My recent string of book reviews has allowed me to examine wonderful reads on pasta, authentic pizza and nouvelle cuisine. I have yet to scrutinize a worthy tome on 'lifestyle' modification (also known as diet in the pre-politically correct era). Up until now, diet, low-fat, non-carb, low-sodium and sugar-free works have been mostly low-taste, excitement-free and less than droll. Sorry.
Many folks prescribe to the life-changing diets in some of these works, however, you can only live so long without, say, bread. Really, it is a shame to pass on good artesianal loaves just because some author has some hatred for bakers and their flour. All in all, diets do not really work. It the short term, perhaps, but you cannot sustain an all-anything life. Chicken only. Fruit only. Grain only. It numbs your senses and deadens your pallet. So what is the answer to modifying your lifestyle for the better, but keeping the flavor, variety and excitement that makes eating such a splendid past time? Well, balance, of course. Good food, not drab. And going out on a limb every now and then does not hurt.
I speak of The New Family Cookbook by Bill Eichner, M.D. Reading a cookbook written by a guy with an "m.d" after his name made me as nervous as a long-tailed cat in room full of rocking chairs. Had this actually been a cookbook, my intuition would be fact. Nonetheless, The New Family Cookbook is almost misnamed. It is more along the lines of a little instruction book for keeping the family well fed. This book is rich in vignettes about some of the ingredients, adding another level of interest rather than rambling on about how awful we all eat. On the contrary, Eichner points out repeatedly, that all good food is not always good for the soul. He clearly illustrates foods we should routinely eat, eat often, not so often and on occasion. This a refreshing change from being preached at by the food police on how awful anything other than what the author thinks is right for us should be strictly forbidden.
Backtracking to where I say this is not a cookbook, Eichner clearly details each aspect of rounding out your family's eating routine. He starts with what equipment you need in your kitchen to produce the food he prescribes, without costing a fortune at Williams-Sonoma. He then leads into the scientific side of health and eating as well as relying on commonsense "anecdotal evidence." He leaves out virtually all the rambling science on good fats/bad fats, too much salt/not enough salt et al, but divulges more a style of eating and preparing foods that will keep us safe from an unhealthy eating habit, more interested in what we eat.
Well, it is clear the Dr. Eichner has left out a good bit of what we do not need to read. So what's left? The recipes are abundant, both in content and quantity. I like his style. To hell with no flavor in a healthy eating routine. Try the deviled eggs, turkey and leek shepherd's pie and cheesecake. There is no mention of low-fat cream cheese or sugar substitutes. You see, his instruction is all about balance and understanding the harmful ingredients of food are just that. Recognizing too much eating the bad stuff is unhealthy is fundamental to the success of not only the recipes in the book, but to the message Dr. Eichner is selling.
If you are looking at improving your family's eating routine, The New Family Cookbook is the way to go. Look warily at single food-group diets. Look warily at diets, in general. Look more for modifying and adapting your practice at what you eat, like that offered in The New Family Cookbook.