Monday, 21 January 2013

Book Review - Whole Foods to Thrive

I was a little worried going in that this book would be one great big advertisement for Brendan Brazier's Vega line of smoothie powders etc, but be assured its not. Far from it. These products barely get a mention, and when they do its in the drinks section of the recipes (of course) and in a section after the appendices. The focus of this book is whole foods, whole plant foods, providing tip top nutrition. It really is about getting the most nutritional bang for your calorie, buck, and environmental footprint.

The book is divided into two parts really, the first half which is the theory, and gets a little scientific-y at times (claims are sourced and noted in the end notes), and some of the sections are also a little math heavy. I'd have preferred that the math be referenced in an appendix a little more for those who are truly interested to browse through. These parts did make me go a little glassy eyed and I must confess to skimming over them a little, which means I probably missed some important info.

The second half of the book is all recipes. Many contributed, and all based on the philosophy set forth in the first half of the book. The contributed recipes are from well known sources, mentioned in passing in the first part of the book, referenced at the head of each recipe and in the recipe list, and with in more detail in an appendix at the rear. The recipes are laid out in an easy to read manner, and are grouped into logical chapters. There are no photos, sorry for those who like them.

I did notice the odd typo on my way through, but as this is an older copy and it may be an old print run, so I do hope these errors have been fixed in later runs. For example, in some (I think I spotted 2) of the math-y bits the numbers indicated in the diagrams (which is what I mainly looked at truth be told) didn't seem to match up with the numbers indicated in the text. Then in the recipes, the page number references for sub-recipes are not always accurate, for example the Roasted Garlic Dressing for the Roasted Vegetable Salad is indicated in the recipe to be on page 205 but in reality it is on page 211, and also in the New Caesar Salad the Flatbread is on page 186, not page 180 as indicated. A couple of the recipes were not the best written either - missing cooking times, ingredient lists a little vague (how are the onions to be chopped for example), but nothing that I couldn't take an educated guess at.

The recipes I made from this book, in page number order -
Page 139 New Potato Pancakes
Simple to make, I think I made mine a little too thick as the insides were a little underdone. Tasty as a side dish. Photo below with the Spicy Lentil Salad.

Page 146 Roasted Vegetable Salad (Contributed)
Everything took on a lovely pinkish hue from the beets, and was super tasty. The arugula wilted a little which was nice. I had some leftovers cold, and that was nice too. Good balance with the dressing (which I will touch on in a bit).

Page 148 Spicy Lentil Salad (Contributed)
I love loved the sprouted lentils in this. Such a refreshing crunch, lovely texture and flavour. I have been inspired to sprout more things!

Page 151 New Caesar Salad
So delicious. H is not usually a fan of sea veggies, so I didn't tell him they were in the dressing and he went as gaga for this as I did. I did use chopped nori sheets instead of wakame as that is what I had. Worth the price of the book for this recipe.

Page 168 Black Bean Soup (Contributed)
Not impressed with this one. I felt it had too much water so once blended the soup was too dilute and bland. Once I strained off the bulk of the water off it was better - flavours were nice, but I felt lie it was a little bit of a waste.

Page 179 Garlic Thyme Sweet Potato Oven Fries
Another wonderful recipe. I did add cooked chickpeas to ours as I had some to use up and I do love roasted chickpeas. The flavours are intense but balanced, with interesting texture from the pumpkin seeds.

Page 186 Rustic Sweet Onion Flatbread
I made it using the oven method as I do not have a dehydrator. I preferred these the next day - I found the flax flavour a little overpowering straight out of the oven. After a day the flavours had melded and were more in tune. Super easy to make - great as "bread" for an avocado and arugula sandwich too. On photo for the New Caesar Salad, above.

Page 187 Roasted Garlic Quinoa
Simple, nice way to make quinoa, if a little bland. I would add more garlic, but I am a fiend.

Page 195 Zucky Hummus (Contributed)
Not super reminiscent of hummus, but a darn tasty dip / spread in its own right. I had mine with veggies but this would be good on the flatbread (above) or nacho chips etc. Have to remember to soak the seeds!

Page 211 Roasted Garlic Dressing (Contributed)
I found this by itself to be a little heavy tasting on the balsamic, and less punchy with garlic than I was expecting. However, when used on the salad as directed it comes into balance and is great. On Roast Vegetable Salad above.

Page 213 Sweet Mustard Dressing
Genius to use almond butter to emulsify and add creaminess without an overpowering flavour. Really thick and so good.

Page 239 Spicy Black Bean Chili (Contributed)
Not the most well written recipe - you have to read it through to know that the 1 tomato, crushed and 1 tomato, diced in the ingredients list are actually tins of tomatoes, and then guess at the tin size. Also you have to guess as to how long to cook the chili to meld the flavour nicely. That said, it was really tasty, nice and thick once partially blended, I enjoyed it very much.

Page 268 Sour Cream and Onion Kale Chips
Again I used the oven method. The flavouring mix smells so potent and lovely when you are rubbing it into the kale, but looses some of that potency as it cooks. A super tasty snack, and the easiest way I know to eat a whole bunch of kale in one sitting!

Would I recommend this book? absolutely - if you are interested in eating for health, and looking for tasty recipes to help you on your way, or even if you just want a great vegan Caesar Salad recipe!

1 comment:

Uncensored Mini said...

Just came across your blog and will defiantly be using some of these recipes!!