Cookbook Review: Healthyish by Lindsay Maitland Hunt

Note: I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I think the cover speaks for itself. Never mind the terrible quality photo I was able to scrounge up. Have you seen a more beautiful cookbook cover? I knew I was in for a treat from the publisher description and cover alone, and this cookbook met those expectations. "Healthyish" is a good way to describe the way I aspire to cook, though I think I end up more on the "ish" side than the "healthy". But this cookbook came with perfect timing. People these days want to eat healthier, but also doesn't want to sacrifice flavor and flexibility. Hunt understands this, and her cookbook seems to be the answer to a friend's complaint of "I want to eat healthier, but I just don't have time".

True to her promise, this cookbook is packed with recipes and ideas that are at once simple, beautiful, healthy, and fast. She is always thinking of ways to make recipes less complicated, and it shows with how unintimidating her recipes are. I feel like I could easily give this book to a friend who barely cooks, and they would be able to easily make a week's worth of meals or more.

Her recipes are also very current with the times. The first section is just smoothies, and she has as many smoothie recipes as she has recipes for pork/beef. To her credit, all of these smoothie recipes sounded delicious and instantly got bookmarked. Her creations are colorful and evoke a lot of the new-age clean-eating ingredients that are all over Pinterest and Instagram, such as agave nectar, chia seeds, cashew butter, almond milk, and raw honey. She's also big proponent of whole-wheat pasta and whole-wheat flour, with her pasta dishes and baked goods exclusively whole-wheat.

The pitfall to making a cookbook accessible is that you may also lose the interest of more experienced cooks, who find that they have seen or made similar things and are jonesing for something more challenging. Unfortunately, I found myself falling under this category and wondering at times whether this was the right cookbook for me. I enjoyed her breakfast section, but after that, I was a bit disappointed at times with how simple the recipes were. I guess I was hoping for more out-of-the-box recipes.

The other main criticism is the lack of personality within the cookbook. It's very sparse on text, which makes it readable and lets the photos speak for themselves, but I found myself missing a lot of the personal stories you see in other cookbooks. Without them, the recipes felt less meaningful and special. I read the entire book and still didn't have much more insight into Hunt as a person, but maybe this is expecting too much out of a cookbook. They shouldn't have to feel like memoirs, but a more personal connection to how each recipe was developed might have made them feel more memorable as well.

Still, there's plenty to love about what's here, even if it's not exactly pushing the envelope. The food photography is just as wonderful as what you see on the cover, with each recipe getting a photograph to go along with it, some of them bright full-page photos. The overall design is stylish and tasteful. Layout is practical. The cookbook is a joy to read, partly because it's visual-heavy. Hunt is remarkably mindful of modern diets, with a special index that divides her recipes into categories like Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegetarian, etc. I thought this was brilliant and wish more cookbooks these days included indexes like this.

I spent a lot of time criticizing it for not being the type of cookbook I would need, but this doesn't mean it isn't an excellent cookbook. I can see this making an excellent gift for a large demographic of young adults who are just getting comfortable in the kitchen or older adults who want to modify and streamline the way they cook. This will definitely be a Christmas present next year for at least a few of my friends. Hunt has nailed a popular and booming niche in the food biz, and I think she'll have a lot of success with this book and future books to come.

Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

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