Friday, March 23, 2012

Book review: Eating for the Seasons - cooking for health and happiness by Janella Purcell

If you are looking for inspiration either for your cooking repertoire or for improving your health,
'Eating for the Seasons' is a great place to start.

You may recognise Janella as the 'Good Chef' from the TV program 'Good Chef Bad Chef'. With her impressive list of credentials: naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist, iridologist - Janella's food as medicine approach is my style of cooking.

This is her third book, (she has a fourth in the pipeline 'Janella's Wholefood Kitchen' due for release October this year) and as the title suggests it follows the seasons with a chapter dedicated to each. There is a really easy to understand introduction to each season that outlines some Chinese medicine principles, then a list of what's in season.

Recipes are divided into breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides & dressings, sweet things and drinks. I like the added value a list of variations beneath each recipe adds to the book. The recipes and techniques are not complex, the list of variations offers flavour twists and combinations you may not have considered or options if you don't have exact ingredients on hand.

The recipes range from a simple summer breakfast of baked sweet ricotta with mango cheeks, to a  cleansing spring lunch of clams with quinoa, heartier winter dishes include brown rice spinach pie with feta and black olives and an excellent version of vegetable lasagne that is not overloaded with oil and cheese.

Some autumnal options on my list to try are fennel and pomegranate salad - any excuse to use pomegranate molasses -, broccoli egg-lemon soup sounds just right to me, and a dish I have made before and look forward to making again is Loobia, a traditional Lebanese dish made with green beans and a spice blend of cumin, coriander, black peppercorns, sweet paprika and ground ginger.

My standout favorite sweetie in this book a vegan chocolate cheesecake made with silken tofu and dark chocolate - it is heaven! Really. A recipe I didn't have as much success with (or win as many fans at home) is a chocolate almond 'mousse' made with agar agar. Admittedly I was missing an ingredient - carob molasses - and I tried substituting it with straight molasses which was totally overpowering. So there's a tip, that is one ingredient for which there is no substitute! I'll give it another go.

Have a wonderful weekend.

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