The Hippy Gourmet’s Quick and Simple Cookbook for Healthy Eating Review
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Bruce Brennan, the host of PBS’s The Hippy Gourmet, grew up during the height of the hippie movement. He notes that he was always socially responsible, and he decided to do his part by trying to change the world through food. In his book, The Hippy Gourmet’s Quick and Simple Cookbook for Healthy Eating, he explains how to eat and cook while leaving as little impact on the environment as possible. He also explores the world and new cultures through food. He acknowledges that this is the philosophy of only one hippie—not the entire hippie movement (hence the spelling “Hippy”). After all, what is a hippie? I knew of some who gobbled down cheeseburgers as they retreated to their caves.

Brennan tries to use minimally processed ingredients in his recipes. He includes sections for those of us who are Vegans (consume no animal products), Vegetarian (eat no meat), and Pescatarian (no meat except fish and seafood). He explains how to buy fruits and vegetables organically and seasonally, as well as how to choose seafood without endangering the sea population. He also includes instructions on how to cook grains and beans, as well as steaming times for vegetables.

Though “Healthy Eating” is in the title, I would change it to “Healthier Eating.” You’ll find recipes that use sugar, corn syrup, coconut milk, half and half, and full-fat cheeses. There are no nutritional indexes for the recipes, so if you’re calorie ignorant (yes, I still know those who think that olive oil is fat-free), this is probably not the cookbook for you. However, most of the gourmet vegetarian cookbooks that I own use heavy cream sauces in addition to large amounts of butter. Again, not for the calorie or cholesterol conscious.

As I skimmed through this cookbook, I was initially disappointed. I couldn’t see what would make this book different from thousands of other cookbooks. Then I actually tried some of the recipes. Somehow the salmon marinated in his gingerroot concoction was one of the best grilled salmons I’ve ever tasted. The simple beet salad with walnuts and raisins was delicious. And whoever thought that gorgonzola, pears, and honey would make the perfect brushetta?

Serious cooks will find recipes using more ingredients—if that’s your thing. However, unlike many cookbooks, you’ll also be able to readily find the ingredients without traveling across the globe. Though this isn’t one of the best cookbooks that I own, I think that its simplicity and unique blend of flavors make The Hippy Gourmet’s Quick and Simple Cookbook for Healthy Eating a worthy addition to any cookbook collection.

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