19 January 2013

Weekend Cooking: Review: The Back in the Swing Cookbook by Barbara C. Unell and Judith Fertig

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Although Barbara C. Unell and Judith Fertig wrote The Back in the Swing Cookbook for breast cancer survivors, it's really aimed at anyone who wants to embrace a more healthful diet. Thus it's fitting that I began reading this terrific cookbook in January, when—like most people—I vow to do better during the coming year.

As usual, I'll start with my thoughts about the design. I love the pink (for breast cancer) and teal color scheme of Back in the Swing, it's cheerful and adds a fun feeling to the book. I especially like the biggish, easy-to-read fonts used for the recipes and the more fun style of the many sidebars and boxes.

Scattered throughout the book, you'll find literary quotes, inspirational stories, quick fitness ideas, myth busters, and well-researched health and fitness information. Unell and Fertig have gathered a wealth of knowledge about staying healthy that deserves a second or even third read.

The recipes in Back in the Swing were based on a specific set of healthful foods and were developed to enhance flavor and still be easy to prepare. The authors concentrated on plant-based dishes, but many of the main dishes include lean meats and fish. The recipes call for common, real ingredients, although almond milk is often used instead of cow's milk. And best of all, the dishes are low calorie, full of nutrients, and very appealing.

Here are some of the recipes (I picked one from each chapter):
  • Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pudding with Fresh Berries
  • Spiced Blueberry Applesauce Muffins
  • Sea Breeze Mocktail
  • Thai Lettuce Cups
  • Citrus Sesame Chicken Salad
  • Cheese Tortellini with Artichoke-Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
  • Island Fish Tacos with Fresh Pineapple Salsa
Don't they sound yummy? Unell and Fertig take a global approach to their diet, and I found recipes with European, Mexican, and Asian flavors.

The Back in the Swing Cookbook is a great choice for exploring new dishes and for helping you stay on track with your weight, fitness, and health goals. Even the most inexperienced cooks will feel comfortable cooking from this book. Unell and Fertig have made it very easy to serve healthful meals to yourself and your family.

Vegetarian/vegan alert: Most recipes in The Back in the Swing Cookbook would fit a vegetarian lifestyle. Vegans will have more trouble, but I encourage them to take a look for themselves.

Here's a great dish for a busy weekday night that can be eaten warm as a main dish with a side salad and then is good cold for a packed lunch the next day. It's also a wonderful for a picnic or pot luck.

Orzo with Spinach, Garbanzo Beans, and Feta
Serves 4
  • 1½ ounces orzo pasta, cooked according to package directions (about 2 cups cooked)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese (about 1 ounce)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
Stir the pasta, garbanzo beans, spinach, and cheese together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic together, pour over the pasta, and toss to blend. Season to taste. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

Buy The Back in the Swing Cookbook at an Indie or at bookstore near you. This link leads to an affiliate program
Published by Andrews McMeel, 2012
ISBN-13: 9781449418328
Rating: B
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Rikki 1/19/13, 6:31 AM  

They do all sound delicious. I am glad to hear there is a lot for vegetarians in it, too.

Uniflame 1/19/13, 6:40 AM  

I saw this cookbook but passed it by because it was aimed at breastcancer patients. So I am glad that you picked it up, because this convinces me that the book is interesting :)

caite 1/19/13, 7:03 AM  

I love all the ingredients in that recipe, and it sounds so easy...going to be making that one!

Tina 1/19/13, 7:13 AM  

Glad to know it's aimed at healthy lifestyles and eating better rather than an entire focus on breast cancer.
I am not heartless - I have been through breast cancer twice over a period of 12 years, but I get to where I don't read about cancer survivor stories. Not because it's depressing but because I want to out that behind me.

The recipes sound wonderful and I like the one you chose to highlight.

rhapsodyinbooks 1/19/13, 7:19 AM  

This sounds like one I would actually use! I like the colors too - I'll have to look for it. Yes! An excuse to go to Barnes and Noble!

jama 1/19/13, 8:00 AM  

Like the healthy, mostly plant-based approach with international flavors. Must check it out. Thanks!

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 1/19/13, 8:01 AM  

This recipe looks perfect for this week. I'm off to pin it on my Recipes board at Pinterest. Thank you!

bermudaonion 1/19/13, 8:22 AM  

I really like this cookbook too. I make the raspberry and blue cheese salad out of it fairly often.

Beth S. 1/19/13, 9:08 AM  

Yum! The orzo recipe you posted sounds delicious! I'm hungry now. :)

(Diane) bookchickdi 1/19/13, 9:26 AM  

That orzo recipe sounds wonderful, in fact the whole book sounds great. Thanks for sharing this, I am definitely going to search for it.

Heather Webb 1/19/13, 10:34 AM  

I'm definitely in the "trying to eat healthier ring", though some days are hit or miss. I'll have to check out this cookbook. I'm in the camp of you can never own too many anyway. :)

Esme 1/19/13, 11:04 AM  

This one sounds delicious. I am ready for some lighter recipes after a cold beginning to the year.

Sharon Galligar Chance 1/19/13, 1:30 PM  

What a neat cookbook! I'll have to check it out!!

Joy Weese Moll 1/19/13, 4:37 PM  

What a great dish for spinach. The other recipes sound wonderful, too.

Allison Vaughn 1/19/13, 5:50 PM  

Oh, good.... NOW I AM STARVING!!! *stomach gurgle*
I think the chocolate with fruit sounds delicious or the thai lettuce cups. Ginger/Peanut dressing (I imagine they have) is a favorite of mine!

Book Reviews

Heather 1/19/13, 7:45 PM  

This sounds like a balanced cookbook. love when they author/chef includes extra information that both entertains and educates. Have printed the recipe and am looking forward to tasting . Thanks.

Ali 1/20/13, 1:58 PM  

Interesting theme for a cookbook. The orzo recipe looks really good!

Angela 1/20/13, 4:03 PM  

Oooh, that orzo dish sounds delicious, Beth. Thanks so much for posting the recipe.

Sue Jackson 1/20/13, 4:41 PM  

Mmmm...this cookbook sounds right up my alley - tasty recipes using whole foods! I can't have dairy, so I like that they sub almond milk for cow's milk (though I do miss my cheese!).


Cecelia 1/20/13, 8:32 PM  

Oh, that orzo recipe sounds delicious! I shall have to see if my library carries this cookbook. Thanks for sharing!

Julie P. 1/23/13, 3:51 PM  

That's the exact recipe I made. Loved this cookbook. So many healthy and fresh ideas.

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