I have been recipe testing from Mairlyn Smith‘s cookbook Healthy Starts Here: 140 Recipes That Will Make You Feel Great published by Whitecap Books. I will be honest. I have yet to make a bad recipe! Seriously, that is so rare.
Above you will see what we had for dinner last night. You can find the recipe for her Stir Fried Broccoli and Chicken on my Facebook page. Not only was I happily surprised to eat a chicken dish that had lots of zing and flavour (instead of being bored), Reg could not get enough of it, he found it so very tasty with just enough heat. I actually toned down the heat a bit to match our tolerance but it worked out so well!
I did choose pretty safe recipes. I doubt I will ever enjoy grilled salmon fillets with raspberry salsa, I just do not believe in mixing meat with fruit but I know some people love it. I still do not think I can combine blueberries and tomatoes in a salad together but because it is in Mairlyn’s cookbook and I had success with so many of her recipe, I may actually give it a shot.
My issue was not with the food but with the cookbook itself. Dividing it by food group and then into a seasonal subcategory made finding recipes quickly and easily impossible. As a result, you go from baking to cooking to baking… which just threw me off. Also, even though the chapters are divided into food groups there is no group for chicken or beef. Just fish. I find that totally irresponsible and a tad ridiculous. This is not a vegetarian cookbook. There were only two recipes with beef in the entire cookbook which I found in the index was under ground beef, not beef. OMG, very confusing and frustrating!
I love the introductions that Mairlyn writes for every recipe. She is such a character and I adored hearing about what she was trying to accomplish when she came up with a particular recipe. That said, her intro to the cookie recipe was four paragraphs long! Too much text. In a lot of the recipes we are told to wash our hands over and over again which fills the directions up with lots of text. For the stir fry recipe, for example, if the list of ingredients had told us how the vegetables and meat were to be prepared, there would have been less text in the directions making it easier for me to make the dinner and the recipe appear less daunting.
This cookbook needed a really good edit. It would have kept Mairlyn’s voice and personality throughout the book but made it easier for the recipes to follow. The photographs are beautiful but many of them are not of the final dishes but of the ingredients themselves which I suppose makes sense because of how the book is divided. I personally would have preferred helpful photos showing the final dishes rather than see someone pick blackberries.
I did have some logistical issues with her triple chocolate brownie cookies but they turned out so deliciously I gave them four and a half out of five.
If I sound harsh it is because I feel bad for Mairlyn. The recipes she created are fantastic. It was the layout and editing that let her down. I really wish that the cookbook was organized better and the recipes were clearer to showcase her fantastic food. Despite the challenges I had with the book, I loved it. I really trust the recipes, which is so very rare. I give this cookbook four out of five wooden spoons.