Newest Review: ... too 'worthy' and also ensures that you don't end up eating the 'treat' foods every day! ~~~~~~~~~ Lovely layout ~~~~~~~~~ The book is ... more
Healthy inspiration in the kitchen
The Secret Ingredient - Sally Bee
Member Name: MrsD76
The Secret Ingredient - Sally Bee
Advantages: A range of lovely, healthy recipes
Disadvantages: Two of the sections are terrible!
Healthy and hearty
This was a book I bought on whim if I am honest while doing a bit of online shopping on amazon. I am always keen to cook healthy, hearty meals so this book caught my eye.
What makes this book special is that that author, Sally Bee, has a pretty remarkable tale to tell. A perfectly normal and healthy mum of three, Sally suddenly, at 36, suffered three heart attacks in a week.
Despite being given a slim chance of survival, Sally lived to tell the tale - and write this book. She explains in the introduction that she realised she had to take complete control of her lifestyle to ensure she stayed around. She says:
"Food and exercise became my saviour ... I knew I had to take control of everything I ate in order to give myself the best possible chance of survival."
At the same time, she wanted to ensure that she could cook food that was not only good and healthy, but that the rest of her family, including her three young children, could enjoy.
What's on the menu?
There are six sections in the book, and they are interspersed with useful information from Sally, such as her views on fast food and so on. This helps break the book up and keep things interesting. The six sections are:
* Soups and starters
* Salads, sides and vegetarian
* Beef, lamb and pork
Each recipe also clearly says what is suitable for eating everyday, and what should be considered a treat - or as Sally says to be eaten only once every week or two. This is easy to see at a glance and is a great idea I think, as it stops the book feeling too 'worthy' and also ensures that you don't end up eating the 'treat' foods every day!
The book is really nicely laid out so you have the list of ingredients to the side and the method taking up the main portion of the page, and opposite pretty much every recipe is a lovely big picture of the finished dish. I really like to see what I'm going to make so I think the pictures are a lovely touch, and it makes this book really bright and appealing to flick through.
Off to a terrible start...
Now I think the first section of this book is really disappointing. There are two soups and two dips and .... that's it! As I love soup and think they are one of the easiest healthy suppers you can make, I was really disappointed with this! It isn't a great start to the book and this chapter is basically pointless with so few recipes to choose from.
... but getting better!
Luckily, however,the next section is much better, with a wide range of veggie friendly dishes and salads. One recipe I have now made as a side several times are the Italian style courgettes, which are lovely and simple, using onion, garlic and herbs, and add a nice accompaniment to lots of meals. Best of all, they are really easy to cook and the instructions are perfectly straightforward to follow. There is also a lovely coleslaw recipe which includes apple and yoghurt - so a bit different to the shop bought variety but much healthier and, I can attest, tasty too! This is a really nice section with a wide range of dishes to try, and this helped the book redeem itself after the soup and starters disappointment!
The following three sections - the fish and meat ones - also have a few gems, of the recipes I have tried. A great one is the chicken casserole, as this is one of those great recipes where you more or less throw everything into a pot and leave it in the oven for an hour or two! It's a great winter warmer and my little girl enjoys it too which is an added bonus. You can sevre it with a range of accompaniments such as mash or rice, as well as lots of nice veggies!
There is also a gorgeous seabass recipe that uses my fave ingredients, chilli and garlic, and is served on a bed of noodles. It's oh so simple but has become a staple supper in our house.
More cheese please!
The one dish I am yet to try is the "healthiest ever lasagna", which uses only a sprinkle of cheese on the top and not the usual gallons of creamy cheese sauce! Although I do plan to try this I just wonder if it will be anything like the real thing without the extra calories!
Now I am not a big pudding fan so I have to confess I haven't made anything from this section but, as you would expect, it is very heavy on the use of fruit! A few recipe examples are orange and peach filo parcels, apple puff squares and a red berry meringue pie.
The final section - drinks - is a bit like the first in that it's a bit rubbish. It is literally one page with a list of three drinks on it! Although I have tried - and loved - the ruby red smoothie that Sally lists here, I feel like this is just a page stuck in at the back for the hell of it and really adds nothing to the book.
A nice mix of recipes
There is a great mix of recipes in this book but there is definitely a Mediterranean influence throughout, with lots of healthy Italian-style recipes. However there are some Asian meals thrown in for good measure which helps keep things mixed and interesting. Of the meals I have tried I haven't had any disappointments - everything is simple and straightforward, and it is great to know that what you are cooking is healthy and good for all the family!
Overall this is a lovely recipe book. The fact it is written by someone who has experienced what Sally has been through makes it quite inspirational and motivational - it does make you think differently about food and it gives a lot of advice on changes you can make to live a healthier lifestyle. The use of big, bright, bold photos in the book is great and makes it a real treat to look through - it is really nicely designed and easy to look at. There are some great recipes in here and it is easy to adapt items if you want to jazz them up a bit too! However I am knocking off one start for the useless opening and closing sections.
Bag a cookbook bargain
This is currently on amazon for £3.90 with free postage which is an absolute bargain If I am honest! So if you fancy some tips on healthier eating, or need a Christmas present idea for someone who could do with a healthy diet, then snap it up while it's still at this price!
Summary: Overall a great book of healthy recipes
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