Book Review: Mediterranean Cookbook Style


Book Review: Mediterranean Cookbook StyleI went to the doctor not too long ago to discuss some problems I was having with a shoulder injury. I had it checked out via MRI and discovered it was a tear with some inflammation, and despite best efforts, I wasn’t having much luck with the physical therapy I was already in. My doctor, predictably, gave me some ideas for help with the inflammation, and when I pressed her on non-medication things I could do to help, she suggested trying a Mediterranean diet. 

Why a Mediterranean diet?

Apparently it’s a great anti-inflammatory diet that promotes overall health. There’s a lot of information out there that will tell you all about how going Mediterranean can help you with both inflammation and weight loss. I decided to look for a cookbook to check out rather than rely on my old standby of Pinterest for recipes, and I stumbled upon The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook by Serena Ball and Deanna Segrave-Daly.

Don’t let the title put you off. I know some people will read that it’s a diet cookbook and instantly check out, but hang with me a little longer and I’ll tell you why this isn’t your standard “diet” cookbook. So let’s start with the basics. This cookbook boasts 101 “easy, flavorful recipes for lifelong health,” and the authors are registered dieticians who give good explanations for why the Mediterranean diet is considered to be one of the best lifestyle diets out there.

I like that the cookbook begins with a chapter that discusses the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. The authors even say, “We don’t even like to call it a diet, as that word brings to mind deprivation. Instead, we like to think of it as the Mediterranean eating lifestyle–an approach to eating in which you enjoy bowls of pasta and whole grains, a variety of sweet and in-season fruits, lots of crisp or roasted vegetables, slices of whole-grain crusty breads to dip into fragrant olive oil, sides of thick and creamy yogurt, abundant seafood, and aged cheeses, along with flavorful herbs and spices that season reasonable portions of chickens and meat, and a glass of wine here and there.” 

See? That doesn’t sound like diet food, does it? But I digress. 

This cookbook has seen extensive use in our household of late!

Let’s start with a quick overview of the cookbook alongside things I like and dislike so you know what you’re getting if you need a new cookbook on your shelf. In standard cookbook fashion, each recipe lays out serving size, ingredients, and cooking method. And in standard diet cookbook fashion, it lays out a nice list of nutrition facts and calorie counts for each recipe. The authors also begin each recipe with a short and sweet description. 

Unlike some fancier, hardcover cookbooks, this one does not feature glossy pages with pictures of each dish laid out as a feast for the eyes. Each section has a teaser picture to interest you in the contents of that chapter, but I would have liked more pictures for some of the recipes to make sure I’m laying out the final product as described. (You know, sometimes it’s nice to have a visual, even if my food will never look picture perfect.) 

The instructions for each recipe are clearly laid out and make it a simple thing to create dishes like Grape Chicken Panzanella (a fantastic salad with toasted bread, walnuts, grapes, and tomatoes) or Roasted Shrimp-Gnocchi Bake (potato pasta pockets in a diet cookbook? Yes, please!). I won’t necessarily agree with the authors’ take that each recipe only takes a total of 30 minutes to prepare. I think that’s a bit of wishful thinking, but I do feel it’s laid out well enough that you can prepare each recipe fairly quickly if you’re comfortable doing some peeling, slicing, and dicing beforehand. 

I’ve been using this cookbook for several months now and make something from it multiple times a week. We haven’t managed to try all the recipes yet, but I think eventually we’ll hit most of them. My family already has quite a few favorites, and when I get set to plan our meals for the week, I always grab this book off the shelves to thumb through for inspiration. 

Now, has it helped with my shoulder inflammation? I’m not 100% sure. I can definitely say that it’s added a great variety of ingredients into my cooking, however, from gorgonzola to “the good feta” (as we joke), from capers to kalamata olives, from oregano to mint. There’s no end to the good flavors these recipes build up, and in the end, what I want most from a cookbook is a variety of delicious foods I’ll come back to time and time again. So far, this one has helped scratch that itch while, presumably, improving my overall health as we’ve chosen to eat more of these recipes. 

So if you’re looking for a healthy cookbook, or even if you’re not and just want to try something new, I’d highly recommend this one. I know we all probably have those cookbooks that live on our shelves and turn dusty from disuse, but this one might surprise you into regular use, and that’s something worth trying out!


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