Check out Brandy’s fantastic recipe for Pear Crisp with Vanilla Brown Butter…don’t forget to get your Thanksgiving-themed recipes ready to submit to All Through the Year Cheer later this month. There will be a great prize!
Book Review: Eat Clean Cookbook by Tosca Reno: Recently, I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean Cookbook to review. The book is nicely organized by recipe type, and it even includes a chapter called “Baked Goods and Treats” (oh yes, you can eat clean and still enjoy delicious confections like tofu crème brûlée, carrot cake, chocolate walnut brownies, and rice pudding!).
This is a really gorgeous cookbook to read through, with beautiful color photos of every recipe. There is a short narration for each recipe, which is typically a personal story related to the recipe or more detailed information pertaining to certain ingredients in the recipe; I enjoy reading these anecdotes and I think they help to give a more complete view of each recipe. I love how for each recipe the prep time, cook time, and nutritional information are listed.
There is one small thing that I would change about the format of this book to improve its functionality (it’s really a very small thing!)…the ingredient amounts are listed in fractions, which are shown very small. It’s no big deal really, but when the cookbook was on the counter while I was making something, it was hard to just glance down to see the amount listed (and I have good eyesight…I don’t wear glasses or contacts). The fractions are that small that I had to stop and go in for a closer look. That being said, everything else about the layout/format of this book was completely user-friendly.
The Eat Clean Recipes: On to my favorite part…the recipes! Many of these recipes are basic (and beginner-friendly) recipes for healthy cooking. If you already cook healthy, there will probably be several of these recipes that you are familiar with. I found that there are quite a few recipes that I make fairly regularly, such as everyday breakfast porridge (love my oats!), roasted plum tomatoes, no-cook colorful bean salad, roasted summer vegetables, homemade polenta, beef barley and vegetable soup, chickpea stew, and sautéed garlic spinach. On the other hand, if you rarely cook or are just starting to cook healthy, then each and every recipe in this book will be a lifesaver for you.
Even if you’re familiar with healthy cooking this book is still a wonderful asset. It can help you give your favorite recipes (such as vegetable lasagna, chili, fajitas, 7 layer bean dip, and brownies) a healthy makeover. There’s also a multitude of recipes that are unfamiliar, new, and exciting, such as nasi goreng, hollandse rooie kool, and Persian beef. Not to mention all the healthy ingredients that might be unfamiliar (even if you’re a healthy eater) but are definitely worth trying, like bison, wild rice or manmoomin, and kefir.
Thumbing through the cookbook, right away I knew I wanted to make a few things…lifestyle bars (more on those in a minute), sunflower seed spread, oat tea (!), Moroccan pumpkin soup, tagine beef stew, cream of wheat pudding, and hazelnut espresso cookies (these cookie actually look like almond lace cookies!). I decided to start with lifestyle bars…
And of course, since it’s less than two weeks away and I’ve got Thanksgiving on my mind, I noticed that so many of these recipes would be absolutely perfect for Thanksgiving (or any holiday) dinner. Here are just a few: breakfast corn pudding (I know it says breakfast, but it’s savory and I bet would be fabulous as part of a dinner spread!), herb and garlic roasted baby potatoes, baked deep-dish butternut squash (this is topped with a mixture of apple butter, pecans, and breadcrumbs…it looks incredible!), lemon and cinnamon sweet potatoes, and baked cranberries and apple.
The Recipe I Made Right Away: When I was looking through this cookbook, I was immediately drawn to these “lifestyle bars” because of their interesting name. As you probably guessed, the name of these bars comes from the fact that these days everyone leads such busy lives and from time to time we all need help with meals. Instead of ordering fast food, why not have healthy fast food waiting for you in your fridge?
I love how these bars contain the components of a healthy breakfast: protein and fruit. Plus there’s even coffee in them for a little kick, and who doesn’t enjoy that with breakfast?! These bars are so delicious it’s hard to believe they’re healthy. Although their consistency isn’t chewy, the density of these bars and all the mix-ins actually reminded me of peanut fudge.
Let me give you a little notice though, these bars are very calorie dense. Tosca recommends getting 9 bars out of this recipe, each with 419 calories (and be careful if you’re watching your calories because the actual portion size for the 419 calorie bar isn’t nearly as large as it appears in the cookbook’s photo). I decided to cut this recipe into 16 bars, each bar with slightly over 200 calories. That way, I figured I could use these bars as a snack when I need a little pick me up, or I could incorporate them into a healthy breakfast by pairing them with yogurt or cottage cheese and a piece of fresh fruit.
I made a few changes to the original recipe (I noted my changes below) just to utilize ingredients that I already had on hand. Despite all the changes I made, I have to say that this is a very forgiving recipe…the bars came out perfect!
In the photo in the book, these bars were wrapped so beautifully in waxed paper and twine…since the holidays are nearly here I thought waxed paper and ribbon would be festive and pretty!
Lifestyle Bars (From Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean Cookbook)
(Yield: 9 bars)
½ c raw, unsalted slivered almonds (I used sunflower seeds)
½ c pecans (I used walnuts)
¼ c coconut butter, or 1 TB butter + 1 TB olive oil (I used coconut butter)
½ c natural almond butter
2 TB unsulfured blackstrap molasses
1 tsp honey
Pinch sea salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 TB instant coffee granules
¼ c ground sesame seeds (I used golden flaxseed meal)
½ c golden goji berries (I used a mix of dried cranberries and sultanas)
½ c chopped dried apple slices
8 by 4-inch baking pan (about the size of a bread loaf pan)
Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the almonds and pecans on the sheet in an even layer. Toast the nuts in the oven until just golden (about 8 minutes), stirring halfway through. Allow them to cool slightly, then coarsely chop the nuts either by hand or in a food processor. (Instead of toasting the nuts in the oven you can do it in a dry pan on the stovetop.)
In a mixing bowl, combine the coconut butter, almond butter, molasses, honey and salt. Heating this mixture slightly (either over a double boiler or in the microwave) helps to combine everything. Stir in the vanilla and coffee granules, then stir in the nuts, ground sesame seeds, goji berries, and chopped apple.
Press this mixture into an 8 by 4-inch baking pan and refrigerate until set. Cut into bars, wrap in waxed or parchment paper, and store in the fridge.
Rebecka Ryder says
I love organic ways to cook I recently made a really light pasta dish that was very filling.
oxygen has the best bar recipes and i’m excited to try these as well. i like your tweaks. i may try those as i have cranberries and golden flaxmeal on hand.
[email protected] says
soo pretty bars!!! yummmmm!!!
Thanks for writing a great review, I couldn’t agree with you more! I have most of Tosca’s books and this cookbook is no exception. I got it when it first came out, and am obsessed with it! I don’t mind some of the recipes with extra calories because I follow the Eat-Clean Diet and don’t count my calories; I just make sure I’m eating clean and consuming proper portion sizes. I absolutely love this new book; I’ve actually bought copies for a few friends, my mom, and my sister for Christmas. The look of the book is beautiful, it’s hardcover, there’s a full page color picture for each recipe and it’ll even make a great coffee table book. Some of my favorite recipes that I’ve made: (apart from the lifestyle bars!) Tofu Crème Brulee, Roasted Eggplant Dip, Morning Berry Strata, Bread Pudding with Fruit, Curry Soup, Italian Pumpkin, Mexican Tostadas, and the Sweet Potato Meatless Patties! Okay, so you definitely could say I’m obsessed and love this cookbook! Also, I read last week it was just nominated for this year’s Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, that’s like the best of the best cookbooks in the world…so I’m not alone in my obsession!
I wanna to do this.Thanks for the postiing
I would love to be a recipient of your delicious bars, so pretty and festive and healthy!
I need to make these!
[email protected] says
It sounds like a great cookbook. And the bars look delicious! Wonder how many calories would be in just a sliver? ;)
The Lifestyle bars look delicious and dense! However, if you had trouble reading the recipe, I would be hopeless!
Blond Duck says
I wish you were in Texas too. I’d get absurdly fat and happy.
faith…these look AWESOME! and photographed beautifully as always :)
How cute!!! These look so delicious and I love them all wrapped up in a bow–perfect for the holiday!
Fitness Surfer says
Cute, yummy, healthy, delicious, great review. Thanks!
Looks like a terrific book! These bars looks great. What an interesting combination of flavors! I’m still trying to like Goji berries. I know how good they are for us! Your bars looks pretty all wrapped up with the nice bow!
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
They look like poerfect little Christmas treats and gifts! Good idea cutting them down into smaller pieces of 200 cals each. That makes it much better for a snack!
Natasha - 5 Star Foodie says
Sounds like a great book and the bars look outstanding! I even still have goji berries and can’t wait to make these!
Karyn Bernard (French Charming) says
Hi Sweet Friend!
Loved your review and I have to have this book now! Trying to eat good while satisfying my need for flavor can be a challenge for me and to top it off you say it’s beginner-friendly…yippee.
The lifestyle bars look fabulous and your photography is stunning as always!
What a great review..love your photos!
Lovely bars! I’m keeping that recipe!
Blond Duck says
It sounds like a really interesting book!!!
Hi Faith, thanks for leaving a comment! I was delighted to see your clean eating post. My mom and I love this whole approach to food. I hope you visit freshcrackedpepper often, and that we can exchange many ideas.
Nutmeg Nanny says
Delicious! I have never seen this cookbook before but it looks great. I need to eat healthier and having some tasty healthy recipes around would be great. The bars that you made look great too. I think cutting them smaller was a great idea. It feels better knowing you are only eating 200 calories instead of 400:)
I love Tosca’s cookbooks. And the Clean Eating magazine is one of my fave’s. I’ve noticed that some of the recipes are really calorie dense, too. I tend to stay away from those ones unless I know I have people to share them with!
dense definitely describes these–they’re both calorie-dense and dense-dense, and they look DELICIOUS. i think they’re aptly-named too. looks like a pretty nice cookbook!
I’m lovin this lifestyle bars!
Those bars look amazing! Are you packing them up for Christmas gifts? Looks very festive!
These look really good! I love everything in them and I like your changes. I think I would cut them smaller too – it still looks like a pretty good size portion.
Nazarina A says
I would love to be a recipient of your delicious bars, so pretty and festive and healthy! I subscribe to this magazine as well.
Your presentation is beautiful – as always! I love how you made great substitutes using what you had on hand. Is this cookbook related to Clean Eating magazine? My daughter was interested in subscribing to it. Thanks!
Jen, I just noticed that this cookbook is published by the same publishers of Clean Eating (Robert Kennedy Publishing). :)
Sophia, Lol, actually these bars are not Christmas gifts (but that would be a great idea!)…they’re just pretty little breakfasts for me! ;)
it sounds like a great book to read.. i love the clean eating idea!
these bars are such a great present for holiday season! love how you wrap it! :)
Heavenly Housewife says
I’ll have to check that book out next time i’m in america. Those bars look delicious, packed full of goodies.