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The Optimum Nutrition Cookbook

by Patrick Holford & Judy Ridgway

listed in nutrition

[Image: The Optimum Nutrition Cookbook]

At last, the hairshirt image of nutritional therapy is changing. The sheer tedium of most healthy eating guidelines put many people off, but in this new book seductive and mouthwatering dishes are presented with beautiful pictures and, I promise you, simple recipes.

Authors Patrick Holford, founder of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition, and Judy Ridgway, cookery editor and author of more than 50 books, have done an excellent job of inspiring even the most kitchen-shy to enjoy cooking in a healthy way.

First of all Holford talks us through the basics of good nutrition. This is presented in a fresh and straightforward style which boils down the basics into easy-to-grasp facts which will inspire novice and hackneyed nutrition 'know it all' alike. It serves as a useful reminder of why we need to be nurturing ourselves with food. Pages are devoted to the basics of eating to support a healthy heart, promote hormone balance and keeping the immune system primed. Eating for energy is covered with an excellent explanation of the glycaemic index. On a practical note we are also guided through cooking and food storage methods and a handy measurements conversion chart is given.

One of the strong points of this book is the focus on how to cope with allergies, and still eat in a celebrational way. Too often we are told to give up our favourite ingredients without any really practical advice on how to replace them. I swear that if you follow the recipes in this book you won't even know that you are avoiding, for instance, wheat, yeast or dairy foods, and more importantly nor will your family or guests.

Ridgway has put together a terrific selection of recipes. While cooking times are not given, the majority of the recipes are concluded in three or four steps – my kind of cooking! These recipes cater for the person who needs to knock up something delicious and healthy in thirty minutes. Several dishes appealed to me immediately: alternatives to 'something on toast' (devilled tomatoes on polenta squares), interesting breakfasts (quinoa porridge with bananas and nutmeg), warming soups (hot sour prawn soup), raw food choices (celery and apple soup with ginger), dinner party dishes (salmon and monkfish kebabs with coriander and sunflower seed pesto, on quinoa), and winter warmers (mushroom stroganoff). You even get to eat dessert on this regime with fruit crumble, rice pudding and rhubarb and blackcurrant pie among the offerings.

Do I have any criticisms? Very few. I am not quite sure about the need to launch into a debate about taking vitamin and mineral supplements on only the third page of text. This information may be valid, but might be better placed towards the end, after the celebration of healthy eating. It also seems to me that the first few pages, while they make a very good job of defining what constitutes a great diet, make it seem a little over-idealized and it is only when you read on, that you realize that the game-plan and recipes make it easy.

I would highly recommend this book as the perfect way to achieve optimum nutrition and enjoy delicious food.

Suzannah Olivier
Piatkus Books

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