EVERYDAY FOOD AS MEDICINE NEW website review by Elice Thomas
EVERYDAY FOOD AS MEDICINE
Since this is a cookbook, I decided to review not just the quality of the recipes contained within, but to also consider their accessibility, affordability and – since this is a health-conscious cookbook – their health benefits. I chose to try out their oven-poached tea and raspberry pears with baked ricotta as a dessert, and the roast turmeric chicken with lime and cashews for dinner.
At first glance, Everyday Food as Medicine seems a great addition to a cook’s library if they are working towards a healthier diet and want to expand their knowledge of healthy foods. Make no mistake – this cookbook does a fantastic job of that. Dr Kerryn Phelps and Jaime Rose Chambers, the co-authors and mother-daughter team, explain in easy terms the different benefits of the wide variety of foodstuffs available to us, and which foods to choose when making health-conscious meals and snacks. Their book is split up into several major areas of concern – gut and heart health, energy foods, anti-inflammatory foods, and foods that affect the mood. Each section contains a multitude of recipes covering every meal time, from breakfast to dessert, and insightful notes from each author about why they have chosen the ingredients that feature in each meal. Scattered throughout the cookbook, two-page spreads on other areas of health and lifestyle are also discussed at length, such as the benefits of fasting and effective game plans for new mothers. All in all, Everyday Food as Medicine contains a wealth of thorough and practical knowledge on improving diet and switching to healthier food alternatives when planning meals.
However, while this cookbook is incredibly insightful and helpful, I noticed almost immediately that it is not a cookbook for those cooks who need to take cost and accessibility into consideration. In almost all of their recipes, Phelps and Chambers have chosen ingredients which are very healthy, but also expensive, and sometimes only found in specialised health food stores. They provide two different meal plans at the beginning of the book, one for omnivores and the other for vegetarians, that include many of the recipes from the cookbook. As a simple way to gauge the effectiveness of these meal plans for the average Australian to follow, I added the ingredients to two different shopping lists – one for each plan – and calculated the cost to follow each for a week. Using the cheapest ingredients, each plan came out to more than $500 (and the omnivore plan even reached $700 owing to a lot of meat products). For once my background as a cashier at a supermarket is useful, because I know immediately that that is well above the average weekly spend for an average Australian family. While creating the shopping lists, I realised that many of the ingredients are only found in the health food aisle, and typically these ingredients are pricier than other, arguably less healthy, alternatives, due in part to their limited popularity and high production costs. So while the meals themselves are definitely health-conscious, it comes at the cost of accessibility. Where there are options between a basic, cheap food item or a more expensive (but healthier) alternative, Phelps and Chambers have usually opted for the more expensive one. Further, another important observation I made is that many of these recipes ask for a lot of ingredients considering they only serve 4 people – for example, the cottage cheese pancakes ask for 8 eggs; not to mention that these are not ingredients the typical person will already have in their pantry. I think it is quite telling that the authors do not address the cost of their recipes anywhere in the book, considering this is a cookbook as much about lifestyle change as it is providing delicious and healthy meals. I wholeheartedly agree that a healthy diet can prevent or help better manage chronic illness, as well as lengthening life expectancy, but not everyone has the means to radically change their diet or begin buying more expensive versions of food staples, such as quinoa instead of rice. Cost should be just as much of a consideration as taste and health benefits when crafting a cookbook.
In reviewing this cookbook I tried out two different recipes. I made the turmeric chicken over the weekend and liked the result. It was very tasty, especially with quinoa instead of rice (I definitely need to use quinoa more often), and the variety of vegetables added a lot of different textures and tastes that made the whole dish better. Chambers and Phelps do a fantastic job of explaining each step in an easy-to-follow way, and overall the recipe itself was very easy to make. I substituted chicken drumsticks instead of Marylands due to the cost, and couldn’t find nigella seeds – but the recipe suggests cumin as an alternative. I was very happy with this dish and so were my housemates – I would make this again. As dessert I tried out the poached pears as I’ve never had poached pears before, and the ingredients caught my attention – pears brewed in Earl Gray tea, white wine, and raspberries sounds delightful. And it was! These pears were absolutely delicious. The Earl Gray came through especially strongly and added a nice aromatic layer to the dessert, and the ricotta paired so well, balancing out the intense sweetness of the pears. Like the chicken, the recipe was again very easy to follow and make, and most of the ingredients were affordable or I could find them at home. So overall, both of these recipes were delicious and I would make them again, but more than likely I’d wait until a special occasion.
If you aren’t overly concerned about affordability and want to explore a healthier lifestyle, this cookbook would do well on your shelf. Each recipe comes with background on their health benefits, and throughout the book the authors discuss various areas of concern and ways to help yourself combat illness and fatigue. The recipes themselves are easy to follow, easy to make and delicious. However, the health benefits of these recipes come at the cost of accessibility. I would recommend picking one or two recipes for the week or fortnight ahead and double the servings to use as leftovers, to keep costs down but still benefit from these much healthier recipes.
review by Michael M
Two dishes cooked following the recipes I arm Barley Chickpea and Asparagus Salad: Delicious salad. Light and fluffy. Full of goodness and nutrition. Amazing combination of flavours with an extra point for being vegan fetta cheese.
II Mushroom Tempeh and Soba noodles stir fry Delicious stir fry with an amazing flavour and mix of vegetables. Highly recommended for a light summer stir fry meal.
reviews by Marina and Evie Sklyar
When I got the book, it was hard for me to decide which recipe I would choose to cook for the review. It was so hard because each receipt looked so yummy , healthy and easy to make I had to seek help from my 13 year old daughter to choose, and so she did with her friend. Girls asked for me not to help them and did everything independently. I was very happy that this book was so simple to follow, had easy and healthy recipe , but at the same time unique. After making the chocolate brownie my daughter told her dad who is watching his food, that’s its safe to eat brownie as it had no sugar, and that it is healthy dessert option for him to enjoy. by Marina Skliar
This cookbook is a very healthy option, it is filled with heart filled recipes with a healthy twist. Of all the recipes we decided to try the fudgy beetroot banana brownies. The ingredients in the recipe were simple and effective. The whole process was quite easy and didn’t take long time. The whole way through it smelled delicious and I couldn't wait to try it out. After finally completing the process it went in the oven and was ready to try. It was a scrumptious snack and recommended if you are craving a sweet tooth and are on a diet. This cookbook is a 9/10 for me. by Evie Skliar