Food Network’s The Best and Lightest

9780804185349We are two weeks into the New Year which means subscriptions to diet programs and gym memberships are probably through the roof. I always hated the terms “diet” and “healthy” and “clean” eating because they all sound so restrictive. As if I am reduced to bread and water, and I probably wouldn’t even be able to have the bread due to some no carb diet plan. However, I was really interested in Katherine Alford and Claudia Sidoti would come up with in their latest Food Network book, The Best and Lightest.

The Best and Lightest is not your usual healthy eating cookbook. There are 150 hearty and fulfilling healthy recipes catering to the top three healthiest diets: Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free. Although there the majority of the book is dedicated to vegans and vegetarians, there are a couple of sections that are dedicated to meat lovers such as myself. All are easy to prepare with the majority of the ingredients found in your home pantry which is why I love cooking from Food Network’s books—the simplicity of their recipes.

Above each recipe is a key or notification letting you know which recipes are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free; each recipe is also accompanied by a photo of the finished dish which is another reason I love Food Network’s books. One of the things I like most about the recipes is that they are not heavy and can be modified if you want to add some form of meat. I highly recommend trying the steak and hummus sandwiches and the potato leek soup with bacon.

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Slow Fires by Justin Smillie

9780804186230I am one of those cooks who hates sitting around and waiting for summer to come to gather up family and friends for a nice outdoor barbecue. I recently read The Barbecue Bible which explained a variety of cooking appliances that can be used indoors for stovetop barbecuing which is where my fascination for Slow Fires was born.

Slow Fires is a cookbook loaded with recipes to barbecue a variety of ingredients with various cooking techniques. If you are a beginner pit master, then you may find this book to be a little challenging because some of the ingredients listed tend to be quite long, and if you are new to cooking, I always recommend sticking to five ingredients of less.

The food photography is so rustic in this book which I think is due to the matte finish of the pages which made dive deeper into reading it. Author Justin Smillie makes reading the recipes as straightforward as possible despite feeling as if you are holding a textbook at The Culinary Institute of America, which are not difficult to consume but can be overwhelming when you when first start reading and applying the information.

Chef Smillie takes you on one of the best cooking journeys you will probably take in your life, all while using the simplest of cooking techniques that you learn when you first start learning how to cook. The only difference with this cookbook is that he pushes the boundaries of what you think you can and cannot slow cook. This book opened up a world of ingredients in which I can create the perfect slow fire meal.