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Cook Book Review: Eating Forward – First thoughts

December 2, 2011
by Erin B

I quite adore Sandi Richard’s style of cookbooks.  I have been buying her books since the first one was self published.  That was before the TV show and before the multi book deal.  I always read the long introduction and this time I was struck by how it had changed from her first book.  In “Life’s on Fire” the introduction was all about eating as a family.  It was about making time to have dinner with your kids.  This new book seems to be a weight loss ad.  If I look beyond the  “lose weight by following my recipes” bit to the nutritional information, the facts she present seem to jive with what our family has been taught by our diabetic education team and they are darn good facts that a lot of people don’t seem to understand.  Once I was completely frustrated or overwhelmed with the weight loss focus of the introduction, I went back and looked at the other books.  You can see the weight loss thing creeping in over several of the last few books.  It has just gotten to the point that it makes it hard to get past that and see the very good points that she is making.  I want to eat healthy.  I’m not in it for the weight loss.

At this point it is a little overwhelming.  I don’t know what some one who wasn’t familiar with the book series would think.  For me, I trust the author to deliver healthy recipes.  I believe that if you make smart food choices you will live a healthier life.  I don’t like that the focus of the discussion is now on weight rather than getting the nutrients you need.  A quick look at the recipes suggests that they are still nicely balanced, but that isn’t the focus of the introduction anymore.  I plan to try a week of recipes, as written, next week… but I have been so put off by all the weight loss discussion that it sort of feels like I am starting a diet and that’s not what these books were about.  She even talks about this not being a diet, but when they mention “Eating Forward(tm)” as often as possible, so it sound like the diet marketers were let loose with the copy.  After all, how many fad diets say something like “it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle”?

The recipes in her first book were slightly old fashioned family dinners.  There were a lot of casseroles, often under other names that casserole, but not always.  There were recipes that were like the things my mom used to make, like glazed pork chops.  The cookbooks always have a picture for every recipe, which has me so spoiled, I have a hard time buy cookbooks with out pictures now.  Sandi (at least in the beginning) always used real food in her pictures too.  I’m sure there are photographers posing the food in a nice way, but there wasn’t any painted on gravy or whatever.  I like that she includes a nutritionally balanced side dish or two with every meal and that the recipes are for a meal not just a dish.

On the other hand… I don’t always like the side dish pairings.  A lot of the repeated recipes out of her books are made without the suggested side dish.  And as much effort as she has put into organizing a balanced week of recipes complete with grocery lists…  I end up never using them because I want to substitute in recipes from my arsenal instead.  Not that the week meal plans are useless, far from it.  It’s just that if I like my recipe for lasagna better, in my current cook books, I will use it instead.

In this new book, the recipes look better.  I had a hard time defining that in my head, so I dug out my old books and compared.  That’s when I realized how food fashion changes.  The first book was full of recipes for a slightly old fashioned family dinner.  Then it slowly changes over several books until we get more of a cook restaurant style food at home feel.  Or maybe our culture has changed so that we just have become better cooks or have access to better ingredients since the first book.

I am looking forward to trying the recipes.  Let’s face it, a cook book is all about the food.  I just needed to say the introduction has been hard to get through this time.  That was a disappointment because until now, I always found her introductions inspiring.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. LAT permalink
    December 2, 2011 10:07 am

    That is just too bad. I really hope society can get past this obsessive focus on weight loss (especially since diets don’t work). Eating healthily is so important!

    • Erin B permalink*
      December 2, 2011 10:13 am

      It is really disappointing because she even talks about how 95% of diets fail in the long run. Really, she has some very good points in there. It just really feels like the marketing team got in there and decided to really “sell” it by talking weight loss.

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