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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Review: Introducing Whole Foods Cooking

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My hubby recently had a conversation with a chef of his acquaintance. It went something like this:

Hubby: “I’m kind of an aspiring foodie. But, you know we’ve got a 10, 6, 4 and 1-year-old…”

Chef: “Mac-n-cheese and chicken nuggets, right?”

Yep. Except Mary is probably the singularly most picky eater I have have ever met in my life. Not even chicken nuggets meet with her approval. And only certain types of mac-n-cheese. Getting her to eat something other than carbs is a constant struggle. But teaching my children healthy eating habits is definitely a priority.

The Gregg’s hear your pleas…Introducing Whole Foods Cooking for Health and Hospitality is a slim, 135-page comb-bound volume designed to not only teach you about the proper way to eat…but how to ease your family into a healthier diet. Baby steps, folks. They know where you’re at…they were there once, too.

This is not really a cookbook, in fact there are only about 2 dozen recipes included (several are available for free on Sue Gregg’s website). This really is an introduction to cooking with whole foods. You are given a brief overview of the important nutrients to be had from whole foods, optimal ways of preparing various foods, the importance of soaking whole grains, beans and legumes, the importance of fats (and what types are good), and how to avoid refined sugars. Attention is paid to the importance of presentation (half of eating is what you see, smell, feel). There are also cost comparisons between whole foods and a typical American diet, a section on menus for weight loss, and a short Bible study included. A cd-rom at the back of the book provides step-by-step Powerpoint instructions for the recipes.

I read this book from cover to cover when I first received it. And dove into the recipes, though I did have to do some tweaking to use what was readily available. I really do want to pursue this way of cooking and eating…and this book inspired me to do it. But, I don’t feel this book really gives me what I need to embark on this journey. Perhaps it doesn’t intend to.

Just about every page has footnotes, many referring to other books by the Greggs or to other books from the 2-page bibliography. After awhile, it felt like I was reading an ad for their other books. The information on nutrition, while informative, really only scratches the surface. The helps for modifying favorite recipes to improve their nutrition offer little in logistical guidance. While it makes sense that I can improve nutrition by using soaked whole grains instead of white flour, how do I go about it? How much grain for a cup of flour? Do I need to modify my liquid? My leavening? If I want to substitute honey for white sugar, do I need to change my liquids? Do I use the same amount of honey as sugar? You won’t find answers to these questions here.

I found the cost comparisons unrealistic, but then I suppose we don’t really have a typical American diet in our household. We do eat some processed foods (the ubiquitous mac-n-cheese, for example), but really try to avoid those. It will cost me more to buy whole grains than refined flour. Honey is more expensive than white sugar. Butter is more expensive than margarine. And organic is always more than non-organic. But I don’t really think cost is the point, maybe this section is a little misguided. Good food should be an investment in your health. Those who are spending huge amounts of money on processed foods will be turned off by the amount of preparation and planning these recipes require (soaking your grains for up to 24 hours does require some advanced planning, folks).

Navigating the book is a bit difficult, as there is no index or main table of contents (each section has its own table of contents---it’s almost as though it were a collection of short booklets bound together).

The book’s strength is in its ability to motivate. What I appreciate most is the emphasis on making small changes slowly over time rather than looking at it as an all or nothing deal. It makes it feel do-able. And that alone makes it worth having on my bookshelf.

An Introduction to Whole Foods Cooking for Health and Hospitality by Rich & Sue Gregg is available for $17.95.

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received a complementary copy of An Introduction to Whole Foods Cooking for Health and Hospitality for review purposes. I received no compensation. This review reflects my personal opinions and experiences.

You can read reviews of other books by the Greggs:

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4 comments:

  1. I appreciate the honest review. This book sounds like it might be a little difficult for someone like me to navigate. I really am impressed with the premise though. I would be interested in a more user friendly version for someone interested in beginning whole foods cooking. Thanks for the great review!

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  2. I would highly recommend checking out Sue Gregg's website (www.suegregg.com). She has a number of recipes on there with complete step-by-step directions (with pictures) to explain how to do it. Baby steps. If you like what you taste, then you can investigate more into changing your eating habits.

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  3. You made some good points. This cookbook is somewhat difficult to navigate (not having a table of contents or index), though post-it notes inserted beside favorite recipes can help with that. The cost information is also somewhat unrealistic, though I think part of that has to do with her living in California and the costs she herself has faced. My own review of this book was much shorter, because I received 3 of her books to review and I reviewed them together.

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  4. Food costs can change so much from year to year and vary so much from region to region that putting them into a book is probably not that beneficial.

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