Book Club Tuesday: Healthyish

It’s been awhile! Hope everyone had a good start to 2018! I’ve been on a huge break since my last review — I have spent the last couple of months free from my review regime. For those of you who are new to Shipshape Eatworthy what happens here is simple: I receive review copies of cookbooks and then I try at least 10 recipes per cookbook. I posted 27 times in 2017 and 24 of which were cookbook reviews so you do the math.  So much cooking. So much. It’s fair to say I felt a little burnt out by the time December rolled around but by the new year I’ve been itching to get back at it. When Healthyish by Lindsay Maitland Hunt arrived in my mailbox I couldn’t wait to get started and her healthyish cookbook made it so easy for me by offering recipes that took honest, regular pantry staples (nothing expensive or anything that required a special trip to purchase) that could be quickly turned into a tasty meal.

Saucy Butternut Squash & White Beans w/ Pesto Couscous, p. 131

The entire time I’ve been cooking from Healthyish I kept thinking of that Julia Child quote –“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces — just good food from fresh ingredients” because what Lindsay Maitland Hunt offers is a way to enjoy great food using a simple list of whole food ingredients. What is the battle most people have? It’s that they would cook for themselves but they don’t know how/it takes too much time from shopping to cleanup/too expensive. What Hunt has done here is to create recipes that any home cook  can quickly make, even if you’ve never really cooked before.

As you know I cook a lot but I don’t always have a plan. Take last Thursday for example — by the time dinner was approaching I had no plan and nothing prepared. I picked up Healthyish and turned to her chapter on Vegetarian Dinners and found a recipe for One-Pot Whole-Wheat Spring Pasta. Within 30 minutes supper was on the table and even better there was minimal clean-up. Isn’t that the best kind of dinner — tasty and effortless? I’ve tried one-pot pastas before and they’re almost all the same — tomato/basil-based. What I really liked about Hunt’s pasta is that it employed a couple of green elements (asparagus and peas), along with lemon and tarragon which made it taste bright and very spring-like.

Even in her chapter on Breakfasts I like that she took breakfast and found a way through overnight oats to grain bowls. The Why-Didn’t-I-Think-Of-That bowl full of brown rice, apple, seeds, and PB was a refreshing change from the oat-based breakfasts I usually have. Farro, Barley, and Brown Rice are just some of the whole grains she uses in her breakfast bowl recipes.

What Healthyish really speaks to is the balance that people are trying to achieve between eating healthfully and eating appetizing food. To talk to some people healthy eating seems like a one-way ticket to deprivation and misery. Styrofoam-like rice cakes come to mind and I know for myself this kind of diet has no appeal. However I would like to make healthy food for my family and I think the way to do this is with simple whole-food ingredients but not to skip out on the fun stuff. When I had my daughter’s friend over for a play date I made Hunt’s Truly Delicious Energy Bites — full of chia seeds, peanut butter, dried fruit, and shredded coconut there was enough good stuff to give these kids fuel to play on but also enough chocolate to make it feel like a special treat (her recipe makes twelve but I rolled these a bit smaller for the kids)! It’s also helpful to note here that I didn’t need to use a food processor to make these bites (if you don’t cook much yet it’s nice to pick up a cookbook that doesn’t require special kitchen tools/equipment to make a recipe). I was able to use one bowl and one spoon and while she lists ingredients in both amounts and weights I found myself weighing ingredients more often in order to cut down on the clean-up.

So while the cookbook contains chapters on everything from breakfasts, snacks, lunches, and dinners there are also chapters on treats (she even has the perfect recipe for a single-serve, no bake cookie) and go-to components — all of these chapters contain delicious, totally-worth-the-effort recipes. Maybe you’re like me and totally love it when a cookbook is designed so that a recipe fits on one page? I always find it so annoying to turn the page to finish making a recipe so I truly appreciate the fact that the recipes are one-pagers! Healthyish is what I would consider to be a “flexitarian”cookbook (there are meat/fish/poultry-based recipes) however with the help of her Special Diets Index at the back of the book you can quickly see which recipes are: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Gluten- and Dairy-Free, GF-, DF-, and Egg-Free, Vegetarian, Vegan, and Vegan/GF. This is just another way in which Hunt helpfully gets home cooks to the recipes.

What I noticed about the ingredients is that Hunt makes the effort to keep the costs down, for example in her Single-Serving Chocolate & Peanut Butter recipe she mentions that she tried the recipe with almond butter but eventually chose peanut butter as a way to be more cost effective. I noticed too that she uses canola oil in the granola recipes instead of the ever-popular coconut oil — canola being (at least) half as much as coconut. So far I’ve made around 15 recipes from the book and that was with minimal grocery store trips! I just relied on what I already had in my fridge and pantry. (If you want to see what healthyish stuff I’ve been cooking up check out my custom Instagram hashtag #eatworthyhealthyish or my dedicated Healthyish Facebook post. I’ll keep adding as I try new recipes).

I would totally recommend Healthyish to anyone who is busy but looking to eat more healthfully. Nothing bank-breaking just 131 recipes that can be made quickly with minimal mess/clean-up. With loads of tools and tips you don’t need to have any experience in the kitchen, only a willingness to give it a try. A quote from her introduction really stuck with me and I think it honestly describes her food: “The best recipes are like the best people: patient, forgiving, and playful.”

Toasted Sesame & Miso Dressing, p. 229

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Abrams Books for providing me with a free, review copy of this book. I did not receive monetary compensation for my post, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

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