Pros: Delicious food; easy recipes; interesting history; helpful tips
Cons: Messed-up notes
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Review book courtesy of Alpha Books.
Leslie Bilderback, CMB, explores Biblical dietary laws in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Good Food from the Good Book—a compilation of information and recipes. Her premise seems to be that the Biblical guidelines also serve as a guide to healthy eating that, were we to follow it, would greatly aid our search for health and well-being.
Ms. Bilderback presents us with a decent introduction to distant food history—how people cooked and why, as well as what the Biblical dietary laws most likely meant or were meant to achieve. She also delves into the modern science that has revealed good nutritional and sanitary reasons for those laws.
She includes recipes both ancient and modern, most of which are aimed at introducing you to a wide array of vegetables, whole grains, and non-refined sugars. Breads and crackers, burgers, fish, stuffed vegetables, soups… it’s all in here. There’s a version of Indonesian satay (grilled meat with peanut sauce). There are tacos of various kinds. You’ll even find meatloaf and a homemade barbecue sauce.
The recipes that we tried came out absolutely wonderfully. A broccoli dish with cheese sauce and crunchy cracker topping was delicious; however, since it didn’t specifically mention using whole grain crackers for the topping, I have to wonder how many folks new to healthy eating will just pick up a typical box of Ritzes or the like instead? A recipe for ratatouille was my favorite of the book—it included a wealth of vegetables, several fresh herbs, and olive oil to fantastic results. A Texas bean bake produced something that my husband found perfect for cold lunches at work, so I’m sure he’d consider this review quite remiss without enthusiastic mention of it.
I have only two reservations about this book. One is that the recipes don’t seem quite as dedicated to the principles the author espouses as the text does. For all that she warns us off of refined flours and sweeteners, for example, you’ll find plenty of them in dishes such as cranberry sorbet, pound cake, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, angel food cake, and so on.
My other reservation is the side notes. Each recipe comes with a little box in which are noted prep time and cooking time. Often other notes appear above or below a recipe. Sadly, I’m guessing that someone accidentally caused a bunch of these to become mixed up while laying out the book, because many of them seem utterly irrelevant to the recipe they’re paired with. An opening note on the Texas bean bake says it would make a lovely vegetarian dish if paired with rice… a great idea, except that there’s a pound of ground beef in it. Similarly, the box next to the baked broccoli dish states a cooking time of 10 minutes, while the recipe itself says “bake for 20 minutes.” Unfortunately these are far from the only ones, too; I paged slowly through and quickly spotted a good handful more before I stopped looking. (If I’m right about the layout mixup, the author probably had a stroke when she noticed. It’s also a bit odd for the CIGs, which are usually much better put together than that.) Sadly, since there’s no way to know which ones are right or wrong without checking them against the recipe, this means the prep/cook time boxes are essentially useless.
Usual cookbook notes: the layout is clean, clear and easy to make sense out of; there are no color food photos other than those on the cover.