Okay, so I rolled my eyes when I saw the large, bold text on the inside cover that read, “This transformative approach to clean eating features fresh, stripped-back recipes that will give you more energy, help you lose weight, and purify your body.” The last thing the world needs is one more book of bunkum and pseudoscience that will cure all and turn us all into beautiful, happy people. Fortunately, that is not what The Naked Cookbook by Tess Ware is about.
Ware suffered from postinfectious irritable bowel syndrome, a debilitating and painful disease that is very much affected by diet. It makes sense, then, that she pursued a course that emphasized foods that made her feel better and avoided foods that made her feel worse. Over all, the thrust of her regimen is to eat simply-prepared pure foods. We all know that avoiding processed foods is good for our health and that is what The Naked Cookbook is all about.
This is not a regimen of denial. There are meats, carbs, sweets and even cocktails. Even red meat makes it to the table. And so, it is a cookbook that focuses on common sense food ideas and recipes. Where the nakedness comes in is in making her own ricotta cheese, for example, rather than buying the rubbery store ricotta, making her own sauces and dressings without the emulsifying chemical additives.
Even better, the recipes are tempting and delicious. There is a kale, cabbage and nectarine salad to die for. For me, the don’t miss recipes are the bacon, cabbage and pearl barley broth, the molasses and ginger pork balls with bok choy, the yoga bowl (a sweet potato dal with brown rice and a coconut salsa), and a gorgeous green cauliflower couscous with pumpkin seeds. That’s not all, by a long shot, but those recipes are stunning.
I did get a bit nervous when I came to the chapter on juicing, but never fear. Tess Ware is not selling the juice snake oil. She rightly points out that juice fasts are impractical and unsound. She stresses that juice can only be a good addition to a balanced and sensible diet and roundly advises against the fasting juice diets.
Her last chapter focuses on foods that are good options and bad choices if someone suffers from different kinds of gastrointestinal issues. She encourages people to detox, but not by fasting, by eating healthy food.
The Naked Cookbook is another beautiful example of design carrying out the message of the book. The binding is a unbleached paperboard with no cover hinge to hide the stitched binding. The paper is uncoated, the font is san serif with no fancy design elements. It is all of a piece without any discordant elements. The photography is equally spare and disciplined in simplicity, even to the point of what is my favorite photo in the book, a macro photo of some ice in a metal ice tray.
So, the book is beautiful, it has fabulous original recipes and the health message is common sense and not snake oil. That makes it a trifecta in my book.
I was provided a copy of The Naked Cookbook by Blogging for Books.