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Friday, October 21, 2016

Sneaky Blends: Cookbook Review


Happy FriYAY!

I am definitely glad its Friday because Adam has been in Ottawa since Sunday for a work trip. It started with our car getting a flat tire on Monday (which I discovered just as I was pulling out of the garage to get to work),

Tuesday I got mixed up and went to get Little A from her Brownies meeting a half hour early. I walked up the street to window shop to pass the time and the heavens opened up and I got soaked. No stores were even open, and I had neither an umbrella nor a jacket. I got back to pick her up looking like a drowned rat.

Wednesday I woke up to find raccoons tipped over our green bin and made a big mess on our front porch.

Thursday I woke up with another MSI (mysterious sleeping injury). My ring finger on my right hand hurt so much I couldn't move it. It is better today but still hurts. And no, I don't sleep walk, or even thrash around much, so I have no idea how I manage to injure myself so often while sleeping!

I also discovered our dishwasher wasn't draining and the plumber informed me it had been installed all wrong, wasn't up to code and was dangerous. Huh? Geez, nice to know that now more than 3 years later! He re-installed it and almost $400 later its now safe to use but still not draining, so we need to get an appliance guy in to have a look. The best part is, had we gotten a new dishwasher while doing our renos, we probably would have gotten a good deal since we bought a new fridge and stove. Sigh!

Finally its Friday and Adam will be back tonight. Phew! I haven't even mentioned all the times this week the kids had me tearing my hair out. But then that's pretty much normal every day stuff.

If your life also requires a lot of stamina to put out all the fires (and who's doesn't?), then you gotta fuel your body right. No better way than increasing your fruit and veggie intake, something most people are short on.

The idea of adding veggie purees and/or fruit purees to recipes to boost nutrition and lower calories is not new. Jessica Seinfeld has based several cookbooks for kids around it.  Way back in my 20s I started a business, Smart Cookie, making low-fat baked goods using applesauce, pureed bananas and prunes, in place of butter and oil. I've also been doing it for my kids since they were babies and I made all their food from scratch. I always had tons of fruit and veggie purees on hand and would always add them to whatever I made for them, whether it was rice cereal, scrambled eggs or muffins. Nevertheless, its a sound idea. A 2011 research experiment, the results of which were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that replacing higher calorie ingredients with vegetable purees into main meals increased overall vegetable consumption and reduced the calorie intake of subjects without subjects even noticing.

This is the basis of Missy Chase Lapine's new book, Sneaky Blends.

The beginning of the book is ideal for kitchen virgins, as it goes over all the equipment and supplies you need to have on hand for the blends and the recipes. For those completely averse to cooking, I suppose you could always just add in her base blends (if that's how you prefer to eat your produce) to your existing diet as snacks or part of a meal.

Chapter 2 makes me roll my eyes. Its a 3 day cleanse which Lapine claims can help you detox without deprivation and lose up to 6 lbs. Fat chance! You know how I feel about detoxes/cleanes in general, but I suppose 3 days is better than the ones that are like 30 days! Still, I don't advise it. But the whole idea turns me off since it involves nothing but drinking fruit and veggie purees (her base purees) all day (with a little cookie like dessert at night). Eek, barf! Its also low in protein. At least in her shake recipes she add in things like flax, Greek yogurt or protein powder (yay some protein!), and honey or maple syrup to sweeten.

I like that she has 2 pages about the importance of exercising. Bonus mark for that.

Chapter 3 provides tips and instructions for incorporating the base blends into your own recipes to make them healthier and lower-cal. This is an important section as most people want to change their diet as little as possible and will be most interested in keeping their favorite foods in their diet while simply making them in a healthier way.

Chapter 4 has all the base blend recipes. Most of the base purees are pretty simple: fruit and/or veggies and water. The key, of course, is having a really good blender.

Chapter 5 is full of recipes that use the blends.  Lapine's recipes definitely pass my standards. They use whole grain flours, are easily adaptable to be vegan, and limit added sugars or use stevia. There are sections for:

Wake - breakfast
Plate - main courses and light lunches
Nibble - Dips, spreads & portable snacks
Sip - Smoothies & drinks
Indulge - Sweet bites

The end of the book includes a section where you can find all the recipes using a particular base blend to make things easy.

The book includes lots of lovely photography for those who need the visualization.

So do I recommend this book? Yes, its great for anyone wanting to lighten up their favorite recipes, or discover new healthy recipes using a sound nutrition approach that doesn't require cutting out an entire macronutrient or food group. And cooking at home is always, always the best way to go!

Disclosure: I was sent the book to review but all opinions on this blog are my own.