Book Review: WomenHeart’s All Heart Family Cookbook by Kathy Kastan and Suzanne Banfield
Book: WomenHeart’s All Heart Family Cookbook by Kathy Kastan and Suzanne Banfield
Publication date: 2008
Summary: The first quarter of The WomenHeart’s All Heart Family Cookbook isn’t a cookbook at all but a primer on heart health for women, including excellent descriptions of the types of heart disease and how the foods we eat can reduce our risks. Forty foods are examined in depth, a page or two for each food, to explain exactly how scientific evidence proves that those foods promote heart health.
The cookbook portion contains 175 recipes grouped in a fairly conventional manner but with more categories than many cookbooks. What other cookbooks might lump into a category called side dishes, this one makes separate groups of soups, salads, fruits and vegetables, grains, snacks, and dressings and sauces. The main dish chapters cover vegetarian, pasta, seafood, poultry, and meat. There are also breakfasts and desserts. A final chapter has seasonal party menus with recipes. Not all recipes have photos, but the ones that do are beautiful, full-color, full-page pictures. Each recipe highlights the heart healthy ingredients and has a per serving nutritional breakdown.
Thoughts: I marked several recipes to try:
- Soba Noodle Salad
- Carrot and Sweet Potato Puree
- Creamy Garlic Dressing
I suspect I would have marked different recipes if it were the middle of summer instead of the middle of winter.
The dish we tried was Vegetarian Gumbo. According to the Makeover Magic section on this recipe,
Traditional gumbo with sausage and chicken can have almost as many calories and fat grams as a person should have in a day! Making a vegetarian version cuts the fat, along with a roux (flour cooked in butter, oil, or lard) made with just 1 tablespoon olive oil — but you still get tasty results.
I’m not going to type up this recipe because we didn’t like it very much, even if it did look pretty. Our gumbo was a fairly bland vegetable soup in an unusually thick sauce. Since Jimmy Buffett claims in song that he will play for gumbo and describes it as a spicy monkey on his back, I’m pretty sure we haven’t had gumbo the way it was meant to be experienced. Next time I have gumbo, I’ll make sure it was prepared by a cook who grew up south of Baton Rouge. For that one special meal, I won’t worry too much about how healthy the dish is.
Appeal: In spite of our unsatisfying experience with one recipe, this was still an excellent book. The emphasis on forty foods that promote heart health motivated me to find more ways to get those foods into my diet every day. I like books that tell you what to eat rather than tell you what is forbidden. I get all excited about ways that I can get myself to drink more tea, eat more avocados, and cook with more garlic. That’s a self-affirming, life-affirming way to approach a healthy diet.
Challenges: This book contributes to the Foodie’s Reading Challenge as well as the Weekend Cooking meme. Be sure to check the Weekend Cooking post at the Beth Fish Reads blog today for links to what other bloggers did in their kitchens this week.
An important book even if the gumbo was unsatisfying. Women tend to ignore heart health. I’ll have to see if the library has this book.
I read your review and then went over to my library’s online catalogue and reserved this book. I like the idea of educating myself on the correlation between food and women’s heart-health. The recipes will just be a bonus. Thanks, Joy, for highlighting these healthy cookbooks.
A book all women should own. Thanks for posting it!
the soba noodle salad sounds better.
I’m all for healthy food, but it has to taste good, if it doesn’t I’ll snack and you can be sure that those snacks aren’t going to be the healthiest.
I’m going to check my library’s online catalog now to see if this is available – thanks!
This sounds like a cookbook I should check out even if your trial wasn’t very successful. Gumbo definitely requires some spice.
Such a pity your recipe didn’t work out. But you have a great book there, it seems. Hopefully the other recipes work better. Have fun cooking!
I like the sound of this, and I particularly like your take on gumbo – about not worrying about that one special meal. That’s how I feel about a number of things – maybe too many in number. :<) Homemade french fries, brownies, cake. But I figure the rest of my diet is full of good things and no meat fat so I'm not gonna worry about the 'fun' foods. Great review.
Is it really an inspiring book? It rather seems to get me depressed… 🙁
It really is mostly encouraging since there’s so many things that can be done. Some of the 40 foods were dark chocolate, berries, and yogurt — not too much disturbing about getting more of those into my life!
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Too bad about the gumbo, but it sounds like the book still contains some valuable advice. We need to take care of our hearts.
The cookbook sounds great! We always have to remember that health is very important.
However we have to also remember that eating healthy does not mean that you cannot enjoy your food. There are so many recipes and food that are healthy and taste delicious!!