Monday, June 13, 2011

Healthy Starts Here

There are so many reasons to love Healthy Starts Here! that frankly, I'm not sure where to start exactly. Obviously from the title you know the dishes are good for you. In fact, the beginning of the book is filled with all you need to know about a healthy approach in the kitchen... from portion size to nutritional breakdown and retraining your sodium taste buds.

But... and this is for those of us who start to panic when they hear/read stuff like that and are about to flip to another post or, Heaven forbid another site.... don't leave just yet. I have big surprises for you.

I love Mairlyn Smith's writing style - in a word - funny. She shares a wealth of info without being preachy. An example from the section "Must Have Kitchen Toys & Why You Need Them", I love this description of Parchment Paper...
"If I had to choose between a spa pedicure and parchment paper, the paper would come out on top. It's the perfect cake pan and baking sheet liner, never lets anything stick to it, and makes cleaning up a breeze.

Parchment paper is also perfect for lining baking dishes when you're making a casserole or anything with moisture in it. Tear off enough to line the dish with about an inch to spare. Crinkle the paper up under cold running water, wring out the excess water, then use it to line the dish. Easy cleanup, here we come!"
Same goes for the terrific ingredient section which includes everything you need to make the recipes in the book from apple cider vinegar to wasabi. And basic cooking terms for "anyone who missed grade 8 Home Ec". A great section with photos on "Handy How To's" - dicing and mincing onions, peeling ginger, cleaning leeks...

But you really want to know about the recipes... I know. Most cookbooks these days either divide the sections by course or by season. This one is a little different. Mairlyn organizes it in mostly alphabetical order, starting with "Apples: The Perfect Fruit" - recipes like pan fried rutabaga & apples, apple cheddar soup, apple date muffins and apple chips... and almost ending with a chapter on Yoghurt: The Good Bacteria... followed by chapters on chocolate, fast food (with recipes from chicken fingers to homemade pizza) and I think my favorite.. "Throwing a Dinner Party without Losing Your Mind" with some terrific menu ideas.

Each chapter starts with an intro explaining why that particular food is good for you and how to buy and store them, and other important things to know. That said, I thought I'd just jump in and share some of my favorites so far... although every page looks awesome.

Every dish is fantastic. And if you find the chapters confusing at first, because the book is organized differently than you're used to... there's always the index and my favorite chapter... Chapter 18 or "Throwing a dinner party without losing your mind". There's an intro about organizing parties for the non-Martha Stewarts among us. and then four menus - one for each season - menu with page numbers for each dish, a wine list and... most important... a schedule: day before, day of, 1 hour before... you get the point.

Bottom line: This one's a keeper... keep 'er on the counter! You'll be using it often.

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