This cookbook by Norene Gilletz excites me so much that I don't know where to start in sharing a review with you. If you don't have it, get it. ...as fast as you can!
The cookbook covers so much that everyone is sure to find something that satisfies within the 411 pages of recipes -- 800 recipes no less! Did you see that? 800 recipes are included in the easy to read, colorful to look at, several recipes with photos of several dishes in each photo. The photos are all in one place and I think I like that very much. The title reads "800 Fast and Fabulous Recipes for the Kosher (or Not) Cook". I am not a Kosher cook but I have found so many recipes that I know I will use over and over again. But for those who ARE Kosher cooks, you will be very happy with this cookbook also. There is a whole section on holidays and celebrations that I'm sure will be helpful to you.
You can tell Norene Gilletz knew what she was doing in designing this cookbook. In the beginning she acknowledges all those who have helped her with ideas or tested recipes. She credits her Mother as one of several who inspired and taught her, or encouraged and advised her. She had willing taste testers and even had a focus group to keep her apprised of what people want and "need to know in today's kitchen".
"Healthy Helpings" is a healthy cookbook so for those who look for the nutritional analysis, you will be happy to know it is included with each recipe. There is a whole page of guidelines Norene used to analyze her recipes. I personally found it very helpful to know things like "4 to 6 servings" was analyzed for 4 servings or "optional ingredients and garnishes in unspecified amounts were not calculated". These are the questions that sometimes puzzle those who are trying hard to figure closely all the nutritional analysis.
As any thorough cookbook author would include, there is a list of staples for a healthy kitchen and it includes oils/vinegars, mayonnaise/salad dressings, dried legumes, tomato products, canned vegetables/legumes/fruits/fish/soups, pastas/grains/cereals, snack foods/cookies/crackers, breads/bread crumbs, beverages/juices/miscellaneous, and dried herbs & spices, baking supplies. There is also a section on perishables, frozen foods and herbs. There is so much information under each of the staple items and so much "healthy" information listed before you even get to the first recipe! I really like this in a cookbook!
The format of "Healthy Helpings" recipes is done in a single list of ingredients with directions below. There are two columns on each page, which seems to afford extra room to get more recipes per page. The print is large enough to read and is a nice feature without a feeling of paper wasting as in some of the other cookbooks I've bought lately -- the kind with large fonts and only one recipe per page and an obvious waste of paper. But not "Healthy Helpings"! I have the feeling that there was so much information to include that Norene and her publisher, Woodland Publishing, figured out the best way to get the most print on a page without it looking too crowded, etc.
Almost all of the recipes have the little friendly paragraph at the beginning of a recipe that we all love to read -- the little hint of origin or inspiration for that particular recipe. That feature means a lot to those who like to read cookbooks like they read novels (I'm one of them!).
I collect cookbooks and have thousands of them, but this is one that we will use over and over. In fact, I have made several of the recipes already and some even twice and I've only had the cookbook just a few weeks! My favorites so far are:
Grilled Orange Teriyaki Chicken
Rainbow Rice Pilaf (the first recipe I tried from Healthy Helpings)
There are many other recipes I have marked to try so I already know this cookbook is going to take a prominent place on the cookbook shelves near the kitchen, probably next to Norene's "Food Processor Bible", which we use a lot also. In fact, I have loaded this cookbook with bookmarks and post-it flags to help me find the next recipe I want to try.
Another good thing -- the recipes call for ingredients that most of us already have in our cupboards. When I feel inspired to try a new recipe I can reach for "Healthy Helpings" and know I will most likely have all the ingredients on hand to make a healthy and satisfying dish.
I highly recommend "Healthy Helpings" as an addition to your cookbook shelf. At $19.99 it's affordable and makes a nice gift for yourself or to someone you'd like to help on their way to a more healthy lifestyle. I'm including the recipe for "Israeli Salad" below. Not only is it delicious and healthy, but it is also a very pretty dish to have on your dinner table.
1 head of Romaine or iceberg lettuce
4 green onions
1 medium onion
2 green peppers
1 red pepper
1 English cucumber, peeled
8 firm, ripe tomatoes (preferably Israeli)
4 Tablespoons olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)
4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sale (or to taste)
Freshly ground pepper, optional
Wash and dry vegetables well. Dice them neatly into 1/2-inch pieces and combine in a large bowl. Sprinkle with olive oil and lemon juice. Add seasonings; mix again. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Yield: 8 servings. Salad tastes best eaten the same day it is made, but leftovers will keep for a day in the refrigerator. Drain off excess liquid in the bottom of the bowl before serving.
Note: This recipe makes quite a lot so either halve the recipe or invite someone over to help eat it.