I’ve been meaning to tell you about this one for a while. I spotted it in Tesco, of all places, and picked it up to have a look because I remembered James Wong from his TV series ‘Grow Your Own Drugs’. (I’ve got both the books that spun off from that series, although I’m not sure I’ve actually made anything out of them – recipes for home remedies, in case you’re still wondering!) Now I’m not an impulse buyer, so the fact that this one went straight into my trolley gives you a clue already that it’s something special.
What makes it special, is that it’s an approach I haven’t seen anywhere before. James takes everyday foods, mainly but not exclusively fruit and vegetables, and tells us which varieties are healthiest and how to store and cook them to increase their nutritional value. As the back cover blurb says ‘No diets, no obscure ingredients, no damn spiralizer, just the food you already love made better based on the latest scientific evidence from around the world.’ (Not sure where his extreme reaction to spiralizers comes from, but it’s mentioned inside the book as well!)
So what do we get? Each short chapter deals with a particular food, eg apples, potatoes, rice, and starts off by telling us its health benefits (including the research that backs it up), goes on to tell us how to get the most nutritious bang for our buck out of it, and ends with some really delicious recipes.
The chapters often have useful ‘ladders’ like this one from the Apples chapter, which shows us which varieties have the highest levels of antioxidants (Braeburn, if you’re interested) so that we can make savvy buying choices.
They may then go on to tell us how best to store the product – for example did you know that the vitamin D levels of mushrooms go through the roof if you put them on the windowsill for an hour or two in the middle of the day, or that winter squashes are sweeter, healthier and more flavoursome after being stored for a month or two in a cool place?
And then the cooking. Apart from delicious recipes such as this Singapore Green Banana Curry (green bananas are much higher in resistant starch and lower in sugar than ripe bananas), there are also fascinating facts such as that baking sweet potatoes is the best way to preserve their health benefits, but steaming, sauteing or microwaving is the best way to go with cruciferous veg (broccoli, kale etc). Or that cooking potatoes the night before, chilling them overnight in the fridge and then reheating them turns the starch into resistant starch which keeps us fuller longer, slashes the calories and boosts our gut flora (works for sweet potatoes as well).
Just in case you thought the recipes might all be a bit ‘worthy’, have a look at these two! Breakfast yoghurt pops and four variations on sugar-free hot chocolate – mmmmmmm!
In fact the recipes range from things like Sirloin Steak in Spiced Black Beer to Barley Risotto Bowls to Winter Squash and Coconut Laksa to Pink Pickled Onions with Lime and Bay. There are over 80 recipes in the book, beautifully and mouth-wateringly photographed.
I think you can probably tell that I highly recommend this one! Here are some bookshop links for you, or get it from your local library first and see what you think: Wordery, The Hive, Amazon UK, Amazon US
Do you have it already? Let us know what you think of it. And if you decide to get hold of a copy, come back and let us know what you thought – here or on Livelongandvibrant’s Facebook page.