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The Sensible Cook's 52 Weeks of Healthy Cooking: Meal Plans, Recipes, and Grocery Lists That You Will Love! Paperback – November 1, 2010
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About the Author
Dr. Kaylan Vialpando has been in the health and fitness industry for over 20 years, teaching weight loss, fitness, and health courses at colleges, universities, and health conferences throughout the country. She specializes in teaching practical and realistic ways to live a healthier life. Years of working with people trying to lose weight, only convinced Kaylan that "dieting" was not the solution. Learning how to cook healthy and eat in a realistic manner, without deprivation, was the right path to long term weight control success. This concept and way of cooking supports overall good health without being overly complicated to prepare or requiring hard to find ingredients. As the mother of five children and as a career health professional, Kaylan has been an advocate for healthy families, actively working with families and individuals to improve their eating habits, with a "no-diet" approach to eating smart.
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However, this cookbook uses LOTS of sodium to flavor the meals. Nobody in our family has to watch sodium consumption closely, but that's probably because we never before used so much sodium. I'm hoping that by substituting low or no sodium bouillon granules, we'll be able to keep the recipes more healthful. One of the soups adds powdered Au Jus, which adds loads of great flavor - and loads of sodium. The soups and Pot Au Feu (which I had never made before) are very tasty, as are most things loaded with salt.
There's also more butter and refined flour used in this book than I've ever used before. I usually substitute more olive oil and whole wheat flour, but I'd prefer to have the recipes geared toward the healthier options, and people can substitute the less healthful options as desired.
Another drawback is that the recipes are so brief that they omit a lot of useful details. A recipe will tell you to broil, but not specify whether that's on Low or High Broil. It'll specify sauté, but not tell you over what heat setting, which can make a difference. I used Bisquick dough for the first time, and it stuck to my hands like glue. Maybe I should have floured my hands first, or sprinkled flour on the dough first? The cookbook omitted any such details. A few times I asked my husband for his interpretation of the instructions, and he also wasn't sure what to do. I am probably an intermediate level cook, so I can improvise or google the details I need, but I can't recommend this book for a beginner.
The final drawback for me is that the meal plans are only for entrees, not complete dinners. That's a start, but I'd love to have a shopping list which includes wonderful side dishes. The author includes suggestions, but only some of the suggestions are included as recipes in the book. You also have to add any side dish ingredients to your shopping list.
I'd have been happy to pay four or five times the price for a book which incorporated all of these things. This book is such a great idea, but could use work. Other reviewers mentioned photos in the book, but my book had no photos. Perhaps there are multiple versions of this book out there. I want the super healthy, complete one! I'd spend a small fortune to get that, because I'd use it every day.
The author wastes a great opportunity to create weekly meal plans that capitalize on using similar ingredients to help shoppers organize, save money, and avoid waste. Instead, the book is just a random mishmash of recipes put into arbitrary 5 day weeks. There is no clear indication of why these recipes are put together, but very few weekly shopping lists reuse ingredients from one meal to the next. This is especially problematic where the recipes call for ingredient quantities that are much smaller than the typical packaging. Dairy is a huge offender here - most week shopping lists including things like 2 ounces of milk or four ounces of cheese.
The book is also really poorly organized. The recipes are organized by meal type, not by week. The grocery lists are arranged by list, but don't include the page numbers for the recipes. You are constantly having to flip from the index to the shopping list to the recipes. All made worse by the fact that the book's presentation is really weak. Was not expecting a fancy, glossy-paged cookbook for this price, but this book looks more like somebody collated their family recipes than made any attempt at editing and putting together a professional cookbook.
Finally, as others have noted, the recipes are really simple and there seems to be a really strong reliance on salt for taste in most recipes. There's not much originality here. I honestly don't see myself trying many of these recipes.
Then in the back of the book there is a grocery list for each sample meal plan. In this way you really can access all of the recipes in the book with the attached grocery list.
She also has them seasonally clustered so that if you're shopping locally or trying to get stuff in season it helps that as well.
However the recipes themselves are not particularly healthy. I'm a Health Coacb and I honestly wouldn't recommend it for most of my clients. The exception might be people who have been eating out a lot and eating tons of packaged / processed foods. Cooking for yourself is inherently healthier than eating out and eating packaged / processed foods. So in that regard it is healthy.
However most of the recipes are very heavy on the meat. And as some of the other reviewers have said, a number of them called for canned soups, etc. I don't think that's that big of a deal because I work mostly with families and I understand that you need to have the convenience even when preparing food at home. I do understand the argument that you are adding extra fat and sodium when you do this.
But the emphasis on meat I can't really get over. I'm always emphasizing fruits and vegetables, because a plant-centric diet is the mainstay of pretty much any lifelong health plan. For that reason I can't recommend this book.