I’ve long ago admitted that I have a bit of a cookbook obsession. In fact, I recently purged over 50 cookbooks from my collection because – much as I loved them – they were collecting more dust than providing inspiration. Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source by Terry Walters won’t be joining that group anytime soon.
The cookbook includes more than 250 recipes for foods that are divided into recipes for the four seasons, plus snacks. It focused on whole foods and eating foods that are as minimally processed as possible. The book starts with an introduction explaining the importance of this and includes information on tools you’ll need to cook the recipes, along with explanations on each of the types of foods from legumes to grains to nuts and more that shares what they are, why they are important, and other considerations. For those who aren’t as comfortable cooking or are looking to move away from more processed foods, this provides a great introduction and preparation before simply starting to cook.
Each season has recipes from soups to vegetables to desserts, segmented so you can find all your grains together, for example. I love how this helps me eat more seasonally and locally, remembering that as we exited spring, I’m moving away from my favorite asparagus and into corn and tomatoes instead. Better even than the health benefits from eating seasonally are the more direct impacts. Seasonal foods are cheaper, which means my grocery bill is lower – something I always appreciate – and seasonal foods means they’re more local, which reduces the trucking and shipping my food needed to reach me.
I didn’t realize at first when going through this cookbook that there is no meat in it whatsoever. In my mind, clean eating can and does include chicken and beef and fish, though there are no recipes for them in this cookbook. I’m ok with that, knowing that I can easily supplement elsewhere, though there are plenty of filling protein options using legumes and other sources for main dishes. One thing I do appreciate about the cookbook is that each recipe has been adapted to be gluten and cassein (dairy) free. For those with dietary restrictions, that’s great news. For those of without those restrictions, it’s easy enough to use “real” milk instead of rice milk or to use regular flour, although some liquid measurements may then need to change.
The diversity within the cookbook impresses me, and I’m certainly inspired by it. I love that there are so many different options because I tend to get bored cooking the same meal repeatedly. I thoroughly enjoyed the barley with lemon and herbs this spring, along with the bok choy and chickpeas with cashews. There were flavors and ingredients that I hadn’t thought to combine before, and I enjoyed them. Moving into summer, I’m looking forward to summer rolls with lemon basil pesto, as well as the tangy tomato and tomattilo salad and the strawberry custard with fresh berries and lemon peel.
I do wish that there were more pictures of the recipes in the book. While each chapter is introduced with a seasonal photo, the recipe photos are only interspersed periodically within the book. I love seeing images of each recipe as the author intended it so that I have a model to work to and something to inspire my cooking. Each recipe is introduced with a short paragraph explaining its inspiration and germination, which I like. Seeing those little stories helps bring the recipe home for me.
Written by Michelle who can’t wait to cook up some summer favorites from Clean Eating – a philosophy she strongly believes in. See what she’s cooking up on her blog Honest & Truly! and follow along with her on Twitter where she is also @HonestAndTruly.