Saturday, January 26, 2013

CookBook Review: Clean Eating for Busy Families

By: Michelle Hershman

I was very excited to receive the Clean Eating for Busy Families cookbook. I try to eat healthy at least 75 percent of the time (the other 25 percent is open for pizza and nachos), and I’ve always been interested in the concept of “clean eating.”  If you’ve never heard about clean eating, it’s a diet program that focuses on whole, minimally processed foods. That means healthy, home-cooked dinners and no takeout! The author, Michelle Dudash, a registered dietitian  understands that it can be hard to cook a “clean” meal night after night, especially if you’re a busy mom. That’s why most of the recipes in her book take 30 minutes or less.
To begin, Dudash shares her five food rules for eating clean: (1) choose foods closest to their natural state, (2) enjoy a colorful array of foods, (3) go local and seasonal, (4) choose humanely produced foods that are good for the planet, and (5) enjoy every bite. To make things easier for readers, she includes suggested weekly, monthly, and quarterly grocery shopping lists. Then, she gets right into the recipes.
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of recipes in the book. Unfortunately, not all the recipes contain photos (my favorite part), but with this many recipes in a medium-sized cookbook, I totally understand that every recipe cannot have its own picture.
More importantly, most of the recipes look, not just healthy, but also delicious. From Braised Pork Buns with Quick Pickled Cucumbers and Bean Sprouts to Macaroni and Cheesy Cauliflower Sauce to Dark Chocolate Whole-Wheat Brownies, I feel like I could have weeks of healthy, happy meals. Not all the recipes are what I would consider super healthy, clean eating. The Sneaky Beet Chocolate Cupcakes with Sweet Cream may contain beets, but they also contain a lot of flour, sugar, cream cheese and butter.
I actually made two of the recipes in the cookbook to test whether the recipes were as delicious as they seem. First, I made the Creamy Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Pepitas. The recipe was very easy to follow as Dudash provides a detailed ingredient list which includes multiple measuring systems. For example, the recipe called for 1 small onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup or 160 grams) -- very specific. Unfortunately, despite all the yummy ingredients, I found the soup rather bland.
However, I decided to give Dudash one more chance, and I made the Pinto Bean and Avocado Taquitos.  I made a few minor changes due to ingredients that I had on hand, but followed the recipe for the most part. Check out my Taquitos. This recipe was delicious! However, I did have to make a few adjustments. Dudash recommends filling each tortilla with two tablespoons filling. I found that to be too much filling, causing the tortillas to burst at the seams. The cooking time is very specific at 21 minutes, but I also found that I needed to add cooking time to really get the tortillas crisp.  These adaptions were pretty simple to figure out so I will still give this recipe two thumbs up because the taquitos are so yummy!
After making two recipes from the book, I get the feeling that some of these dishes may be a bit hit or miss, but all in all, this is a great book with a ton of recipes that are healthy, fun and easy to make. If you’re trying to eat clean, it’s easy to get stuck in the “baked chicken breast, brown rice, and broccoli” rut every night, and this book will definitely liven up your weeknight dinners.

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