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Customer Review

291 of 310 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag of pretty-darned-cool and "...but will I ever make this?", November 3, 2012
This review is from: True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure (Hardcover)
When I was offered a copy of this cookbook, I jumped at the chance to review it. After all, I've been a Health Food Person since the 80s, when "eating healthy" meant carrot loaf and adding a tablespoon of brewer's yeast to everything. (Thankfully, we all got better at it.) True Food's goals of seasonable and sustainable align with my own, too.

Plus, the True Food restaurants are near me, here in Scottsdale. I've been to them several times, and would probably have said Yes to the cookbook just for the recipes for their drinks. (There's a nonalcoholic ginger-fizz drink sweetened with agave that I really like.) The problem is: I stopped going to the restaurant because they use olive oil a bit too much; since my husband is extremely allergic to it (not YOUR problem), we get tired of playing 20 Questions with the wait staff. But that made me more enthusiastic about the cookbook, since obviously at home I can use any oil I want.

I've spent several weeks with this cookbook and... I have mixed feelings. I really like the goals it sets, but too few of the recipes make me say, "Yum, let's make that for dinner tonight!" Either they are fussy, or they use ingredients that are hard to find even for this Scottsdale foodie. (Why yes, I *DO* do all my shopping at Whole Foods and gourmet markets.) I appreciate cookbooks that introduce me to new ingredients, such as sea buckthorn and samphire, but if *I* can't find them, they may be out of reach for you.

Plus, Dr. Weil, who inspired the restaurant, is well known for his own dietary recommendations, some of which don't match mine. Some do: smaller portions of seasonal, organic ingredients; less emphasis on a big slab of moo (more fish, heavy on the veggies and grain). He advises to cut back on sweets and eat smaller portions (which I do, my chocolate reputation notwithstanding: Give me one perfect chocolate truffle, not a pound of M&Ms) but he doesn't make THAT big of a distinction between types of sugar. I've found, purely for myself, that I'm fine with agave, honey, maple syrup, but refined sugars are best left to once-in-a-great while.

The bottom line, though: Do I want to cook these recipes? Do YOU?

I usually try to cook two or three dishes from a cookbook before offering an opinion. As it turns out, I made only one so far, and it turned out quite well. The curried cauliflower soup is vegan, out-of-the-ordinary, and delicious. In addition to the cauliflower and curry powder, it uses a third of a cup of raw cashews, a can of coconut milk, and a few more spices (turmeric, cumin, and a touch of cinnamon). It was fast enough to put together for a weeknight meal, and reheated easily for lunch. (Come to think of it, it's also rather frugal.) I still haven't made the drink that had made me shout YES to the review offer, but it'll happen: Basically it's soda water, fresh lime juice, agave nectar (you can find that in most health food stores, even one of the warehouse stores occasionally), and pulverized ginger juice (e.g. blend fresh ginger with water, strain). (Several of the drinks are alcoholic, if that's more your speed, such as a tamarind margarita, or the Peacemaker with honey, black tea, lemon juice, rye whiskey, and Averna liqueur.)

I have bookmarks in several more recipes, but they've been stuck in the "Maybe I'll get around to it" category. Tofu curry with cauliflower, rice noodles, and cashews, for instance. Miso-marinated black cod, which must wait for me to see that fish in the store. Roasted butternut squash, apple, and pomegranate salad with balsamic vinaigrette.

But some are suitable only for a leisurely afternoon puttering in the kitchen. The summer vegetable casserole was briefly a candidate for the Thanksgiving table (we have a vegetarian guest every year and cater to his needs... I'm such a nice friend), with layers of an eggplant relish, fennel braised in orange juice and wine, squash and tomato, and a Parmesan-bread crumb topping. Others just don't appeal to me (sorry, I'm not a kale girl). And then, of course, there's the challenge of finding ingredients; I can get halloumi nearby but I'm not going to bet that's the case for you.

One thing I would like, given the health-conscious premise for this cookbook, is nutritional information for each recipe. Dr Weil may not count calories, carbs, etc., but some people -- including many of the health-conscious people who'll be drawn to this cookbook -- do.

Still, I _like_ this cookbook. I appreciate its sensibilities, even if I don't use it very often. If you have a good source of organic produce and some exotic ingredients, it might be just the ticket for you.
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Showing 1-10 of 16 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 3, 2012 11:31:53 AM PDT
B. Marold says:
I tend to like a book which uses selected "hard to find" ingredients, especially if it is done because the ingredients fit an ethnic cuisine. I am not so fond of books who make a virtue of it. If you preach small portions, a small portion of beef won't kill you, and will make you look forward to the meal. What I found most interesting in the what Esther related about the book is how its recipes reinforced some of my favorite esoteric ingredient combinations, such as fennel and orange. Very terroir! Great review.

Posted on Nov 28, 2012 1:16:54 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 28, 2012 1:31:50 AM PST
Thank you for your review .
I'm on the fence about this book, although there is good info and pictures in this book, but not sure about the recipes!!
This may sound silly, but what turned me off to it was using, Agave! I'm thinking if Dr. Weil is using Agave what else does he
use that is not healthy!
As even Dr. Oz has said, it will clog your arteries..I have called an organic company that manufactures Agave, and she had to admit that was true!
Although I did not stop there. I have done what I call, good research on Organic Agave, and yes it does Clog your Arteries, the same as white sugar, or worse.
Agave is a processed heated food. (Wondering why Dr. Weil is still using Agave?)
I threw my Organic Agave out..

Posted on Feb 17, 2013 7:42:00 PM PST
This is an excellent review of the book. I've made a few things out of it (when I can find the ingredients here in the boonies) and have had a couple of HITS!! (kale salad) and one absolute disaster (sweet potato - poblano soup which ended up in the disposeall - there has to be an error in the recipe -way too much liquid). I'll slowly work on some other recipes but be a bit more circumspect as I do. One other comment - many recipes don't give quantities other than large or small etc.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 28, 2013 12:42:15 AM PDT
Terrier Girl says:
I'm sorry, but I'll trust a wise man such as Dr. Weil over a lying charlatan such as Dr. Oz any day of the week. Raw agave is not as heated as regular agave and contains a pre-biotic. That said, we should all use any sweetener in very tiny amounts, at any rate.

Posted on Mar 30, 2013 8:47:23 AM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 30, 2013 9:53:40 AM PDT
Really? I certainly didn't mean to sound snobbish. I meant to be helpful by pointing out that cooking from this book requires access to ingredients that are not available in every neighborhood Safeway. I'm quite aware that not everyone lives in a town with a gourmet market, largely because I once lived in a rural area where it was exciting if the grocery store stocked artichokes. So if I find a book that requires a special trip -- whether to the middle eastern market or the gourmet store -- I make a point of saying so.

Damn. Now I'll be seeing halloumi everywhere.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 25, 2013 11:00:42 AM PDT
Jeff says:
Thanks for the honest comments. I am actually thankful that you mentioned halloumi - for me anything with goat will end it for me right then and there. Everybody has their "thing" with food. Thanks, your review helped me decide to keep on looking.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 25, 2013 11:10:14 AM PDT
I totally understand about the goat thing. :-)

My husband grew up on a farm. The first few years, his family was dirt poor. They had little cash, but they had a kitchen garden and goats. So from the time he was 6-8 years old, he had goat three times a day: goat milk, goat cheese, goat meat. It's not much of a surprise that he won't go near goat. Or lamb, in most cases, because it's "close enough" to make him want to scream. :-)

Posted on Jun 28, 2013 1:17:45 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 28, 2013 1:23:39 PM PDT
You have a lot to say, but only ONE recipe? The granola is easy to make (and with easily found ingredients) and is delicious. The kale salad is a stroke of genius. The carrot-miso vinegagrette makes a salad "to die for", and is better than the beloved Benihana recipe (and healthier). None of these recipes requires difficult to find ingredients (unless you live in the "sticks"), and they are simple to make. I challenge you to actually make more of the recipes and THEN revisit your review :).

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 16, 2013 10:34:13 AM PDT
A. Daem says:
Thats exactly how you sounded, Esther. Helpful, honest and open about your own experiences. Kudos for responding in such a kind, positive way to unfriendly comments.
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