July 06, 2013
Energy Food by Beverly Le Blanc
We all need a little more energy right? Or at least I do. So I saw the cover of this book, the picture looked decent, and thought, "why not give it a try." And it wasn't a bad book, although I can't say it gave me any more energy.
Energy Food contains recipes specifically designed to give you an added boost throughout your day by way of nutrition. It is separated into four parts, with an introduction at the beginning and an index at the end.
The introduction is pretty standard, it introduces the goal of the book, says a little about looking at carbs a different way, has simple but satisfying tips for improving your diet (i.e. brown rice instead of white) and also talks about breakfast since it is supposed to be the most important meal of the day.
The first chapter is Breakfast Boosters, and it is about breakfast. Sure, there is the standard granola and such, but this chapter had a lot of different breakfast ideas in it that weren't your usual healthfood recipes. The Apple & Spice Oatmeal had few ingredients and cooked quickly, but it definitely needed the optional honey to be palatable. Even with the apples the oats overpowered all taste. I also thought it was weird that the ingredients list included "ground mixed spice" but yet never said what this mixed spice was. I defaulted to some nutmeg and cinnamon, but who knows if that is what they meant. The Scrambled Eggs with Leeks were nice and had a light flavor. They were quick to make but still very filling. A smoothie recipe, Blueberry Bliss wasn't too bad, but the predominant taste was of yogurt.
The next section is Lively Lunches (yes these are cheesy chapter names, but oh well). A lot of the recipes in this section were for soup, but non really jumped out at me as something I wanted to eat. I did however try the Baked Sweet Potatoes with Red Bell Pepper Hummus. I had to cook them longer than the recommended time, but the overall flavor was good and I liked the addition of the peppers to the homemade hummus. It gave me a chance to break the food processor out and use it for a change. It was a very filling dish. The Tomato Frittata was an easy to make dish and set up quite nicely with the egg ratio. I think my favorite recipe out of this section was the Buckwheat-Tomato Bake. It was different, and the addition of the feta cheese made it very tasty. The Chicken Avocado Salad was par for the course but the dressing that went with it was surprisingly tasteless and I was a bit disappointed. I think adding more herbs to the mix would improve it quite a bit.
Dynamic Dinners is the next section. There were a lot of good looking recipes in this chapter but none yet that I've tried. They all didn't appeal to the people I was cooking for and I didn't relish the thought of eating leftovers five days in a row so I didn't make them. I think the main turnoff was that the majority were vegetarian and they wanted a little meat (I tried to explain alternative protein sources, really!). I do think at some point I'm at least going to make the mushroom risotto. It looks quite tasty as does the roasted vegetable pizza.
The last section is Super Snacks. These are the little pick me ups throughout your day to keep you moving. There's a standard trail mix in here, some scones, and other things you can just grab and go with. I made the Chewy Oatmeal Cookies, and sent some with my dad to work, and they were well received. They of course had raisins in them (I substituted half for craisins for a little more sweetness) but they had a good texture even if they didn't look like the picture. The Mediterranean Melts were something that you had to cook, but they ended up being fancy Bruschetta without the bold flavor.
My overall thoughts of this book was that while the recipes were nutritious, they weren't that flavorful. Maybe I have a bold palate and like too much spice and herbs, but somehow I don't think so. Just the addition of some more spices or other flavors would have really amped up the dishes. Just because it's healthy, doesn't mean it has to be bland. Luckily though the recipes are easy to make and I can see a beginner getting along fine with most of the recipes in the book. There are a few that are a little more complicated to cook, and there's no basics described (how to scramble an egg) but anyone who can cook a little should be able to make most of these dishes.
The types of dishes in this book are mostly vegetarian. There are a few animal protein sources, but they are limited to chicken and fish (no shellfish). Nuts are also used as a protein. Because of these limitations, it might not be a book for someone who enjoys red meat or a lot of variety.
For energy, I didn't notice any extra in my case, but my dad, who has MS, seemed to react very well. It could have just been the extra socialness of having someone around to talk to, but after a few days of eating this food he seemed to have more energy and a happier personality. It's also good food for going light on the calories and I dropped a few pounds after eating this type of food for over a week. But, I also started running again so it is probably a mix of the two. Even so, it is a better alternative to fast food burgers and fries if you're trying to lose weight.
A positive thing about this book is the amount of pictures. There is a full page picture for each recipe and they are all beautifully done. I liked looking at the food more than I did eating the food actually. And it was nice to see what everything should look like when finished. The book format itself was easy to read with the right side being the picture and the left side having the recipes in large print (very easy to read). The ingredients list came first, followed by the name of the dish and description, and then the actual steps to the recipe. I do wish since this was a healthy cookbook that they included the calorie count, fat content, etc.
An ok book, I can't say I'd refer back to if much. I have a couple of Vegetarian cookbooks that have tastier food and are just as healthy (Vegan Planet) or healthy with more protein sources (Food to Live By) that I'd rather refer to.