The three requirements I have for recipes are 1) taste, 2) ease and speed of preparation, and 3) health benefits. Put all three of those things together and you have a new staple in my diet. However, it seems most cookbooks only score high marks on two of the three categories. Not so with Healthy in a Hurry by Karen Ansel: this book wins on every count.
It may seem a small detail, and irrelevant to some, but I absolutely love that the author includes “basic recipes” for things like vinaigrette, applesauce, and cooked quinoa. They’re not given the same space as an actual recipe, but she does not resort to “cook quinoa according to directions on package.” She also includes Quick Fix Ideas and Make It Ahead quasi-recipes for people who like to cook with a bit more creativity than strictly following a recipe requires (or who don’t have time to sit down with a cookbook in the morning). In addition to recipes, Ansel added helpful hints such as healthy pantry staples, a seasonal fruits and vegetables chart, and tips on creating healthy meals.
Each recipe includes not only nutritional stats, but information about the nutritional quality of certain ingredients. Example: sunflower seeds are a good source of copper, potassium, zinc, Vitamin E, and selenium. In one of the opening sections, titled “A Guide to Superfoods,” there are even guidelines for buying, storing, and using many different types of foods, from fruits and vegetables to beans, whole grains, and even dark chocolate. Any book that calls chocolate a “superfood” gets an A+ in my book.
As for the recipes, there are riffs on homestyle favorites, like Sweet Potato Oven Fries, but also newer flavors, like Quinoa Salad with Dried Cherries and Pistachios, and a dash of the exotic, like Chicken and Mango Salad with Cashews. There are a few ingredients you may not have on hand, but the vast majority of ingredients can be found in any decent grocery store. None of the recipes feel “weird” or overdone; each one feels like normal, everyday fare kicked up a notch. Even the pizza–Whole Wheat Pizza with Broccoli Rabe and Turkey Sausage, to be exact–feels gourmet, but manageable.
The photos are plentiful and gorgeous, and most of them look like something you could actually recreate at home. In fact, I did recreate a few of them at home–including Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Pumpkin Seeds and Pumpkin Waffles with Orange and Cinnamon–and they were just as delicious and beautiful as promised.
Overall, Healthy in a Hurry has everything I look for in a cookbook–nutrition, efficiency, and great taste–all while maintaining a feeling of luxury and fine dining.