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Tuesday, 08 September 2015 20:24

Eat Out, Eat Well

Eat Out Eat Well book cover Picmonkey

By Hope Warshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE

 

2015 American Diabetes Association

ISBN: 978-1-58040-542-3

Soft Cover, 574 pages $17.95

 

From this book’s title one might assume the subject was about high living—a topic familiar to the experience of a food and wine writer. Closer inspection reveals that it is published by the American Diabetes Association and in fact the cover also explains it is “The guide to eating healthy in any restaurant.” Though ostensibly targeting readers dealing with diabetes, Eat Out, Eat Well seems to offer reasonable advice to that presumably much larger audience just looking for healthier ways to eat.

Organized in three main sections—healthy restaurant eating in general, American fare and ethnic fare—Warshaw’s book follows a logical exposition and is presented in easy-to-read format. Categories of foods such as appetizers, salads and entrees are segmented into sections such as “Health Busters” and “Healthier Bets.” Sometimes the alternatives are broken down into a finer sort under definitions such as “Light ‘N’ Healthy,” “Hearty ‘N’ Healthy” and “Lower Carb ‘N’ Healthy.” Within these sections are listed many, many dishes served by chain restaurants in the U.S. The name of each dish, as defined by the restaurant, is included, as are details such as size of portion served, calories, carbohydrates and sodium content.

Knowing that one portion of the Charbroiled Chicken Nachos at Baja Fresh Mexican Grill is 2020 calories, a slight saving over the Charbroiled Steak Nachos (2120 calories), may not be critical, but one order of the Steak with Flour Tortillas Fajitas from that same company contains just 1240 calories, making it seem a reasonable option. The author has included definitions of menu terms found in ethnic restaurants, as well as lists of “red flags” and “green flags,” which guide the conscientious diner away from hazards toward healthier options. A companion mobile app is also available.

For those who dine infrequently, if at all, in chain operations, Eat Out, Eat Well could still have value. Scanning the nutritional aspects of many offerings from these restaurant operations, a reader might take some comfort in beginning to understand general rules that could be applied toward ordering in single-proprietor establishments or cooking at home.

--reviewed by Maria Olivares

 

Tuesday, 26 May 2015 11:55

quick & easy chicken

Quick Easy Chicken cover Picmonkey

By Linda Gassenheimer

 

2015 American Diabetes Association

ISBN: 978-1-58040-563-8

Soft Cover, 140 pages  $9.95

 

Quick & easy chicken is subtitled “Diabetes-Friendly Recipes Everyone Will Love.”  This reviewer has little familiarity with the nutritional needs of diabetics, but will assume that a book endorsed—and actually published by—the American Diabetes Association will contain recipes appropriate for people dealing with diabetes and pre-diabetic conditions.

We do see quite a lot of cookbooks, however, and can judge quick & easy chicken by the same standards we’d apply to any of them. This is not a beautiful, coffee table book with gorgeous photography of the dishes. In fact, other than the cover shot, it contains no photos at all. To succeed it must rely on the recipes and their presentation. In that regard it’s a hit.

If most supermarket chickens are not as flavorful as those that went on American tables a generation or two ago, these days they are reliable and a great source of inexpensive protein. And there’s nothing to stop the shopper from moving up to pricier and possibly tastier versions of this ubiquitous bird. Author Linda Gassenheimer has presented a myriad of ways to treat this most versatile of main course meats. She also has included some lighter soup, salad and sandwich options. No matter how eloquent the prose introducing the recipes or how famous the chef whose name is on the cover, a cookbook is more trouble than it’s worth if it’s not easy to use. Fortunately, this is not a problem with quick & easy chicken.

After a few pages of introduction, Gassenheimer takes the reader to chapters segmented mostly by style of food. If not all the 21 recipes in All American Classics  are the ones your mother might have served you, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t worthy. Some, like Devil’s Chicken with Sautéed Garlic Potatoes, seemed a bit exotic, but we were intrigued by Oven-Fried Chicken with Creamed Corn and Lima Beans. Now that sounds like a solid and satisfying meal of the sort that Mom—or Grandma—used to put on the table. From the Asian/India  recipes, Curry-Kissed Chicken with Rice and Carrots also appealed. On page 72 we saw the Gorgonzola Chicken with Fresh Linguine and Sweet Pimentos—one of the Mediterranean  suggestions. The recipe does not include instructions on how to make fresh linguine, which admittedly is a lot of work. It’s a stretch to think most home cooks have easy access to a store selling fresh pasta, but different boiling times are included for both fresh and dried pasta. Following the directions faithfuly should yield good results. This recipe and all the others are presented with the typical instructions for cooking method following the ingredient list.

What’s unusual, though, are the ancillary instructions. Preparation and timing are critical for any cooking endeavor and highlights listed in the Countdown  give simple, yet invaluable sequencing help. Two other additions are Shopping List  and Staples, detailing what you’re likely to already have on hand (flour, olive oil, etc.) and ingredients specific to the preparation of each recipe. Helpful Hints  follow each recipe. These look like they would be useful for the novice and might even include a few tips that would benefit the experienced cook.

Nearly all the recipes call for using boneless and skinless chicken. Some might wonder if such instructions might mean stinting on flavor, but after all, the title does say “quick & easy.” And avoiding all the fat in the skin probably speaks to the “Diabetes-Friendly” theme. That these recipes are helpful for those with diabetes and pre-diabetes conditions—a significant part of the population—is laudable, but they all look healthful for a general audience, as well. Most of these dishes really sound tasty and likely will inspire the reader to conclude, “I can make that.”

  --reviewed by Dan Clarke