I’ve had this book on my review list for a while now, but I had a little trouble getting motivated to review it, mainly because after opening it I discovered that it’s really a cookbook that is geared towards parents of young children. At 8 and 4, mine basically eat the same things that we do (with the exception of spicy sauces, etc.), so I wasn’t sure how much I would get out of it. I found that it’s a good basic cookbook, though, with lots of everyday recipes that you would make normally, anyway.
Renée Elliott is the founder of Planet Organic, a UK-based organic supermarket, and her health-oriented focus is obvious from the beginning. Before getting to the recipes, the book lays out Elliott’s arguments for healthy eating and her list of “wonderfoods,” which she says offer something “above and beyond” the nutritional value of other foods, and which should be incorporated into a healthy diet. I’ll be honest and say that while some of them I eat all the time (apples and broccoli, check and check) there are others that I had never even heard of (amaranth, anyone? Anyone?).
Elliott also includes information about which foods to introduce at different ages, and in certain recipes she gives variations based on a baby’s age–for 6-9 months old or 9-12 months old. Elliott states that each recipe is made to feed two adults, one child, and one baby, so if you’re not cooking for children you’ll have a little left over. What follows are four chapters laid out roughly according to mealtimes: Start the Day Well, Time for Lunch, Around the Table, and Baked Treats.
As I said, I found most of the recipes to be pretty basic. She does include a lot of healthy variations, though, substituting more traditional flour and grains, for example, with what seem to be more nutritious choices. The main problem for me is that here is France, although we have health food stores, there are still a lot of things that just aren’t available. In a regular supermarket, you’ll be lucky to have a choice between white and whole wheat flour.
There are lots of ethnic-inspired recipes and lots of “twists” on more traditional dishes. The recipes in general are consistent with what I would expect to find in a healthy cookbook, making use of lots of fresh herbs and spices to add flavor. I should note that I had the International Version of the book and there is apparantly a U.S. version as well, which may mean there are some differences between the two (or maybe it’s just the measurements).
In general, I thought it was a well-laid out cookbook with lots of useful information and recipes, although I’m not sure how much I will use it considering some of the more “exotic” ingredients. I would especially recommend it if you’re a new parent or have young children and are struggling to get into the rhythm of cooking for a family.
I’ll leave you with a recipe that I thought looked particularly good, as I’m a big fan of wrap sandwiches.
Chicken & Tahini Wrap
PREPARATION TIME: 30 minutes
COOKING TIME: 5 minutes
STORAGE: Refrigerate for up to 1 day.
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets or 6 boneless, skinless chicken thigh fillets, cut into small strips
4 oz cauliflower, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp chopped sage leaves or 1/2 tsp dried sage
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 tbsp tahini
6 wholemeal or multigrain tortilla wraps
3 carrots, grated
3 spring onions, white part only, finely sliced
1/2 lettuce, chopped
2oz sprouts, such as alfalfa, broccoli or mung (optional)
1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan over a medium high heat. Add the chicken and cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4–5 minutes until the chicken is beginning to brown and is cooked through and the cauliflower is tender. Remove from the heat, add the sage, salt and pepper and mix well.
2. Spread 1 tablespoon of the tahini down the centre of each wrap and top with the cooked chicken and cauliflower, and the carrot, spring onions, lettuce and sprouts, if using. Roll up the wraps, tucking in one end, and serve.
Variation for 6-9 months: Chicken & Cauliflower Purée
Put 4 tablespoons of the cooked chicken and cauliflower mixture and 3 tablespoons water in a blender. Blend for 30 seconds, adding extra water 1 teaspoon at a time, until smooth. Mix in 1 teaspoon of the oil and serve warm.
Variation for 9-12 months: Chicken with Cauliflower, Carrots & Sprouts
Put 2 tablespoons of the cooked chicken, 1 tablespoon each of the cooked cauliflower, carrot and sprouts, if using, and 3 tablespoons water in a blender. Pulse for 15 seconds, adding extra water 1 teaspoon at a time, until the mixture forms a lumpy purée. Mix in 1 teaspoon of the oil and serve warm.
Thanks so much to NetGalley and Duncan Baird Publishers for providing me with a review copy of this book.
Buy from The Book Depository*
*THIS IS AN AFFILIATE LINK, SO IF YOU PURCHASE AN ITEM USING IT, I WILL BE PAID A SMALL PERCENTAGE OF THE PURCHASE PRICE.
Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs…