Author: Linda Fears, Editor in Chief, Family Circle Magazine

Publisher: Wiley – 368 pages

Book Review by: Laxmi Chaandi

This book on healthy food for the whole family (and that includes kids and youngsters who consume a lot of unhealthy “junk food” and “fast food” these days) shows the reader in numerous photos of delicious-looking dishes that food that is good for you does not have to be food that doesn’t taste good.

Linda writes: “for many people ‘eating healthy’ implies depriving yourself in some way. At Family Circle magazine we do not believe that you should ever be asked to give up your favorite food. That is why Healthy Family Dinners celebrates the joy of eating delicious food – all foods. There’s no sacrificing here because we know that enjoying a wonderful meal is one of life’s greatest pleasures.”

She mentions that she learned from her mom that it is important to use fresh ingredients because they are more flavorful. Fresh vegetables (green, leafy and other types), grains and legumes, and fresh meats, when sprinkled with herbs, and grilled, roasted or sautéed in very small amount of oil, are healthful and can come out tasting great, she writes.

Total elimination of fats and oils is of course not possible. But minimizing its use in preparing foods is suggested by dietitians, if you want to stay away from affecting your body adversely. But just as important as knowing what foods to minimize is knowing what is needed by your body to optimize your health and make you look and feel great, Linda points out.

And what your body needs to stay healthy, as nutrition research in the past has shown, is to have a diet rich in sources of protein, healthy carbohydrates, essential vitamins and minerals, and a minimum of fat. There is fat in most meats and dairy products so you will find it healthful to eat them more sparingly. Linda suggests you get small amounts of animal protein and less processed foods.

More current research (e.g. in The China Study) shows that the human body can get all its nutritional needs from a purely vegan (devoid of eggs and seafood as well) diet of fruits and vegetables that includes grains and legumes.

Whether you decide to convert from non-vegetarian status and adopt a vegan or vegetarian diet (which typically has a staple of vegetables, but unlike vegan, includes eggs and seafood) is up to you. The choice is yours to make.

The basic theme and thesis of this book is that you can eat healthy by eating nutritious food that is also delicious. The 368-page book is packed with more than 200 “good-for you” recipes for many kids of food, with full page, full-color photos of dishes you can prepare.

Among them are salads, pasta, grains, vegetarian, chicken and turkey dishes, foods made of fish and meat, grilled items, slow-cook foods and desserts.

I do not know about you, but I love salads! You have a choice of 18 salads in this book, each with a photo, ingredients and directions for preparation. My personal preferences are the crispy peanut tofu salad, scallop and orange salad, Chinese shrimp salad and the Cobb salad.

Among pastas, you have a choice of 28 dishes. Try the yummy-looking penne with escarole, caramelized onions and chickpeas. Or the pasta primavera made with asparagus, grape tomatoes, green beans, red or yellow peppers and sweet oranges. Or the spicy soba noodles dish stir-fried in soy sauce with baby carrots, cubes of tofu and large sweet red peppers.

In the grains section on 16 choices of entrees you can try any, many or all, over time. The turkey quinoa Alfredo looks very tasty. This dish consists of small turkey cutlets made in reduced-fat Alfredo sauce and a quarter cup of Parmesan cheese with thawed and halved Brussels sprouts, all sprinkled with fresh ground pepper and chopped fresh parsley.

For people who primarily eat meat dishes, they will be surprised to look at the variety of 19 delectable entrees in vegetables section. If you’ve never had Asian-Indian food, try the vegetable curry – here’s a chance for you to make it, complete with sets of ingredients and directions.  Or the potatoes and lentils cooked with garam masala.

Chicken and turkey dishes consist of 29 choices. The arroz con pollo, a dish with its origins from Spain, looks sumptuous. This is rice spiced with black pepper and salt, made with small diced onions and peas accompanying chicken cutlets basted with chicken broth and Goya Sazon and Azafron seasoning.

The book also has dishes made of beef, as well as fish and seafood such as lobster and shrimp. And there are sections on foods made on grills and in slow cookers. To top it all off, there’s a section on how to make desserts of less than 200 calories and six grams fat, yet taste scrumptious. There are also desserts made primarily of fruit. If you’re a chocolate fanatic, the book offers desserts made of dark chocolate, which is high in antioxidants.

This is a very useful book chock full of healthful dishes that are also delectable – a good way to try make many nutritious meals that satisfy your urge for good, tasty food.