Book Review: Naturally Skinny: 100 Organic Recipes Under 350 Calories

Naturally Skinny: 100 Organic Recipes Under 350 Calories
By Samantha Brown
2011

Normally I wouldn’t review a cookbook, but I’ve been eating out of this one for a couple of weeks now, and my husband has very politely requested that I stop raving about it to him. I’m hoping reviewing it for you will help with that.

First, some background. I am not a cook by inclination. If I have a recipe in front of me, I can follow it with generally good results. But my day in no way revolves around the question “What fabulous thing can I whip up for [breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack]?” Most days I’m a grab and go sort of girl.

In other words, I’m pretty much the target audience for this book. A complicated recipe in Naturally Skinny contains eight ingredients. Most contain three to five. The cooking techniques are super simple too. If you can heat a pan, turn on your oven, and use a toaster, you’ll be golden.

On the flip side, if you, like my mother, can walk into a kitchen and concoct a fabulous healthy dinner from the somewhat random contents of any given fridge and pantry, this book is not for you.  You will probably already know most of the recipes in it.

That said, the recipes in this book are super simple and super delicious. They are the sort of food that is good for you, but doesn’t taste like it. They are also the sort of recipes that you only need to make once or twice to memorize, which means you’ll be well on your way to appearing to be the sort of cook who can walk into any given kitchen and concoct something lovely out of whatever happens to be in the fridge and pantry.

So far, I’ve tried the:

  • Banana bran muffins
  • Spinach and goat cheese frittata
  • Spinach and arugula salad
  • Italian tuna melt
  • Chicken salad with apricots and almonds
  • Strawberries and cream on toast
  • Sautéed crunchy greens
  • Ratatouille with goat cheese and couscous

It’s been some of the best eating of my life (outside of my mother’s home, that is). That sounds like an exaggeration, I’m sure, but then you don’t live with me. You don’t know what it is to eat my cooking every day.

The only recipe I didn’t love at first bite was the strawberries and cream on toast, but then I have a love/hate relationship with cream cheese. I love cream cheese in cheesecake, hate it pretty much everywhere else.

Now the downsides.

  • There are no pictures of the food in this book. This doesn’t bother me, because the recipes are so simple I don’t need a picture to tell me that I’ve gotten them right. But there it is.
  • The book would have benefited from a close copy-edit. There are lots of typos. Some are pretty important, like when Brown fails to mention how much milk you’ll need for the Spinach Omelet. (I assumed it was roughly the same amount you’d use in any omelet and things worked out ok.)
  • Brown tags every ingredient in her recipes with the word “organic.” This is potentially quite irritating, but I have it on good authority that the recipes don’t break if you use conventional ingredients instead (I reserve my organic dollars for the foods on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen List).

Overall, I’ve been very happy with this cookbook, and recommend it to anyone who wants to eat a variety of fresh, healthy foods without being cooped up in the kitchen for hours.

And now it’s your turn. What are you cooking this week?

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About Shala Howell

Writer of things ranging from optical network switching white papers to genetic testing patient education materials to historical fiction set in an 1880s asylum. When I’m not scratching my head over pesky characters who refuse to do things how I want them done or dreaming of my next book (which will of course be much easier to write than the current one), my writerly self can be found blogging about life with a very curious Ten-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, or musing about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.wordpress.com.
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2 Responses to Book Review: Naturally Skinny: 100 Organic Recipes Under 350 Calories

  1. mom says:

    Mom appreciates the praise. Does this mean I will be cooking when I visit, or will you be dazzling me?
    Love, Mom

    • Shala Howell says:

      What? And miss out on a week of your cooking? I may be bested on a regular basis by my Five-Year-Old but really, I’m not a complete idiot. I can cook for myself at any time. Although I do want you to try this spinach and arugula salad. And maybe the chicken salad with apricots. And the banana bran muffins. And the ratatouille.

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