David Grotto, RD, LDN is a registered dietician with over 20 years of clinical experience to help you live a healthier life. In Section One of his book, he shows how to incorporate optimal foods for what ails you – skin, circulation, pain, nervous system, excretory system, bones, and vision. David shares some statistics of the problem or disorder. He defines the problem or disorder and talks about the optimal life foods, supplements, and triggers for the problem at hand. A 3-day meal plan of the optimal food for each problem/disorder is provided at the end. Some of the menu items have a preparation time. I would suggest trying the meal plans on a weekend when you have time to fully prepare the menu. Some items can be made ahead of time, but some need to be made and eaten right away due to the fresh fruit and vegetables that are included in the recipes.
David has incorporated recipes from all over – from manufacturers to cookbooks to restaurants.
Here are the five recipes I tried:
In the Beverages section, Apple-Soy Chai Latte, courtesy of SOYJOY, was very interesting. The flavor was wonderfully refreshing and yet wonderful for a cold winter’s day. The chai tea flavor was subtle, which was fine with me as I am not a big tea drinker. The one problem I found with this recipe is that adding the soy milk in the sauce pan caused the soy milk to break. I think I would add it separately after taken off the heat but before serving so the soy milk can retain its smooth creamy texture when drinking. I would definitely make this again with the revision step with the soy milk.
In the Soups and Chilis section, Winter Squash Soup with Roasted Seeds, by Veronica “Roni” Noone of GreenLiteBites, was a hearty vegetable-based soup. I love to use every inch of food – vegetable clippings and bones from meats – so I can make stock. I always have stock available in my freezer at the ready when I need it. Soups are always a good way to use them and add wonderful base flavors. This soup is very thick. If you like your soup a little more fluid, just add extra stock to thin it out a bit. All in all, the flavors worked really well together. I know this was supposed to be healthy, but it needed salt. The salt on the toasted seeds just wasn’t enough. Experiment on your own, but I found that the salt made the vegetable flavors more vibrant and pulled the sweetness out of the squash. I also like my squash soup on the creamier side and would probably add a dollop of crème fraîche on top.
In the Salads section, Raw Kale Salad with Lemon-Honey Vinaigrette, by Chef Robin Kirby of CHOW restaurant in Elmhurst, IL, is absolutely fabulous! Kale always gets a bad rap as being bitter. No more braising for this lovely green vegetable. Kale can be refreshing and I see it more and more on restaurant menus in its raw form now more than ever. With more farm-to-table concepts popping up, kale is usually the star on the menu because most people have a preconceived notion and are pleasantly surprised when they eat it. This recipe definitely shows the star quality of kale and more. The salad includes kale, pomegranate seeds, red onion, and sunflower seeds. The dressing includes lemon juice, EVOO, cinnamon, honey, salt, and pepper. The kale was vibrant and mixed with the pungent onion, sweet pomegranates, and nutty sunflower seeds made a beautiful orchestration of flavors and textures. The dressing was sweet and citrusy. The key is to have the salad tossed and marinated in the dressing for at least an hour. This recipe is definitely a keeper!
In the Desserts section, Christine’s Baked Custard by Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, is scrumptious! This custard was so easy to make. The only thing I changed was the baking dish. I used individual ramekins instead of a casserole dish for easier serving. It was light and full of the custardy flavor that you know and love without being overly sweet and heavy. It also has a silky mouth feel. The cinnamon and nutmeg rise to the top giving it a crème brûlée appearance. This is another keeper recipe!
In the Entrees section, Chicken Thighs with Red Wine, Dried Plums, and Garlic by Chef Elizabeth Wiley of Meadowlark Restaurant in Dayton, OH, is phenomenal! The preparation for this dish is quick and easy. The end result is a restaurant quality dish. Since this roasts for 2 hours, the flavors of the red wine, plums, garlic, cloves, cinnamon, rosemary, and orange really penetrate the meat all the way to the bone. The chicken was tender, juicy, and full of flavor. The roasting au jus was robust and a concentration of all of the flavors. I served it with a side of a quinoa that I will talk about in the next paragraph. It matched perfectly with the chicken. This entree was a big hit and another keeper!
In the Side Dishes section, the Quinoa Pilaf with Currant and Turmeric by Chef Elisa Hunziker, takes you on a tour of the Mediterranean and India. I love quinoa and it was nice to find out how to incorporate different flavors with this wonderful grain. It’s a combination of chicken broth, orange juice, quinoa, cumin, turmeric, currants, pine nuts, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Being of Japanese descent, we always have a rice cooker in the house. I have made quinoa in it many times before and it always comes out perfect. So I used it again for this recipe to save some time (and burner space on my stove top). When it was done, I tossed in the currants, pine nuts, and cilantro as the final touch. The colors were vibrant from the turmeric and cumin, yellow color of the quinoa, the red currants, and green cilantro. The flavor combination was beautiful as well from the sweet orange, nutty quinoa, and refreshing cilantro. This is another keeper!
As you can see, it can be fun bringing people together and eating healthy foods. This book is also chalked full of recipes that are easy to prepare. There is a world of food waiting for you. Just take it one bite at a time for a healthy, optimal life! Enjoy!