My friend Kaye and I would probably be considered “foodies” by many. We like to try new cuisines and appreciate quality ingredients. Once we discovered that we had this in common, we soon started a cookbook exchange in which we’d trade an interesting cookbook for a period of a few months so we could explore, cook and savor. We’ve shared cookbooks on roasting, Mexican food, African food, Texas spa food and culinary tomes produced by the now-defunct Gourmet magazine. But recently I told Kaye that I found a cool new cookbook – and I wasn’t sharing. She was going to have to check it out herself.
So what cookbook has become the object of my undying affection? The title is True Food and it’s written by Dr. Andrew Weil, Sam Fox and Michael Stebner. I must admit that I’ve been a fan of Dr. Weil’s for a long time. The founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine is a big believer in taking a holistic approach to health and has authored a number of books that I've read, including Healthy Aging, 8 Weeks to Optimum Health and Spontaneous Healing. He believes in the power of the body to regulate itself through lifestyle choices. So I was intrigued when I heard that he had a new cookbook coming out and bought it when I went to the bookstore.
It turns out that Dr. Weil doesn’t just have a cookbook – he actually has partnered with Fox and Stebner to create True Food Kitchen, a restaurant that has opened in Arizona (Phoenix and Scottsdale), California (Newport Beach, Santa Monica and San Diego), and Colorado (Denver). According to an interview in the cookbook, Dr. Weil met Fox in 2007 and suggested a new restaurant concept – one that would offer delicious food that was also nutritious. “Until then, no one had successfully brought together the worlds of fine dining and healthy eating. But you were less than enthusiastic,” Dr. Weil said. “That’s because health food doesn’t sell,” Fox replied. Dr. Weil ended up inviting Fox to his house to cook for him. The menu: curried cauliflower soup, a vegetarian Caesar salad, salmon cakes and a nondairy frozen dessert with cashew milk. After eating that meal, a partnership was quickly formed.
The recipes in the True Food cookbook are based on Dr. Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet that's designed to help deal with chronic inflammation that is believed to be behind many serious illnesses, including heart disease, many cancers and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Weil proposes that this is not a diet in the sense of staying on it for a limited amount of time. Instead, he offers that this diet helps people in “selecting and preparing foods based on scientific knowledge of how they can help your body maintain optimum health. Along with influencing inflammation, this diet will provide steady energy and ample vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, dietary fiber, and protective phytonutrients.”
So how weird are the meals? Not that weird at all and for the most part, not difficult to find ingredients for and to prepare. For instance, last night I made the kale salad, which was the first recipe I tried in the book. The ingredients – extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, garlic cloves, salt, red pepper flakes, kale, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and whole wheat bread crumbs (which I didn’t use). Easy to make, it’s a salad that I find I’m regularly craving. In December I made the recipe for bison chili, which was really good. (Dad even liked it!) The authors call for bison because it is considered an excellent source of quality protein, is relatively low in saturated fat, and has a favorable ration of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids when the bison is grass fed and grass finished. And on tonight’s menu – sweet potato-poblano soup. (And later this week is that curried cauliflower soup.)
The other part of this cookbook that I like is that there are ample pages that share information on healthy eating. One page features information on whole grains, while another talks about fish. Another page offers insight into the changing consumers who now embrace a number of diets including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, low-fat and low-carb.
About the only thing I don't like about this cookbook is that it doesn't provide the calorie and nutritional data for each recipe. It seems like a cookbook focused on healthy eating would include that information. But the omission of this information isn't a deal-breaker. I'd encourage anyone to check out this cookbook (and, no, I'm still not ready to loan it to Kaye).
Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
Fox Restaurant Concepts. (nd). True Food Kitchen.
Weil, A. (nd). Dr. Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet. Drweil.com
Weil, A., Fox, S. & Stebner, M. (2012). True food: Seasonable, sustainable, simple, pure.