I’m a big fan of Mark Bittman – his books, Minimalist videos, even his judging on Iron Chef. My first cookbook I purchased was by Bittman (How to Cook Everything) and it has been extremely helpful on my culinary self-teaching journey. This cookbook is a companion to Bittmans Food Matters book written in 2008.
Yes, I did read an entire cookbook. This is a first for me, usually I just look for specific recipes that I know would be a hit with my family. But we needed change due to my husband’s gout flares, and I really needed a change in what I prepared and ate.
The first part of the book is a 30 page primer on how the Food Matters diet came to be. Bittman was overweight, had high blood sugar and cholesterol, sleep apnea and just had knee surgery. Basically his doctor told him that he needed to figure something out. These words were echoed to my husband, and with Bittman’s help we’ve been figuring it out too.
Part two of the book covers some basics. Bittman likes to use fresh vegetables, but doesn’t think organic is necessary. While many of the recipes are vegetarian, meat can be added in variations or it is used as a “side”. There are no difficult cooking techniques or special equipment requirements for any of the recipes either, making them accessible to all.
The recipes are divided into sections: Appetizers and Snacks; Soups; Salads and Dressings; Pasta, Noodles, and Dumplings; Rice and Grains; Beans; Vegetables; Bread, Pizza, Sandwiches, and Wraps; Desserts and Sweet Snacks. Each section starts with the easier recipes first and then increases in complexity.
I have about 40 post-it notes marking recipes to make and try. So far we’ve had Fried Chickpeas (pg 63) that while good straight from the oven they didn’t make great leftovers for later snacking. The Meat-and-Grain Loafs (pg 333) went over very well with our daughter. She proclaimed them the best thing I’ve ever made, although I disagree because I make a mean rack of ribs. But with only two ounces of meat per serving and loaded with grain (we used quinoa) and spinach I’m happy to make it for her whenever she’d like.
I’ve always been a refried bean fan and the Refried Black Bean recipe on pg 354 turned out wonderfully. Now, I did use bacon fat that I rendered and accidently added too much cumin, but pairing this with rice and topping it with sour cream diced tomatoes for a fairly healthy lunch worked extremely well. I just need more ideas on what to do with refried beans other than with rice, on nachos or in tacos.
My husband and daughter prepared the Spicy Carrot Cake on page 558. It didn’t turn out to be a spiced as we’d like but it was a very easy carrot cake to make. It turned out very moist and yummy.
If you are looking for help altering your diet to include more vegetables, less meat, more grains, less fat – this cookbook is great resource. I hope to make all 40 recipes I’ve marked, and then I will pick 40 more to try. I don’t know if I will ever make all 500 recipes, but I’ve read them all.