The food of the islands has its own special charm--who can resist the call of the jerk? But, in between nibbles of sweet plantain and empanada, we wonder if we'll hate ourselves in the morning when we tally up the fat grams and sodium we consumed the night before. Aiming to take the fear out of the feasting, dietician and culinary instructor Donna Shields has penned Caribbean Light, a healthy romp through the kitchens of our West Indian neighbors.
Shields clearly loves her work and her subject. Making it plain in the introduction that flavor and authenticity are more important to her than cutting every last calorie, she takes our hand and guides us through over 125 fabulous, relatively simple recipes such as Coconut Kerry Chicken, Marinated Palm Hearts, and Drunken Shrimp. Each recipe is followed with information on calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, vitamins, and minerals, to allow the reader to decide if the pork chop's worth it (it is). Well-indexed and easy-to-use, with informative sidebars on many aspects of Carib cuisine, the only thing this cookbook is missing is illustrations. Viewed as incentive to actually make the dishes, though, perhaps that's not such a bad thing after all. --Rob Lightner
From Publishers Weekly
Key West-based food writer and registered dietitian Shields offers a cornucopia of zesty and healthful recipes from the Caribbean basin. In the introduction, Shields details her approach to healthy, flavorful cooking: the use of contrasts in taste, texture, temperature, shape and color ("contrast cooking"), combined with fresh ingredients and realistic ("ample") portion sizes. Shields incorporates Caribbean ingredients (e.g., mango, tomato, coconut) and seasonings such as jerk rub (allspice, ginger, cinnamon, pepper) and sofrito (garlic, onion, green pepper), eschewing complicated, multistep techniques. To achieve her "lite" touch, she substitutes for or omits caloric offenders such as coconut oil and cream without sacrificing flavor. The simple, straightforward recipes exude sensory appeal: Garlic-Stuffed Chorizo Dates (skewered on a toothpick, baked and served as an hors d'oeuvre), Pineapple on Fire (grilled pineapple dipped in lime juice and coarse black pepper), Almond Crunch Sea Bass and Grilled Beef with Spicy Tamarind Sauce. Those less adventurous can gravitate toward the Grilled Lobster Tail with Roasted Corn Stuffing or Pigeon Peas and Rice (beans and rice). Nutritional analyses accompany each recipe, and informative sidebars like "Hot Zones" (measuring heat level of peppers by Scoville units) and "The Many Faces of Plantain" provide guidance in prose as vibrant as the bold flavors it describes.
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