About a month ago (during my little break), I was contacted about reviewing a new healthy cookbook. I LOVE cookbooks and am slowly growing quite the collection, but I find that there aren’t too many great healthy cookbooks out there and I’m always looking for new inspiration. What arrived at my office a few days later had an intriguing name… The Real Food Diet cookbook. Diet? All right, let’s see what this is all about. I’m definitely all for real food at least.
The book starts with an outline of Dr. Axe’s diet, defining “real food” and “fake food.” I didn’t really care for the tone of it – it seemed a little gimmicky with claims like “refined sugar is lethal when ingested by humans!” (yeah, ok!) which in my opinion actually undermined some of the good messages like avoiding hydrogenated oils and artificial sweeteners and focusing on hormone/antibiotic free, organic meats and eggs vs. their conventional counterparts. Some of the suggestions also lacked sufficient rationale. For example, the diet allows for small portions of grains but they must be unprocessed and glutten-free. I didn’t understand why glutten-free (for people that do not have glutten allergies) was recommended and further why some recipes in the cookbook portion called for glutten-free pancake mix. Is that unprocessed? Again, why is it better than whole wheat flour?
The book and I generally didn’t get off on the right foot but I was mostly interested in the cookbook portion and that’s what I set out to review. Majority of the recipes included nice looking photos, which I always appreciate (although a few of them did not match the description entirely… a bit sloppy). I also liked the little shortcut signs for meals that are quick, pre/post workout, low on energy, kid-friendly, etc.
Most of the recipes appeared pretty simple and straight forward and many of them sounded (and looked) delicious. Perhaps because of the intro section, for the most part I felt like this was a diet book (first) with supplemental recipes (second), rather than a cookbook with certain nutritional guidelines. The one clear miss in the cookbook section was the fact that there were no serving sizes noted. In some cases it’s obvious, but for things like shakes, for example – I had no idea whether I was going to get a whole pitcher or just one glass.
Recipe review time!
This called for 4 tablespoons of oil and 1/2 cup of butter for 2lbs of chicken. I’m all for not being scared of healthy fats but that confused me and I just couldn’t do it. The end result with significantly less fat, was still pretty delicious. I found the bitterness of the lemon rind a bit too strong on day 1, but it actually mellowed out in a few days in the fridge so the leftovers tasted better.
Egg Tahini Salad
A bit of a misnomer because it was actually a salad with eggs… not an egg salad. Am I too anal? Again it was a bit annoying that serving sizes were not included but I made a portion and while I had to thin the dressing out with some water, it was quite flavorful and I enjoyed it (the addition of tomatoes was my own and I thought it was brilliant! )
Next up I made the kale shake which I thought was vile. There is no picture here because after 2 sips (I forced a second one just to make sure I wasn’t crazy), the whole thing went down the drain. I usually force myself to eat whatever I make because I hate wasting food but this one was no go. The ingredients list included kale, cayenne peppers and bananas – this was either going to be genius or well, a disaster. You know what I thought of it by now
I’m happy to say it was smooth sailing from here. The rest of the recipes I tried were super flavorful, easy and very satisfying.
I made the raw marinara sauce with ground grass-fed beef (which I pan fried before mixing with the rest of the sauce) and served it over whole wheat gnocchi. The base of the sauce is sun-dried tomatoes which packed so much flavor. Loved this!!
The rest of the ground beef went into the making of the bison burgers. I know beef isn’t bison but I thought the spices that went into the patties were delicious – I’m sure they’d work great with bison! (Note: the roasted butternut squash and cream cheese additions were my own).
Next up, I made the blueberry bliss snack bars. I don’t know how many the recipes was supposed to make – I shaped them into 2 and had a fun little photo shoot.
These were sweet yet wholesome. I chopped my almonds coarsely and enjoyed their crunch. I also think that making bars into rounds makes them feel like cookies and extra special. I sure felt special eating these
The last recipe I tried was of the avocado mango salsa. It wasn’t much different from other avocado mango salsas I’ve tried but I was happy to have this sweet/sour combo again. It paired beautifully with grilled shrimp with I served over red quinoa.
At the end of it all, I think Dr. Axe got some of my trust back. We had a rocky start (and that kale shake is seriously disgusting!) but all these eats were clean, fresh and delivered strong flavors. I bookmarked a lot of the recipes for a potential review and definitely still plan on trying them out!
Would you like to try the recipes yourself? I have one free copy to giveaway!
Here are the rules; there are 6 ways to enter.
1) Leave a comment on this post – tell me what your favorite cookbook is and why.
2+3) Follow me on Twitter (please tell me in the comments what your twitter name is so I can confirm). For an additional entry, you can also tweet about this giveaway (my twitter name must be included to qualify – that’s @elinacooks fyi)
4) Like Healthy and Sane on Facebook.
5) Add Healthy and Sane to your blogroll.
6) Link to this post on your blog, if you have one. If you don’t, let someone else know about this giveaway and tell me so in the comments section after they’ve entered the giveaway.
Please leave a separate comment for each entry. The giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry) and will end on December 11. I will randomly choose a winner using random.org and announce him/her on Sunday. Good luck!