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When I was asked if I wanted to review Grace O's FoodTrients cookbook, I was at first hesitant but then became curious enough to take a look at the book. Grace O was born into a culinary family in the Philippines and emigrated to the United States in the late 1980s. Combining her experience as a healthcare professional and as a cook, she identified a number of foods with beneficial elements--which she named FoodTrients--that seemed to help promote youthfulness and health.
The FoodTrients can be grouped into five main categories: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, disease-preventing, immunity-boosting, and mind- and body-enhancing foods. And Grace O explains the benefits of each important food element. She developed the recipes in her book so that each one provides several age-defying nutrients.
If you live in a big city or an area of the country with a large Asian population, you will likely be able to track down the bulk of the FoodTrients needed for the recipes. I, however, would be hard-pressed to find bitter melon, hemp milk, and moringa. In addition, a fair number of the recipes call for a dairy, soy, or peanut product, which means this book might not be the best for people with allergies.
On the other hand, if you can get the ingredients, the recipes look fairly easy to follow and the photographs are beautiful. Some, like the recipe I'm sharing today, are easy as can be; others require more steps, but the instructions are straightforward and most cooks would have no problem re-creating the dishes at home.
One odd thing was that Grace O notes "My recipes are made with whole foods. This means that I have used ingredients that are unprocessed and unrefined to maximize their nutritional benefits" (p. 16). Yet I spotted a recipe that called for canned mushrooms, another that uses canned cream of mushroom soup, and another that uses canned sausages. In addition she prefers Smart Balance 50/50 Butter Blend, which contains no trans-fats but does contain additives and a mix of oils. I think I'd rather have real butter, just less of it.
Vegetarian/Vegan alert: Vegetarians will have the most luck with the starters, salads, and desserts. Vegans will not find much to fit their diet; most of the vegetarian recipes call for eggs, dairy products, or honey.
The publicists generously provided me with the following recipe and photos. I think the salad sounds good and looks pretty.
Spinach and Grapefruit Salad
Spinach contains iron as well as age-defying antioxidants. Grapefruit is chock-full of vitamin C and potassium. You can use pink or white grapefruit in this salad, though pink grapefruit has the added benefit of lycopene. If you use whole segments of the grapefruit, you’ll also add fiber. The candied walnuts and dried apricots balance the acidity of the grapefruit and increase the antioxidants in this dish.
- 1 bunch or 1 bag spinach leaves
- 1 whole grapefruit, segmented
- ¼ cup candied walnuts
- ¼ cup dried apricots
- Add Tangy Ginger Dressing (see recipe below) to taste.
2. Add the grapefruit, walnuts, and apricots.
3. Toss with Tangy Ginger Dressing to taste.
FoodTrients: Carotenoids, Fiber, Lutein, Lycopene, Omega-3s, Vitamin C
Tangy Ginger Dressing
Yield: about ¼ cup
Ginger gives this dressing its flavor as well as amazing anti-inflammatory benefits and pain-reducing effects. It also relaxes muscles, increases circulation, and aids digestion. Buy the whole gingerroot, then peel or cut off about an inch of the rough skin. Grate only as much ginger as you need, and put the root back into the refrigerator, ready to be peeled and grated for the next dish. Grace uses this dressing with her Green Tea Noodles with Edamame and over her Spinach and Grapefruit Salad. It works well with any mixed green salad.
- 1 tablespoon grated gingerroot
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon mirin (seasoned rice wine)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- Dash of ground pepper
FoodTrients: Gingerol, Isoflavones
Giveaway: Thanks to the publicists I am pleased to offer one copy of Grace O's FoodTrients cookbook plus an apron to one of my readers (US/Canada mailing address only). To enter, fill out the form and I'll pick a winner on Saturday May 5 using a random-number generator. Good luck!