ForeWord Reviews

great books independent voices

200 Healthy Recipes in 30 Minutes or Less

Foreword Review

In the light of the popularity of Food Network TV shows like 30 Minute Meals*, Calorie Commando, Cooking Thin, and Good Food Fast, this cookbook should appeal to a ready-made audience, for the author’s goal is the same as these shows’—to teach the audience to prepare “tasty, nutritious food that doesn’t take forever to cook.”

Despite its title, Webb’s newest cookbook is more than just a compilation of recipes: she delves into the whole process of organizing a kitchen, stocking a pantry, preparing weekly meal plans, and building shopping lists around those meal plans, including shopping monthly for staples.

Advance preparation is one of Webb’s keys, and her tips for storing already-chopped onions and garlic in freezer bags, making double batches of marinades and salad dressings in advance, and freezing portions of fresh herbs and broth in ice cube trays, ready to pop into soups and stews, are great for cutting precious minutes off the nightly meal preparation.

Webb devotes one useful section of her book to what she calls “Quick Fixes.” Here, she incorporates five staples—canned beans, canned broth, pasta, rice, and canned fish—into quick and easy ideas for those times when there seems to be “nothing to eat at home.” She offers five recipes for each staple; tasty sounding examples are the Clear Asian Soup, Hungarian Noodles, and Salmon Niçoise.

This leads to her main recipe section, which is broken down into the usual categories of appetizers, soups and salads, pasta and rice dishes, seafood, poultry, meats (including grilled), vegetables, and desserts. Some standouts are Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, using low-fat yogurt, Mexican Beef Stir-Fry, and South of the Border Marinated Chicken, which includes six marinade options using ingredients like fresh herbs, citrus juices, light soy sauce, and raspberry vinegar. Varying from Emeril’s familiar overload of butter and heavy cream, Webb’s Blueberries Chantilly makes use of both fat-free sour cream and cream cheese.

In the last section, the author offers complete menus for myriad special occasions, including an Italian dinner featuring Chicken Rigatoni and Parmesan Zucchini, an Andalusian Supper with Shrimp Gazpacho and Roasted Vegetable Burritos, and a Dixieland dinner highlighted by Pork in Bourbon Maple Marinade.

The author is a nutritionist who lectures and runs a low-fat cooking school; she has also written cookbooks in conjunction with the American Diabetes Association, and has appeared on CBS News and ESPN with fitness expert Denise Austin, and the Food Network, promoting her ideas on healthy cooking. This engaging cookbook enables her to bring her techniques to an even wider audience.

Deborah Donovan