When I was offered a copy of this cookbook, I jumped at the chance to review it. After all, I've been a Health Food Person since the 80s, when "eating healthy" meant carrot loaf and adding a tablespoon of brewer's yeast to everything. (Thankfully, we all got better at it.) True Food's goals of seasonable and sustainable align with my own, too.
Plus, the True Food restaurants are near me, here in Scottsdale. I've been to them several times, and would probably have said Yes to the cookbook just for the recipes for their drinks. (There's a nonalcoholic ginger-fizz drink sweetened with agave that I really like.) The problem is: I stopped going to the restaurant because they use olive oil a bit too much; since my husband is extremely allergic to it (not YOUR problem), we get tired of playing 20 Questions with the wait staff. But that made me more enthusiastic about the cookbook, since obviously at home I can use any oil I want.
I've spent several weeks with this cookbook and... I have mixed feelings. I really like the goals it sets, but too few of the recipes make me say, "Yum, let's make that for dinner tonight!" Either they are fussy, or they use ingredients that are hard to find even for this Scottsdale foodie. (Why yes, I *DO* do all my shopping at Whole Foods and gourmet markets.) I appreciate cookbooks that introduce me to new ingredients, such as sea buckthorn and samphire, but if *I* can't find them, they may be out of reach for you.
Plus, Dr. Weil, who inspired the restaurant, is well known for his own dietary recommendations, some of which don't match mine. Some do: smaller portions of seasonal, organic ingredients; less emphasis on a big slab of moo (more fish, heavy on the veggies and grain). He advises to cut back on sweets and eat smaller portions (which I do, my chocolate reputation notwithstanding: Give me one perfect chocolate truffle, not a pound of M&Ms) but he doesn't make THAT big of a distinction between types of sugar. I've found, purely for myself, that I'm fine with agave, honey, maple syrup, but refined sugars are best left to once-in-a-great while.
The bottom line, though: Do I want to cook these recipes? Do YOU?
I usually try to cook two or three dishes from a cookbook before offering an opinion. As it turns out, I made only one so far, and it turned out quite well. The curried cauliflower soup is vegan, out-of-the-ordinary, and delicious. In addition to the cauliflower and curry powder, it uses a third of a cup of raw cashews, a can of coconut milk, and a few more spices (turmeric, cumin, and a touch of cinnamon). It was fast enough to put together for a weeknight meal, and reheated easily for lunch. (Come to think of it, it's also rather frugal.) I still haven't made the drink that had made me shout YES to the review offer, but it'll happen: Basically it's soda water, fresh lime juice, agave nectar (you can find that in most health food stores, even one of the warehouse stores occasionally), and pulverized ginger juice (e.g. blend fresh ginger with water, strain). (Several of the drinks are alcoholic, if that's more your speed, such as a tamarind margarita, or the Peacemaker with honey, black tea, lemon juice, rye whiskey, and Averna liqueur.)
I have bookmarks in several more recipes, but they've been stuck in the "Maybe I'll get around to it" category. Tofu curry with cauliflower, rice noodles, and cashews, for instance. Miso-marinated black cod, which must wait for me to see that fish in the store. Roasted butternut squash, apple, and pomegranate salad with balsamic vinaigrette.
But some are suitable only for a leisurely afternoon puttering in the kitchen. The summer vegetable casserole was briefly a candidate for the Thanksgiving table (we have a vegetarian guest every year and cater to his needs... I'm such a nice friend), with layers of an eggplant relish, fennel braised in orange juice and wine, squash and tomato, and a Parmesan-bread crumb topping. Others just don't appeal to me (sorry, I'm not a kale girl). And then, of course, there's the challenge of finding ingredients; I can get halloumi nearby but I'm not going to bet that's the case for you.
One thing I would like, given the health-conscious premise for this cookbook, is nutritional information for each recipe. Dr Weil may not count calories, carbs, etc., but some people -- including many of the health-conscious people who'll be drawn to this cookbook -- do.
Still, I _like_ this cookbook. I appreciate its sensibilities, even if I don't use it very often. If you have a good source of organic produce and some exotic ingredients, it might be just the ticket for you.