Sunday, April 24, 2011

Skinny Bitch Cookbook Club Review

Here's my full review of Skinny Bitch: The Ultimate Everyday Cookbook for the Vegan Cookbook Club.

The Good:
The book itself is aesthetically pleasing. Warm colors, accents, and a nice font are used. I enjoy Kim's casual and "bitchin" language, I find it approachable and funny, although I know for some she can be a bit strong. There is a wealth of information in the front of the book, including Kim's story, sustainability, and of course many recommendations about Kim's favorite vegan substitutions. A section that would probably be very helpful to new cooks would be her "Herb + Spices Chart O' Fun" which gives pairings and results to people new to cooking with fresh flavorings.
Kim is also exceptionally creative in her recipes and creates food that is visually stunning. I enjoyed the recipe titles, use of ingredients, and methods for achieving vegan food that is more than a raw salad. She elevates cuisine to make it creamy, decadent, and not what many would consider "vegan food". Besides that, the photography is fantastic and makes you want to cook the food she published.

The Food:
I prepared the Breakfast Bake (p. 78) and also the Banana & Cinnamon Muffins (p.77) and blogged about them. I made the Pasta, Navy Bean, and Spinach Soup (p. 97) which was very good. I substituted the spinach for kale as I had it on hand and enjoyed how it held up in the soup. The soup was hearty and included beans, greens, and grains I enjoy seeing in recipes. I also did not blog about the Greek Salad with Tzatziki Sauce (p. 129) which had great flavors as well, although it was way too time consuming.

The Bad:
I don't consider this book to be low-fat or everyday by any means. None of the recipes I prepared were terribly easy -- they all required some significant knife-work, and more often than not, I'm not looking to laboriously chop veg. The recipes aren't structured to be "easy", many require several bowls and excessive steps, making clean-up laborious. I wouldn't want to make many of the recipes in this book on a busy weeknight.
Aside from the time issue, I found the calorie/fat counts to be a bit much. I don't count my calories, but I am interested in curbing them. I didn't find many of these recipes to be on the healthy side. Oil is used frequently and I'd rather utilize "good" fats over bad ones in my diet. I don't believe that vegetables were really brought to the forefront of these dishes, many relying on sauces and other vehicles to become more enticing. I look for a hearty and nutritious combination of beans/greens/grains as often as possible in meals, and this standard rarely hit in this cookbook.
Unfortunately, this cookbook bills itself for everyday cooking and, in my opinion, misses the mark entirely.

The Bottom Line:
I'm thinking this book would be intended for someone that purchased Skinny Bitch (or Skinny Bastard) and is a brand new vegan looking to delve into what this lifestyle has to offer. There is a great amount of information in the front of the book, most of which I have learned from my time reading blogs over the past year+. That being said, a more affordable option than this book would be a vegan starter's guide, looking over blogs that provide one or seeking one from a non-profit that provides many recipes and tips for new vegans. I probably wouldn't give this book to anyone or recommend it simply because I don't believe it lends itself to everyday cooking.

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