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12 Best Foods Cookbook: Over 200 Recipes Featuring The 12 Healthiest Foods Paperback – January 27, 2005
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About the Author
DANA JACOBI is the author of three previous cookbooks, including Amazing Soy (winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Award). She has written for Cooking Light, Eating Well, and Natural Health, and her syndicated column "Something Different" appears in over 750 newspapers. She lives in New York City.
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To Jacobi's twelve (12), Pratt and Matthews present fourteen (14), but the agreement between the two lists is remarkably good. A list of the foods covered in both books follows:
Beans (Jacobi singles out black beans)
Salmon (Pratt specifies wild salmon. Jacobi has wild and farm-raised with a caution against the skin)
Soy (in all its gloriously different forms)
In Pratt and Matthews, but not in Jacobi:
In Jacobi, but not in Pratt and Matthews:
I suspect you could pair off the sweet potatoes with the pumpkin as sources of the `orange' nutrients. As fresh sweet potatoes are available the year around, I'll go for them instead of pumpkin, not to mention the fact that you can do with sweet potatoes virtually everything you can do with pumpkin, from soup to pies and back again. Tea and chocolate are also something of a pairing, as both are sources of caffeine and other nifty natural chemicals. If I had to pick, I would go with chocolate. That leaves Oranges, Turkey, Yogurt, and Onions unmatched between the two books, although I suspect some may claim that anything yogurt can do, soy milk can do better, but I do feel a real gap in Ms. Jacobi's discussion with no true milk product, animal protein, or citrus.
I think that all this means is that if you want excellent information in a very palatable form, get both books. If you can only have space or funds for one, I suggest Ms. Jacobi's book because, as someone who is much more of a culinary writer than a nutritionist, her very sizable selection of 200 very good recipes is more kitchen friendly than ophthalmologist Pratt and professional writer Matthews. This is probably due to both Ms. Jacobi's own talents plus her communications with some very distinguished culinary sources including Rick Bayless, Molly Katzen, Julie Sahni, Elizabeth Schneider, and Arthur Schwartz. And those are just the ones whose culinary credentials I recognize.
While Pratt and Matthews organize their recipes by their fourteen (14) foods, Ms. Jacobi organizes her recipes by type of dish or course. Her recipe chapters are:
Dips, Hors d'Oeuvres, and First Courses
Salads and Dressings
Poultry and Meat
Pasta, Sauces, and Grains
Eggs, Beans, and Soy
Sandwiches and Baked Goods
Vegetables and Side Dishes
Breakfasts and Drinks
One of the better things about her recipes is that almost all combine two or more of the twelve best foods. The next best thing is that she does not avoid the kinds of meats and grains that make so many dishes so interesting.
If I were to suggest anything for improving these recipes, I would add several recipes for basic pantry items to replace recipe ingredients that call for commercial preparations such as stocks and fruit spreads. If you will go to the trouble of making your own Muesli, stocks and fruit purees are really not all that tough. Where Ms. Jacobi calls for a packaged blueberry jam in some recipes, similar recipes from Alice Waters would just have you mash up some fresh blueberries. Much more satisfactory to my mind. One thing I missed was a good recipe for a Muesli or Granola that has a decent shelf life. This is one of the things you will be inclined to make in large batches, enough for a fortnight or a month. For those looking for it, check out Molly Katzen's `Sunlight Café'.
What this buys us is the fact that Ms. Jacobi's recipes are generally pretty simple. Very few (mostly desserts) take up more than a single page. At the bottom of each recipe, there is an estimate of the calories, grams of fat, grams of saturated fat, grams of protein, grams of carbohydrates, and grams of fiber. I would stress that except for the baked goods where measurements will be pretty exact, these estimates may be off by up to 50%, especially if you have a heavy hand with certain ingredients such as onions.
Ms. Jacobi's list of sources is better than average and needs to be, as organic versions of many of these products may not be that easy to find. Many of the sources are also good places to go for additional nutritional information and recipes. The bibliography is also better than average, roughly evenly divided between nutritional and culinary sources. Note to publisher Rodale: The Bibliography seems peculiarly difficult to read with its oddly indented layout.
This is a really great book for presenting nutrition simply and in an extremely practical form. What few objections I have are a result of a search for a complete lifestyle. As a former Whole Earth Catalogue hippie, I like the whole picture. Not to say Ms. Jacobi will not talk you into a few good lifestyle changes herself, it's fun to see how her ideas fit into other healthy living precepts.
A very highly recommended book for healthy and tasty cooking. This is far more important than cooking fast, cooking local, cooking organic, cooking low carb, cooking authentic xxx, cooking to entertain, grilling, barbecuing, or cooking in a wok.
Recipes have thus far proven to be simple and tasty. Occasionally a "different" ingredient is called for, which is hard to find in my medium sized town. In fact, I even looked in a large city for tamarind paste, and was unable to locate it. No matter; in other cookbooks, I am instructed to substitute lemon juice for tamarind paste, and that's what I've done here. None of the main ingredients are hard to find, and in my opinion, a single tablespoon of one odd ingredient is not going to make or break a recipe. Certainly it could alter the final flavor, but I will not pass over a recipe just because I do not have a small amount of one minor ingredient.
There are some recipes which are found in various places (such as Huevos Rancheros), but with the author's own twist on them, still making them worth a try. Others, such as the Sweet Potato Salad, are new to me.
The 12 foods are primarily things that my family eats fairly regularly, and I am enjoying new ideas for preparing and/or incorporating them.
If your family refuses to eat fruits or veggies, this may not be the book for you. I am fortunate that my son (4)... as well as my husband... will eat most anything... at the very least, they will try it once. However, if you (and/or your family) are willing to experiment with fairly common ingredients, you may find some new favorites, as well as an overall healthier diet!
The reason I gave 4 stars is that a couple of the recipes call for dried blueberries (like the blueberry and wild rice pilaf). All the dried blueberries I could find in stores had high fructose corn syrup listed as an ingredient, and this is one of the worst kinds things for your body. Maybe the author can find unsweetened dried blueberries?