Madeleine Shaw is the Author of this very popular cook book which is actually a follow on from her first book ‘Get The Glow.’ So in true dietitian style, I thought I would buy it and see what I thought.
The first few pages take you through some fairly solid advice around planning your meals and why you should eat healthily.
‘Cook once, eat twice’
Madeleine then goes on to talk about her philosophy and while again it is generally good, I feel somewhat overcomplicated. Such as avoiding wheat products – yes things like white bread, biscuits and cake aren’t going to provide you much in the way of nutrition, but wholemeal breads and pasta are actually great sources of energy and fibre when used correctly. Also the issue around coconut oil is quite quickly brought up and suggested as a fat you should include in your diet. As a saturated fat, this is not something that I would agree with at all.
I love that Madeleine talks about ‘store cupboard ingredients’ which are an important concept for anyone looking to eat healthily. She describes a variety of nuts,seeds, flours, spices, dried fruit and tinned goods to ensure you are well equipped. Yet, these also come along with some health claims I am rather dubious about, and some of the ingredients like chia seeds can be actually quite expensive.
So on to the actual food…
This book has a selection of fast meals and slow meals – for the weekday and the weekend. It also contains lots of snacks and breakfast recipes. So I tried a selection….
-Pimping porridge with pomegranate, poached pears and pistachio
Grating a pear into porridge is a fantastic way of getting 1 of your 5 a day and sweetening the porridge naturally. Not only this, but the combination of milk (protein), nuts (healthy fat) and oats (carbs) = a balanced breakfast. But the portion sizes on this recipe were too big (60g instead of 50g of oats) and there is honey added. I would suggest anyone tries it first without the honey, as for me it was already sweet enough. It should also be noted that as honey is a high GI food it will increase your blood sugars and so in theory is not good for skin (as this book aims to be).
-Coconut and lime quinoa porridge with honey almond crumble
This recipe gives you the option to either use quinoa flakes or oats, and seeing as I already have to rotate my weekly shops due to the amount of awkward questions I ask the staff- I used oats. One of the reasons I loved using this book, is the exciting variations on boring porridge it provides and this was no exception. There was however, the dreaded coconut oil (which I simply didn’t use) and then the nuts were caramelised in honey before putting on the porridge. As tasty as this was, it was really quite sugary – so perhaps not so healthy. Something, I would like to point out here is just because it is natural does not mean it is healthy.
Again, I used all oats in this as I could not find the buckwheat groats in my local supermarket. The use of vegetables in oats was great and something I have never thought about doing before. However, I did adjust the portion sizes a little as the recipe calls for 65g of oats which is quite large. It also includes 1/2 tbs of honey, which I actually found too sweet and just avoided the second time I made it – perfect
Although the book contains many drinks, I chose to try the ‘Turmeric Milk’ as the others were very high in sugar. I was also quite excited to try turmeric in something other than the occasional asian dish. The taste was savoury and quite earthy – you may want to try it in cows milk to improve the taste. Yet again, I was left trying to avoid sugar in the way of added honey. Another thing to note is that Turmeric is used frequently throughout this book, due to containing an anti-oxidant known as curcumin. However, when you look at the science behind this, the actual ability of such as small amount taken orally to have an anti-oxidative affect is questionable. Also, when something is taken orally you don’t necessarily absorb all of it. Not only this, but there appears not to be any science mentioning skin health with in relation to curcumin. Equally though, there is nothing to suggest it makes your skin any worse.
-Lamb and Spinach Curry
This was one of the ‘slow’ meals and takes around 2 hours to make. Apart from the coconut oil (easily replaced), this dish was amazing and I loved being able to use spinach up as it really doesn’t last very long. The meal itself is high protein, iron and fibre – so win-win-win! This was also my first time using cauliflower rice (bad dietitian I know), which is again a great way to get another 1 of your 5 a day and cut down on calories. Although to make things a little easier, there is no reason why you can’t just have a sensible portion of normal rice. To make things a little cheaper you may also want go for the cheaper cuts of meat in this dish as the long cooking time means they will be nice and soft by the end.
-Goan Chicken Curry
One of the 15 minute meals – my partner was actually able to make this unsupervised (in 30 minutes). Again, apart from the coconut oil – a low GI, balanced, healthy meal.
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