I borrowed the new Sheryl Crow cookbook If It Makes You Healthy: More Than 100 Delicious Recipes Inspired by the Seasons from the local library.
I always thought Sheryl Crow was healthy, I mean just look at her! Killer body, great hair/skin, gorgeous. That’s why when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was so surprising. But she realized that she really WASN’T eating as healthy as she thought and that needed to change pronto!
So, she consulted a nutritionist, Rachel Beller, and she learned more about health, wellness and nutrition. After radiation, she was heading out on a summer tour. She didn’t want to revert back to an unhealthy lifestyle on the road, so she hired a professional chef, Chuck White, who became her personal chef while on tour and while at home at her farm. He is also the co-author of her cookbook.
So, onto the cookbook.
It’s separated into two main seasonal sections: spring/summer (on tour) and fall/winter (in the studio). And within each seasonal section, there are chapters for each type of dish: appetizers, soups, salads, main, sides and desserts. I don’t normally like “seasonally” separated cookbooks, I find it’s more difficult to quickly find recipes when cookbooks are separated this way, but since it’s only in two parts, it’s not too bad.
The recipes are simple and fairly easy to prepare. Lots and lots of vegetarian recipes. But is there anything new? Eh, not really. There are a few golden nuggets like:
- Sesame Shiitake Grit Cakes
- Sofrito Rice with Green Chiles and Mango
- Quinoa-stuffed poblano peppers with salsa romesco
- Braised winter greens with fried pumpkin and feta
- Chocolate-Avocado Mousse with Fresh Raspberries
- Sticky Cashew Rice
- Vegan Chocolate Mint Brownies (too much sugar though!)
The book is sprinkled with many healthy tips from nutritionist Rachel. I like that!
The photos of finished dishes are detailed and very helpful, but I thought some of the “other” photos seemed a tad awkward and too “posed”, like the one of Sheryl standing over the stove stirring soup in a Le Creuset dutch oven pot, while Chuck looked on.
It’s wonderful that they highly encourage sustainable “seasonal” eating, but what was very disappointing but there are many contradictions. For instance, on page 45 “Ceviche Savvy”, there is a suggestion to use firm fleshed white fish like flounder, cod, or halibut. Cod and halibut can be two of the very worst sustainable seafood choices! And flounder is not much better, especially since it could contain higher levels of mercury or other toxins.
Another example from the Fall/Winter section is Barley & Vegetable Risotto. The recipes includes asparagus, which is usually considered a springtime veggie. And fresh raspberries are way too expensive in the winter months, so it seems careless to suggest using them for the chocolate avocado mousse recipe. Why not frozen raspberries?
Bottom line, I don’t recommend the book. Borrow it from the library, to see for yourself, but there are so many much better choices; especially since Sheryl Crow admits she is not a cook, so why is she writing a cookbook?
I apologize, but here is where I get a little mean. Would this book have been as popular without her name on the cover and her media promotion on all the daytime talk/news shows? In reality, you’re really buying a cookbook authored by her chef Chuck White. Sheryl adds a few comments here and there, describing how much she liked how a specific recipe tasted, but there is not much cooking input from her.
If you are talking about celebrity cookbooks, I think Gwyneth Paltrow’s My Father’s Daughter cookbook is a better choice. Gwyneth is an experienced home cook and you know she is really cooking the recipes for her family.
I have nothing against Sheryl Crow personally, and I wish her continued good health. I really can’t fault her for trying to spread the word about healthy eating for cancer prevention; it’s such an important message! But there are just so many other cookbooks with the same message that stay true to local sustainable cooking.
I love reading cookbooks, like some people love reading novels! I am inspired by recipes, and enjoy learning ideas from cookbooks; I like putting my own spin on a recipe rather than exactly following it. Please keep in mind that my opinions might be completely different from the other home cooks.