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 itÃ¢â¬
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.ÃÂ This could easily be a coffee table book, but itÃ¢â¬
The layout of the book is user-friendly. Each chapter is a polymeal, a meal that contains the seven Ã¢â¬ÅmagicÃ¢â¬Â 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 Ã¢â¬Åpill to plate.Ã¢â¬ÂÃÂ (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 Ã¢â¬ÅmagicÃ¢â¬Â 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, BowdenÃ¢â¬
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.ÃÂ In fact, most of the chapters are pre-planned menus that is are all-inclusive, including Ã¢â¬Åsuggested 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.
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.ÃÂ Bake until soft to the fork and the garlic is slightly carmelized, about 30 minutes.ÃÂ 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:
Ã¢â¬Â¢ These onions are an easy, low-glycemic, sweet tasting, and sulfur-rich delight!
Ã¢â¬Â¢ When choosing onions, be aware that different types of onions have different health-promoting chemicals. The stronger-tasting ones have superior properties.
Ã¢â¬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.
Ã¢â¬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.
Ã¢â¬Â¢ Allicin begins to degrade shortly after it’s produced, so the fresher it is when you use it, the better.ÃÂ 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.ÃÂ 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.