You can tell Norene Gilletz knew what she was doing in designing this cookbook. In the beginning she acknowledges all those who have helped her
with ideas or tested recipes. She credits her Mother as one of several who inspired and taught her, or encouraged and advised her. She had willing
taste testers and even had a focus group to keep her apprised of what people want and "need to know in today's kitchen".
Healthy Helpings is a healthy cookbook so for those who look for the
nutritional analysis, you will be happy to know it is included with each recipe. There is a whole page of guidelines Norene used to analyze her
recipes. I personally found it very helpful to know things like "4 to 6 servings" was analyzed for 4 servings or "optional ingredients and
garnishes in unspecified amounts were not calculated". These are the questions that
sometimes puzzle those who are trying hard to figure closely all the nutritional analysis.
As any thorough cookbook author would include, there is a list of staples
for a healthy kitchen and it includes oils/vinegars, mayonnaise/salad dressings, dried legumes, tomato products, canned
vegetables/legumes/fruits/fish/soups, pastas/grains/cereals, snack
foods/cookies/crackers, breads/bread crumbs, beverages/juices/miscellaneous, and dried herbs & spices, baking supplies. There is also a section on
perishables, frozen foods and herbs. There is so much information under each of the staple items and so much "healthy" information listed before
you even get to the first recipe! I really like this in a cookbook!
The format of
Healthy Helpings recipes is done in a single list of
ingredients with directions below. There are two columns on each page, which seems to afford extra room to get more recipes per page. The print is large
enough to read and is a nice feature without a feeling of paper wasting as in some of the other cookbooks I've bought lately
- the kind with large fonts and only one recipe per page and an obvious waste of paper. But not
Healthy Helpings! I have the feeling that there was so much
information to include that Norene and her publisher figured out the
best way to get the most print on a page without it looking too crowded, etc.
Almost all of the recipes have the little friendly paragraph at the
beginning of a recipe that we all love to read - the little hint of origin or inspiration for that particular recipe. That feature means a lot to those
who like to read cookbooks like they read novels (I'm one of them!).
I collect cookbooks and have thousands of them, but this is one that we will
use over and over. In fact, I have made several of the recipes already and some even twice and I've only had the cookbook just a few weeks! My
favorites so far are:
Grilled Orange Teriyaki Chicken
Rainbow Rice Pilaf (the first recipe I tried from Healthy Helpings)
There are many other recipes I have marked to try so I already know this
cookbook is going to take a prominent place on the cookbook shelves near the kitchen, probably next to Norene's "Food Processor Bible", which we
use a lot also. In fact, I have loaded this cookbook with bookmarks and post-it flags to help me find the next recipe I want to try.
Another good thing
- the recipes call for ingredients that most of us already have in our cupboards. When I feel inspired to try a new recipe I
can reach for "Healthy Helpings and know I will most likely have all
the ingredients on hand to make a healthy and satisfying dish.
I highly recommend
Healthy Helpings as an addition to your cookbook
shelf. At $19.99 it's affordable and makes a nice gift for yourself or to someone
you'd like to help on their way to a more healthy lifestyle. I'm including the recipe for
Israeli Salad below. Not only is it delicious and
healthy, but it is also a very pretty dish to have on your dinner table.
1 head of Romaine or iceberg lettuce
4 green onions
1 medium onion
2 green peppers
1 red pepper
1 English cucumber, peeled
8 firm, ripe tomatoes (preferably Israeli)
4 Tablespoons olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)
4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sale (or to taste)
Freshly ground pepper, optional
Wash and dry vegetables well. Dice them neatly into 1/2-inch pieces and
combine in a large bowl. Sprinkle with olive oil and lemon juice. Add seasonings; mix again. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Salad tastes best eaten the same day it is made, but
leftovers will keep for a day in the refrigerator. Drain off excess liquid in the bottom of the bowl before serving.
This recipe makes quite a lot so either halve the recipe or invite
someone over to help eat it.