Pros: Easy, fresh, low-yield recipes; sturdy book; good information; nice photos
Cons: Some tendency toward blandness (some will find this a plus)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The folks from the test kitchens of EatingWell aim to help families of two eat more healthily. EatingWell Serves Two is filled with 150 “healthy in a hurry” suppers planned to serve two people without a whole lot of leftover ingredients or food.
The book is large and sturdy, with glossy pages—it stands up well to typical kitchen abuse. It includes information on shopping healthily for two, as well as menu suggestions. Recipe chapters include: dinner salads, soups & stews, vegetarian mains, poultry, fish & seafood, meat, and accompaniments. In keeping with the healthy aim of the book, desserts are relegated to a several-page portion of the accompaniments chapter.
Small symbols mark particularly low-carb or high-fiber recipes. Each recipe estimates both “active minutes” spent preparing the dish as well as total minutes. There are make-ahead notes, nutrition information including calories, fats, cholesterol, carbs, protein, fiber, sodium, and potassium. There’s also a “nutrition bonus” note that points out any particular vitamin benefits found in that recipe. For example, the “Caesar Salad Three Ways” includes plenty of Selenium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and omega-3s (it also comes with a basic recipe as well as a shrimp and a chicken variation—hence “three ways”). Sometimes extra notes are included, for example, the Caesar Salad has a side note with instructions on making your own croutons. It also includes a delectable-looking photo; while photos aren’t included with all of the recipes, there are certainly enough to make your mouth water!
I personally found not all of the flavors to my liking. Some were a bit bland, and some tried to make up for blandness in ways that just didn’t appeal to my palate. A Lentil & Chicken Stew appealed to a friend of mine who particularly prefers bland food, but I just couldn’t enjoy the lemon, dill, and chicken flavors together. On the other hand, she and I both loved the Creamy Artichoke & Spinach Soup, which takes a rather unusual approach to making a thick and creamy soup out of very healthy ingredients.
There’s a really nice Grilled Peach Sundae recipe in the quick desserts section that we heartily enjoyed, and I have to admit I look forward to trying the Bananas in Brown Sugar-Rum Sauce, which looks delectable. But while it’s true that I found a few of their recipes to be not entirely memorable, on the whole they’re quite good. The Eggplant-Cheddar Bake, for example, disappeared very quickly!
My only reservations with this book are definitely taste-dependent. If you don’t enjoy the kind of semi-bland, lemony-chicken type of recipe that shows up in a lot of healthy eating cookbooks, then there will definitely be some recipe sections in here that won’t appeal to you. That said, there are plenty of people who will enjoy those recipes, and even the rest of us will find lots to work with in here.
Oh, by the way, the amounts are just about right. We found they typically made just a little more food than two people needed, which to my mind is the right side to err on. I’d much rather have lunch for the next day from the leftovers than find myself with not enough food for my husband and myself. This also allows for the possibility that someone’s particularly hungry!