Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Book Shelf Seminar: Cook Book

"Everyone has a mental picture (not always accurate, of course, but who cares) of the sweet-faced, twinkly-eyed little old lady with a heart of gold, a comfortable bosom, and a faded apron that seems permanently fastened to her flowered house dress. And just conjuring her up in your mind's eye on a bad day can make you feel better.

"Usually flushed from the heat of the kitchen and beaming happily in anticipation of feeding her family, Granny didn't worry about words like cholesterol, carbohydrates or calories.

"Granny's big square kitchen, the focal point of her house, was almost as comfortable as she was, with wall-to-wall linoleum, an alcove for the icebox, and a profusion of African violets on the windowsill over the sink. She swore she never did anything special for the violets; she just gave them a drink of water whenever she had one.

"And Granny could cook like the dickens. What I'd give right now to be sitting down to one of her never-to-be-forgotten Sunday-afternoon dinners!"—Holly Garrison

I learned to eat from my grama. Not cook. Eat. Coconut Cream Pie, Parker House Rolls, frosted sugar cookies, mashed potatoes with butter and sour cream and gravy to die for. Unfortunately I've learned recently that you can die from all those heavenly ingredients.

OK. I knew it before, but I didn't want to know it. I wanted to think I was different. After all, Grama lived into her 90's, and even after a stroke, when she wanted to go, she just couldn't die because her heart was so strong. I forgot that her heart was strong from hanging clothes on the line, picking raspberries, tending her hydrangea bushes and hiking up and down two flights of stairs many times a day. Seeing as I have a dryer, an elevator and prize-winning gardeners, I can't count on heredity to see me to ninety.

So, my book of the week is this:

I'm learning to "pamper my heart and tickle my taste buds." It's embarrassing to admit how dumb I actually am about nutrition, but I've decided confession is the first step to change. "My name is Oma and I am a food-a-holic." There. I've said it. So now I'm humbled and ready to learn.

Since I'm a newbie in the health food aisle, I'm looking for book suggestions and advice that will guide my shopping cart in the right direction. Marta, one of my blogging Heroes, reviewed Eat This, Not That and I ran right out and bought it. Anna, one of my cooking Heroes, told me to shop the perimeter of the grocery store, and avoid packaged foods. And Amy, one of my slender Heroes, suggested The Calorie King.

Calories and carbs sound like such dreary topics while cookbooks are so fun to peruse. Even though I don't buy a lot of them, I love to flip through the pictures and imagine how things taste. I might have to do more imagining and less tasting with my new healthy heart goals. Are there ways to make wholesome tempting? That would be comforting!

Homework: Do any or all or be inspired.

~Suggest cookbooks, web-sites or blogs that promote a healthy lifestyle.

~Leave a heart-healthy tip in the comment section.

~Write a review of a favorite cookbook.

*If you do any part of this assignment on your blog, please link it back to TravelinOma and provide proper attribution. Leave a comment here (with a link to your homework if you want to share it) and/or a link to your blog (so we can get to know you.) School Days has open enrollment so join anytime. No make-up work required! If you're new, click here for an orientation.


gab said...

Get a subscription to Prevention magazine. So good. So real. I love's always motivating and research-based (not celebrity-diet-based).

I sent a li'l somethin' to Dad that might help!

tawnya said...

Mark Bittman! He is king. A couple of his cookbooks and read his NY Times column and you'll start to love eating heart healthy!

kenju said...

It will certainly be good for both of you to follow a heart-healthy diet. I tried to do that for a year after mr. kenju's stroke, but he bitched and moaned and when he got strong enough - actually rebelled! I hope Dee is smarter than that!

Thanks for the visit and the lovely comment. I think, when you're done with this series, you should do the meme.

Kate said...

I have a FREE resource for you. I wrote a 400+ page cookbook using the Word of Wisdom and Food Storage as my basis. Except for a couple recipes that require cream, its 12-weeks of menus and shopping lists are an excellent resource for curing high cholesterol and incorperating lots of fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Go to my blog and download it.

Deborah said...

If you want to get some fun recipes and start SLOW... get a Cooking Light magazine at the store. The articles and recipes are easy and fun! I have a lot of family favorites and they come from this magazine! You'll have fun!

dalene said...

done. and thank you. it provided a perfect way to pay a timely tribute to one of my favorite food writers. but ummm...i may have overlooked the part about
"healthy" recipes. But frankly any time you make something from scratch instead of out of a box you're already making it more healthy.

i appreciate tawnya's rec for mark bittman. i've heard of him. got to check that out.

Ginger said...

I'm glad that everything turned out as well as it did and that you are looking at this a s an opportunity to get well--to make great changes.

I wrote a bit about this on my blog.

KJ said...

so--avoid any paula deen, that's for sure! Robin Miller's Quick Fix meals are simple, delicious, and generally very healthy, too, as she's a nutritionist.

Miranda said...

Oh I am so cook-book obsessed! Mark Bittman is great and so is Curtis Stone. But here is my #1 heart healthy tip that I use for myself-cookbook or no...EAT REAL FOOD. Avoid processed, packaged, sparkly foods with hidden ingredients. The majority of what you eat should have come from the ground or should have a mother. (read: VEGGIES VEGGIES VEGGIES) After that remember that all things are best in moderation. I grew up on buttery mashed potatoes too...and I still believe that you can eat them...just not a whole plate full. :)

audrey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
audrey said...

One of my favorites is called The Prodice Bible by Leanne Kitchen and Deborah Madison. It teaches you all about fruits, vegetables, and nuts - how to prepare them, use them, and recipes for them. Not all of the recipes are particularly healthy, but one of my biggest problems with not branching out in what fruits and vegetable I eat is not knowing how to prep them or use them in recipes. It makes me feel like I can plant more variety in my garden as well. Anyway, this is a fabulous reference.

(I also love The Spice Bible by Jane Lawson. It is a similar reference but for spices.)

Marissa Marie said...

Okay, my heart healthy tip...which really comes from my dad who suffered a minor heart attack...not oatmeal with a small amount of flaxseed for breakfast every morning. And a daily walk can go a long ways in the exercise department!

anna jo said...

my favorite foodie blogger, heidi swanson at, has so many amazingly healthy recipes. you can learn a lot about cooking tons of different veggies you've never even thought of trying before! (and she has aa whole section on creating a natural foods pantry) she also has a great cookbook out there--super natural cooking.

another book that helps put things into perspective is in defense of food by michael pollan. his motto is: eat food, not too much, mostly plants. words to live by.

healthy food really can be quite tasty. it's all about using fresh ingredients that are already packed with a lot of flavor. and healthy food doesn't have to be hard to make either. the simpler the better sometimes.

good luck on your healthy diet quest, oma!

Christie said...

Does this mean we can't bring the giant chocolate cake to Thanksgiving?

~Kristina said...

Oma, while i am not a foodaholic, i am not hung up in the nutritional know of the current world. I'm looking forward to what others suggest and hope that perhaps something will spark an interest in me.

Allison said...

My mom went through the same thing a couple years ago when my dad had a heart attack. He cut out a lot of red meat (reserving prime rib or steaks for special occasions) and eats a lot of chicken, turkey, and pork now. No cheese (I don't know how he does it!) or only low-fat in very small amounts. And no cream or cream-based soups or sauces.

The other big thing he did was cut back on sodium as much as possible, and the easiest way to do this is cut out processed, packaged, and frozen foods (frozen veggies are usually okay, I'm talking TV dinners and stuff).

And he now eats a small piece or two of dark chocolate every night.

It sounds overwhelming at first, but you'll find it's pretty easy to keep some general guidelines in mind. My mom lost weight last year mainly by eating smaller portions and making a few healthy substitutions. You don't have to overthink it!

the wrath of khandrea said...

the irony of this is that just this week i was contemplating throwing out all my cookbooks. they take up so much space, and with the internet, i seriously never use them anymore. i could probably rip out a total of 20 pages from all the books, hang onto those recipes, and google everything else i need.

but i'll never do it. i'll keep them forever. how about if i leave them all to you in my will?

Greek Goddess said...

I'm not going to do a post on this one, but I just wanted to add that I love the two ward cookbooks that I have. Everyone added their favorite recipes and I love thinking about the people as I peruse the cookbook and make their dishes.

crissy said...

I tried to cook a healthy meal tonight, but it took too long (or rather, I started too late) so I put it away, to finish tomorrow, and instead I did my homework.

diane said...

I love to roast veggies with just a little salt and pepper. So yummy. Tonight we had roasted brussel sprouts. My daughter loves them.

We usually have a protein and two veggies for dinner.

Here's to your heart!

The Grandmother Here said...

Well, Oma. Your friends are as interested in healthy eating as they are in child discipline. Lots of good ideas. Oatmeal and walking sound like an easy way to begin.

Mrs. Organic said...

This is more a review of a style of eating, but it also includes useful media.

Jen Anderson said...

My husband and I are not cyliacs or vegans but while searching for ways to eat more veggies I found "The Gluten Free Vegan" cookbook at our library. It's super healthy, easy and most importantly, SUPER tasty! Some of my husbands favorite meals have come from this cookbook. Hope you get a chance to check it out.

~j. said...