Healthy Eats, a cookbook review

“Healthy Eats” is the latest cookbook from Six Sisters’ Stuff.  I’ve reviewed one of their books before, with some mixed feelings.  I loved their pulled pork recipe, but wasn’t into the amount of pre-made stuff being employed.  (To be fair, the book was called “Six Ingredients”, and cooks often have to cheat an ingredient to get the best flavor when they’re not working with much.)  Since healthy eating is a different concept than minimal ingredients, I was curious about the contents of this new book.

Chapter breakdown is much like their previous book:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Main Dishes
  • Side Dishes
  • Snacks and Desserts

 

Things to I’d like to try:

  • Hearty breakfast cookies
  • Red potato turkey bacon bake
  • Protein packed egg salad sandwiches
  • Shredded beef and sweet potato tacos
  • Honey lime grilled chicken
  • Avocado sour cream
  • Salisbury steak meatballs
  • Garlic lime sweet potato fries
  • Healthy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies
  • Skinny frozen strawberry bites
  • Flourless banana bread

 

Initial impression?  The recipes are straight-forward.  Most of the ingredient lists are 8 ingredients total.  Some are more.  Some are much less.  None of the recipes are exotic, all are fairly familiar North American fare.  In fact my mom, who is an excellent home cook but not very adventurous, really liked the look of the recipes here whereas she’s shown much less interest in some of my other cookbooks.

Since my location is still under self-isolation/quarantine advisory, I was limited at what I could recipe test with little to no changes.

The original recipe I picked out was the egg rolls in a bowl.  Ingredients consist of sesame oil, olive oil, rice wine vinegar, low sodium soy sauce, ground chicken, black pepper, coleslaw mix, and scallions.  I didn’t have coleslaw mix per se, but I had green cabbage.  And honestly, coleslaw mix is mostly cabbage with some carrots.  Not a major ingredient replacement in my opinion.

How did it turn out?  Initially under-seasoned.  I also thought the cooking instructions were odd.  I like the idea that you make the sauce directly in the pan, and then add the meat but the recipe has you cook the ground chicken on low for about 12 minutes.  And then you add the veggies and cook for about 3 minutes more.  That is overcooked chicken in my opinion.  I added my cabbage earlier.  However, that wasn’t enough to improve on the dish.  There’s no garlic.  Not even onions.  If you’re going to use ground chicken, you really need more flavor.  I tried not to fuss with the recipe but, in the end, I added garlic powder and onion powder to make this edible by my standards.  At least it tasted better the next day, but I’m still going to give this particular recipe as it stands a failing grade.

I try to be a fair person, so I decided to test a second recipe.  This time, I went with peanut butter protein bars made of quick cooking oats, shredded unsweetened coconut, peanut butter, honey, apple sauce, chocolate protein powder, chia seeds, vanilla, and semisweet chocolate chips.  I had to make two substitutions in this due to my kitchen inventory.  I swapped the chocolate protein powder with vanilla protein powder, and chia seeds with hemp seeds.  I’m happy to report that my results were tasty!  I don’t think the flavor of protein powder is very important as the dominant flavors are peanut butter and coconut.  

But then how does one go about reviewing a book when the scorecard is 1 pass and 1 fail?   I kept mulling this over when I decided that there was still one more recipe that I could try with very little change.  On a whim this past Sunday, I decided to make the blueberry protein pancakes.  This time my ingredients were rolled oats, banana, eggs, baking soda, vanilla protein powder, milk, and frozen raspberries instead of blueberries.

The pancakes were good, but not great.  Solid passing grade.  I liked that they were easy to put together.  This particular recipe is a blender batter recipe.  I recommend letting the batter sit for at least 5 minutes if you can.  I found that my first pancakes were quite thin but my last pancakes were fluffier.  Flavor was pretty good.  They are just sweet enough to eat without syrup if you want but it won’t be disgustingly sweet if you add syrup.  My only issue was general texture.  They are on the dry side, probably because of the protein powder.  The recipe doesn’t specify a whey protein powder or vegan protein powder, so I wonder if one would do better than the other.  Most likely though, the texture would benefit from cutting back on the protein powder some.  Syrup would definitely help cover up the dryness, but if you don’t want to use syrup then maybe some fresh fruit?  I’m not sure.

Overall, I’m recommending with reservation.  Like all cookbooks, some recipes are better than others but I think the home cook using this book should heed their instincts, and treat the recipes more like guidelines.  Having said that, this is probably also a good book for someone who wants to cook healthier but doesn’t want to stock a large pantry of ingredients.  Because while I might be willing to use more effort in a recipe, I recognize that not everyone may feel the same.

 

Disclaimer – I kindly received this book from Shadow Mountain for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.  The book is available for sale now.

With COVID-19 self-quarantine in effect, my scope of recipe-testing was limited.  Some modifications may have been made.  I apologize that I could not recipe-test better.

 

Reference Links:

https://www.sixsistersstuff.com/

https://shadowmountain.com/

Six Ingredients with Six Sisters’ Stuff, cookbook review

Cookbooks advertising minimal ingredient lists can really go either of two ways, right?  Either it’s minimal with little commercial products, or it’s heavy on the commercial products.  So, I didn’t know what to expect from “Six Ingredients with Six Sisters’ Stuff,” the latest book from sixsistersstuff.com.  I’m slightly acquainted with the recipe material they’ve posted on their website, but I’ve never done a deeper dive. Their website has a large collection of recipes but I guess I just never came across anything that really grabbed my attention.

The chapters in this book are pretty straight forward:

  • Main dishes
  • Side dishes
  • Desserts

… and that’s it.

First impressions of this book?  The recipes are about 50% commercial product involvement and, of that, I think it’d be pretty easy to replace the commercial product with something homemade if preferred.  Just a barometer of what to expect, there are 7 mentions of taco seasoning, 4 mentions of Italian seasoning (not to be confused with Italian dressing mix which is also used in the book), 3 mentions of canned cream of soup, and 6 mentions of bbq sauce.  (Yes, I tried to tally. No, I did not re-count and verify.) So, that’s not so bad. And it’s not as if I’m anti-commercial products. I just don’t keep this stuff around with the exception of bbq sauce.

A handful of the recipes use more commercial products.  For example, the 5-ingredient turkey meatloaf uses Stove Top Stuffing Mix, and Lipton Onion Soup mix.  But then, there’s a recipe for lemon and dill salmon that is simply salmon, salt and pepper, butter, lemons, garlic, and fresh dill.  

Here are some recipes that I may try in the future:

  • Avocado Chicken Bites
  • Savory Slow-Cooker Turkey Breast
  • Turkey Tenderloins and Asparagus
  • Grilled Mediterranean Pork Kabobs
  • Pesto Salmon
  • Mushroom and Garlic Quinoa Bake
  • Easy Homemade Rolls

For this review, though, I went with the Smoky Slow-Cooked Pulled Pork which uses a lot of liquid smoke.  (Like half of the bottle of fancy liquid smoke that I got from HomeGoods that one time.) This recipe uses paprika, garlic powder, dry mustard, liquid smoke, pork shoulder, and bbq sauce.  The bbq sauce isn’t used during the cooking process, as it’s more for serving, so I didn’t worry about not having the full amount of bbq sauce. Everything else, I had in my pantry, and pork shoulder was on sale at one of my local markets so score!

Now, I may not sound overly excited for the book (that’s not a long list of recipes above that I want to try), but this pulled pork recipe?  IT’S FANTASTIC!

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Pulled pork ☺

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I kind of feel like the whole book was worth the pulled pork recipe.  I’ve used smoked paprika in the past to try to get some smoke flavor, but I never thought to douse meat with liquid smoke before.  I’ve certainly used liquid smoke before, but I’ve always been conservative about the amount used.  

For a pork shoulder that wasn’t actually slowly smoked, it’s a brilliant indoor version.  My only gripe is that the recipe says to “use a generous amount of salt and ground black pepper, up to 4 teaspoons each.”  I used 2 teaspoons each, and it was plenty. (I was using about 3.5 lbs boneless pork shoulder.) I think any more salt or any more pepper would have made the pulled pork less enjoyable.  

I served it with Trader Joe’s Organic Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce because that’s what I had on hand, but I think I would have been perfectly happy with just the liquid in the slow cooker.

Zero regrets, people!  And now I have delicious pulled pork for dinner all week.

So, I recommend this book with some reservations.  Your cooking style is going to determine how much use you get out of this cookbook, but I think there are, for me, a couple of hidden gems.

 

Disclaimer – I kindly received this book from Shadow Mountain for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.  The book is released September 3, 2019.

Reference Links:

https://sixsistersstuff.com

https://shadowmountain.com/product/six-ingredients-with-six-sisters-stuff/