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Reviewed by Heather Balston   
Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Authors: Patrick Holford and Fiona McDonald Joyce

Food GLorious Food by Patrick Holford and Fiona McDonald Joyce'Food GLorious Food' is a book for everyone who loves fresh, inspiring and delicious food – but wants to stick to a healthy diet. Contrary to popular belief, the two are compatible – you can have your cake and eat it! And this book proves it with a range of mouthwatering recipes to delight even the fussiest eaters.

The book is clearly divided into two sections. The first, written by Patrick Holford deals with the ethos behind healthy eating that is based on eating foods that have a low glycemic load (GL). . I already have a clear understanding of the meaning of “GI”, as I imagine do a lot of people, but had not come across “GL” before. I was curious to know what it meant and how it relates to healthy eating

According to Holford a good balanced diet is achieved by eating the right combination of protein, fats and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates give us energy but can be further sub-divided into those that are fast-releasing, as in sugars, which have a high glycemic load, and slow-releasing, as in whole grains, vegetables and fruit, which have a low glycemic load. He goes on to explain that by controlling blood sugar levels with a good balance of slow-releasing carbohydrates will help to keep your weight and energy levels at a constant. He goes on to explain how this can be achieved with simple, fresh, high quality ingredients which provide maximum flavour as well as maximum nutrients.

“What Is a Well Balanced Diet” is explained in full with clear charts and diagrams. Detailed information is given on the key components of the main food groups and shows how to achieve the optimal intake of the right kinds of these, that is, fats, proteins and carbohydrates.

Holford then goes on to discuss the ‘Top Five Diet Tips’ and the ‘When’ and ‘How’ of eating which includes tips such as ‘graze, don’t gorge’, ‘breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dine like a pauper’ and other well known but oft forgotten advice. The final part of this section of the book gives details of how a low-GL diet can be linked gluten and wheat free diets and also vegetarian and vegan diets. To end with he gives descriptions of the best cooking methods to be used when preparing low-GL meals.

The second section is an invaluable selection of recipes by Fiona McDonald Joyce that follows the low-GL ethos, with recipes for all meals during the day and for every occasion. By way of an introduction to this section she discusses food culture and cuisine from different countries around the world with information about ingredients that are particular to them. This is followed by suggestions for menus for different meals whether for everyday meals or entertaining.

The recipes are preceded by useful background information, be it tips on how easy the dish is to prepare to dietary pointers. The recipes themselves are very clearly laid out, but it is worth checking the ingredient lists as I found out when trying out the Lentil and Squash Curry. The recipe stated 2 tablespoons of curry powder, and without thinking, that’s exactly what I put in! The curry powder that I was using was a strong one but all was not lost as after a quick bit of improvisation, adding two tins of coconut milk the curry was deemed a success by the four of us eating it.

I have also tried the Chickpea, Carrot and Coriander Soup and had plenty of willing people to try this recipe out even on a hot day. All pronounced that it was very good! There are many other recipes that I am keen to try, in particular, the Seared Salmon with Ginger and Coriander. This recipe is Thai inspired using one of my favorite ingredients, ginger, which the book tells me is “a real boost thanks to the high zinc content as well as acting as a digestive aid”.

Having a bit of a sweet tooth I had a browse through the “Sweet Things” section and this intriguing recipe caught my eye - Chocolate Courgette Cake. Now this may sound like a strange combination but I’m assured by the recipe that the courgettes add fibre and moisture to the cake but do not add any detracting flavours.

Some of the ingredients in the book may be hard to come by such as xylitol, which is the fruit sugar from plums and raspberries, but cane sugar can be substituted instead. Flicking back through the recipes also I noted Raw Chocolate and Goji Granola. As the book was published in the UK I decided to do a quick search to find a South African source of the raw chocolate (or cacao) and the goji berries. I have found that both are stocked by Fruits and Roots, the Natural Food Company in Bryanston.

At the bottom of each of the recipes there are “Cook’s notes”, a very handy addition to the book, as they largely refer to dietary concerns such as whether the recipe is gluten free or not.

The book finishes with a useful section of resources from a general section relating to nutrition, a description of more unusual foods used in the recipes, a recommended reading list, references and finally a comprehensive index.

The one aspect of this book that disappointed me slightly was the lack of pictures. I do feel that it’s important the recipes have accompanying pictures that shout out, “Eat me, I’m delicious”. This is a small gripe in an otherwise excellent book.

Would I buy this book? With a background in nutrition and therefore an understanding of healthy eating I would still find the section written by Patrick Holford useful for reference. The recipe section is certainly stimulating with some unusual ingredients that I am keen to try.

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