The book: Healthyish, Lindsay Maitland Hunt ($36)
Recipe developer Lindsay Maitland Hunt hopes her first cookbook becomes your new go-to. It’s filled with what she calls “good-for-you but not too good-for-you” recipes “for the real world.” In other words, dishes made with easy-to-find ingredients that won’t take forever to cook or leave you with an overwhelming pile of dirty dishes. Unlike diet cookbooks, Maitland Hunt doesn’t believe in deprivation (r
eal life includes both grain bowls and banana bread), so she includes recipes for salads and hearty soups as well as decadent-sounding desserts.
This book is beautiful, yet approachable. As I flipped through it, I quickly lost count of all the recipes I wanted to try. Not only did everything look delicious, but the dishes seemed like they’d fit into my lifestyle. I aspire to cook healthy dinners each and every week night, but I hate overly fussy recipes.
Healthyish has chapters for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack time and, thankfully, it doesn’t have a wellness-related gimmick, nor does it cater to a single diet. Rather, the recipes feature lots of fruits and veggies, plus whole grains, a diverse range of proteins as well as some sugar.
For those who are vegan or gluten-free, Maitland Hunt includes a special index at the back of the book and organizes her recipes by specific dietary restrictions.
Like many home cooks, I have a rotating roster of dishes I turn to over and over again. Healthyish seemed like it would help me add some variety to my weekly lineup, so on a busy Monday evening, I opened the book and started cooking.
I wanted to make everything, but in the end I settled on two big-batch breakfast recipes, a soup-and-salad combo and a dessert I suspected I’d make over and over again. Here’s what I made:
- Seeded Whole-Wheat Banana Bread, page 59
- Peanut Butter Granola, page 60
- Cheesy Broccoli and Pea Soup, page 112
- Modern Niçoise Salad for Two, page 190
- Single-Serving Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookie, 200
Do The Recipes Actually Work?
When I first spotted the Seeded Whole-Wheat Banana Bread,
I knew I had to have it in my belly ASAP. Maitland Hunt makes this bake sale staple better-for-you by using less oil and sugar than in your standard loaf. She also calls for whole-wheat flour instead of all-purpose and loads it with flavourful poppy and sesame seeds. The batter comes together in minutes — you just have to be patient because it takes about an hour in the oven. I’ve been packing slices of it for mid-morning snacks, but it would be a stunning brunch dish, too.
I also fell in love with the Peanut Butter Granola. It’s a revelation. It has a short ingredient list made up of pantry staples, so you don’t need to raid Bulk Barn, and the recipe makes 14 cups of crunchy goodness. Thanks to a generous serving of peanut butter and a sprinkling of cinnamon, each batch tastes warm and rich. It’s already low in sugar (the recipe calls for a 2/3 cup of maple syrup), but I experimented and reduced it even more — it’s still delicious, especially when mixed with milk. Maitland Hunt says it’ll stay good for two weeks, but mine disappeared much faster than that.
Since soup is my favourite food group (and I’m a sucker for a soup, salad and bread combo), I thought I’d whip up the Cheesy Broccoli and Pea Soup along with the fancy-sounding Modern Niçoise Salad for Two for a weeknight meal. The soup recipe uses frozen broccoli and peas, which means you could have a taste of spring in the dead of winter. It also calls for homemade stock, but as Ina Garten would say, “store bought is fine.” After chopping up a couple onions and sautéing them until translucent, you just boil the broccoli in the stock until tender, throw in your peas and blend it all together — how easy is that? Not only was it a yummy addition to my evening, but I also had leftovers for days (literally!).
The salad didn’t require very much prep-work either, especially because I used boxed greens. All I did was boil a few eggs, open a can of tuna (instead of the suggested sardines) and made a simple vinaigrette with olive oil, cider vinegar and Dijon mustard. You can add the marinated artichokes and olives whole or chopped. Unlike a traditional Niçoise, this salad didn’t have boiled potatoes or chopped veggies, but it had the tangy flavours of the real thing.
For dessert, I needed to try the single-serving cookie. If it worked, I knew it would revolutionize my late-night sugar cravings. It’s made with natural peanut butter, quick oats, icing sugar and vanilla. Instead of baking it, you stick it in the freezer and then drizzle it with chocolate and flaky sea salt. While yummy, I found it to be more of a flattened energy ball rather than a cookie. Would I make it again? Definitely. Does it compare to a peanut butter cookies? Unfortunately, no.
The recipes I tried were both easy and tasty, and I’m excited to make even more — they’re not a huge leap from the way I like to cook during the week. In her notes, Maitland Hunt encourages her readers to experiment and personalize the recipes, and that’s exactly what I did without straying too far from her solid instructions. If you’re looking for fancy recipes to impress a crowd, this isn’t the cookbook for you, but it’s a solid option for beginners and those looking for new everyday meal ideas.
Ease Of Use
Effort: Easy Skill Level: Beginner
Who To Buy It For
- Friends and family members venturing out on their own for the first time
- Yourself, to up your weeknight kitchen game
- University or college students who want to avoid the dining hall and eat better food
Where It Will Live
On your counter top, splattered with peanut butter and pea soup.