Bread! Another Whack at Bread!

Today I baked bread! Hmm it was about 90 ° and I decided to bake! Ha! But I’m glad I did!

It was both positive and problematic, but I remembered “no failures, only lessons” – and I know I will get better next time with the lessons learned from this time.

I couldn’t decide which recipe to follow in all the books borrowed from the library, but I settled on “The Easiest 100% Whole Wheat Bread Ever” recipe on page 180 of the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book.

Since the King Arthur Flour staff praises the use of a bread machine, I was excited to try the “dough” setting on my Breadman Bread machine.

The recipe looked so easy, and I had all the ingredients, except for the orange juice, but it stated that water could be substituted. I took my time, making sure I weighed the flour and measured the water and molasses correctly.

Continue reading “Bread! Another Whack at Bread!”

The Biggest Loser Simple Swaps – Book Review

When I first heard about the book, The Biggest Loser Simple Swaps: 100 Easy Changes to Start Living a Healthier Lifestyle, I assumed from the title, that it was mainly about food swaps. Use olive oil instead of butter, or instead of eating a fatty donut, try whole wheat toast. Similar to the “Eat This, Not That” book series.

But once I started reading, I realized it was so much more.

The book starts with summaries and Simple Swaps from various Biggest Loser contestants. I found this section of the book the most inspiring. My favorite was Jen Eisenbarth from season 3.

Swap someone else’s voice for your own. We’re told what’s acceptable and what’s not by others. But listen to your voice. Figure out what works for you.

What an inspirational quote! It set the tone for the whole book for me.

I haven’t read all of the prior Biggest Loser books, but it’s good to see better food recommendations in this book as compared to the ones I have read. They even recommend grass fed beef and free range chicken, but alas don’t mention any better pork, eggs and dairy, but I guess that goes without saying. It’s definitely a clean eating lifestyle that’s promoted.

It’s definitely a bright, very easy to read book with lots of color and photos.

Most recipes include a color photo of the finished dish, and of course, the nutritional data is included.

What I didn’t like is that exact amounts for some ingredients were lacking. Such as 2 slices of cheese or one breast of chicken. Yes, one could assume that it’s 1 oz cheese or one pound of raw chicken, but it be so easier to see it in the recipe, just to keep it straight. Calories can differ drastically when you aren’t using exact measurements!

Recipes that sounded intriguing.

Tangy turkey wrap pg 92
Asian Wild Rice Saute pg 110
Buttermilk Cornbread pg 111
Nutty Waldorf Salad pg 133
Mini Apple Gingerbread Cupcakes pg 152

There are lots of good tips, for instance, if a food contains more than 9 grams protein it’s considered high protein. I didn’t realize that! I love Jillian’s tip on page 173. Use a deck of cards for your workout content!

Same as prior books, they suggest unrealistic (and unhealthy) calorie goals. “Present weight x 7” – for my weight of 161, that calculates to 1127, way below the suggested minimum of 1200 calories and extremely below my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) of 1454 calories just to stay alive! I wish they would stop suggesting such unrealistic calorie consumption! That’s not something that a person can live with for life!

The other complaint is that they promote processed soy meat-free products, like soy hotdogs, sausage, pastrami. And they sort of suggest using artificial sweeteners in a roundabout way, but they did highlight healthier sugar substitutions like agave and stevia.

Overall I thought The Biggest Loser Simple Swaps: 100 Easy Changes to Start Living a Healthier Lifestyle would be very helpful for someone needing good weight loss information and inspiration. It’s a way of life not a diet! But as I said previously, the calorie goal suggestions should be completely ignored!

Disclaimer:
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.

Cooking Light Way to Cook Book Review

I found the Cooking Light Way to Cook: The Complete Visual Guide to Everyday Cooking at my local library. What a gorgeous book, loaded with incredible color photos just like in the Cooking Light magazine. While the book isn’t large sized (it is thick but not large) the step by step photos are not small. They are large enough to see details.

As stated by many other reviewers on Amazon, it is more of a reference book, as opposed to a cook/recipe book, although there are a few basic recipes scattered throughout.

There’s 480 pages of detailed instruction on many basic and not so basic cooking techniques, along with descriptive summaries for many food ingredients like oils, fish, cheese, salt. Lots of how to’s like how to bone a chicken, de-vein shrimp, seed a pomegranate, and freeze foods. And of course, in Cooking Light style, the nutritional data for each recipe is included. I love that! There was a
“seasonal produce guide” in the back of the book, along with an “ingredient substitution” and “metric equivalents” guide.

I considered purchasing a copy of this book myself, but decided not to. Yeah, I learned a few new techniques and ideas from reading through the book, but it’s really geared toward a newbie home cook. I’m certainly not an expert, but don’t consider myself a novice cook. Plus, I already own lot cook books with detailed techniques, like the Cook’s Illustrated books. So, along with Google, I can usually figure out what I need to learn.

I did notice some yummy recipes in the book, and I found them online on the Cooking Light web site. Here is one favorite:

Spiced Pork Chops with Apple Chutney

So, bottom line, the Cooking Light Way to Cook: The Complete Visual Guide to Everyday Cooking is a perfect book for someone just learning how to cook. It is also a good choice for someone without a prior collection of reference cook books.

If I were just starting out, I think I would choose this book in place of the any of my other reference cook books, like Cooks Illustrated. It’s got everything you need in one book, with gorgeous photos, and basic non-intimidating details.

Disclaimer:
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.

Eat Clean Diet Book Review

I love the concept of eating clean! When you eat whole (clean) foods, you naturally lower your sugar, salt, and calorie intake. I started off slowly, and it’s now become a lifestyle. Something I hopefully can follow for the rest of my life. And isn’t that the point of a “non-diet” – something that you can keep doing forever?

Now, let me be honest. I am not a rigid 100% clean eater. Processed foods do make their way into my diet occasionally, but for the most part, I try to eat as clean as possible. And I think that is how most people would as well.

Anyway, about the Eat Clean books by Tosca Reno . I guess I did things a little backward. I started learning about eating clean from online web sites and and I subscribed to Clean Eating magazine. In retrospect, I am glad I did it this way, instead of reading Tosca’s books first. I think I might have been scared off by the whole concept.

I received the The Eat-Clean Diet: Fast Fat-Loss that lasts Forever! book from the library.

While it’s a beautiful book, with great photos and colorful pages, it’s much too rigid. There are way too many restrictions like chocolate, fat (butter), egg yolks, beef, potatoes, and cheese. No eating after 6pm? We always have a light snack after dinner while watching TV.

Eating 5-6 daily meals (one meal every 2-3 hours) isn’t for me. I eat 3 regular meals plus snacks, and I don’t normally go over 500 calories for any meal, but Tosca suggests each meal to be 300-400 calories. If I divided my daily calories into 5 meals equally, I would only be eating 300 calories each meal.

Tosca also promotes non-stick cookware and bakeware, which I find to be dangerous to living things and the environment. I don’t know why a lot of chefs recommend non-stick, but it’s not something I like to use except for eggs and the occasional pancake breakfast. I would rather use a little more olive or coconut oil instead.

I don’t particularly care for some of her supplement recommendations either, like HGH (human growth hormone) and creatine. There’s just too much emphasis on body building and protein consumption. At this point in my life, I don’t desire to have a body like Tosca’s. While I admire her and all the work she puts into maintaining her fabulous muscles, I just don’t think it’s relevant to my particular lifestyle. But that’s not to say I won’t want to accomplish a buff body later in my life. I just don’t know!

Everyone knows for weight loss to work, you need to make it a lifestyle change, but this concept feels more like a dreaded “diet” to me. Too many restrictions will make you crave those foods even more. I prefer my Clean Eating magazine subscription instead of this book.

Disclaimer:
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.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks – Book Review

I was looking forward to receiving The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl cookbook by Ree Drummond. Yes, I knew ahead of time that the recipes were going to be full of butter and I would probably need to adjust a lot of them, but I just had to see what the book was about. Although I am not one of Ree’s regular followers, I do occasionally visit The Pioneer Woman web site.

At first glance, the book seems very cluttered. Lots of filler photos, clipart, and stories. But once I started reading through it (and I did read it from cover to cover), I found it to be charming. But as a cookbook, the excess is distracting. It’s more of a self-portrait of her personal life, and the recipes are secondary. I enjoyed reading The Pioneer Woman Cooks once, but truthfully I would rather just go to the online blog to view her recipes.

But the recipes are simple and easy to make, without a lot of ingredients to fuss over. It could possibly be a good choice for a beginner, but I found the design of the book wasn’t very user friendly. The food photos next to each step are gorgeous, but are too small for the reader to comprehend. It’s unfortunate because the photos work very well on the web site, but they are larger and easier to view. It just doesn’t translate to the printed page very well.

One more nitpick, most people naturally read left to right, but the steps are listed top to bottom in three columns. I found myself getting lost in the recipes. I would have preferred the photos/steps be listed left to right for a more natural read.

So bottom line, The Pioneer Woman Cooks offers lots of good old fashioned dishes without a lot of ingredients, but it’s more of a personal testament to Ree Drummand and life in the country, not necessarily an easy to follow cook book.

And yes, lots of butter and red meat. It’s not a health-conscious or dieter’s book by any means, but she expresses that very clearly on her blog. I would have looked past all the book’s shortcomings if I could have overlooked all of the fat, but in the end I couldn’t. So, I am donating it to my local Library. I know there is a fairly long waiting list for the book, so I hope it gives joy to other home cooks.

Disclaimer:
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.

The Biggest Loser Cookbook Book Review

I really like watching the Biggest Loser on TV, so I was curious to read the The Biggest Loser Cookbook: More Than 125 Healthy, Delicious Recipes Adapted from NBC’s Hit Show (2006).

I started reading and I knew this book wasn’t for me when I read the recommendation to use low fat and fat free mayo. Has anyone read the ingredients in fat free products!? Yuck!

I was immediately turned off!

On Page 3, fabulous fruits and vegetables: thumbs down to the white potato and don’t eat more than a few weekly servings of pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes, and yams. Nope, don’t agree with that advice either!

Then there was my recommended daily calories! Ha! At 170 lbs x 7 = 1190. Under 1200! No way! This would definitely be a “diet” not a lifestyle change, something I could never do long term.

I was very happy to see that they initially didn’t recommend using artificial sugars, but then the first recipe included reduced fat peanut butter and artificially sweetened yogurt! In fact, the breakfast recipes are full of sugar free food products like syrup and splenda. Very conflicting!

I did find the Biggest Winner Breakfast Sausage recipe to be very interesting, and might try it!

http://www.recipezaar.com/Biggest-Winner-Breakfast-Sausage-240739

The Muscling-Up Meatballs recipe also sounded yummy good!

http://www.biggest-loser-cookbook.com/meatball-sandwich.htm

New Fashioned Meatloaf:

http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=2258722623&topic=2369

and Better Blueberry Pancakes:

http://www.prevention.com/health/weight-loss/diets-getting-started/biggest-loser-recipes/article/d8791e1a2faa5110VgnVCM10000013281eac____

The Biggest Loser Cookbook: More Than 125 Healthy, Delicious Recipes Adapted from NBC’s Hit Show is definitely not a book I’d recommend to a clean foods health nut! I don’t think I would even recommend it to anyone actually, because it promotes unhealthy processed foods, but it’s a good base to work from, sort of like Hungry Girl.

Most of the good recipes can be found online, so don’t waste your time buying the book.

I just picked up the Biggest Loser Family Cookbook: Budget-Friendly Meals Your Whole Family Will Love (2008) at the library this afternoon, so we’ll see if that has any improvements.

Read my review on Amazon.com

Disclaimer:
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.

Soups and One Pot Meals Cookbook Review

This is a review for the cookbook Soups and One-Pot Meals the 100 Best Recipes from around the World by Christian Teubner (1998)

The first thing I noticed about the recipe design is that the ingredients list was centered making it a little more difficult to read. Plus more multiple ingredients were sometimes listed on one line, making it even more difficult to comprehend.

The photos in the book are gorgeous. I love cookbooks with lots of photos and this book doesn’t disappoint. Every recipe has beautiful professional photos on its pages.

The book starts off with stock recipes, and then is divided into countries/regions. A few recipes include photos with every step but unfortunately, it’s difficult to see the details because the photos are too small.

Personally I don’t know how many recipes I would actually make, but there are a lot if great ideas to take to your own recipes, and the price is right at the Amazon.com marketplace. With shipping, you can grab a used copy of this book for under $5.

Disclaimer:
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.

The Eat Clean Diet Cookbook Review

I received a copy of the The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook: Great-Tasting Recipes That Keep You Lean by Tosca Reno from the library.

It boasts over 150 recipes, and it’s very well written with beautiful full color photographs. Although the recipes looked and sounded pretty delicious, I don’t think it would be a book that I would buy. Not that the recipes were complicated, it’s that there were occasionally ingredients I didn’t regularly keep in my pantry. Maybe a bit too frilly fancy, I guess prefer more basic recipes, which sounds kind of strange, because the recipes aren’t necessarily complex.

On a negative note, I found the text formatting difficult to read. For instance, the actual ingredient is formatted in a contrasting color. I found this more difficult to comprehend when reading. I think it might have been possibly better to use a bold formatting instead of a color to highlight the ingredient name.

Disclaimer:
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.

All New Complete Cooking Light Cookbook Review

Review for the cookbook: The All-New Complete Cooking Light Cookboook: The Ultimate Guide from America’s #1 Food Magazine.

I love this cookbook! I love Cooking Light magazine, and found this cookbook at the library recently. It’s a well rounded cookbook, with lots of interesting recipes. Nothing too complicated.

Yes, there are a few recipes that are higher in calories, like desserts, but their versions are healthier than most regular recipes.

Sadly, I had to return the Complete Cooking Light Cookbook to the library (after renewing it twice) but I have it on my Amazon wish list, ready to order after the holidays!

Disclaimer:
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.