Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Secret Ingredient Cookbook by Sally Bee! Healthy Cooking was Never so Delicious!

Heart Healthy Recipes Never Tasted So Good!

I'm spicing it up here at Chick with Books today with a gorgeous new cookbook and a tasty recipe from that same cookbook that will have you begging for more! You know how I love a good cookbook, and readers have to eat too, so today I'm reviewing The Secret Ingredient by Sally Bee! But this isn't your average "eat healthy" cookbook, the story behind how Sally Bee came to write this cookbook makes this cookbook very special.

Imagine being a healthy 36 year-old woman... Add three children, a husband and a healthy lifestyle. That was Sally Bee to a tee. Sally appeared to be a healthy young woman. She didn't drink, or smoke. Then at a child's birthday party she suddenly felt awful. She collapsed with excruciating chest pains and was having difficulty breathing. (Sally says it was the worst pain she had ever felt- even worse than giving birth to her three children) An ambulance was called, the EMT's found a slight abnormality in her ECG, but she was only 36 so they ruled out anything serious. A trip to the hospital eventually sent her home with medicine for indigestion. After another trip to the hospital a few days later, and still not being considered to be an "at risk" patient, she felt she wasn't "being taken seriously and I was left alone in my cubicle, suffering in agony... Eventually one student nurse looked at my ECG and her jaw dropped". Then things became very serious. Sally was finally diagnosed with having a serious heart attack. Actually, she had multiple heart attacks during this time period! But the story doesn't end there... After trying to stabilize her because she was still experiencing such pain and still not being able to breathe well, more tests and procedures, she was eventually told that she was suffering from a rare heart condition called spontaneous coronary artery dissection, and what that meant that one of her arteries that fed her heart muscle had just fallen apart... and they gave her no hope of survival. There have only been 200 cases reported of spontaneous coronary artery dissection in the world, and only 3o survivors! They called her husband to come and say goodbye. Sally had other plans... She did survive... and The Secret Ingredient is her answer to taking control of her life, and still feeding her family delicious "normal" healthy meals at the same time. The recipes in The Secret Ingredient aren't you're drab diet foods, they are a feast for the eyes as well as your taste buds and they are HEALTHY!

At the beginning of her cookbook, just like sitting down with a good friend and chatting, Sally shares her story. Her surviving is a miracle and her determination to live a long and healthy life is inspiring. In between the recipes Sally shares other tidbits, tips, and encouragement, such as the five 'f's , "Family, Food, Fitness, Finance, Future", which are her tools for maintaining good health and happiness, or incorporating "the rainbow" into her diet, which is adding a variety of different color foods to feed your body different benefits. She doesn't believe in eliminating ALL fat and supposedly "bad" foods, but explains about them, how much & when. The cookbook has big beautiful color photographs of almost all the recipes right next to the recipe itself. Visually the recipes themselves are in a eye pleasing large font and because of that are easy to read. The cookbook has a great variety of recipes, from "Soups & Starters", "Salads, Sides & Vegetarian dishes" to "Chicken, fish, beef, lamb and pork". Flipping through the pages finds a Thai Chicken stir-fry, and Chicken Curry with Sweet Onions; Sicilian tomatoes, which are filled with all sorts of tempting ingredients such as chopped chicken, onion and pine nuts and topped with a thin slice of low-fat mozzarella; And how about a Carrot and Butternut Squash Soup?! There's even a recipe for a healthier Lasagna and Shephards Pie! Sally doesn't forget desserts either, such as Tarik's Apple Puff Squares! She feels that after "you have cut out all the junk and all the processed food and you are confident that you are giving yourself and your family the best health benefits... you deserve a treat."

The recipes are easy, filled with fresh ingredients and flavored with herbs & spices. First published in England, you'll find metric as well as english equivalents in the recipes, and you'll be able to easily find all the ingredients for any of the recipes you'll want to make too. Healthy doesn't have to be hard, and Sally proves that over and over again in The Secret Ingredient. I decided to try Chilli Con Healthy, and my family couldn't have been happier! Not only was it delicious, but it smelled divine through out the house while it was simmering! And thanks to Sterling Publishing, I have permission to share this recipe with you all! This Chilli has a lighter sauce that really packs a punch flavor wise, but doesn't feel like it's weighing you down. I served it over basmati rice, which has a creamy texture, and a dollop of creme fraiche. This particular recipe also took a bit of time because you are simmering all these wonderful ingredients together and making a kind of sauce, but I can see where this would be a great make ahead meal, or a great meal for a weekend off. Most of the recipes though seem to be quick to prepare (Thai Chicken Stir-fry takes about 10 minutes). OK, Let's make some chilli...

Chilli Con Healthy
*Reprinted from The Secret Ingredient © by Sterling Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

If you go overboard on the fresh chili, a dollop of low-fat natural yogurt or crème fraiche on the top is extremely tasty and it’s a great way to cool things down!

serves 4

1 lbs extra lean minced (ground) beef
extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 fresh chillies, deseeded and chopped
2tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper
14oz can chopped tomatoes
1 level tbsp tomato purée (paste)
2 ½ cups beef stock
Freshly ground black pepper
14oz can red kidney beans, drained
Chopped fresh coriander (cilantro), to serve
Low-fat natural yogurt or crème fraiche (optional), to serve

*In a large, lidded saucepan, dry-fry the minced (ground) beef until brown over a high heat. Drain off any fat. Turn down to a medium-low heat and add a splash of olive oil and then add the onion and garlic and cook gently until softened.

*Add the chillies and all the spices and continue frying, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes.

*Add the canned tomatoes, tomato purée (paste) and stock. Stir well and bring to the boil.

*Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes, or until the liquid is slightly reduced.
*Season with pepper and add the drained kidney beans. Cover and heat through gently for another 30 minutes, adding a little extra stock if required.
*Serve hot, sprinkled with chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves and a dollop of yogurt or crème fraiche (if using), and accompanied by basmati rice or a fresh green salad.
Recipe from The Secret Ingredient (Sterling, 2010) by Sally Bee

I can see this becoming a favorite cookbook. The recipes are simple and yet elegant at the same time. I would definitely recommend The Secret Ingredient to anyone looking for some some simple yet flavorful meals! And you can find more of Sally and her recipes at the Sally Bee website! She shares some of her recipes, PLUS she has a video blog! You can watch Sally Bee cook one of her fab meals right before your eyes! Thai Chicken Stir-Fry is up right now! And Sally is such fun to watch! I want to thank Jessica from YC Media and Sterling Publishing for sending a copy of Sally Bee's wonderful cookbook for review! I loved cooking from it, and look forward to making my way through all those recipes! You can order The Secret Ingredient right from Sally Bee's website, or from The Book Depository, which is England's answer to and offer's free shipping. We haven't heard much from Sally Bee over here in The States, but I think that's all about to change... Happy cooking!


elleshaw said...

I've got this book and it really is great. Tasty, healthy and easy recipes, running alongside an inspirational story.

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi pigdog!
Nice to see someone else enjoying this cookbook! There are always so many cookbooks to choose from when you're looking through the shelves, but I really hope people pick this one up! It is just as you say- tasty, healthy and easy recipes! I'm making the Moroccan Chicken recipe Friday! :-)

Cookware Reviews said...

I’ve been hearing a lot of great feedback about this! Thank's for sharing this cookbook!

FSB Media Book Blogger Directory
my read shelf:
Suzanne's book recommendations, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)
First To Read
Reviews Published
Professional Reader
Challenge Participant