The Healthy College Cookbook
by Alexandra Nimetz, Jason Stanley, Emeline Starr, with Rachel Holcomb
Publisher: Storey Publishing, Country: US
ISBN: 9781603420303, Edition: second, Year: 2008
Link to publisher’s page or site
This review is the personal opinion of the reviewer.

Review

The Healthy College Cookbook is intended for American college students with no knowledge of cooking and perhaps little time. The recipes range from simple healthy breakfast dishes to desserts, with a good range of savoury dishes between.

The original book of this title was published in 1999; this edition has been revised and expanded to include many new recipes, including recipes specifically intended for vegetarians and vegans.

Many of the 300 recipes were provided by students from different colleges and universities across the country and prior to their inclusion, the new recipes were tested by volunteers. The (student) contributors of many of the recipes are acknowledged separately, which is a nice touch.

The Healthy College Cookbook is a paperback, broader than it is high. While the book does not lie flat, the breadth allows the pages to lie open sufficiently that they will stay open without needing to weight them down and break the spine in the process. There are 293 pages, including the index and a helpful introductory chapter.

The book starts with a list of utensils needed to stock an empty kitchen, with suggestions for pots and pans and bowls that will have more than one use. Suggested sizes are stated and the various utensils are helpfully described along with a stated function.

Next is a comprehensive list of items for the food cupboard and refrigerator, followed by an introduction to the “language of cooking” and seven sensible pages discussing herbs and spices, their uses, quantities, substitution, and the foods they compliment. There is also a section of helpful hints on shopping and storing food, which includes food handling hygiene, and a table of conversions for weights, measures and temperatures.

The general layout of the following recipe pages is clear (but spartan), with the titles in orange print, the ingredient lists in bold grey and the instructions in a lighter grey print. Four symbols are used throughout; one for vegetarian, one for vegan, one for “super quick meals” and another for “dorm room favourites”. Recipes that do not fit any of those categories have a brief written description below the recipe title. All recipes take up either a whole or half page with the break between recipes clearly defined.

The tone of the book is bright and cheery but without any “cringe” factor or false notes, and the range of recipes is excellent. An interesting inclusion at the bottom of each recipe is the nutritional value per serving.

As with any book intended for student use there are several bread-based recipes like sandwiches and roll ups for quick meals but many of the fillings are different and healthy and they sound inviting. However, the book is more than bread-based meals: there are many oatmeal and cereal mixes to be made for breakfasts, salads and soups, numerous egg dishes, chicken and meat dishes, sauces and dressings, cooked vegetable dishes, cookies, muffins and desserts. There are even some bread and scone recipes for the more adventurous cooks, and in general the book’s range of recipes feels modern and interesting.

There are two negative aspects of concern: most recipes seem a little underseasoned, and despite the first chapter’s explanation of cooking terms, some aren’t defined, but used without explanation in the recipes (e.g. brown) or the recipes need more explanation for beginners.

The Healthy College Cookbook was written for college students living in the United States but the inclusion of conversion charts makes the book suitable for a much wider audience. Although there are few ingredients that are specific to the USA, simple substitution is possible for most of those few.

This is a useful book for people with very little cooking knowledge, though perhaps too dry for some students because of the lack of pictures and sensible-but-dry introduction. A good gift for any student or young person living alone.

This is an original review for The Gastronomer’s Bookshelf.
Main rating: 4 stars. Recommended
Visual appeal: Unimpressive
Suitability as a gift: If the person is really interested
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