Thursday, March 19, 2009

Reading for Fun

I was lamenting to my neighbor that I don't get to do any reading for fun anymore - that all of my recent "reads" are picture books (which don't get me wrong, is often quite enjoyable, but still...) I could probably write a daily feature about what kids' books I/we love and which I would rather live without, but since my blogging time is shorter and shorter these days, I'd rather write about what I have been reading that's adult-oriented. I realized that I have been reading, just not the type of books I think of when I think of reading for pleasure. I've been into reading cookbooks (go figure!) and two of them warrant special mention because they are not just collections of recipes, but eating philosophies that I find intriguing. (If you are bored by food talk, go back to the last blog with cute pics of the wee ones.)

Food Matters by Mark Bittman is part cookbook, part diet plan, part social message. My #1 favorite cookbook, How to Cook Everything, is written by Bittman, so when I saw him on the Today show talking about this new book, I knew I should check it out. He decided to drastically cut his meat and animal-product consumption in order to fix some health problems and to help reduce greenhouse gases caused by factory farming, which emit dramatically more toxins to the environment than car pollution does. If reducing your carbon footprint appeals to you, this is yet another way you can work on that. If you are conscious of it, but more interested in getting "back to basics" with cooking - relying less on prepackaged food and more on simple, delicious dishes, you should also check it out. Bittman's personal approach is to be "vegan till 6" - which means he eats vegan all day, but eats (and drinks) anything he wants for dinner and dessert. I've been giving it a whirl, while also trying to meet the nutritional needs of 2 small children (one of which has both an allergy and a shortage of teeth), so it's been a little challenging, but I think reading the book has been valuable "food for thought". Ha Ha.

The second book I want to blog about is called Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. This mom and wife of Jerry Seinfeld is on a quest to get more vegetables into her kids' diets, namely by sneaking veggie purees into dishes that they like. The kids and I have gotten into the habit of having a weekly "baking day" where we make some sort of baked good that tastes great but we shouldn't be eating on a weekly basis. So I got this cookbook to see if I could "health-ify" our sweet tooths and thus feel less guilty about enjoying my love of all things chocolate with my kids. There is a recipe for chocolate-chocolate chip cookies that have spinach puree in them, and you know what? They were completely divine. In terms of mealtimes, my kids are actually pretty good about eating their veggies, but it seems that there is no such thing as too many vegetables in a day, so I'm digging the recipes in here. Plus it's a very down-to-earth approach to promoting good eating habits in general, which I'm all about.

So there you go! My two cents on how reading cookbooks is fun. And to end this blog, here's a link to one fun kids' book that we have been reading over and over and over and over again since Gabe is in the throes of potty-training: Even Firefighters Go to the Potty by Wendy Wax and Naomi Wax. Good fun on a not-fun-but-fascinating-to-toddlers topic.


Elizabeth said...

Thanks for the great book reviews, Hillary! I can't wait to check out Mark Bittman's book. To lengthen your list...have you read Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan? I LOVE it. I tried to get into his newer book In Defense of Food, but found Omnivore's Dilemma so much more appealing.

Andy Azinger and Amy Moser said...

Hi Hillary. In addition to his Wednesday morning New York Times column, Mark Bittman has a blog called Bitten, which you can access through the papers website. I really enjoy it.

Amy Moser