Review: Clean Start

With the onslaught of “get healthy” books and product advertisements these days, it’s no wonder we’re constantly scrutinizing our own and each other’s daily lifestyle choices. It often comes down to having the “perfect” diet—one that makes you glow, keeps you thin, gives you strength and energy, and is healthy and sustainable.

What we need is a cookbook that doesn’t make healthy eating so intimidating. From the author of the bestselling and highly acclaimed book Clean Food, comes a follow-up, Clean Start, featuring 100 recipes that focus on eating minimally processed foods for maximum nutrition, and involve quick and easy preparation.

A well-known nutritional and culinary expert and educator, author Terry Walters is keen to lead the way in the clean, green and local approach to eating. After reading just a few pages of Clean Start, I was inspired to reorganize my cupboards and put Terry’s sensible teachings into practice. Her gentle and insightful advice guides you along the path to healthy eating without insisting on a militant, do-or-die attitude.

In her own words, Terry writes: “It’s about having a relationship with food that’s not based on living up to somebody else’s ideal, or following a strict regimen. It’s simply about making healthy choices, one at a time, and doing the best that you can do.”

The collection of recipes is categorized by season, is entirely gluten-free and vegan, and emphasizes the use of whole grains, fresh produce, non-animal proteins and healthy fats. You’ll be amazed by how simple and satisfying the recipes really are. In the spring section, the polenta pizzas begin with a homemade, herbed polenta dough and come with a choice of toppings—kale and maitake mushroom topping or chard and parsley pesto topping—both of which include sauteed leafy greens and other nutrient-rich vegetables.

The summer squash with lemon cilantro pesto is a simple raw meal that involves julienning zucchini and yellow summer squash to look like pasta and mixing it with a full-bodied, easy-to-make pesto that combines pine nuts, cilantro, olive oil and lemon juice. If you’re a fan of cilantro, you’ll love this recipe.

I also enjoyed the chopped salad with strawberry shallot vinaigrette from the summer section twice but failed to snap a photo before it was gobbled up. It added a gorgeous splash of colour to our no-cook summer meals, and the blend of fruit and leafy greens was complemented by the sweet and tangy strawberry dressing.

From the fall section, the carrot zucchini muffins are a healthy snack full of vegetables and spice. Although I didn’t expect much of them due to my previous failures in gluten-free baking, these wholesome treats blew me away. The combination of textures and flavours is what really sets them apart from other muffins: the chewy top, moist, fluffy crumb and bits of carrot, zucchini, walnuts and currants strewn throughout all combine to create a sum greater than its parts.

Finally, the cocoa brownies in the winter section make use of ingredients that you wouldn’t expect in such a delectable dessert: applesauce, dates, banana, cocoa and teff flour result in a surprisingly mature and complex flavour profile. Judging from the ingredients, I suspected they would be delicate when it came time to cut them into squares, so I let them sit overnight in the fridge before digging in and it worked out perfectly. Next time, I would consider upping the ante with nuts and dark chocolate chips.

In the end, I’m very happy to have Clean Start on my bookshelf. It’s a tried-and-true text that has yet to fail me, either in the nutrition or taste department.



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