Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February Cookbook Review: The Looney Spoons Collection

This month I decided on a cookbook that's not a dedicated gluten free book.  It's important to be able to make meals from a variety of sources, and many dishes are naturally gluten free or can be adapted to be gluten free quite easily.  I also picked this book because I own one of their previous books (from the 90's) and still use it on occasion.  I was excited to see if the new book would be as good as the one I already owned. 

The Looney Spoons cookbook is written by Greta and Janet Podleski, two sisters from Canada who create lower-fat and more nutritious versions of everyday dishes.  Their signature style is to give their recipes crazy names and to throw in tons of nutritional tidbits and corny jokes along the way. 

Many of the recipes in the menu plans for this month came from this cookbook, including the following dishes:
-Chicken Thighs in a Wild Mushroom Sauce
-Vegetable Fried Rice
-Pasta Primavera (I substituted gluten free pasta)
-Teriyaki Chicken
-Vegetable Gratin
-Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
-Moroccan Quinoa Salad and Falafel Patties
-Hearty Beef and Vegetable Stew
-Rice Salad (I substituted rice for the orzo pasta called for in the recipe)

Look and Feel of the Book:  This cookbook is a large, softcover book, with clearly marked sections and easy to find recipes.  Since it's a collection, it does include some recipes from their previous books, as well as some new recipes.  It's a step up from the book I have because there are colour photographs of almost every recipe.  I also really like that there are nutrition sidebars on almost every page. 

The Recipes:  The recipes are pretty standard, familiar dishes for a North American palate, with a few variations.  Most dishes are ones that people have eaten before, but overhauled to have less fat and higher nutritional value than the original.  Meatballs, burgers, lasagna, broccoli soup, fried chicken- all things that are pretty basic but well-loved.  I tried to pick a variety of different types of dishes, including some that are maybe a bit out of the ordinary for some people, like the falafel or Moroccan quinoa salad. 

Mushroom Chicken & Stir Fried Vegetable Rice

Teriyaki Chicken with Sesame Seeds

Pasta Primavera 

Verdict:  I expected good things from this cookbook and it did not disappoint.  The range of choices from appetizers all the way to desserts could provide any family with delicious choices for months.  The recipes are easy to follow and use simple ingredients that are easy to find.  I had success with every recipe I tried, although I will admit to occasionally adding a bit more oil than a recipe called for, or adding a bit more grated cheese to the top.  Overall, the flavours are good, the instructions are clear, and the photos provide a good picture of what the finished product will look like.  

It's true that not all the recipes are gluten free, and there are a few that specifically call for whole wheat flour, for example, that I personally can't be bothered to modify and will probably skip altogether.  However, there are so many recipes that are gluten free, or that can be easily modified, that I feel that this cookbook is still a good investment.  I would recommend this book to anyone looking to eat healthier, but who doesn't want to give up all their favourite dishes to do it!

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