Clean Food, Revised Edition: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source Hardcover – October 2, 2012
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“Delicious and simple food has never seemed so healthful and beautiful . . . or is it healthful food has never been so delicious? Either way, Clean Food is the most exciting book based on fresh produce and simple recipes I have used in years. Yum!”--Mario Batali
“More than ever we want our food to be not just delicious, but healthful and nutritious. With this magnificent work, Terry Walters has provided the perfect template for this way of life.”--Chef Charlie Trotter
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Once upon a time, before I became the fabulous stay at home mom I am today, I used to work in health care, and there are a host of things claimed in the informational section that unfortunately don't have solid science to back them up at this time. I'm just going to mention three, because I'm also a crazy busy mama, point you to my sources so you can verify this yourself, and recommend that you double check any claims given in her book or elsewhere that you are not familiar with. In general, Mayo Clinic, National Institutes for Health, Pubmed, CDC, webmd are great places to check up on claims in cookbooks that you're not sure about.
So, she talks a lot about the importance of blood-alkalinizing effects of food. WebMd has a great break down on this, and I'm just going to quote a portion of it: “In fact, nothing you eat is going to substantially change the pH of your blood. Your body works to keep that level constant.” She also mentions that “raw fruits and vegetables cleanse away excess fat.” I'm again going to reference WebMd for you: they say there is no proof that by itself will help you burn fat. Is it healthy for you? Yes. Will it preserve more of certain nutrients? Yes, and that ultimately can have some great benefits for your body, but you can still overeat a whole bunch of healthy foods and your body will still store that excess energy as fat.
The last thing I'm going to go over is her take on phytic acid. I am going to reference the National Institute of Health's library, PubMed, on this one. So, the science supports some of what she's saying, but there are a couple of catches that she doesn't mention. According to the article I am referencing, phytic acid can bind with things like zinc, calcium, and iron to form salts that can irritate your GI tract (that's the bit of support). But the other side of that coin is that phytic acid can also have protective effects against colon cancer and can lower blood cholesterol levels, neither of which are bad things. However, this article notes that this information comes from animal studies, there is insufficient studies on how this would work in humans.
So, there are some points she mentions in her intro section that I can get behind, like making changes slowly, listening to your body and how it responds to different foods, and I love that she mentions to feel free to make changes to her recipes if you think something might taste better. I made changes to nearly every single one of the ones I used ;) because I need a lower fat content in some cases, or I substituted for things I didn't have, like summer savory. And I do want to mention that her cooking instructions section included only instructions for the more common grains, all of which have those instructions on the package. If your looking for instructions on Job's tears for example, which she mentions in her grain section, you'll need to look for the bag. I was super curious because I'd never even heard of that one, so I ordered some and have it on the way, and can only hope there are instructions on the bag, as there are none in that particular instructional page.
But for me, I think the recipe section is the best part of this book. That being said, this book is set up by seasons for produce. Now, there are a couple of issues that can be found with that. One, in different places, different things may be in season based on the climate, etc. I live in the desert, so our growing seasons look a bit different, and I imagine it could in other places as well. And two, I think it's so much easier when cookbooks separate things out by meal category, because usually when I'm looking for a recipe, I'm searching for one for a particular meal time. In this book, you have to flip through 4 different sections (one for each season) to get a gander at all of the recipes for any one meal category, so I personally would have liked at the very least an index that had them listed by meal time category.
When it comes to the 7 recipes I used, mostly I did things to lower fat content (because I have some fat restrictions that need to be in place on my diet for medical reasons), every now and then I substituted out a comparable grain if I was out of it, or didn't have it. I personally liked all of them, my husband really liked a couple of them, hated one of them, and was lukewarm on the rest. My daughter only liked one of them. My son, who has Autism among other things, wouldn't touch any of them, but that's no surprise. He likes what he likes ;) I personally think eating healthier, more natural foods can take an adjustment of the palate, and if you are used to the typical American or western diet, I'd recommend you give yourself a few tries on these before you pass judgment, because it can take a while to get used to less processed foods if you're not used to eating them regularly. I personally enjoyed all of them and would have no problem repeating use of some of them and continuing to reference it for other recipes to try and enjoy. I'd just recommend however, that you keep the other points I mentioned in mind as you go about using this book.