Monthly Archives: June 2011

REVIEW: Healthy Starts Here!

By Mairlyn Smith


Cookbook review written by

Healthy Starts Here! is available for purchase through our online store or at local bookstores

Born in Vancouver (BC), Mairlyn Smith wears a variety of hats that include home economist, teacher, cookbook author, actor and comedian. Healthy Starts Here! (published by Whitecap Books, $29.95 USD) is her newest cookbook to be released. It includes over 140 recipes to help guide you through adopting a healthy lifestyle that is meant to be more of a long term commitment rather than just another diet fad. This book provides readers with an informative yet still lighthearted approach to eating healthy. Mairlyn’s signature comedic flair instantly puts you at ease, making the whole process of altering unhealthy eating habits less overwhelming. You’ve got someone in your corner and she won’t let you down!

Each chapter is organized around a particular nutrient-rich ingredient, and features nutrition breakdowns and diabetes food choice values for each recipe. It took me some time to get used to this particular style of recipe organization, as I tend to prefer when a book is broken down into different meal types or seasons. But that’s just me.

Geared towards busy families, the recipes in Healthy Starts Here! are all based around eating seasonal and locally grown foods. Each recipe highlights kid approved recipes and seasonally appropriate meals that use minimal ingredients but with each one providing maximum flavor and maximum nutrient content.

Something I’ve learned from this book? Trust Mairlyn. When she says that only soft silken tofu will work with the chocolate mousse…listen to her. When she says the Organic Traditions brand of cocoa nibs are the least bitter…listen to her and learn from my mistakes.

I love all of the personal anecdotes that are guaranteed to have you rolling on the kitchen floor laughing, but you will also walk away with an increased knowledge and awareness of food nutrition. Who says learning can’t be fun?! Helpful tips and tricks are scattered throughout the book, including ways of retraining your sodium-addled taste buds, effective and healthy grocery shopping techniques, and the truth behind legumes and flatulence. Yup – that’s right.

With only three recipes in this book calling for salt, you might think that the flavour of the food will suffer. Not the case! Through the use of carefully selected herbs and spices, the recipes in Mairlyn’s book are big on flavour but in a healthy way. When cooking from this book at no point did I ever feel like I was being deprived or having to eat ‘blah’ diet food. Everything tasted great and I felt great.


REVIEW: Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone

By Curtis Stone

Cookbook review written by

Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone is available for purchase through our online store or at local bookstores

The premise for Aussie superstar chef Curtis Stone’s book is simple: easy entertaining that won’t leave you flustered or exhausted but instead will allow you to serve up fantastic food that tastes good and is straightforward to prepare.

Despite the fact that Curtis has worked as the head chef in several Michelin-starred restaurants, the recipes in Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone (published by Clarkson Potter, $32.50 USD) are completely geared towards the home cook. But that doesn’t mean they don’t plate up something pretty! Shhhh…let people think you slaved all day. Go ahead – it will be our little secret.

Here’s what I love about this book: The index is listed by ingredient. Okay so most people probably don’t really care about how the index of a cookbook is organized, but listing everything by ingredient is a time consuming step but from a user’s perspective makes the book much easier to navigate. This dedication to detail is carried through to the recipes themselves, which are essentially flawless. No step is missed, helpful hints are included throughout and everything is carefully and clearly written.

The photography is bright and fresh, allowing the food to really pop off the page. The layout is modern and simple, complimenting the style of food. Even the recipe categories themselves are exciting, and include sections with titles such as “First Thing in the Morning”, “Brunch That Will Blow Their Minds”, “Something to Eat on the Sofa”, and “Sweet Dreams”.

Here’s what I don’t love about this book: nothing.

Food has always been at the center of Curtis Stone’s world. Born in Melbourne, he began cooking with his grandmother at the tender age of five and has not looked back since. Curtis started working in the restaurant industry as soon as he left school, working his way up the chain and eventually becoming the head chef at some of the finest restaurants in the world. He is a cookbook author, television personality (most famous for his reality cooking show; Take Home Chef) and one of People Magazine’s sexiest men alive. Not bad.

Overall, Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone is a book that will appeal to more experienced cooks yet still be within the means of someone with limited experience in the kitchen. A great addition to any cookbook collection!