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Book Review: Giada de Laurentiis Shares Her Secrets for Healthy Eating

Giada de Laurentiis released her newest cookbook, Giada's Feel Good Food, in November 2013, and it doesn't focus on Italian food. You've probably wondered, how does someone who makes heavy pasta dishes and adores chocolate look like she does. I've often wondered this same exact thing. De Laurentiis reveals in her newest cookbook how she does it. Her most important philosophy on eating is, "eat a little of everything, but not a lot of anything."

The recipes included in this cookbook are ones that she eats on a daily basis, and many fit the dietary guidelines of most readers.

"You'll find nondairy milks in my fridge at home -- from almond to coconut -- to replace some of the regular dairy," she writes. "In writing down many of my favorite dishes for this book, I realized that many are gluten-free, vegetarian and even vegan (entirely free of animal products), and I thought, this born-and-bred Italian has come a long way! But it's great, because this way I can still eat a bit of everything -- and enjoy it all!"

Recipes or food porn: If beautiful, bright photos equate to food porn for you, then yes, there are both. The cookbook features 120 recipes and 100 photos, so just about every single recipe is accompanied by a picture. But the main focus is the recipes. Each one features a blurb about where the recipe came from, what de Laurentiis enjoys most about it and any recommendations for when it is appropriate to eat it -- breakfast, a snack, when company comes over, etc.

At the beginning of the cookbook you will find "A Month of Feel Good Meals" complete with recipes broken down day by day for breakfast, lunch, a snack, dinner and sometimes a dessert. So, having the meals organized by day for an entire month allows you to easily follow (or mix and match to create your own) days of healthy eating.

All the recipes also include nutritional information, unlike with many other cookbooks from celebrity chefs. "While personally I do not count calories or carbs, I know that many people do and find it helpful -- and I want to open up these recipes to as many people as possible," de Laurentiis writes.

Ease of use: Most of these dishes are easy to create, or at least the recipes are easy to follow. Some require a bit more work than others, but overall the cookbook provides a good mix of simple dishes and complicated ones. For example, most of the snacks, juices, smoothies and breakfast dishes are quite easy to make, such as the crispy chickpeas, buckwheat pancakes or baked kale and sweet potato chips. Others require more steps and more expertise, such as the fruit spring rolls for dessert.

Difficulty of finding ingredients: This cookbook uses a lot of ingredients that many would find uncommon, such as almond milk, coconut water, almond butter and sprouted whole-grain bread, but most of these can be found in the health-food section of a grocery store, or in a specialty grocery store. Also, a lot of the recipes use specialty ingredients, but de Laurentiis provides recipes for making them. For instance, her vegan chocolate truffles use cashew cream instead of heavy cream, and she provides a recipe for making the cream at home.   Production value: I recommend you buy this cookbook for a tablet or Kindle. The list of recipes for a month at the beginning of the book allows you to easily tap the recipe you want without any fuss in searching for it in the book. The photographs are as beautiful as they are in the paper book, and navigating through the cookbook is much easier on a tablet. You'll want to bookmark the recipes you enjoy, especially if you are mixing and matching your month of feel-good meals. It's a simple cookbook meant to give you advice, tips and recipes for leading a healthy lifestyle filled with tasty meals.

I want to make these shrimp, avocado and mango rolls.
I want to make these shrimp, avocado and mango rolls.
Screenshot from Giada's Feel Good Food via Kindle; photography by Amy Neunsinger

Recipes I want try: Being someone who loves almond milk, almond butter, quinoa, tofu and just about any fresh fruit or vegetable, it's hard for me to decide which recipes I would like to try first. But, after reading the one for grilled chicken cutlets with fresh apple-mango chutney, I was sold. It's marinated chicken with garam masala, apple cider vinegar, apple juice and Greek yogurt served with a detailed chutney of apricot preserves, red jalapeño chile, Dijon mustard, apples, mangoes, mint and a whole bunch of spices. My taste buds were tingling after I finished reading the recipe. I would also like to try to make the shrimp, avocado and mango sushi rolls -- they just sounds refreshing.

Verdict: I'm not a huge fan of Giada because, for the most part, her recipes are strictly Italian and have never appealed to me. However, this cookbook strays from her Italian roots in pasta with lots and lots of cheese; it's a cookbook with a variety of recipes using fresh ingredients -- just what you need to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Stats: Giada's Feel Good Food: My Healthy Recipes and Secrets By Giada de Laurentiis Photography by Amy Neunsinger $32.50 120 recipes 256 pages


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