These days there is so much conflicting advice on what is good for us and what is not that it can be confusing. One sensible piece of advice comes from food writer Michael Pollan, who says: “if it is not the food your great grandmother would have put in her mouth, don’t eat it!”
Hers was a simpler life when everyone had their own vegetable patch. Supermarkets had yet to be invented so food was not processed or nasty chemicals added. Sliced white bread was unheard of.
He also says: “eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”
A raft of new food writers are encouraging us to turn the clock back and adopt more natural plant based eating habits.
Real Food everyday
I sometimes throw up my hands in horror when faced with the number of food allergies and intolerances in our whanau. So I think it especially useful that in Real Food everyday all the recipes are gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free and the food is mainly but not exclusively vegetarian. So I can plan meals that all of us can enjoy.
There are some great ideas for breakfast/brunch. The spicy stewed apple and berries with coconut yoghurt and homemade granola (served in a jar rather than a bowl as you do these days) is quick to assemble and we thought it delicious..
A Supercharged Green Breakfast Bowl turned out to be colourful stir fried vegetables with a fried egg on top and a sprinkle of chilli and sea salt. This is would also be a good standby to rustle up for a vegetarian at any time of the day.
The dinner recipe we have used most is the sticky orange and honey chicken nibbles. Any leftovers still tasted good the following day.
For dessert or just to hand out as a treat to kids of all ages the pina colada ice blocks appealed, made from just three ingredients, fresh pineapple, coconut milk and shredded coconut.
I like the fact that as well as being healthy the recipes are quick and easy. The ingredients can be bought at the local supermarket, and are not too expensive.
Title: Real Food everyday. Author: Caralee Caldwell. Publisher: Real Food Pledge RRP $39.99
The Raw Kitchen
Olivia Scott is a talented young food writer (still in her twenties) and the founder of a very successful raw food business with flagship stores and kitchens in both Ponsonby and Newmarket. She is known for her incredible raw cakes. The Raw Kitchen is her first cookbook.
Essentially a raw food diet (which is a worldwide food movement) is a diet of Pure untouched plant food that is not heated over 48 degrees.
People who adopt a special diet can often be preachy. Thankfully Olivia is not. Her attitude to food is that
“The most important thing about eating food is that it should be fun. Food is provided by Mother Nature for us to enjoy and we should eat whatever it is that makes us feel energetic, nourished and happy.” But she would love more of us to at least try to incorporate more raw food into our diets for our good health.
Changing over completely to a raw diet is not for me, especially in winter it would be too hard to give up hot casseroles, steaming bowls of soup, or pizza straight out of the oven. And as for giving up flat whites, impossible! But I did want to at least try!
For many of her recipes you need a high speed blender or they are “cooked” in a dehydrator. And there were quite a few ingredients I didn’t have in my pantry.
I do have is a NutriBullet (which compared with fancier and more powerful high speed blenders, is relatively inexpensive and doesn’t take up much bench space so I could make some of her soups and was very pleasantly surprised.
The carrot, cumin and coriander soup as well as the creamy corn, coconut and hazelnut soup were made in moments (you just blend all the ingredients together) and tasty served cold. I think these kinds of soups are a brilliant idea for when you are too tired to cook, or just feel like an almost instant healthy meal.
An easy raw salad we tried and enjoyed was an old favourite of ours in the sixties, tabouli. But this one is made quite differently by reducing a cauliflower to crumbs in a food processor . Halved cherry tomatoes, diced cucumber, chopped parsley, spring onions and black sesame seeds are stirred through. It is dressed with a tahini dressing.
There is an abundance of sweet treats in The Raw Kitchen. But instead of white sugar other sweeteners such as rice malt syrup, coconut sugar and maple syrup are used.
My granddaughters would love the challenge of constructing some of Olivia’s raw treats such as the raspberry coconut-o-balls , the cold-brew brownee and the luscious pink and white layered strawberry, lemon and lime cake which all look so delectable in the photographs (and all are raw so no worries about getting their hands burnt lifting them in and out of a hot oven.)
For those who are new to a raw diet Olivia has included a list of the main ingredients and their health benefits as well as tips and techniques to help people who are learning the ropes of preparing raw food. Also included are lifestyle advice, easy relaxation techniques and a detox plan.
If you are ready to join the raw food movement, or already belong to it you will find plenty of inspiration in this book. And adventurous cooks who like to explore new approaches to preparing their food would also enjoy trying some of Olivia’s very creative recipes ,
Title: The Raw Kitchen. Author: Olivia Scott. Publisher: Beatnik Publishing. RRP: 60.00
Jeremy Dixon is the creator of the popular Revive Cookbooks and cafes in Auckland He now stars in his own USA cooking show series.
He is the antithesis of Graham Kerr, the flamboyant New Zealand chef who graced our screens in the 60’s and 70’s and was once named as the most dangerous in the world by Weight Watchers.
Jeremy’s passion is healthy eating and in Cook:30.2 he demonstrates how to make healthy vegetarian meals in just 30 minutes
He lists what to have ready before you start to cook. Then he shows us step by step how to multitask to get dinner on the table in 30 minutes. Each meal is accompanied by a series of photographs.
This would be a really useful cookbook to give to your children when they leave home or to grandchildren who can follow a recipe but get flustered at the thought of putting a whole meal with several different dishes together in a short time.
And it would also be good for older people who are now on their own and lack confidence and experience in the kitchen, but would love to have the family around for a healthy meal.
The food is café style so just right for relaxed, informal gatherings.
Title: Cook:30.2 Author: Jeremy Dixon Publisher: Revive Concepts RRP: $35
By Lyn Potter. Read more here.