I saw myself as I truly was: a body with so much beautiful potential. The change didn’t come in an instant but through an intentional process, combined with eating all the good foods, which I will share in this very personal cookbook. (5)
More often than not the cookbooks I’m sent to review are your average cookbook. In the case of Maggie Battista‘s A New Way to Food she offers a book meant to empower and enable her readers to make better food-based health choices as well as focusing on building positive wellness and self-care regimes. While this book is full of gorgeously-styled photographs of delicious-looking food, Battista courageously offers her story of diet struggles and weight-related issues and how she empowered herself to become happier, healthier, and create a more positive body image.
A New Way to Food is part cookbook, part health book, and part memoir. I really appreciated reading about Battista’s story. She has a very strong voice and an honest way of storytelling. At times, I’m sure it was difficult for her to detail painful events in her life, but she does so in hopes of empowering others who may be struggling with similar issues. Empowering. Encouraging. Positive. These are all words that I think of when I look through this cookbook. The recipes focus on plant-based cooking which can be a great starting point for those looking to refresh their meals.
After the introduction the cookbook is divided into two parts: Part One – A New Kind of Pantry and Part Two – A New Way to Food. The first three chapters — Revamp Your Pantry, Revamp Your Meal Planning, and Recipes for Better Basics — are found in Part One; while the last six chapters — Love Your Body/Recipes for Active Wellness Mode, Love Yourself/Recipes for Reckoning with Your Past, Stay Connected/Recipes for Getting Healthy in a Couple, Embrace a New You/Recipes for Revitalizing Spring Foods, Celebrate Life/Recipes for Everyday Wellness Mode, and Stay Well Forever/Recipes for Everyday Comfort Foods — are all located in Part Two. While this is an uncommon way to organize a cookbook, and at times I found myself wanting the recipes to follow a more traditional organizational method Battista does offer a section at the end of the book — Recipes by Category — in which each recipe is placed into what type of food/meal it is. For example, if you’re looking for a great condiment recipe they’re listed together under this heading. Or if you just want to focus on breakfast all you need to do is look under that heading for all her recipes. She also offers lists of recipes at the beginning of each chapter.
Battista follows a whole food, plant-based diet which does include some animal-derived ingredients such as ghee, eggs, and honey. She mentions that she does eat animal protein, although not very often. Each of the recipes have been labelled with food preference categories — DF (dairy-free), GF (gluten-free), NF (nut-free), RSF (refined-sugar free), V (vegan), Veg (vegetarian) — which is helpful when you’re looking for a recipe to fit a dietary need. At the beginning of the book Battista gives a comprehensive overview of what her pantry looks like and what types of ingredients help her to make better nutritional choices.
Every recipe I’ve tried out of A New Way to Food has been tasty, ones that my family has enjoyed. She wants her recipes and methods to be approachable. For the most part these recipes will appeal to every level of home cook however there were times when I felt that the ingredients or directions could have been more precise. For example, when I made her recipe for Sweet Potato Gnocchi the ingredient list calls for 6 medium sweet potatoes. While there are times it wouldn’t matter about the size of the sweet potato, here it does. If they are a little too big the correct consistency for the gnocchi dough won’t be achieved. So, in this case I would have preferred to have been given the weighted amount of sweet potatoes needed. In another example when I made her biscotti recipe, I found that while she provided the desired height of the flat oval, it would have been helpful if the length and width were provided as well. Her recipes are written so that they do offer flexibility in ingredients — if you want to use dairy in a recipe that calls for plant-based milk I think it would work. When I made the recipe for Simple Veg Braise with Polenta, she offers notes on different veg you could swap in place of the potatoes, cabbage, and mushrooms.
Some of my favourite recipes were: Cashew Milk, Squash Schnitzel, ‘My Special’ Oatmeal, Lime-Pickled Onions, and the Simple Veg Braise with Polenta. Each of the recipes are ones that I will add into my rotation of recipes that I make again and again. The real star is her recipe for Squash Schnitzel! To be honest I’m not so sure that I’ll ever make butternut squash soup ever again when I can be thinly slicing, breading, and frying rounds from the neck of the squash. Squash Schnitzel is where it’s at! Served with yogurt and topped with the lime pickled onions it was an extremely delicious supper. Even my 5-year-old had four helpings with the request that I make it “a million more times!” She’s cute but definitely knows what she likes.
In A New Way to Food Maggie Battista offers an approachable way to focus on how to build a more positive relationship with your body and body-image by inspiring readers through her own personal journey and delicious recipes. If you’re curious about what I’ve been making, then checkout my dedicated Facebook post or my custom Instagram hashtag #anewwaytofoodiseatworthy.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Roost Books and Penguin Random House Canada for providing me with a free, review copy of this book. I did not receive monetary compensation for my post, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.