Guest Author - Asha Sahni
Gillian McKeith’s You Are What You Eat Cookbook illustrates her principles of healthy eating through advice, tips and recipes. Thus in the version I have (the less glossy version – there is also an illustrated edition), the recipes themselves do not start until page sixty-four; I picked up my book in a local second hand bookshop for twenty pence (one of the bargain reduced remainders outside). The early parts of the book include:
Food Philosophy. This includes eight pieces of advice on how to live the Gillian McKeith way, many of which are eminently sensible – for instance never get fixated on weight and be creative and passionate in your cooking. This last piece of advice is great – it is essentially saying that the recipes are a guide, but feel free to adapt them to your own tastes and/or storecupboard. This section also provides basic information on food combining, a way of eating that McKeith advocates – most of the recipes can be used by food combiners.
Body Check. Questionnaires on diet, immune system, toxins and tongue (examining the last being a method Gillian McKeith frequently used on her You Are What You Eat TV series to identify deficiencies in areas such as the spleen and the liver).
Getting Organised. Advice on food, herbs and herbal teas, shopping, snacks, supplements, kitchen equipment etc. This section contains some useful information on foodstuffs readers may not be familiar with such as tempeh and miso.
Having given the reader a thorough grounding in her view of life and diet McKeith moves on to the recipes which form the bulk of the book. She starts with Juices and Smoothies, many of which have great names - Veggie Vitality is packed with vegetables; Relaxer, serving 1-2, is made from a whole cucumber, celery stalks and lettuce leaves.
The section on Breakfasts includes suggestions for fruit breakfasts, muesli (I like the way this is presented, with a list of ingredients you can use to create your own muesli), porridge using different grains, healthy beans on toast and miso soups. It is good to see a recipe for frittata as one of the breakfast suggestions – the book includes recipes with ingredients McKeith would not encourage readers to use often including eggs, goats cheese, pasta (preferably non-wheat) and flour.
Gilllian McKeith seems to like blitzing soups in a food processor or with a hand blender. Personally I enjoy having chunks of vegetables and other ingredients in my soups, thus I tried the White Bean and Cabbage Soup - the result was delicious, a soup with butter beans, onion, celery and cabbage.
I have tried and enjoyed several of the recipes in the book, from Chickpea Burgers to Mushroom Stroganoff. I have followed the author’s advice by adapting the recipes to ingredients I have available, and have enjoyed every dish I have made to date. The author often states how long a recipe will keep in the fridge – useful information when planning meals. I would recommend this book to people interested in healthy eating or improving their diet. There are some great vegetarian, vegan and gluten free recipes.