Local Folks Foods

Excellent Kosher Food

August 4, 2010

Healthy Eating Cookbooks

This is a different angle than I normally write about. I've shown different foods and places I've enjoyed eating at (normally not "healthy" as some may say). Contrary to what you may see here, I generally eat well and understand cooking with good health in mind. This post diviates from what I normally write about. I decided to take 4 cookbooks I own and discuss them. Is this a review? Not really though you could say it is. You may notice something that stands out. Of the 4 books I'm discussing here, two of which are from well-known spas, one by a Doctor, and the last in partnership with a major health facility and major retailer. I like all of them but I will rank them by how I eat. All the books do a great job when it gives VERY detailed nutritional information. These books were all released between 1995-2000.

"The Gourmet Prescription", Deborah Friedson Chud, MD, Bay Books, 1999.

Of the four books, this one reflects what my diet looks like. One thing I will say is that this book is very red meat friendly. In fact, ostrich is also featured in this book. The intention is to provide high flavors and lower carbs meals. I think it did the job well. You could easily remove the "low carb" emphasis and most probably would never know the difference. If you recall "The Zone Diet" by Dr Barry Sears, this book was inspired by that. Eventually, Dr Chud and Dr Sears worked together on fine-tuning the Zone Diet. Most of the things you use already (such as ingredients) will be used in this book. There are no needs for exotic or hard to find items, though you can take some liberty here. One side I liked was the black-eyed peas with greens and smoked garlic (pg. 189). The book uses collard greens but I prefer mustard (not quite the same bite with mustard). This book also received glowing reviews from Ronald Arky MD (distinguished Doctor and Professor at Harvard) and Steve Reichlen, BBQ master and host of "BBQ-U" and "Primal Grill" as seen on PBS. I think that alone may get someone's attention. There aren't very many pictures in this book, but the writing style flows very easily.

"The Mayo Clinic-Williams Sonoma Cookbook", Mayo Clinic,Williams Sonoma, John Phillip Carrol, 1998.

If you're looking for a perfect marriage, this is one such example. What do you get when you take one of the finest medical facilities in the country and combine it with a specialty foods retailer? The result is this book. Whoever thought to create this book was pure brilliance if you think about it. This book does deliver and I'll give the radio edit version. Like the "Gourmet Prescription" book, this book doesn't use a great deal of obscure ingredients or items that would be hard to find. One thing that stands out is they actually have meals broken down by seasons (e.g., one pot meals for winter). It also does a great job in the emphasis of using ingredients that are in season for the best results. Also great are the breakdowns in two subsections. The first, like "Prescription", does a very good job with nutritional values. The nice part is the cooking tips giving in this book. For example, the Provencal chicken and fennel calls for alcohol. On the same page, it mentions how much alcohol burns off while cooking (pg. 187). Then they go further to provide alcohol substitutes for those who do not consume alcohol (pg. 207, as seen below).

One tip that stood out was storing asparagus for the spring peas and asparagus (pg 83) if you don't use them immediately. It suggests to wrap them in a damp towel and store in a plastic bag for up to 5 days. The recipes could be a challenge to an amatuer cook but would encourage them to at leat try this book. If you can say you're at least a novice cook  or better, you should have no problems with this book at all.

"Canyon Ranch Cooking", Jeanne Jones, 1998, Harper Collins.

The next two books are featuring well known American spas. Canyon Ranch is a well know spa with locations in Arizona and Miami, Florida. They focus on the health and wellness. For the most part, this book has standard spa fair but all are pretty good. There are plenty of good alternative dressings. The detail might be a bit much for a novice cook because there is so much information in places to digest. Unlike the other two books I mentioned, this book tends to favor meat as much. While there are recipes for beef, lamb, veal and duck, the books encourages using them as a condiment (which for some could be a challenge). This book has a guacamole recipe that has no avocado (strictly steamed asparagus). I haven't tried it this. One thing I DO like a great deal is the cold pea salad (pg 106 as seen below).

"Canyon Ranch Cooking" as it relates to me, I could suggest it but might be a bit much for a novice cook. If you are a novice cook, take this book slowly and enjoy the ride. Start with the salads, sides and beverages then go forward from there.

"Golden Door Cookbook", Michel Stroot, 1997, Broadway Books.

I have mixed opinion on this book. I do like it but...just a few things that frustrated me just a bit. I did not see one recipe that included red meat but the turkey, chicken and duck recipes are also very good. Then they have things that I did like. You may consider trying the guacamole, made with one part avocado and one part peas (I have and its pretty good). There was also a roasted turkey with with parsnip-carrot sauce that I REALLY liked (pg 178, as seen below) .


There are many recipes that include seafood so either you can try to substitute chicken or another meat or just avoid it all together. A pretty strong Eastern influence is seen in this book, which isn't bad but may explain why there are no red meat recipes here. This book has MANY so there is quite a bit to digest. This book is not exactly for the meat & potatoes eater but there are some good things here. There are some VERY good things in this book but at times, it may be stretching themselves thin at times. There is a newer "Golden Spa" book, written by Chef Dean Rucker, who joined the Golden Door not long after this book was written. This book is pretty vegan-vegetarian friendly. I guess if I visit the Golden Door sometime soon, I might have a better vibe (ok, understanding for the grammar snobs) if I experienced this facility myself. I found enough in this book where I would suggest at least reviewing it for yourselves.