Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast: 280 Incredibly Flavorful 5-Ingredient 15-Minute Recipes Paperback – Mar 1 2009
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About the Author
Launched in 1987, Cooking Light is America's favorite food magazine. Every month, more than 12 million readers turn to it for the freshest ideas in food and fitness to help them eat smart, be fit, and live well.See all Product Description
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I am going to give a quick overview of this book for anyone interested in knowing what to expect from it to help you decide if you want to look into FRESH FOOD FAST by COOKING LIGHT.
The sections are:
LOTS of choices from unique cold soups like Creamy Avocado Soup with Tomato Lump Crab Relish to Sweet Potato Leek and Ham Soup. All soups have a salad recipe with them that the authors suggest serving with it on the same page- I found this handy.
Unique ideas like Pear Walnut Sandwiches and Grilled Grouper Sandwiches with Tartar sauce are nice in this section. There are also some standbys like Sloppy Beef Skillet Sandwiches and Grilled Pork Sliders with BBQ Sauce. Many sandwich recipes in this book have an accompanying recipe on the same page for a soup or salad to go with the sandwich you are preparing. Examples of these recipes are Sweet Broccoli Slaw with Cranberries and Minted Pea Hummus
Some examples are Taco Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinagarette, Cous cous, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad, and Grilled Salmon and Grapefruit with Blood Orange Vinagarette. Again in this section many salad recipe also have recipes on the same page you can make to go with it, such as Tomato Basil Soup, Greek Style Pita chips. Most recipes, though, have just the dressing recipes on the same page.
This is my favorite section of this book.
Examples from this section are Grape, Blue Cheese, and Walnut Pizza, Mediterranean Style Frittata, Creamy Butternut Squash Risotto, and Southwestern Rice and Veggie Cakes. In this section, some of the recipes have side dishes appearing on the same page with them to make with the main meal.......such as....Spicy Tricolor Pepper Stir Fry, Creamy Chipolte Wedge Salad, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Glaze, and Lemon Balsamic Broccoli.
MEATLESS MAIN is my second favorite section of the book (well, tied with Fish).
FISH AND SHELLFISH
Look at some of these recipes- Catfish with Cilantro- Chipolte Rice, Baked Flounder with Dill and Caper Cream, Pistachio Crusted Grouper with Lavender Honey Sauce, Lemon Artichoke Halibut en Papillote and Sunflower Seed-Crusted Orange Roughy. A few side dishes appear with the entrees to accompany them (on the same page again) such as Minted Sweet Snap Peas and Balsamic Grilled Peaches (made to go with Peach-Glazed Salmon with Raspberries).
This is actually tied with Meatless Main as my 2nd favorite section. There are many different fish recipes in here which I enjoy very much.
Smothered Pepper Steak, Ginger Lime Beef Stir Fry, and Mustard Molasses Flank Steak are some examples of the beef recipes in this section. Lemon Herb Skillet Pork Chops, Curried Pork and Chai Rice, and Asiago Crusted Pork Chops are some pork recipes in the MEAT section. There is only one ham and two lamb recipes in this book, which was disappointing to me. I would have liked to see a few more lamb recipes, and even some venison or other game meats.
Chicken Tortilla Pie, Fried Panko Chicken Tenders,Cumin Spiced Chicken with Chunky Tomato Sauce and Kalamata Balsamic Chicken with Feta are a few examples of the recipes in this section. The only turkey recipe in this section is Turkey Basil Rolls, and there are two sausage recipes.
Super short cuts
15 minute pantry (how to prepare your pantry to cook quickly)
Speedy Side dishes
Side Staples to have on hand
4 Fail-Safe Sauces
I found this book to have a wonderful assortment of recipes for quick yet appealing meals in many categories. Many dishes are unique and interesting. The photos are lovely. Each recipe has a photo next to it which is well laid out and very attractive.
The recipes are not for those who like very plain and unspicy foods. Most recipes in here are flavorful and you can leave out the spices if you like, but it might be disappointing.
I really like the recipes in this book. They are fresh, delicious, and easy to make. I usually find that they take 1/2 hour to 45 minutes to prepare, but that is including prep time. I am sure that the 15 minutes is not including prep time.
This is a great book for when you are too tired to think of what to make for dinner and need someone to hold your hand and tell you what to make. Anything I don't want to make exactly as is, I can easily substitute without much thought.
I really like this book.
Yes, some of the recipes do call for "convenience" products: canned diced tomatoes with Italian flavorings; pre-chopped fresh onions/carrots/celery; bottled minced garlic; and so on. And yes, you could make your own versions of these -- but the additional prep time would extend the total preparation time well beyond the 15 minutes (and yes, a number of recipes already exceed that limit, although not by a huge amount).
But for me, these recipes work. AND they taste good. AND they're generally lower in fat and calories. As someone with minimal spare time who wants to eat as sensibly as possible, this book is a great addition to my cookbook collection.
Each recipe includes a full color photo, and most include a "serve with" side dish, beverage, or dessert. Most recipes make 4 servings, so if you're single, you'll have some leftovers, or you can reduce the amount of ingredients.
A few of my favorites:
Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Onion-Fig Relish (uses prechopped onions, available in my small-town local supermarket produce section, along with dried figs, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar), served with Acorn Squash with Butter Sauce (total yum!) -- total per serving calories for the combination: 376.
Five-Spice Grilled Chicken Thighs with Blackberry Glaze (incredible flavor!) served with Yellow Rice with Spring Peas (uses frozen petite peas) -- total per serving calories for the combination: 339
Smoked Sausage and Corn Frittata served with Sweet Lemon-Splashed Melon -- total per serving calories for the combination: 228
Beefy Corn and Black Bean Chili (uses frozen corn and black beans, and canned seasoned tomato sauce) served with Cheesy Cheddar Corn Bread (I now make this a LOT) -- total per serving calories for the combination: 344
I've made all of these along with at least a dozen more, and I haven't found a dud in the bunch. I don't think anyone would guess that these dishes are "light" unless you tell them.
This book is now on my "most used" shelf.
The recipes in this book are built largely on processed, prepackaged foods. In order to cull the recipes down to 5 ingredients, the editors have cleverly suggested that we use supermarket staples such as bottled dressing and other processed foods. If I want to make a salad with bottled ranch dressing, I don't need a cookbook to tell me how to add it to greens and toss.
Similarly, I find the sandwich section insulting. There was literally a recipe for a sandwich that called for ham, swiss cheese, bread, and Dijon mustard. The recipe explained how to layer them all together to make the sandwich. What a waste of paper and ink (and money, for the unassuming purchaser).
Maybe the recipes would be appropriate for a tween learning their away around a kitchen, but for full-blown adults with any sense of pride in what you make in the kitchen, stay away!
My first impression was that it matches the quality I have come to expect from Cooking Light. It is an extremely visual cookbook with beautiful food photography and lots of great sidebars about ingredients and techniques. I love a lot of photos in healthy cookbooks because it serves as a reminder that healthy food can be delicious and often gets me to try recipes I might have otherwise overlooked.
I also appreciate that there are a lot of unique recipes. Even if you have other healthy cookbooks you are sure to find recipes here that are new and different. The variety of the recipes is similar to what you find in the magazine so if you like that selection you are sure to enjoy this one as well.
Another plus is that it does not seem to simply be a pickup of the recipes in the `Dinner Tonight' section of the magazine and website, which features the magazine's quick recipes. I searched on the site for quite a few recipes in the book and they didn't come up, which leads me to believe most if not all recipes are new, which subscribers will appreciate. I have also had good experiences with the recipes I have tried thus far like a BLT chicken salad with a creamy horned melon avocado dressing, pork tenderloin with balsamic onion-fig relish, and orange chipotle shrimp. All recipes made thus far have been flavorful and easy to prepare. They do rely on some prepared, frozen, and canned ingredients but less so than other `quick fix' cookbooks I have picked up.
My only quibble with this book is that I wish they provided more details for some of the more `exotic' ingredients. Even though the cookbook suggested horned melon would not be difficult to find, I couldn't locate it despite visiting 5 stores including a specialty produce and large ethnic grocery store and looking in the fresh produce, canned fruits, and frozen fruits sections. I understand this happens but would have appreciated substitution information (I eventually Googled this on my own and substituted Chayote) or information on seasonality of the product. I don't mind making a few trips to the grocery store, but imagine if someone is truly trying to cook a quick meal this would not be appreciated.
Overall I think this is a solid cookbook for preparing healthy and fast food. It lives up to the standards set by Cooking Light and would be a welcome addition to any healthy cook's shelf.
As others have mentioned, the 5 ingredient and/or 15 minute preparation time mentioned in the title for this cookbook is a stretch. Some of the ingredients that they mention I have yet to find in my frozen food aisle. And yes, there are brand names mentioned occaisionally in a recipe as suggestions, which didn't bother me too much but seemed odd at times (do I need a brand suggestion for sliced roast beef from the deli??).
I loved the layout of the recipes - on one page is a great photo and on the other page is the recipe. I also liked the "Serve with" suggestions - side dishes, drinks, or desserts. The information regarding calories, fat, protein, fiber and so on was helpful, with the serving size mentioned at the end of every recipe. Some recipes included more information about a specific ingredient (i.e. the best season and how to store cherries).
Most of these recipes are original creations (as opposed to light versions of some everyday recipes). For example, you'll find recipes for pan-seared snapper with fennel-olive topping or pistachio-crusted grouper with lavender honey sauce.
If you're interested in trying recipes for light different dishes, this cookbook is for you. Personally, while I liked the look of this cookbook, those different dishes didn't appeal to me and this book won't be one for my keeper shelf.