"Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table." -William Shakespeare

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cookbook Reviews and


Because everyone needs snacks for teatime!
(Scroll down for cookbook reviews.)


2c whole wheat pastry flour, plus up to 3/4c extra
1t pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
1 t baking soda
¼ t cream of tartar
½ t salt
½c milk, your choice
1 egg, or 1T ground flax plus 2-3T water
1t vanilla
1c, or less, sweetener (I used ¾ c brown rice syrup, plus a drizzle of blackstrap molasses), really yummy with maple sugar!
½ almonds, chopped
Optional: 1/4c raisins, 1/2t almond extract if you like an Almondina-type biscotti

Combine dry ingredients. Beat (or toss in the blender) the wet ingredients and add all at once to the dry. Stir until dough forms, adding extra flour 1T at a time, till a soft dough forms into a ball.

Flour your hands generously and knead a few times in the bowl. Dough may be slightly sticky so reflour your hands as needed. Divide into 2 equal balls.

Roll into 2 logs, 12x2” approximately. Place on greased, floured cookie sheet, carefully, as dough may fall apart if not handled carefully. Flatten tops.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and turn heat down to 300. Cool on baking sheet 10 minutes.
Cut loaves into diagonal slices and rearrange cut sides down on cookie sheet.

Bake 10 minutes, turn biscotti other cut side down. Bake 10 more minutes. Cool on wire racks.

"I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet and simple things of life that are the real ones after all."
-Laura Ingalls Wilder

I realize some readers might be starting from scratch on the journey to whole foods eating, so I wanted to post some suggestions for a gentle, easy start. It is so important not to get overwhelmed! There are dozens of ‘natural eating’ diets that can confuse and complicate the matter. Remember that any book I review is probably available through your library, either locally or through inter-library loan. Reading a book before buying is always helpful to me.

When I recommend a book, I do so with disclaimers. Even cookbooks are written from a bias, and that bias may not be right for everyone. Very few books belong on everyone’s bookshelf, but there are, yes, a few! That’s why the first book in this review is not, in fact, a cookbook. But it belongs on everyone’s shelf.

This book breaks down whole foods eating into a very sensible series of steps, and thoroughly explains the WHY of each step. I can’t do as good or thorough a job as Marilyn Shannon in that department, so instead I recommend you read her book. The first part of the book gives you the reasons why to eat a natural diet, how to substitute healthier options for what you may be eating now, how to buy whole foods, and does a good job explaining WHY you need to cut out or cut back on certain foods. The second part of the book has specific nutritional helps for various reproductive issues, hence the name of the book. This book will give you direction and confidence in the grocery store and kitchen. The finest, most sensible nutrition primer I know of.

Next is my go-to cookbook:

The one cookbook I’d choose, if I could only have one. Heaven forbid. This cookbook is about cooking ‘American’- and Asian, and Middle Eastern, and European- with whole foods instead of refined ingredients. VERY helpful! The granola recipe in this book was the basis for my own, much evolved, granola recipe, and is alone is worth the price of this book! Many familiar recipes, dejunked, many new things to try, plus lots of hints and tips for general cooking and baking with whole foods. Meat dishes and vegetarian. Some milk-free, egg-free, etc. recipes, too. My only caveat is that many of these recipes have too much sugar for me- i.e. the bread recipes and the desserts. I alter those a lot. Other than that, this is an easy-to-use cookbook I can recommend without reserve. It is available through your local La Leche League Group, through the La Leche League website, or used on Amazon.

A great cookbook, recommended with some reservations:

This cookbook has more exotic ingredients and unfamiliar recipes, so it could feel a bit overwhelming to a mother just starting out. Biased towards vegetarian cooking, some poultry and fish recipes, very anti-beef. As I live in Kansas, organic grass-fed beef is very easy to find and I’m definitely not against red meat, myself. Meat, no meat, what type of meat? Is a personal decision and I don’t think there is a one-type-fits-all diet out there. Which is why this cookbook is a second choice for me. That being said, there are some great recipes in here, and if you want to explore alternative sweeteners, there is a LOT of great info in here.

Organic, or not? Many families simply cannot afford a 100% organic diet. When I was confused about what I should buy organic, and what wasn’t so imperative to buy organic, I found this book:

This book gives you hundreds of foods and basically ranks their importance as far as buying organic or not. My current buying habits are based a lot on the information I found in this book. After ranking foods, the author still recommends you buy everything organic. The intention of this book is not to make you feel guilty for what you're not doing, remember!

And to finish, a delightful book about the importance of eating together, for children:

And my daughter, eating pretend sukiyaki, one of the foods from the story. My children became eager to learn to eat with chopsticks after reading this book. 500 times.

“Mercifully, diets all blur together, leaving you with only one definite piece of information:
french-fried potatoes are out.”
-Jean Kerr

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the book recommendations (some new ones I might add)- I look forward to learning LOTS from you, from the books, from doing, savoring, and loving life!
    ps. We just read How my parents learned to eat a few weeks ago as well- and yes, chopsticks are a treat to use around here too!