Photo by Sarah Britton of her Life-Changing Loaf of Bread. Recipe below.
The start of a new year often marks the start of a new diet. While I’ve been known to cook from a trendy diet cookbook — South Beach Diet, I mean you — my interest quickly wanes. I fold after a couple months at best, finding myself back where I started, happily, albeit guiltily, deep in “real” food.
Thankfully, there’s been a return to a simpler, more sensible way of eating. The trend is now to stop overthinking food. As Michael Pollan popularly states, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
Here are three cookbooks to help — two get more plants into your diet and another focuses on a throwback food now back in style: bone broth.
Green Smoothies: Recipes for Smoothies, Juices, Nut Milks, and Tonics
by Fern Green // Ten Speed Press $14.99
If I were to recommend a book that does its best to help you not overthink eating, this is the one. Yes, it’s technically just a beverage book. But I’d argue that first, a smoothie is basically a drinkable salad and second, since it’s easy to eat on the go, can nip those snack cravings in the bud.
Green divides her book between juices and smoothies and has diagrammed each beverage with friendly photos, rendering the smoothie-making process almost foolproof. With a good blender, I easily turned the juice recipes into smoothies as well.
The ease and usefulness of this book comes from its help in getting the right foods in the right proportion. This yields a tasty beverage and not some bitter green goop to choke down.
Two thumbs way up.
My New Roots: Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every Season
by Sarah Britton // Clarkson Potter $29.99
Plant-based eating takes the concept of the vegetarian/vegan diet and removes its rigid morality. If you’ve successfully adopted a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle for these reasons, bless you, but for the rest of us, we need a little wiggle room.
Britton doesn’t discourage adding responsibly raised animal proteins to your meal, she’s just chosen not to eat them herself because of the results she’s seen in her own health.
This book isn’t about convincing you to eat only plants. It’s about making the best and most delicious meal possible using plants. A cookbook like this can open your eyes to an entire world of herbs and vegetables that would have otherwise stayed on the grocery store shelf.
Plant-based cookbooks are one of the easiest ways I follow Pollan’s advice to eat “mostly plants.” And there are other cookbooks I love that do this as well: anything by Anna Jones, Heidi Swanson or David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl will help you get on a similar track.
Brodo: A Bone Broth Cookbook
by Marco Canora // Pam Krauss Books $20
Canora has been on the bone broth (aka stock) train since before it started chugging down the newest detox diet track. His Tuscan mother fed him broth as a regular part of his meal, and his last two cookbooks, as well as his restaurants have marked a return to simpler, healthier ways of eating. What he was previously feeding himself was killing him, that or all the cigarettes and alcohol.
There are several broth books on bookstore shelves right now, but this one is small, simple and just about the broth, not asking you to add it to every dish of every meal.
Brodo’s broths and soups are simple to make and delicious to add to your diet. The hardest part of cooking from this book is hunting down a good source for all those bones. But, once you’ve done that, it’s smooth sailing … or should I say, brothing.
What Green, Britton and Canora provide are recipes for good food that is healthy, simple and basically just that: food.
Want to try a recipe? Give these three a go.
From Green Smoothies
PEACHY — slightly sweet
2 handfuls spinach
1⁄2 handful of mint leaves
1 tablespoon honey
Blend the ingredients except the honey with 1⁄3 cup of water. Add more water if necessary to reach your desired consistency. Add the honey, mix, and then drink.
Peaches are great at helping you feel full as well as being packed with vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium.
Body Stimulating // Blood Nourishing // Muscle & Bone Building
Reprinted from Green Smoothies. Copyright (c) 2015 by Fern Green. Published by Ten Speed Press.
From My New Roots
THE LIFE-CHANGING LOAF OF BREAD with Olives and Caraway
Makes 1 loaf
There is no way I could write a cookbook and not include the famous recipe that launched My New Roots into the blog stratosphere. The life-changing loaf of bread continues to circle the globe, convincing skeptics everywhere that healthy food can also taste delicious. To change things up a tad, I added a couple of my favorite things: caraway seeds and black olives. These little flourishes really make the bread special and even tastier. Keep in mind that the LCLOB (as it is now affectionately known the world over) is a base recipe that you can adapt with just a few additions. If you’ve never made this bread before, be prepared to fall in love. It makes the most delicious toast, too!
1 cup / 140g sunflower seeds
1/2 cup / 90g flax seeds
1/2 cup / 70g hazelnuts or almonds
1 1/2 cups / 150g rolled oats (gluten-free if desired)
2 tablespoons chia seeds
4 tablespoons / 32g psyllium seed husks (3 tablespoons / 24g if using psyllium husk powder)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (for sugar-free diets, substitute a pinch of stevia)
3 tablespoons coconut oil or ghee, melted
1/2 cup / 100g Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 . In a flexible silicone loaf pan (or a parchment-lined loaf pan) combine the sunflower and flax seeds, hazelnuts, oats, chia seeds, psyllium seed husks, sea salt, and caraway seeds, stirring well.
2 . Whisk the maple syrup, oil, and 11⁄2 cups / 340ml water together in a measuring cup. Add this mixture plus the chopped olives to the dry ingredients, and mix until everything is completely soaked and the dough becomes very thick (if the dough is too thick to stir, add 1 or 2 teaspoons of water until it is manageable). Smooth out the top with the back of a spoon. Let sit out on the counter covered for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
3 . Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C.
4 . Bake the loaf on the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the bread from the loaf pan, turn it upside down directly onto the oven rack, and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes. (The bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped.) Let the bread cool completely before slicing; to slice it easily, use a very sharp, smooth knife instead of a serrated bread knife.
5 . Store the bread in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (It freezes well, too, so slice before freezing for quick and easy toast!) Psyllium Seed Husks This bread does not contain any flour, so the binding agent used is psyllium. Psyllium seed husks are one of nature’s most absorbent fibers, able to suck up over ten times their weight in water. For this reason, psyllium helps to reduce cholesterol levels, aid digestion, and augment weight loss. Psyllium has no flavor whatsoever, so you can rest assured that the bread will taste of all the other ingredients.
Recipe and header image reprinted from My New Roots: Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every Season. Copyright (c) 2015 by Sarah Britton. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
HEARTH BROTH — makes about 6 quarts
2 (2- to 3-pound) stewing hens
2 (1-pound) turkey drumsticks
3 pounds beef shin
3 large onions, peeled and roughly chopped
6 celery stalks, roughly chopped
3 large carrots, scrubbed and roughly chopped
1 (14.5-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
Fine sea salt
1. Place all the meat in a 16-quart pot and add cold water to cover by 2 to 3 inches. Bring it to a boil over high heat, about 1 hour, skimming off the foamy impurities every 15 to 20 minutes.
2. As soon as the liquid boils, reduce the heat to low and pull the pot to one side so it is partially off the burner. Simmer for 2 hours, skimming once or twice.
3. Add the onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes, parsley, and peppercorns and push them down into the liquid. Continue to simmer for 3 to 5 hours, skimming as needed and occasionally checking to make sure that the bones are fully submerged.
4. Use a spider skimmer to remove the solids. Set the meat aside to cool, then pull it off the bones and reserve to make Polpettonne (recipe follows).* Save the bones to make a remy (see page 73)* or toss them out. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer. Season with salt to taste and let it cool.
5. Transfer the cooled broth to storage containers (leaving any sediment in the bottom of the pot) and refrigerate overnight. Skim off any solidified fat from the top and store the broth for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or freeze for up to 6 months.
* Unfortunately doesn’t “follow” here, but in the book … but left this bit in to show that you can use the bits you’d normally throw out to make another dish.
Recipe reprinted from Brodo. Copyright (c) 2015 by Marco Canora. Publisher Pam Krauss Books, an imprint of Clarkson Potter.