The High Energy Cookbook

I picked up this one when I was working at Williams-Sonoma as a side job. Actually, I was sortof paying them to work. Slave to the discount. But I smile about my 5 years there everytime I take out one of my All Clad pans. Buying all my cookware on the WS discount in my late 20s was probably one of my better decisions during that decade.

But back to the cookbook. Overall, I liked the concept. When I bought it, I was trying to lose some weight but didn’t want to go “full on diet” so I thought this would be a good fit. Healthy recipes, beautiful photos, a really clean layout, and fairly simple. This was exactly where I was at in 2004.

I’ve made a few things out of the cookbook, so I’ve brought two of my favorites back but am making a few new ones as well. And I’ve learned a few things right out of the gate.

The Recipes
Beef and Tomato Gratin
Bacon and Mushroom Carbonara
Stilton Steaks with Sweet Potato and Garlic Mash
Grilled Salmon, Spinach, and Tomato Stack
Roasted Vegetables
Tuscan Salad

The Good
The beef for the gratin was really tasty and I liked it with the tomato and zucchini. Steaks were pretty good with the blue cheese – I subbed for Maytag Blue. Kids really liked the sweet potato mash and the bacon mushroom carbonara. My favorite is the grilled salmon; tuscan salad is great to make for lunches.

The Bad
The modified riff on bechamel for the gratin didn’t really work. Good in theory, but it didn’t really translate. Carbonara sauce was a little runny – I would have liked it stickier to the noodles. As this is a low carb cookbook, there are substitutions to make the recipes a bit “cleaner”  – and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

The Ugly
My sink after making the gratin….too many dishes! Insane for a fairly simple casserole. The biggest challenge with the cookbook is the preparation directions in the cookbook – HORRIBLE. For the gratin the suggested prep was 15-20 minutes prep; really closer to an hour with food cooking. And that didn’t even include the 35 minutes baking time. Totally misleading. Total time from start to the first forkfull – 90 minutes. Other recipes weren’t quite that bad, but the preparation time NEVER included cooking time….so you think you can bang it out quick, but it’s not the case. And when I mentioned that it was published in the UK, Jeff made the standard joke about bad English food. Overdone, me thinks.

The High Energy Cookbook – Good Carb Recipes for Weigh Loss, Health, and Vitality
Overall Cookbook Rating – 3.5 out of 5.
There are a few recipes in here that I’ll definitely keep going to – the salmon especially. It has some great lunch options that are good for making on a Sunday night and eating through the week. The biggest thing I noticed is that I felt a little better with less bread/typical carbs….and the flavor wasn’t missing with any the recipes. It’s not the greatest cookbook for weeknight cooking, but now that I know that, I’ll reach for it at the right time!

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