Note: This is the second book in my quartet of Jonny Bowden’s books.
Question: When is a cookbook not just a cookbook?
Answer: When itâ€™s a food book entitled The Healthiest Foods on Earth by Jonny Bowden
The Healthiest Foods on Earth is a deliciously diverse book that includes food facts, kitchen hints, nutritional nuggets, and easy-to-prepare meals that are not only good tasting and simple to prepare, but also good for you. In addition, the photographs of food and landscape are breathtaking.Â This could easily be a coffee table book, but itâ€™s too important to sit in your living room; it belongs in the kitchen. How can one book deliver all of this? Simple. When Jonny Bowden writes a book on health, he draws on all his resources.Â In this case, his Girl Friday is Chef Jeannette Bessinger, who combines her culinary skills with Jonnyâ€™s fantastic range of on formation about the best foods on Earth.
The layout of the book is user-friendly. Each chapter is a polymeal, a meal that contains the seven â€œmagicâ€ ingredients or their equivalents that are the natural alternative to the polypill, a medical strategy that scientists have conceived to help reduce mortality from heart disease and stroke by 80%. These seven ingredients or their equivalents are: fish, garlic, almonds, fruits, vegetables, dark chocolate, and red wine. Jonny calls this going from â€œpill to plate.â€Â (This concept was developed by Oscar Franco, a Columbian scientist.) Both the author and Jeanette agreed that each polymeal would meet three criteria in addition to the seven â€œmagicâ€ foods or their equivalents: it would maximize nutritional taste, it would taste good, and it would be relatively easy to prepare.*
Because Mother Nature has provided us with so many foods that give us comparable benefits, Bowdenâ€™s book uses almost the full range of natural foods available. (See his previous book entitled, The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, which I reviewed earlier this month) for a complete list of foods, many of which are incorporated in Healthiest Meals.)Â Each of the first 10 chapters features a four-course polymeal.Â The next three chapters highlight one-pot polymeals with simple sides, and the last chapter (14), provides us with liquid polymeals.
In every chapter Jonny, using his casual style, educates us with details on the health aspects of the ingredients, tips for meal preparation, the recipes themselves gathered by Chef Jeannette Bessinger, a pantry list so you can do one-stop shopping for each meal, and gorgeous color plates of each of the dishes as well, as double paged plates of foods.Â In fact, most of the chapters are pre-planned menus that is are all-inclusive, including â€œsuggested swaps, so you can mix and match the dishes in the book for variety in your polymeals. This variety emphasizes good fats (avocado, olive oil, and yes, coconut) and de-emphasizes sugar, which Bowden believes (and I agree) is a bigger culprit than (hydrogenated) fats.
I canâ€™t praise this book enough. The recipes meet all *three criteria and I agree with almost all the concepts. It is my â€œnext-in-lineâ€ cookbook for trying new recipes to add to my repertoire. The layout, the information, and the photographs make The Healthiest Meals on Earth a show-stopper, and the ease of preparation make it a â€œmust tryâ€ in my menu planning. Get a copy today and start eating the healthiest meals ever!
Here is an easy recipe that you might want to try with Vidalias, since I believe they are in the stores now.
Steam-Baked Vidalia Onions
Cancer-fighting on the Side
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
2 tablespoons (28g) butter
3 garlic cloves, finely minced or pushed through a garlic press
2 medium Vidalia onions, peeled, ends removed, and cut in half across the middle
2 tablespoons (28 ml) water
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C, gas mark 5)
In a small saute pan over medium heat, warm the butter until melted, Add the garlic and stir to combine and warm, about 1 minute.
Place the onions, cut side up, and the water in a small glass baking dish with a cover. Gently spoon the garlic butter onto each onion half in equal measures. Cover with the baking dish or an aluminum foil tent, taking care to seal the edges without touching any part of the onion.Â Bake until soft to the fork and the garlic is slightly carmelized, about 30 minutes.Â Gently lift the onion out of the pan and serve.
Yield: 4 servings
Note: In the book itself, the ingredients are on the left and the directions on the right for ease of reading and following.
On the page opposite the directions are these Notes from the Kitchen:
â€¢ These onions are an easy, low-glycemic, sweet tasting, and sulfur-rich delight!
â€¢ When choosing onions, be aware that different types of onions have different health-promoting chemicals. The stronger-tasting ones have superior properties.
â€¢ Onion tips: Peel it under water for ease. If the onions make you cry when cutting, stick your head in the freezer for a few moments and the irritation will diminish.
â€¢ The preparation of the garlic is key to its health benefits. The garlic clove has to be crushed or chopped, the more finely the better, in order for the compounds in it to interact and form allicin, which is the substance responsible for most of the good stuff garlic does.
â€¢ Allicin begins to degrade shortly after it’s produced, so the fresher it is when you use it, the better.Â Adding chopped garlic to dishes as the last ingredient while cooking is always a good idea. Garlic experts advise crushing a little garlic and combining it with the cooked food shortly before serving.Â Alllicin–the health-giving compound–is completely destroyed by microwaving. Sorry!
These Kitchen Hints plus other features in the book, coupled with the previous book I reviewed, The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, both by Fairwind Press, make great companions. Also make a great wedding gift!
NOTE: I will review the other 2 books next month.