Cooking the Whole Foods Way: Your Complete, Everyday Guide to Healthy, Delicious Eating with 500 VeganRecipes , Menus, Techniques, Meal Planning, Buying Tips, Wit, and Wisdom Paperback – Aug 7 2007
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About the Author
In 1983, Christina Pirello was diagnosed with an acute form of leukemia. With little prospect of help from conventional therapies, she turned to a nutritional program using a whole foods approach. Now, after more than 15 years cancer-free, Christina Pirello is the Emmy award-winning host of Christina Cooks! on National Public Television, teaching whole foods cooking classes and lecturing nationwide. Christina is the author of Cooking the Whole Foods Way, Christina Cooks, and, most recently, This Crazy Vegan Life. She and her husband publish a natural foods magazine, Macrochef.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
What we've made so far was tasty but way too time consuming to do on a week night. This book was definitely written for someone who is obsessed with cooking and loves to do it up in style. Spending two and three hours on a meal can be fun, but it's not something I want to do on a regular basis. On weekends that we get snowed in, it's been fun spending the time in the kitchen with my 12 year old daughter working on a recipe together.
Also, having tended towards a raw food diet, the vegetables in these meals seem awfully over cooked. Since it's winter, I wanted more ideas for cooked vegetables, but these recipes go overboard with many of the recipes having two parts - first cooked on the stove and then in the oven.
The index is awkard. For example, carrot cake would normally be under "C", then "Carrot", the "Cake". In this index, it's under "18-Carat" instead of "Cake" - I eventually found it, but not the day I needed it! Instead I walked away, scratching my head wondering why a carrot cake recipe would be missing.
My success with replicating recipes from her TV show is much better than my success with following the recipes in the book. I find the book useful to inspire new recipes, but don't feel I can fully trust them. My copy is full of notes of improvement. It's fun for me to treat it as my basis for a test kitchen, but I don't recommend it for novice cooks.
I came across this book in a Border's bookstore when I decided to go from vegetarian to vegan. I wasn't familiar with Christina or her show on PBS. What attracted me to her book is the introduction where she explains how her diet saved her life from cancer. It's a bold statement which I don't believe 100%. But solely changing your diet will help out if you have high cholesterol, diabetes, or heart disease. When I took the book home and thoroughly read the introduction, I was surprised when Christina readily admitted her vegan diet put her into another life-and-death situation. Christina writes on page 4:
"One bright April afternoon, I suffered a brain stem aneurysm, landing me in the neuro-trama intensive care for eight days. Test after test revealed that while I had suffered a rupture, the bleeding had stopped and the vein healed itself, leaving me with a pool of blood at the base of my brain and excruciating head pain. The brain surgeon told me that my condition was the result of a diet too low in fat and protein and vitamin B12, which created elevated homocysteine levels, resulting in the hemorrhage."
Christina goes on to say that she started to incorporate more fat, protein, and B12 in her diet. But the message I took home is that you need to be careful on a long term vegan diet, because you might not get the sufficient amount of nutrients your body needs. This part of the introduction is harrowing because I felt like I needed to be extra careful when choosing recipes. The level of scrutiny concerning my diet became obsessive partly because being vegan means being careful about what you eat. But I also had to be careful to eat the appropriate things so I wouldn't land myself in an intensive care unit.
I took this book home and read it from front to back in less than a couple of days. Along the way I wrote down recipes I was interested in making. My initial reaction was shock because all the recipes required a multitude of crazy oils, vinegars, and sugar substitutes. I dismissed this as what I had to do in order to be full-fledged vegan. I knew a diet change meant buying different stock from the grocery store. For the next 4 months I made long trips to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. My grocery bill was astronomical. When I came home and prepared a recipe, I discovered there were multiple steps like taking food from the stove top and putting it into the oven. And often the end result was an overcooked flavorless mess of vegetables. I'm sure Christina has it down to a science when she's cooking it herself, but I felt lost and overwhelmed with many of her dishes. After making her vegan meals for about a month I started to flip through the book looking for the most simple recipes that required the least amount of ingredients. One such recipe is her Baked Brussel Sprouts and Shallots on page 149. This recipe calls for:
2 to 3 cups fresh Brussel Sprouts, trimmed and left whole
3 or 4 shallots, halved
2 or 3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
2 TB extra-virgin olive oil
2 TB balsamic vinegar
This recipe is great but it does require an hour or more of cooking time. Let's look at something that is more complex like Chilled Asian Rice on page 46:
8 ounces extra-firm tofu, cubed
1-2 tsp light sesame oil
juice of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lime
2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1 TB fresh ginger (see Note, page 164)
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp brown rice vinegar
1 TB brown rice syrup
spring or filtered water
7-8 snow peas, cut into thin slices, blanched
1 celery stalk, cut into large dice
1/2 red bell pepper, roasted over flame, peeled, seeded and diced (see Note, page 262)
2 cups cooked medium- or long-grain brown rice
2 tablespoons minced, pan-roasted walnut pieces (see Note, below)
1-2 fresh green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal, for garnish
This recipe is a complete joy to make! Imagine draining tofu and pressing it with paper towels while cutting each veggie to perfection after making sure one is roasted just right (placed over an open gas flame or under a broiler, transferred to a paper sack, sealed tightly, allowed to steam, rubbed with your fingers, cut, and diced) and another is blanched (boiled briefly). Then take into consideration that brown rice has to simmer for at least 45 minutes before its done. Don't forget to look at all of Christina's notes in the recipe (See Note this and that) for making ginger juice (grating ginger and then squeezing it) and roasting the walnuts in a dry skillet over medium to medium high heat. If you were to just skim over the recipe you would think it would take 10 to 15 minutes. Don't be fooled into thinking any of her "simple" recipes are easy by any means. Ignore her in the introduction when she writes:
"Natural cooking seems to be shrouded in mystery, reputed to employ strange, exotic ingredients cooked in bizarre ways, like stirring in a clockwise direction while standing on one foot under a full moon. Well, as much fun as that sounds, the fact is your can purchase most basic whole foods in your neighborhood supermarkets. You may need to supplement your weekly shopping with occasional trips to a natural foods store, but for the most part, you'll be able to find all that you'll need in your local market."
LIES. Absolute lies. Most of her recipes take copious amounts of time and energy. My advice is to use VegWeb.com. Everything on that site is easy to make and FREE.
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