Review: The Wellness Kitchen

In my never ending pursuit to test out every cookbook ever (over exaggeration maybe?) I have another cookbook review for you today! When this one came across my email, I definitely wanted to check it out, since the author is a fellow Registered Dietitian.  I’m always interested in what other RD’s are doing, especially since authoring a cookbook might even be on my own far off bucket list.

The Wellness Kitchen: Fresh, Flavourful Recipes for a Healthier You is written by Paulette Lambert, RD, CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator).  Paulette is the Director of Nutrition at the California Health & Longevity Institute, which is also home to The Wellness Kitchen, and has also been on a variety of TV shows (of which I won’t name – you can check out her bio for that).  Definitely a seasoned professional in the dietetics world.

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On first look at The Wellness Kitchen, it looks like a foodie’s cookbook that will be packed with delicious and nutritious recipes using fresh ingredients – which is totally my thing. But then you look a little closer at the cover, and notice a little red circle with the statement Transform Your Body in 21 Days! and it’s makes you wonder what exactly you might be getting in for. I’m not going to lie – any book that tells me I can transform my body or lose X number of pounds in a specific time frame has me wondering if this isn’t a diet book in disguise. And while I love cookbooks, I do not love diet books – a whole industry that really thrives on failure isn’t cool with me. But I put aside my scepticism, and dove on in. For the rest of the review, I think I will divide it into 2 parts – the things I like, and the things I don’t.

 

Things I liked about the book

  • There are lots of great tasting recipes. Seriously, I probably could have tagged half the book of recipes I wanted to make, and did manage to try out 4 of them:

Couscous and Arugula Salad with Fresh Basil Dressing

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This recipe had me at arugula and fresh basil dressing. Everything about it sounded great, I just needed an occasion to make it. Fortunately, I had a BBQ to attend, so I whipped this up. It was a crowd pleaser, that’s for sure. In fact, people were eating it with tortilla chips as an appetizer before we even got to grilling. I just loved the combination of flavours, textures, and colours from the grilled corn, avocado, arugula, pumpkin seeds, and dried cranberries. And that basil buttermilk dressing? Talk about amazing! Pretty sure it will become a staple in my house this summer.

Honey Mustard Salmon

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This is actually part of recipe, but I was cooking salmon one night, and decided to use the technique and glaze from one recipe. It was pretty simple – just honey and Dijon mustard. But it made for a tasty glaze on our fish, using ingredients I always have on hand.

Tofu Egg Salad

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I have never been a fan of egg salad, but was intrigued by the idea of an eggless egg salad. I feel like there needs to be a better name though, because it’s really a misnomer to call something an egg salad when there is no egg in it, and yet tofu salad doesn’t really tell you what the recipe will be. But I digress – I enjoyed this both in sandwiches and as a “dip” for crackers and veggies. It makes a lot, and sort of tastes like potato salad…which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Honey Pecan Crusted Chicken

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Another recipe that caught my eye because it used mostly ingredients I had on hand (I had to buy the cornflakes).  We usually just grill or bake chicken, because frankly, it’s less effort. But sometimes it’s fun to make your own chicken fingers, and these had a crispy, sweet coating that was well liked by myself and the boyfriend. I recommend paring them with a spicy dip though to cut through some of the sweetness.

  • The recipes are easy to follow, and don’t require hard to find ingredients. Always a plus when you want to encourage everyone to get in the kitchen and do more cooking from scratch.
  • The ingredients are almost all whole/real foods (other than always calling for non-hydrogenated margarine instead of butter…ugh!)
  • It is visually appealing – nice layout, nice pictures. Who doesn’t love a pretty cookbook?

 

Things I didn’t like about the book

  • The whole weight loss aspect of it. There is a whole section on the “Art and Science of Weight Loss” plus a section titled “21-Day Food Plan for Health and Weight Loss” with accompanying meal plans for various calorie ranges in the back. It’s a really nice book, and I think it would be better if the focus was more on health and less on weight. Not to mention the diet plans don’t make sense to me – there is too little protein at breakfast, and while the author states that “calories are spread evenly over breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner”, they aren’t. Breakfast is lower that lunch, which is lower than dinner.
  • The author seems to have a very fat-phobic focus. While she talks about eating real foods, whole foods, organic foods, local foods, she then recommends lite mayonnaise, non-fat yogurt, lite ice cream, margarine, and other things. To me, that doesn’t make sense. I’m not against people eating low-fat dairy if they prefer, but I have to say, low fat cheddar does not compare to regular fat cheddar in any way. We don’t need to fear fat – we just need to be smart about how we use it, and know that a little of the real stuff is often more satisfying than the lite version.
  • I found things to be too calorie focused. Every recipe has a calorie count, but doesn’t tell me anything else, like fibre, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Calories aren’t the only thing to consider about your foods, that’s for sure. Also, all of the meal plans are based on calorie amounts. The lowest one is 1300 calories/day. That is really low, even for a very small person who wants to lose some weight.
  • The use of the words detoxifying, eating clean, and any of those other trendy words. Foods don’t detoxify. Eating clean means you are categorizing foods into good and bad, which won’t set you up for a healthy relationship with food. Give up the trendy words – even if they “sell” what you are saying.

 

Overall, I’m on the fence about this book. On one hand, I think it has some great recipes that would get people into the kitchen cooking nutritious and delicious meals. I just wish I could delete the weight/calorie/detox/non-fat talk. While I might be able to look past all of that and focus on the recipes, someone else may not. It’s not to say that the book wouldn’t be helpful, but anything with a weight loss/diet slant always sends up a bit of a red flag to me. I’m glad I checked it out, and glad to have some new recipes to enjoy. I just don’t know if I would recommend the book as is.

 

Honey-Pecan Crusted Chicken – from The Wellness Kitchen

serves 4

  • organic canola or olive oil cooking spray
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 pound)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 cup crushed cornflakes
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Set aside.

3. Cut each chicken breast into 4 strips.

4. In a small bowl, add honey and dijon. Microwave 10 seconds to loosen honey. Whisk together.

5. In a shallow bowl, mix cornflake crumbs, salt, cayenne pepper, and pecans.

6. Dip each chicken strip in honey-mustard mixture. Shake off excess.

7. Lightly coat each chicken strip in cornflake mixture and place in single layer on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken strips.

8. Spray chicken strips lightly with cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes until crisp.

 

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Disclaimer – This cookbook was provided to me free of charge to review for the blog. All opinions and photos are my own. Recipe reprinted with permission.

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Categories: Books/Cookbooks, Cookbook, Dinner, Lunch, Meals, Recipe, Review, Whole Grain

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2 Comments on “Review: The Wellness Kitchen”

  1. July 6, 2015 at 8:05 am #

    I am with you on the 21 fix, or anything that says you can change your body so quickly. It takes 21 days to break a habit, so I get that. The chicken does look delicious though!

    • July 7, 2015 at 10:35 pm #

      Right?! I hate promises of anything on a book cover – it’s just a gimmick to sell books! And even the idea that it takes 21 days to make/break a habit is a myth – that all depends on the habit and the person!

      That all being said – everything I made from there was tasty. Including the chicken fingers 🙂

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