Have Cake Will Travel

CLEAN FOOD: A Book Review
September 1, 2009

A few weeks ago, Megan (from Sterling Publishing) offered to send me a copy of CLEAN FOOD for review, a cookbook authored by Terry Walters. It took me a long time getting around to posting this review because life came in the way, and it’ll actually be my last product/book review until further notice, as I find myself a bit too busy and sometimes unmotivated for it. But this one’s totally worth it!

I was impressed by the many ingenious, far from “same old, same old” recipes that are part of this cookbook. Besides, someone who loves immersion blenders and thick soups as much as I do is bound to be totally awesome. (Yes, I am quite conceited, thank you very much.)

I also love that the whole concept behind this book is to gather creative recipes that are season-based, meaning that you get to enjoy the bountiful of deliciously healthy fruits and veggies that are available for use exactly when nature intended them to be.

While veganism is not mentioned in the book, unless I missed it, most recipes happen to be vegan, except for one in the dessert section that uses honey, which is obviously easy to replace with the almighty, animal-friendly agave nectar. The fact that a book entitled “Clean Food” is 99% vegan won’t be a surprise to those of us who already know a little something about the lifestyle. Well, except for those who like to cater to their sweet tooth as much as I do, that is. Ahem.

Some people will be peeved by the lack of pictures, but quite honestly, simply reading the recipes will be enough to get your mouth watering and your tastebuds raring to go. You will see what I mean when you find a typically summer-like sample recipe at the bottom of this post!

Here is a little Q&A to get to know the author just a little better:

1. In a couple of sentences, what is the main message you want your book, Clean Food, to send out?

Bringing highly nutritious foods into your life and into your diet can be easy and delicious. A bit of knowledge, the proper tools and quick, easy recipes are all you need to make healthy choices, to eat clean and to live well.

2. Do you have suggestions to get kids and/or reluctant grown-ups to eat healthier foods?

“Eating healthier” is going to be different for everybody as will the path to getting there. When it comes to encouraging people to embrace how you value healthy eating, the most powerful thing you can do is simply to follow your own path and respect theirs. Individuals have to choose to eat clean for themselves. By eating clean yourself and being vocal about how and why you make the choices you do, you empower those around you with the knowledge necessary to make healthy choices.

With children, I find it particularly helpful to involve them with everything from planting a garden and grocery shopping, to cooking and serving meals. Whatever you do, try not to take away the foods people love! Rather, look at what you (or they if you are feeding a family) are eating, try to identify the colors and tastes that are missing, and experiment with ways of bringing in clean food to fill those gaps. The more clean food you can successfully add to your diet, the more non-nourishing foods will fall by the wayside.

3. Who are your cooking inspirations?

My mother’s first meal as a married woman was pasta. She had no idea what to do or how much to make, so she threw a couple of pounds of pasta into a big pot of boiling water, and they ate pasta for weeks! She is now a fabulous cook, and her creations overflow with nutrients and love. There are countless fabulous chefs that I admire, but if I can nourish my self, my family and my community with respect to our environment as my mother continues to do, I will be happy. And, if I can inspire and empower others to do the same, I would consider myself very successful.

4. When did you start cooking?

I’m not sure which came first, the Easy Bake Oven or the homemade cheesecake. Perhaps I made the cheesecake in the Easy Bake Oven?! That probably dates me enough, no?

5. If you had to choose only one savory and one dessert items from your book, which would they be?

You understand that I’d give you a different answer every time you ask, right? Couldn’t I do this by season? I’m not much of a dessert person, but the Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies win easily (Spring, page 89). They’re super fast to throw together, incredibly easy and ultimately satisfying any time of the day or year (just ask my kids)!

Picking a savory recipe is a bit more of a challenge. I’m a nut for kale and collard greens, but there’s no way I could chose one greens recipe over another, so I’ll avoid that altogether and go with Goodness Soup (Winter, page 208). My mother made this for me as a kid and it was the first soup I mastered as a cook. It helped that its alternate name was “everything but the kitchen sink soup.” It’s thick, creamy, satisfying and a complete meal all in one bowl.

6. What’s your favorite season?

I live in New England because I like ALL of the seasons! As a cook, there’s nothing like the abundant greens of spring and the juicy fruits of summer. I’m also completely satisfied with warming grains and stews in winter, but hands down, Fall’s harvest is my favorite! Dark leafy greens, winter squashes, corn on the cob, beets in all colors, sweet root vegetables…it’s hard to go wrong. Plus, I can still wear shorts, I don’t need socks, it’s cool at night for sleeping, and you can do anything out doors (run, cycle, hike…) all to a symphony of foliage color! Love it!

7. Is there a reason for your deep interest in nutritional health?

My mother taught me by her example that by taking care of your body you can live life to the fullest. Now that I have children, I’m even more motivated to do it all and enjoy every day. I love to ski, run, cycle, hike…. I want to do it all, see the world and share it with my family, and I don’t want my body to hold me back!

8. You suddenly find yourself with only 10 ingredients to work with. Which ones do you pick?

Cipollini onions
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
White beans
(Now it gets harder.)
Delicata squash
Brussels sprouts
Aged balsamic vinegar
Toasted and salted pumpkin seeds

9. Besides cooking, what are your other passions?

If my children are involved, I’m passionate about it – from cheering at a swim or gymnastics meet to walking the dog! I also love to ski (especially moguls!). I’m a runner. I enjoy my time on my road bike – particularly when I’m with my husband. I love hiking with my family. Snow shoeing, reading, gardening, travelling, entertaining and spending time with my friends and family, cleaning (now there’s an unexpected one!)…

10. What are your upcoming plans?

Even though it’s weeks away, back-to-school for my children is in the forefront of my mind. But, CLEAN FOOD will be in stores September 1 and I can’t wait to launch my new website and blog, travel to promote the book and be nourished from making lots of connections with people interested in eating clean. Hopefully, with all of the upcoming activity, I’ll continue to find time to train for my upcoming marathon in November!


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