Goodies and Gadgets: A Cook’s Bible

By Larissa Phillips

Simple Food for Busy Families (2009, Ten Speed Press) is anything but simple. In fact, I found it a bit overwhelming at first. Just get to the recipes, already, I thought, flipping through this tome by Jeannette Bessinger and Tracee Yablon-Brenner (alumnae and acolytes of the same nutritional certification program I attended, the Institute of Integrative Nutrition). 

That was before I realized that Simple Food is not so much a cookbook as a bible. Divided into two parts – “Whole Life Nutrition” and “Everyday Cooking” – the book is just about to burst with practical knowledge and inspirational advice for pursuing a healthful lifestyle. Sidebars range from information about quinoa, breastfeeding, the problems with the USDA Food Pyramid, and even the optimal number of bowel movements, according to Chinese medicine.

My favorite chapter is “Vegetable Basics,” a sort of mini-encyclopedia about vegetables. Each entry has a photograph along with its nutritional benefits, taste, culinary uses, best storage and a recipe. Grains, beans and herbs get the same treatment.

Simple Food would be a great gift for those trying to improve the health of their families, and a stellar resource for those already on the path.