Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Couple Cookbook Reviews

I have always utilized my library in just about every capacity: books, audiobooks, DVDs, CDs, you name it. But I am just now starting to realize the wonder it beholds in the cookbook section. It has almost an entire wall of shelving dedicated to cookery, and I think that it's high time I start taking advantage of that. I recently checked out The Kind Diet and Giada's Kitchen which I am going to review here.

Let's start with the good first: Giada's Kitchen

Prior to this occasion, I have never felt the compulsion to buy any of Giada de Laurentiis' cookbooks because I watch her show on Food Network so faithfully that it never occurred to me that her cookbooks would have different recipes in them. Well guess what? They do! And this book had my mouth watering the ENTIRE time. I promptly made one of the dishes from the book last night (spicy parmesan green beans and kale) and will be purchasing my own copy in the near future. There is just something so simple and sumptuous about the food she makes. I just love watching her cook - even if she's making a dish that I would never consider making in a thousand years, she still manages to make it look and sound delicious.

Now onto something less enticing: The Kind Diet

Alicia Silverstone makes a convincing case for why you SHOULD go vegan. But it honestly started to feel like propaganda after a while: meat is known to cause cancer, dairy is known to cause cancer, processed foods are known to cause cancer, milk actually causes osteoporosis.

OK, we get it. Everything but plants is bad for you. But here's the deal: aren't we going to all die of SOMETHING? I'm not going to spend my entire life seeking out nothing but plants and deny myself some of the very things that make life so enjoyable just because it might eventually kill me.

In the past couple of years I have worked really hard to try to eliminate as many processed foods as I can and to eat more fruits and veggies. But I could NEVER give up dairy. I could give up meat a lot easier than I could give up dairy. And yes, maybe eating an all-plant diet will make you feel and look better, but there are some things in life that you just have to say, "I live a good life, and try hard to eat well, but this is something I'm just not willing to give up."

And I will give Alicia credit: she recognizes that. Which is why she has different stages of the kind diet, the first one being "flirting" with the idea of going vegan. But here's the deal: had this book included easy, delicious-sounding recipes, I might have considered eating vegan more often. But given the obscurity of so many of these ingredients, there's no way I'll be using any of these recipes.

Examples of obscure ingredients that most people in suburban America would have a hard time finding:
  • lotus root
  • shoyu
  • vegenaise
  • seitan
  • vegan chorizo
  • umeboshi vinegar
  • brown rice syrup

There are many more examples, but I will just leave you with those.

For those people with the willpower and desire to drastically change their ways, perhaps this book will speak to them, but for me, I thought it was a bit too alarmist, and didn't include any recipes that made my mouth say, "Mmmmm... that sounds good!"

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