Book Review – Healthy Baking: Nourishing breads, wholesome cakes, ancient grains and bubbling ferments by Jordan Bourke.

Healthy Baking

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Orion Publishing Group for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

If I was allowed to name this book, I would really call it the ‘Great Big Baking book of Everything’ as it covers such a wide range of recipes and dishes.

It starts out as I had expected with sourdoughs, yeast breads and other baked goodies that had me want to own my own paper copy of ‘Healthy Baking’. But there is then just so much more to this cookbook than bread, pastries and pizza! Oh so much more. We get into main meals – I am a sucker for roast whole head of cauliflower recipes and so need to try that one. And then into preserves, fermentations and more. I simply loved this book.

And no, no I didn’t get a chance to try any of the recipes… Yet. But from my 30+ years of cooking, making and baking I know how to read a recipe and I know what I would like to make and what I would avoid. I also know a well-constructed and tasty meal idea when I see one. And yes there were a few too many allium rich dishes within ‘Healthy Baking’ to have me want to try everything. But there was enough other ideas to try and I can see myself opening this book and trying them.

Oh, and for the record – whoever tries a recipe in a cook book at the shops before deciding to buy it and take it home? Anyone? Yes, you can see I am still bemused by a recent accusation I can’t really comment on or review a cookbook if I’ve not tried any of the recipes… but hey, I am giving you my opinion as if I saw this book in the shops. I would go through it (not read it cover to cover like I actually did mind you) and judge whether or not it was something I would want to take home and cook from. So those who tell me I can’t review a book without having tried everything in it first… you’re so funny! I don’t kill people before reviewing cosy crimes either, maybe that’s why the comments were left by ‘anonymous’… so there would be no volunteers to ensure I review murder books appropriately too? 😉

Anyhow, back to ‘Healthy Baking’. Loved it, I did say that though. So here is why I loved it. I can’t eat wheat – I have a medically diagnosed wheat protein intolerance (not coeliacs) that means a lot of wheat, barley or rye makes me sick. So a bread book that relies on spelt, dairy free options and unrefined sugars – all how I live and eat – was just a dream come true to me!

Yes there were all the allium issues, but I am just so used to people never thinking of the allium allergies and intolerances I just let it slide. Especially as ‘Healthy Baking’ never states it is a diet specific cook book. It is just a cook book demonstrating… Healthy Baking. Yeah, its title pretty much explains it all – nailed it.

For the formatting side of things – gorgeous, enticing and clear pictures draw the reader in and make us want to see more. A great deal of helpful information is provided for each section and some of the recipes too – I do like those personalised touches as to why a recipe is important enough to the author to appear in their work. And the recipe layout and other essential information was clear and precise too. Being a cook book made in the UK, no conversion to metric issues either.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. In fact, I already have been. There are a lot of people out there who aren’t just on the kale drinking, raw vegan, “hippy food” bandwagon as it matches our shoes. We have legitimate allergies and intolerances that seem to be overshadowed by foodisms and gimmicks. ‘Healthy Baking’ is NOT one of those foodism gimmicks. It really does come across as one of the open and honest cook books wanting to help everyone eat better and therefore feel better through whole foods and great recipes. So people with or without food allergies and intolerances will all enjoy this book. Maybe not every recipe… but there are enough there to keep us all amused.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Yes I would. It’s already on my Amazon wish list and I have been shopping around the various online bookstores to find the best deal on where to get it. 😉 Yes, this is really one of those books where I will happily put my money where my mouth is and hope to own my own copy very, very soon.

In summary: This is indeed a great book about Healthy Baking, and then some. Highly recommend.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – Fearless Food by Katrina Jorgensen.

Fearless Food.jpg

2 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Capstone Young Readers for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

Sadly, this cook book wasn’t everything I had hoped it would be. Firstly, it is presented as being a child friendly cookbook and worded in such a way as to suggest that children can cook the recipes. Some of them? Yes. Most of them? No. And I don’t just mean young children, there are some I would be wary of my kitchen savvy 12 year old trying without assistance. So, yes it might be a cook book aimed for feeding children, but not a cookbook teaching children how to cook for themselves – despite its childlike appearance and formatting.

Secondly, I know it says in advance it’s only looking at the “big 8” allergies, but stating there are “no major allergies” is rather misleading as some people may take it to mean “this is a safe thing to make” and then feed it to someone with say salicylate or allium issues… and then wonder why they got sick. These might not be part of the “big 8” but they are big issues in my line of food prep and so this book is rather useless to us because of it. Normally I don’t take offence to recipes that use allium. I’m used to it; I know allium allergies and intolerances are thought to be minor league. But to dismiss them entirely? Just put me off this book in the first recipe and I never really recovered enough to like it a heck of a lot.

I mean, yes, there are some good recipes in there, but they are few and far between. Any recipe that calls for a “packet of this” or a “tin of that” while proclaiming it is a healthy whole food cook book also will get the squinty eye from me. This book got the squinty eye.

Okay, I want to say something nice so… The formatting was good – childish, but good. Clear and precise and basic instructions easy to follow (but when you say use a packet of so and so, instructions will be easy). I did find some of the pictures confusing and misleading as they showed images of foods that were for recipes later on in the book… as if they had to advertise things to come to keep you interested. It might work better in paper format, but when reading an electronic copy, it just added a dimension of clutter and confusion.

This book is also marketed for an American audience. No biggie, I am used to that when working with Netgalley and accept it as part of the deal. But it did narrow the field down even more for those who can read, use and enjoy this book. Yes it starts with a great little conversion table at the front, big thumbs up there, but it then uses those pre-mades I’ve mentioned and without knowing the ingredients and being unable to buy those items outside of the USA… those recipes therefore become useless to try. So if pre-mades must be used, add a glossary explaining them maybe?

Please note that I personally feel cook books that try and tackle multiple food allergies as a thing tend to fail miserably. They up sell themselves and then can’t follow through on being THE food friendly cook book. It would have worked much better as a whole food, real food (besides the pre-mades) cook book that offered suggestions on how to make things say dairy free, nut free or gluten free. Trying to cover all those bases just let it down and meant it didn’t really help many of those with food intolerances and allergies. I mean, saying “if you have a wheat/gluten intolerance, use a GF flour” as a tip. Uh, yeah, thanks! I figured that out in all the other books I use containing wheat. How about just cooking without it?

Would I recommend this book to others?

No I wouldn’t, sorry. In this day and age of online recipe databases, there are far better (free) options out there teaching people how to cook foods for those with food allergies, intolerances and similar issues. This book is too sporadic and the wording just too misleading to be something I would recommend.

Would I buy this book for myself?

I’m pretty sure we all know that answer, right? No, I can’t say I would as, again, there are a lot of much better resources available to me that are far more flexible at meeting our dietary needs.

In summary: Yes this book might be helpful to some with food allergies, but not that fearless as I’d hoped.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – Candy Is Magic: Real Ingredients, Modern Recipes by Jami Curl.

Candy is magic

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Ten Speed Press for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

Holy Cow! Now I am a dyed in the wool sweet tooth and chocoholic – despite my whole foods and healthy foods life. And so I simply had to get a chance to read and review ‘Candy is Magic’ – and the book lived up to its title!

What an amazingly thorough and comprehensive book on how to not just make candy in its various sorts and sizes, but it covered all the essential basics about how to prep and create the flavour backgrounds and other ingredients needed to make the divine looking titbits shown within its pages.

Now did any of that make sense? I hope so, but I do almost feel like I’ve gotten a sugar rush just from reading ‘Candy is Magic’ and seriously have no regrets! There was a lot of moaning and groaning and “oh my god I can make that?!” exclamations made as I worked my way through.

I also feel that this book has given me an even greater respect for our chocolate and confectionary artisans. I honestly feel they don’t get enough credit for the time, dedication and creativity that goes into making proper, from scratch confectionary delights. I mean, I am not someone who will never buy cheap sweets over quality sweets… but there are some out there who go a bit silly when being asked to pay a couple of bucks for one item. If they bothered to read such books as ‘Candy is Magic’ I would like to hope they would realise why that one piece costs so much and that they savour every delicious mouthful! I know I do when I get to visit my favourite artisan chocolatiers and confectioners. 😉

Though saying all that, I do wonder if I am cut out for this level of confectionary making as, quite honestly, there is a lot of dedication and creativity needed and I do wonder if my skills are ready to be stretched that far. Heck, I’m still mastering a toffee glaze compote and raw chocolate… I might not be ready for the hard core candy making as shown in this amazing book.

Okay, as it’s a non-fiction book, time for my formatting feedback… It’s a Ten Speed Press book so, yeah, nothing to fault! Their images, their page layouts, their overall formatting – easy on the eye, easy to follow, sublime. Can you tell this is something I have come to expect from anything produced by Ten Speed Press? 😉

Would I recommend this book to others?

Well, I would… though I really don’t know anyone at the skill or dedication level who would want to take this sort of confectionary work on. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it is an amazing book and the recipes are something people of various skill levels could do… I just don’t know if I know anyone this dedicated to candy. Fruit leather, raw chocolate and refined sugar free treats is more the sort of thing my peers are into and so it is a book I would recommend as it teaches you how to make your own natural and yummy treats… but I honestly don’t know how many of my friends would then race out and buy it.

Would I buy this book for myself?

I would… but I would then feel guilty as I don’t know when I would have the time and space in my chunky old avocado green 1980’s kitchen to have a go at making some of the things. I mean, if I am going to serve candy/confectionary to friends and family I would honestly much rather serve things like the recipes within ‘Candy is Magic’… but whether I would actually use it often enough to justify owning it? That I can’t answer.

Maybe if it was an e-Book I could hide it on my tablet for those rainy days when I want to melt sugar and have some fun. 😉

In summary: An amazing, comprehensive and totally inspiring cook book that truly lives up to its title.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – The Pho Cookbook by Andrea Nguyen.

Pho cookbook

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Ten Speed Press for provided me with a free electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

You know, I thought I knew a bit about Pho… I did not. I now doubt if I even know how to say or eat it correctly. 😉

Pho to me has always been a really yummy HOT broth with noodles, bits of meat and maybe some greens. And a meal you have when you missed breakfast and just can’t wait for lunch.

So I feel the ‘Pho Cook book’ has filled in a lot of the gaps missing in my education when it comes to this amazing nourishing food source!

I grew up in Darwin, Australia where – back then – Asian cuisine was one of the most common foods available when out and about. So I have been exposed to them from a young age. And I admit now that Pho in a Styrofoam cup with a fork as you walk around the markets is not the traditional way to eat it, but that’s what we did.

This book made me hungry too! How terrible. 😉 We got past the initial recipes, which I felt were at a level I could do (being a bone broth lover today) and the rest of the book became almost like a menu for me than a cook book. I wanted to order almost one of everything.

And, being a book produced by Ten Speed Press, the gloriously colourful pictures were to blame! They always seem to capture the spirit of a book in their tantalising images.

As for the formatting? Well, I will say here and now the recipes clearly show it was written for a North American audience (no surprise as they were!) as all the measurements are in imperial.

Also, the formatting used for the recipes was very typical of what I am used to in the older style Asian cook books. Very similar to authors like Charmaine Solomon where the ingredients and methods and blocked out page for page. Tightly squashed together, not a lot of white space.

Now, I am okay with this sort of formatting, as I am used to it. But I feel it sets the level of who the cook book is aimed for – middle to experts cooks. As your modern newbie cook – who is into a lot of white space, basic step by step instructions and hand holding – isn’t going to like the ‘Pho Cook book’. Sorry, but formatting will put people off. They pick up the book, the flick through it, see it looks so compact and will assume it is therefore too complicated and so put it down and buy a different book.

But what would I know? Just my opinion as part of my open and honest feedback. I loved the book, loved the recipes… would be challenged by some of them, but that just makes all the more fun and enjoyment of trying.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. But only to those I feel could handle it. I now admin in a Facebook group where we are helping to teach the unexperienced how to cook real food on a budget. This isn’t a book I would suggest to the newbies. Though it is something I would suggest to the members who had had more experience and were willing to try something outside their comfort zone.

Would I buy this book for myself?

I think I would… but I would prefer it in paper format – as I do most of my cook books – and it would have to wait until I have more shelf space. 😉

In summary: Not for the beginner, but a fantastic cookery book showing you how to make and enjoy Pho… and then some.

Until next time,

Janis.

 

 

Book Review – Fast Your Way to Wellness – Supercharged Food by Lee Holmes.

Fast your way to wellness.jpg

3 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Murdoch Books for sending me a paper copy of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

As someone who finds great health benefits and healthy weight loss/management from a 16 – 8 fasting diet, I was very interested in reading ‘Fast Your Way to Wellness’ as, quite honestly, I’d come up with this fasting/ feeding pattern as it suited me and I didn’t really know if what I was doing was the right thing.

Turns out, Ms Holmes thinks it’s one of the fasting patterns that does indeed help! Though I do love how her book encompasses all the common fast/ feeding options there and does emphasis that it’s not a “one size fits all” sort of thing and how people need to find an eating pattern that best suits them.

What I also liked was how I have now been given more options to as to how to fast and what meals would best suit. Some days I just don’t have the opportunity to stick to my fasting ways, but I feel days like that – rather than me just ignoring food or over doing it – I can now treat them as “fast days” and refer to some of Ms Holmes super easy recipes to keep me going and keep me feeling good. As I honestly feel better if I allow my body to remember what it is like to be hungry. Not starve myself, but not just eat out of routine. It was so good to find a book that encourages and endorses this type of eating without turning the whole process into a fad diet or over commercialised trend.

The guidance given by Ms Holmes at the beginning of the book is very insightful and made me feel quite welcome and comfortable to keep reading. This wasn’t a trendy “in fashion” thing to give me a beautiful body. No meal replacements, yo yo dieting – none of that nonsense. It was all about eating better, improving your gut health and holistic health through better eating and how to simply enjoy real food.

The recipes that followed simply encouraged that feeling. I am someone who is totally against fad dieting and restriction dieting – you can only eat lettuce today – sort of thing… which is why ‘Fast You Way to Wellness’ is such a terrific book as there is none of that nonsense in it!

Yes there is calorie counting… but that is the point of fasting. You don’t have to scrimp and calculate points and kilojoules… you just need to eat the right level of calories for your body, your active/ not active life and that’s it. And, to be honest, that is the most fundamental thing about healthy eating and maintaining a healthy body weight for who you are – calorie intake. We want to make sure we eat the right amounts to keep us going and not starve… but also ensure we’re not eating too much so that we just store it as fat. That is the only reason I see the calories mentioned. As we truly are what we eat so let’s just eat what we need, no more no less.

Yes you are being taught the benefits of fasting to see if it’s something you would like to try, but there is no strict “thou must or else” attitude. This is a guide book to better health and better eating – a cook book for the soul and well as the stomach.

And no, fasting is not the same as starving or deprivation diets. Fasting is simply controlling what we eat and when we eat but ensuring we eat well. Yes, you can maintain the body weight best suited to who you are and eat your cake too! 😉

Now, if you’re like me you are fasting because you’re overweight, or simply want to ensure you don’t become overweight. Me, I am prone to eating far more calories than I will expend if I’m not careful and right now am very overweight due to a back injury almost immobilising me for the last year. But! This book isn’t about being super skinny with a six pack and thighs you can crack walnuts with. It is simply about looking after yourself through eating right and in amounts that suit you – the individual – not the mass market. We are all different, our body types and we react to foods are different and so what we weigh is different. What is an ideal body weight, shape and size for me with my heavy bone structure and 187cm height is not going to be ideal for the light framed person who is half my height. And please ignore the BMI – it is wrong and based on text book people. You are not a text book, be yourself and eat well. Which is exactly what I feel ‘Fast Your Way to Wellness’ is all about.

Okay, I feel I am getting a little too soap boxy there so will step down and get back on with the review. 😉

So, I loved the introduction. It really got me into the right sort of mindset to enjoy reading it all. Simply loved the section on which foods are best at helping to support your health and, if needed, weight loss. Then, before getting into those sooo yummy recipes, it gives super simple and easy to follow calorie/ kilojoules charts on all the ingredients used within the recipes of this book. And they are broken down into super easy sections to make looking them up a breeze.

Then – for those into the most common form of fasting – there is even weekly meal plans that map out the foods, calories, etc. Seriously, this book doesn’t just teach you the benefits of fasting and share a few recipes; it gently takes you by the hand and walks you through process every step of the way. Such a positive feel as it comes across that Ms Holmes truly does want to help people find and maintain a better way to eat and isn’t just about selling you a book or idea. Her passion for helping us all find better health through fasting and whole food eating simply shines through the pages.

Now to the all essential formatting and layout: excellent. The book is set out in an easy to read and follow manner. Introductions to what it’s all about, important information that will help and then the recipes themselves.

And the recipes? Perfect for cooks of all skill levels. Well laid out, easy to read and follow (uses both metric and imperial measurements) and each comes with a little extra information to help you connect. Whether it be a brief intro or a super charge tip. They’re all good.

If I loved this book so much, why the average rating? Well, it is totally a fault with the reader as the recipes, on average, are “Serves 2” portion sizes. And so trying to cook for myself, my husband and my hungry hordes – I prefer recipes for “Serves 5” or higher. 😉 ‘Fast Your Way to Wellness’ is obviously not a book for feeding the family, and more for your couples or singles. This is perfectly fine and totally acceptable. I am just not the right audience for that range. See, the flaw is with ME!

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. Already have been actually as the information provided, the guides to better health through better eating and the recipes are really good. And I’m a big girl; I know how to double a recipe! Others with larger families can too. Or they can feed their kid’s one thing and the adults another. Totally fine!

Would I buy this book for myself?

I might. If I hadn’t been sent a paper copy to review, I would have probably sought it out through my local library first to get a better feel for it before I would purchase it. I am a picky cook book buyer!

But now that I have a copy, will I be keeping it? Yes I will. There are quite a few rather interesting recipes to try out and incorporate into our daily life. Look out for them on my Instagram account as berry cacao smoothies and baked apple pancakes will be appearing there soon. 😉

In summary: If you are looking for an introduction to the various ways of fasting and eating well, this is a great book to start with. Loved it.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – Cooking with Coconut by Ramin Ganeshram

Cooking with Coconut.jpg

5 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Storey Publishing for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

Now THIS is a proper Coconut cook book! I’ve read and reviewed a few in my time and they’ve barely touched on the most common of recipes. But ‘Cooking with coconut’ goes far beyond that and brings you some of the most amazing traditional coconut recipes from around the world. Some I grew up with, others I do similar dishes to today as coconut makes up a large part of our diet. I absolutely LOVED this book.

The array of recipes from starters, mains, dessert, drinks and everything in between was wonderful. You can tell there is a love and passion for recipes here, and not just for the ones Ms Ganeshram grew up with, but the ones shared from other places.

And yes, my own food intolerances to seafood and allium would restrict me from making some of these recipes… but there are a few that I’d still attempt and just leave out the allium or sub fish for chicken and see how it goes. I’m a big girl, I know my way around the kitchen. 😉

And, be still my sweet toothed heart for all the coconut sweets recipes! I was in HEAVEN!

For me, the ingredients will mostly be easy to get my hands on. Let’s see, I already have coconut jelly, coconut water, coconut nectar, coconut sugar, coconut oil,coconut flour, coconut milk, shredded dried coconut and desiccated coconut (both unsweetened as we don’t do sweetened coconut in Australia). Oh, I have other stuff too of course, but I wanted to show that I was indeed the right person for this book as, yeah, we eat coconut daily in this house. 😉

To the technical side of things, the layout and formatting of ‘Cooking with coconut’ was also excellent. Clearly laid out sections, easy to understand and follow recipes – though they are in, I believe, American measurements so realise the cups and spoon measurements won’t be the same for Australian measurements. All the same, so easy to understand, convert and work with. Heating temperatures shown in both Fahrenheit and Celsius.

Another thing I liked about the recipe formatting is that there is a clearly shown tab for recipes that are allergy/intolerance friendly. Well, gluten and dairy at least. Pretty sure I remember some vegan tags there too. It’s good to be able to flick through a book and see these tabs right away if you’re cooking for specific dietary restrictions without making a big song and dance about it. Wonderful.

There is also a wide range of recipes too so people wouldn’t get tired trying the different dishes. Coconut is such a versatile ingredient; it is just lovely to see it all put to such good use!

There was also an in-depth introduction to the different types of coconut ingredients, a lovely explanation as to why Ms Ganeshram is so passionate about this ingredient and a great glossary at the back to help smooth out any questions the novice cook may have.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. In fact I was showing my electronic copy off to my dad and telling him we should buy a paper copy to share. Some of the recipes do contain a lot of ingredients – and therefore may put off some of the less experienced cooks – but the wording and instructions for each recipe is clear and precise and so if you wanted to give it a go, I feel cooks of any skill level would have success.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Well duh! 😉 Yes, I simply fell in love with ‘Cooking with coconut’ from the dips to the curries to the sweets to the teas. Yes there are recipes I would avoid, but there are so many more I would and do want to try that they outweigh those I can’t make due to food issues.

In summary: If you truly want to explore all the different options of cooking with coconut – this book is for you. Loved it.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review -Healing Herbal Teas by Sarah Farr

healing-herbal-teas

2 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Storey Publishing for providing me with a free ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

I don’t know what it was about this book, but I just didn’t gel with it. Please, please, PLEASE realise this doesn’t make it a bad book. In fact I found the book to be filled with very useful, very comprehensive information to help readers interested in tea as a drink as well as a way to heal themselves. I feel that was the problem for me, there was just too much information. And as good as it was… I found it swallowed up the recipes and really killed my desire to learn. There was just too much. But this is really just a personal choice thing and I am sure many will disagree with me and feel I am dead wrong. Cool, then they should write some glowing reviews about this book on their blog. 😉

When you actually do get to the recipes the formatting is clear, precise and easy to read/ follow… but I often found the actual recipes too few and far between as there was yet more information, herbal spotlights and many gorgeous pictures taking their place.

I guess I just found the overall layout of this book didn’t sit well with me? I don’t know? I hate sounding harsh and it is not my intention as some of the tea recipes sound just the sort of things I would love to make and drink… I am simply trying to give my honest opinion. And that is, I obviously wasn’t the right reader for this book.

Would I recommend this book to others?

I don’t know… maybe? Well, the extremely thorough information this book contains would definitely be of use to those who know nothing about tea making, herbal infusions and the like and such readers would clearly benefit from this book. But I also feel they might get too swamped and suffer information overload if they chose to read it all, rather than just skip to the recipes. And, quite honestly, I feel you would do this book and author a severe injustice if you skipped all the information she has shared and just race to the recipes. It’s an all or nothing sort of thing… If that makes sense?

Would I buy this book for myself?

Sadly no, and I think I’ve already given my reasons as to why that would be. There is a great wealth of information within this book and it is fantastic that it has been shared with us all… but I couldn’t connect and enjoy. I am still putting it down to the overall layout just not suiting my tastes more than it being a bad book – it is not a bad book!

In summary: an extremely comprehensive and informative book on how to make the best herbal teas for taste as well as health. I just wasn’t the right reader.

Until next time,

Janis.

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