Monday, 10 December 2007
Book review: Skinny Bitch in the Kitch
Skinny Bitch in the Kitch arrived Saturday. It is the cookbook companion to the book, Skinny Bitch, by the same authors.
A vegan cookbook, this book is divided into 13 chapters: Bitchin Breakfasts, PMS (Pissy Mood Snacks), Grown-up Appetisers, Sassy Soups, Skinny-Ass Salads, Hearty-Ass Sandwiches, International Bitch, Italian Bitch, Good Ol' Homecookin, Skinny Bitch Staple Meals, Divine Dressings, and Happy Endings.
I don't want this review to become a diatribe against Skinny Bitch in the Kitch, so I'm just going to reveal my thoughts on the pros and cons of the book. The girls' hearts are in the right place in advocating veganism, but I'm not entirely sure they have a firm grasp of daily nutrition. OR, it could be that they don't actually eat this way every day, but don't realise that newbie vegans will most likely get hold of this book and take it as permission to eat this way all the time. If they do, I'm here to tell you, they are going to be waiting a long time to become 'skinny bitches.'
So here's the deal.
All recipes are entirely vegan.
There is a decided lack of refined flours and sugar. You'll only find wholemeal breads and grains and whole natural sweeteners such as agave nectar, maple syrup, etc.
Recipes are designed to be simple and quick, so you don't have to spend a lot of time slaving over complicated rubbish that you're just going to snarf down in five minutes flat.
The section, 'Skinny Bitch Staple Meals' features 14 meals that focus on a range of fresh vegetables, legumes and whole grains. It is by far the most useful section of the book, and should have been longer. The implication is that this is the way 'skinny bitches' really eat day to day. (It is also the closest this book comes to reflecting my own daily diet).
There's a lot of tofu in this book, which I love.
All the ingredients will be familiar to practising vegans (or as I like to think of us, 'advanced bitches').
The book is fun to read.
Nearly every recipe calls for refined coconut oil. Now, I know all about the healthy properties of coconut oil. I know that it remains stable at high heat, so as not to unleash free radicals in the blood. I know that while it is high in saturated fat, it is also loaded with vitamin E, antioxidants, and all sorts of good stuff. HOWEVER, these wonderful properties are contained in unrefined, cold-pressed, organic coconut oil, NOT refined coconut oil. Refined coconut oil is bleached and deodorized, oftentimes solvent-extracted at temperatures up to 400 degrees F, which means that all the vital properties of the oil have been eliminated. So if the authors of this book have recommended coconut oil, as they say, for the health benefits, why have they specified refined rather than cold-pressed organic coconut oil? AND, even if they specified cold-pressed oil, why would they have an average of 4 tablespoons of it in every single recipe in this book, which is supposed to turn you into a skinny bitch?
There's a lot of tofu in this book, which can be a problem for people with a soy intolerance or who are worried about phytoestrogens.
The vast majority of these recipes call for a controversial part of some vegan diets, vegan 'fake meats' and dairy substitutes. These are controversial because 1) if you don't want to eat meat, why are you trying to make something that looks and tastes like it out of plant-based substances? and 2) even the 'best' of these products are highly processed and made mostly of oils and fillers, so they are not healthy for you. There are so many recipes that call for vegan cheese, vegan ham, turkey, chicken, vegan cream, vegan mayonnaise, etc. Even the most committed vegans sometimes will use a bit of such products to add some variety to the daily routine, but I don't know any vegans who eat any of these products on the scale promoted in this book. Too heavily reliant on fake meats and not enough emphasis on fresh whole foods. There isn't even a reminder of how to balance meals properly with fresh salads and side vegetables.
At least half the book is given over to recipes that are for 'what the heck' kind of days when you feel like a pig-out (the PMS section, the Good Ol' Homecookin section and the Hearty-Ass Sandwich section!) and to recipes for cakes, cookies, and other desserts. How is that going to make you a skinny bitch?
I don't want to show too much disrespect to Rory and Kim, because I like their style and I like their first book. I even really like this book, although I will modify nearly every recipe I make from it. I just wonder if newbie vegans will understand what they should be eating based on the information herein.
I'd like Rory and Kim to work on a new book: 'Dinners for Divas: 100% Wholefoods Recipes for Advanced Bitches'. Now that would be one kick-ass book!