Pros: Delicious recipes; on the cutting edge of healthful eating
Cons: You might have trouble finding some ingredients
Rating: 5 out of 5
Please note that this is a review of an ARC (advanced reading copy), so I can’t address everything. For example, my copy has matte pages with varying shades of gray for colors (making them a little difficult to read), but I expect the final published book will have glossy, colored pages that are much easier to read.
Food 2.0 is brought to us by chef Charlie Ayers, the man hired by Google to feed all of its employees. Google’s founders had a rather interesting goal: they wanted to provide free food to their employees that was so good they wouldn’t feel the need to leave the office to eat. They also wanted the food to stimulate and energize those same employees rather than making them heavy and sleepy. To that end they hired Charlie Ayers, who set about creating a healthy, brain-stimulating food menu.
Food 2.0 starts out with plenty of short, interesting sections on Google, various aspects of healthful eating, and ways in which certain foods help or harm the body. This isn’t a book for folks who think V8 is something exotic and fear-inducing; it’s for folks willing to experiment in the name of getting healthy. For instance, Charlie spends a page talking about wheatgrass, which at Google they got people to try by juicing it and offering it as shots; after doing a shot one rang a bell. Apparently it took off so much that the bell got to ringing all day long, and Google ended up with one kitchen employee entirely dedicated to prepping wheatgrass.
Chef Ayers is also very plain-spoken in his opinions, which I love:
[M]ost of the chemicals used on nonorganic foods are byproducts of petroleum, which is not a good ingredient for recipes. That’s nasty, and I don’t know why it’s considered okay to feed people like that.
While each little section is brief, attitudes and anecdotes keep them interesting and certainly leave an impression. In addition to the recipes themselves, Chef Ayers’s tips and hints provide even more interesting possibilities. For instance, with a little creativity you can look through his list of favorite vinegars and the things he likes to use them on and come up with your own salads and sauces. In addition to the full-bore recipes he also includes plenty of off-the-cuff semi-recipe tidbits, such as his ‘mystery fondue,’ which includes:
Toss in whatever herbs or spices suit your fancy (I like dried mustard seed).
He also includes plenty of little ‘secrets,’ such as the identity of his favorite ‘secret sauce’ and his favorite uses for it.
The recipes, too, are fabulous. There’s a smoothie recipe in here that uses blueberries, peaches, yogurt, and a little peanut butter, among other things, that is to-die-for. We’ve taken to making variations on it with whatever fruit looks best at the store. There are noodle recipes with simple, quick, delicious sauces (make extra so you’ll have leftovers—they’re good cold, too!). Wraps include plenty of flavorful ingredients as well as healthful veggies, and again, are quite delicious.
I have to admit, in the past week of eating from this and Being Vegetarian, as well as limiting my snacks to fairly healthy things, I’ve definitely had more energy and gotten more done than usual.
This isn’t a vegetarian cookbook, but you’ll find that many of the recipes in it would work for vegetarians (or would be easily adapted to them). This is definitely a cookbook for folks who have a good whole foods store near them. While there are recipes you can make from the ingredients at a normal supermarket, there are also plenty of ingredients you might have trouble finding.