I love the activity of coming up with New Year’s Resolutions. From the practical (make bed every day) to the impractical (make every Tuesday a Taco Tuesday), there’s always something I can come up with to improve my life.
This year, I was thinking about my cookbook collection. I love buying and owning cookbooks. I read up on all the new releases and pick my favorite ones. A never-ending Amazon wish list. As soon as I get it, I’ll flip through the recipes, picking my favorite ones. But then I put off making the recipes, thinking I’ll make them when I have more time or a special occasion, and it goes back on my book shelf until I “discover” it again.
Some of these cookbooks will finally get their time to shine when I pick them for my cookbook club. But those days are few and far between. So this year I decided I wanted to devote myself to one cookbook each month—to discover all of the recipes a book has to offer.
First up in my new Cook the Book series: Healthyish by Lindsay Maitland Hunt
About the Book
Healthyish aims to make recipes for real people – people that don’t want to search 10 different grocery stores for ingredients, might not have a lot of time to make a recipe, and maybe don’t want to clean like 20 dishes after cooking.
When I talk to a lot of my friends about cooking and cookbooks, one complaint I always get is about the ease of the recipe. Finding out half way through cooking that you should have started some component 10 minutes ago. Not knowing where you’re going to find an ingredient and what to use instead.
So when I first opened the book and noticed Maitland Hunt’s introduction I felt like I finally found a book for those friends. She offers nine key pieces of advice to new cooks in the kitchen – some that could honestly be helpful reminders for veteran cooks. Things like reading the entire recipe and prepping all your ingredients before starting, or using a bigger bowl than you think you’ll need (don’t @ me, Lindsay) are helpful tips to set you up for success. And the most important bit of advice that I think everyone could stand to hear: If the recipe fails, it is not a reflection of yourself.
Ease of Recipes Rating
A lot of times recipes in cookbook can be daunting. Too many pages of instructions. Too many things you don’t understand. I never felt that way once while making these recipes. Most, if not all, of the instructions fit on one page. And if you follow the helpful tips for success in the kitchen, you’ll find the recipes very easy.
A lot of the recipes have grains that you’ll either want to remember to prep before starting the recipe. Or you can be easy like me and use 90-second microwavable grains.
Ingredients Obscurity Rating
One of my favorite trends in cookbooks recently is the section where the author lists every ingredient that may be hard to find, or you may not have heard of, and gives an explanation of the ingredient.
A lot of the ingredients on Maitland Hunt’s list have become quite common in grocery stores. Miso paste, tahini, and fish sauce can likely be found in the international section at most grocery stores now. Items like buckwheat flour, date molasses, and aleppo pepper might require a trip to Whole Foods (or I recommend just buying some of these pantry items online).
For me, I had the most difficulty in finding some of the fresh ingredients in my local stores. It may be just because of the season when it comes to produce, but I was unable to find some of the varieties she used in the Fish recipe section.
Grocery Store Level: Mostly local grocery store, with a little Whole Foods
The Queen of Breakfasts
One thing that stood out to me the most in Healthyish is the breakfast section. I have never seen a book offer so many different options for breakfast recipes – with photographs of almost every variation.
Here are all of the recipes I made from the breakfast section. I tried to make a recipe from each breakfast section:
- The Super-Green Pineapple and Spinach Smoothie – This smoothie made me feel like I’m the kind of person that wakes up early in the morning to exercise or meditate, or something. I’m not. But anyway. I love that the smoothie wasn’t too sweet. I’d recommend halving this recipe. It took me almost an hour to drink the entire thing. No idea why! Salads also take me forever to eat. Someone explain this.
- Miso-Butter Toast with a Nine Minute Egg – I loved the idea of this toast with the salty-savory miso flavor. For me, though, this ended up being too much salt taste. I would recommend a very thin layer of the butter under the egg.
- Cozy Bean and Egg Skillet for Two – This is one of those recipes that comes together really easily, but makes you look super impressive. I had never considered making a bean skillet for breakfast (though I guess the Brits have understood beans on toast for a while now).
- The Why-Didn’t-I-Think-of-That Bowl – Seriously, why didn’t I? At first I wasn’t really convinced by the idea of a morning grain bowl, but it definitely turned out to be more delicious and satisfying than I expected. I plan on trying a few more of these bowls, like the Perfect Pear and Pistachio Bowl.
If you’re looking for some inspiration for your morning meal, then this is definitely a book to check out.
The Best Recipe Award Goes to: Banh Mi Rice Bowls with Spicy Pork and Sriracha Mayo
This was easily my favorite recipe in the book. It comes together very quickly and simply tastes great. The vegetables quick-pickled in rice vinegar add a much needed acidity and make it feel lighter. I added radishes into my vegetable mixture because I had them sitting around. The end result is quick and satisfying.
What I Made
- Old-School Pizzeria Salad – This recipe came together very quickly and made a great make-head lunch. No complaint here! Except for when my bowl leaked the vinaigrette into my tote bag. But we can’t blame Lindsay for that.
- Simple Salmon and Quinoa Bowls – I made this for dinner with a friend and we decided that this was a “restaurant quality” recipe (i.e. we felt super fancy eating it). The only change we made was subbing the quinoa out for a mixed grain. Turns out we both hate quinoa – who knew!
- Coconut Curry Noodles with Shrimp and Napa Cabbage – I had never cooked shrimp before, so I was unnecessarily nervous making this (definitely should not have been). And I may have obsessively checked the internal temperature of each shrimp. But, it ended up being both beautiful and delicious!
- Miso Chicken Noodle Soup – This was the perfect soup for a cold day. Also, I’m apparently a person that makes soups now? I don’t like leftovers and a soup is essentially just making food to last as long as possible. But my roommate declared this soup so good she wanted to cry. If you make this recipe, I recommend monitoring the level of salt. We ended up watering ours down a bit, based on our preferences. The kimchi added more salty flavor, so it was overwhelming at first.
- Brown Rice and Adzuki Bean Bowls – I made these bowls for a couple of friends and they were well received. My only deviations from the recipe were: 1) My avocado wasn’t ripe so sorry no avocado 2) I used so good ol’ frozen jasmine rice from Trader Joe’s to save time and 3) DC grocery stores seem to always be missing these beautiful fresh red chiles that are used so often in cookbooks so after taking this picture I drizzled it with sriracha. Sometimes you’ve just got to improvise.
What I Want to Try Next
The sign of a good cookbook is that there are still many more recipes that I want to make. I started this project mid-month, so I didn’t get to try all of the recipes I wanted. And a lot of them I’m saving for when the produce is in season.
If none of these featured strike your fancy, here is a selection of a few that I plan to make:
- Spiced Chicken and Chickpea Flatbreads with Cucumber-Dill Tzatziki
- Sausage, Potato, White Bean, and Kale Soup
- Crispy Broccoli, Pepper, and Burrata Sheet Pan Dinner
- Salty Watermelon, Feta, Mint, and Avocado Salad
- Peanut Butter Granola
- Double Apple, Mint, and Ricotta Toast
- All of the tartines, but especially Prosciutto and Cucumber Tartine