – bringing together the ancient wisdom Ayurveda with great food to deliver fabulous taste and healthy food. You can do the whole body type prescription thing, or just cook up a storm with some great recipes, combining the best of East and West.

4. The Healing Powers of Chocolate – you’ll have a few weeks to wait for this one, but show me a woman who doesn’t believe already that chocolate has healing powers! This is just the science to back up what we’ve always known. Not so big on recipes, but good to know you’ve got some justification for that next bar of Green & Blacks!

5. The Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health – I had one of the original Moosewood cookbooks from my godmother in the US years ago, and it was well thumbed during my vegetarian stage. This one has 200 new recipes, and if they are as good as I remember the old ones being, then it won’t be hard to get anyone to eat healthily. Although it probably won’t make me vegetarian again!

So if you want some healthy ideas, or just new flavours for a new year, then these may be worth a look.

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The Friday Five – what’s top of the pops

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Last week was all about what was new, so I was just intrigued as to what was making the top of Amazon’s bestsellers list from already published books. The thing with Amazon is not just the huge choice, but also that an older book can stay around for ever, long after it’s gone out of the bookshops. Here’s the top 5 food orientated titles as of last night:

 

Economy Gastronomy - great cookbook to gift to a food lover with a budget in mind

 

1. Economy Gastronomy – number 2 in the overall bestsellers chart, and on the rise, probably as the series has now had three episodes aired. The idea of basic recipes is not new, but I’ve enjoyed the series. I would think it was a good book to buy a not very experienced cook. For more foodie cooks, I would buy the Leon cookbook by Allegra instead.

2. Jamie’s America– a faller on the charts, but still there at number 15. There will be crowd pleasers, family food, and stuff for special occasions. Nothing looks ground breaking, but I don’t think you buy Jamie’s books for ground breaking!

3. 101 One-Pot Dishes: Tried and Tested Recipes – this is the sort of book I love to see on Amazon. Not trendy and certainly not new (it’s spent 396 days in the top 100 and was published in Feb 2006) but full of good, straight forward recipes that you can use day in day out. I imagine it’s risen up the charts as we’ve all tightened the purse strings, as one pot cooking does lend itself to nice, slow cooking, perfect for those cheaper cuts of meat.

4. Healthy Eating: The Prostate Care Cookbook – I am thankful that this is a subject I know nothing about, but it will affect many families. I also don’t know if there is any science behind the cooking, but if this is affecting you then I am sure you will give anything a go. And changing your diet, compared to the alternatives, has to be an easy step. From the reviews, it sounds like the recipes are tasty too.

5. Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey – a faller at number 23! I really enjoyed this series with Rick, that fabulous combination of great cooking and beautiful locations, not to mention memorable people!  The only worry with this one was that some of the recipes they cooked had such huge numbers of ingredients. Great sounding recipes and beautiful recipes, as always.

So, an interesting mix, although as you might expect with the book of the TV series dominating. Still, all of these together would give you some very interesting times in the kitchen!

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Foodie Green Day Two

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A better organised day i.e. I didn’t sleep in for 20 minutes! Today I have been feasting as follows:

Breakfast: low fat Greek yoghurt with blackberries and raspberries and a teaspoon of light agave nectar. Half a syn

Lunch: salad grabbed from the mix of leaves and herbs in the garden, leftover broad beans from last night, half an avocado and a big slug of lemon juice. Half way through cursed myself for forgetting a spoonful of wholegrain mustard! 2.5 syns

Dinner: pea, courgette and mint frittata, with parmesan and a little boiled ham from the farm shop at Chatsworth. A small glass of white wine. And probably a square of chocolate. 9.5 syns.

Still on track. Although had a mad craving for white toast with huge amounts of butter! Tough day tomorrow as have a dinner to go to that I have no control over the menu. We’ll see! And then I’m switching to red days, just for variety!


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