- Spiral-bound: 224 pages
- Publisher: Thomas Nelson (August 4, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0785265198
- ISBN-13: 978-0785265191
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.7 x 8.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #952,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The What Would Jesus Eat Cookbook Spiral-bound – August 4, 2002
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Top Customer Reviews
To begin with, I agree completely with the premise of "What Would Jesus Eat?"--that the Levitical dietary laws were provided for health reasons and that they are completely relevant for today (they do not return the Christian to a 'yoke of bondage' as some reviewers have charged). In that book (if you have not yet read it), Dr. Colbert discusses what the Bible says, or indicates, about various foods of Bible times and supplements it with some modern medical knowledge about the dietary scene of today; specifically he addresses the hazards of the typical American diet and offers alternatives to notoriously "bad" foods as well as practical advice on how to change poor eating and health habits. Although I had a dissatisfied sense that his book could have gone into much more detail than it did, it was generally informative.
However, when I opened up the companion Cook Book, I immediately began to have questions. Now, if you have never used a "health food" or "natural food" cook book, and you have spent your life up until now eating Doritos & TV Dinners, this book could serve as a good start. But if you're a "veteran" of any stripe of the health food scene, you're going to gasp at some of the items that go into these recipes--for example: butter (4 sticks for the Baklava!), sour & heavy cream, low sodium "boullion granules", canned tomatoes, canned fruit, canned broth, canned tomato sauce and genetically modified ("seedless") grapes. Granted, there are good things, too--lots of whole grain pasta, fresh vegetables & fruits, lowfat yogurt and extra virgin olive oil--but why the compromise?
I suppose it is easy enough to modify the recipes to make them more healthy (e.g., substituting fresh fruits & vegetables for canned, using home-made sauces & broths and choosing organically grown produce)--and to follow Dr. Colbert's good advice to eat things made with butter and dairy fats in moderation... But then why did I need a new cookbook? (I could have used my grandmother's recipe for Baklava and done the same thing.)
That being said, the dishes look tasty and there is a good variety of recipes (as well as occasional little "trivia" notes containing information on nutrition, purchasing ingredients and sanitary food-handling). If you think the above criticisms are too picky, or if you don't mind making the "health veteran's" modifications, then it's not a bad book of simple, reasonably healthy recipes. It beats TV Dinners.
The editorial reads: "These easy-to-follow recipes are designed to help the reader prepare foods commonly eaten during the time of Christ in a way that will satisfy modern-day palates. Dishes feature fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, olive oil and more..."
Many of the ingredients listed in the recipes that were not recommended in the What Would Jesus Eat? book would not have been consumed by Christ, such as:
- Italian bread
- French bread
- Phyllo pastry
- Stuffing mix
- Baking mix
- Pasta (not listed as whole grain)
- Bread crumbs (not listed as whole grain)
- White sugar
- Confectioners sugar
- Brown sugar
- Maple syrup
- Soy sauce
- Peanut butter
- Heavy cream
- Canned fruit, vegetables and beans
- Canned broth
Save your money and stick to the basics...eat healthier, more fruits and veggies, whole grain breads and cereals, and use olive oil in cooking all the time! Skip the junk food and choose healthy fast food items and you'll do just fine!
A great deal of controversy has been stirred up by Colbert's claims that following the Mosaic laws is healthier than following the standard Western diet. Colbert does not claim that the laws forbidding the consumption of pork, seafood and other foods and food combinations still apply; his premise is simply that following the dietary laws that Jesus did, and eating the foods He would have eaten during His lifetime, is healthier than following our modern diet. However, this premise is undercut by the inclusion of ingredients in well over half the recipes which are completely foreign to the ancient Mediterranean. No Judean (or Roman, for that matter) would have recognized New World foods such as tomatoes, potatoes, hot peppers, and squash or Far Eastern foods such as edameme and soy sauce, yet one or more of these ingredients can be found in over half the recipes. What's more, many of the foods and condiments enjoyed in the Holy Land at the time - fish sauce, lovage, wild mushrooms, and above all wine (note: not grape juice, alcoholic WINE) - are never mentioned, let alone included in a recipe.
But the main criticism I have of this book is its premise. Colbert seems to subscribe to the idea that ancient people were somehow healthier than we moderns, and that our poor diet is the main reason. This is, to be blunt, absolutely false. When Jesus died at age 33, He had lived a longer life than the vast majority of His countrymen. The average age at death under Imperial rule for those who survived childhood was a short 20 years. Those living in Roman-occupied territories tended to be desperately poor by our standards, able to afford little more than whole grain porridge seasoned with fish sauce and supplemented with whatever herbs and mushrooms could be found growing wild. Few could afford fresh vegetables and fruits; beef was virtually unattainable (and not, as Colbert says, eaten once a month) because cattle were needed as draft animals. Fish, a delicacy, was far too expensive for most. The only readily available protein sources were beans and lentils - incomplete and bland. Epidemics carried away far more Judeans than Romans simply because the Romans ate better - more protein, more calcium, more calories.
As for the recipes: I tried four or five, but I was not impressed. Many recipes are simply retreads of modern Mediterranean cooking - incidentally, nothing like ancient Mediterranean cooking - and others seem to have been lifted from the pages of a 1970s hippy cookbook. The blueberry potato salad was literally inedible, the hummus smelled and tasted awful, and the soups were somehow both overspiced and underflavoured.
This book fails in all ways: it doesn't provide a look into the foods Jesus and His followers would have enjoyed, it doesn't make the case for Colbert's version of healthy eating, and it doesn't contain many appetizing recipes.