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Cookbook Look: "The Very Best of Recipes for Health" by Martha Rose Shulman.

I greatly enjoy Martha Rose Shulman's recipes when they appear in the New York Times.  However, I have mixed feelings about her new book, The Very Best of Recipes for Health.  Let's look at the positives first.

On the plus side, there are tasty dishes to make such as Red Chilaquiles with Chicken, Couscous with Black-Eyed Peas and Greens, and Cauliflower Gratin with Goat Cheese Topping.  Additionally, this lovely-looking book has great pictures and a fantastic index.  Actually there is more than one index:  The book has a general index and also a special dietary index which divides the recipes into categories such as gluten-free, high-protein, vegan, and more.  This special dietary index is genius - a fantastic method to organize the material.

However, some of the material in this book, that is some of the recipes, were disappointing, such as multiple smoothie recipes, a fried egg on corn tortilla (Huevos Rancheros), and baked sweet potatoes.  Recommending a baked sweet potato is just too close to recommending that I simply wash an organic carrot and eat it.  Even with Ms. Shulman's little flourishes and healthy gloss on these items, I expected a bit more from this book.

But as someone who cooks, owns many cookbooks, and who long ago memorized the caloric content of a zillion foods, maybe I am not the right audience for The Very Best of Recipes for Health.  I can definitely envision giving a copy of it to someone just learning to cook or learning to cook all over again because of new demands on their health.

In sum, for the right audience, The Very Best of Recipes for Health is a nice book with a wide-range of relatively simple, straightforward recipes that will taste good.  It could definitely be a nice gift for a graduation, wedding, or housewarming.

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