In Eating Well for Optimum Health
, one of Amazon's bestselling health books of 2000, alternative-medicine maverick Andrew Weil revealed his version of the ideal diet (and backed it up with scientific proof): a variety of unprocessed, or "whole" foods; just-picked, organic vegetables; whole grains; "good" fats, such as the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and nuts; fresh herbs and spices instead of heavy sauces; and a minimum of meat and dairy products. Eating this responsibly is certainly an admirable pursuit, but home cooking of this caliber can be intimidating, requiring much more energy than it would to pull up to the drive-through and order a burger and fries. In The Healthy Kitchen
, Weil successfully teams up with Rosie Daley, formerly chef at the ritzy Cal-a-Vie Spa, to show how to cook with confidence within these dietary guidelines, creating dishes that are not only good for you, but are also fun to prepare, beautiful to look at, and delectable.
For those of you predicting a tofu-fest, have no fear: Weil stresses he's "unwilling to eat food that is boring, artless, and devoid of pleasure even if it's somebody else's idea of healthful." Indeed, the gorgeous color photography in The Healthy Kitchen will get you drooling over healthy entrées like Warm Chicken and Asparagus Salad and desserts like Lemon Yogurt Sorbet. You can be proud to serve these recipes to your family and friends--many of the appetizers and entrées are perfect party foods, sized to feed a dozen. Some recipes are notably more complicated than others--Cold Vegetable Pasta Primavera involves grilling five different veggies; baked Vegetable Wontons are time-consuming if you're not familiar with the folding process. However, Daley and Weil advise working your way up to these more complex dishes.
Sprinkled throughout the book are witty and wise health tips from Weil and cooking shortcuts from Daley. The two admit they don't agree on all cooking matters; Weil would substitute cashew milk for coconut milk and adds his two cents on making the Thai Shrimp and Papaya Salad spicier, for example. The Healthy Kitchen seems to be influenced a bit by Martha Stewart's Healthy Quick Cook, with Weil's text shaded in that unmistakably Martha sage-green, and Daley's in what Stewart might call bisque. Both books emphasize seasonal fresh foods and boast sumptuous photography and tempting menu suggestions. However, Weil and Daley outdo her with calorie and nutritional breakdowns for each dish, shopping guides for easy meal planning, and tips on encouraging children to help out in the kitchen (and develop lifelong healthy eating habits in the process). --Erica Jorgensen
From Publishers Weekly
What might at first seem a jumble of nutrition facts and recipes turns out to be a stimulating invitation to healthy, pleasurable eating. Well-known for his holistic approaches to physical and mental health, physician Weil (Eating Well for Optimum Health) loves good food. Not one to settle for bland albeit health-promoting fare, Weil insists that not only are low-fuss, delicious meals and good health more easily attainable than most Americans imagine, they actually go hand in hand. Coauthor and former Oprah Winfrey chef Daley (In the Kitchen with Rosie), provides recipes that, for the most part, reflect Weil's conception of the optimum diet. (Where they differ, Weil offers options.) Weil's introduction is a concise version of his dietary philosophy, with more advice scattered throughout the book. All of the 135 recipes include nutrition counts (calories, fat, cholesterol, etc.). According to Weil, eating has become yet another stressful activity that must be fit into jam-packed days. To remedy this, Weil and Daley not only offer satisfying recipes that make use of nourishing, readily available ingredients, they give tips on stocking the pantry, preparation, reading food labels and daily menu planning. Recipes include tempting twists on classics (eggs, grilled fish, pasta), to more adventurous items (broccoli pancakes). While miso, tofu and yogurt may not be appetizing to the meat-and-potatoes crowd, others willing to spread their culinary wings will find in these recipes and the authors' enthusiasm for good food a serious incentive to get their daily requirements of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.