Saturday, March 20, 2010

52. The Skinnygirl Dish: Easy Recipes for Your Naturally Thin Life by Bethenny Frankel

I should start by explaining that I love Bethenny Frankel. When the Real Housewives of New York City premiered on Bravo, I thought it might be lame but I checked it out anyway. Well, I can admit when I'm wrong about something -- the show is frickin' fantastic. And Bethenny is by far my favorite housewife. I just love her. So when I found out that she wrote a book, Naturally Thin, I immediately went to the library and picked it up. And it's really good! It's all about changing the way you approach food, breaking down all the emotional baggage that most of us carry concerning food and diets. It's not rocket science, just good, simple strategies to help you take control and approach food in a healthy way. In promoting The Skinnygirl Dish, Bethenny made a series of of YouTube videos showing her making recipes from the book. In the first one I clicked on, Bethenny made "guilt-free faux fries" -- a recipe almost identical to one for baked french fries that I got from my mom. So I figured, if this is the kind of easy, healthier recipe included in her book I should definitely read it.

Here's the summary lifted from the back cover:

In her New York Times bestseller Naturally Thin, Bethenny Frankel shares her ten real-life rules for enjoying healthful natural foods and escaping the diet trap. Now, in The Skinnygirl Dish, Bethenny joins you in the kitchen and shows you how to stop the "cooking noise" and put an end to the anxiety about how and what to cook and eat. The Skinnygirl dishes on how anyone can:

  • Get in touch with your "inner chef" and make the Skinnygirl philosophy yours 
  • Use Bethenny's list of kitchen essentials and the core concept of using what you have at hand to enjoy creating healthy, satisfying meals
  • Take your basic cooking skills to the next level with practical tips for saving time, money, and sanity
  • Make personalized gourmet recipes from celebrity chefs, including Bobby Flay and Top Chef stars Lee Anne Wong, Hosea Rosenberg, and Ariane Duarte
  • Light up -- and lighten up -- holidays and special occasions with tips and recipes for throwing the perfect, stress-free party

Over sixty recipes become more than a thousand recipes with Bethenny's "Use What You Have" substitution charts. Enjoy Breakthrough Breakfasts, Delicious Dinners, Simple Snacks, To-Die-For Desserts and Skinnygirl Cocktails, plus tips to turn almost any dish into a vegetarian delight. With the famous wit and real-world sensibility that made her a breakout star, Bethenny reveals her kitchen adventures and inspires readers to cook the Skinnygirl way with taste and style. 

I was expecting a straightforward cookbook, but this is so much more. In addition to giving recipes with extensive guidance on substitutions, Bethenny writes about organizing your kitchen and what kitchen equipment to invest in as well as giving advice on ways to simplify recipes. She really wants people to not be afraid of the kitchen, or of trying new things in cooking. She wants you to be able to walk into the kitchen and prepare a satisfying, healthy meal with what you have. So really, this book is a much better investment that I originally thought.

I think I'm going to have to read it one or two more times to really wrap my mind around it. See, I never really "learned" to cook. My mother is an instinctive cook, she understands food and doesn't need a recipe in front of her to make an amazing meal. I did not inherit this gift. I need a list of ingredients and precise directions to feel comfortable in the kitchen. And so this book is actually perfect for me, but there's so much information to absorb that I couldn't take it all in. This is one of the few books that I bought without having read it first and I'm glad that I have a copy to keep on hand. It might take a long time to feel perfectly at ease in the kitchen on my own, but I definitely think the lessons in this book will help me get there. 

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