Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Inspirational Reading

I was watching TV last night, waiting patiently for the new episode of "The Rick Mercer Report" to start when I picked up a recipe magazine to thumb through. I've been working on my cookbook and I am 3 weeks ahead on menus so I wasn't really looking for menu ideas but low and behold, I ended up with a ton. The recipes for this cookbook all have to be reasonably simple, healthy and appealing to the average family, not too gourmet, too complicated or full of heavy ingredients. I love cooking in winter. The soups, the stews, the casseroles.... yum! It all lends itself quite well to cooking ahead with leftovers to fill the freezer. It feels so good to be this inspired!

So let's see if I can get you inspired too. One of my favorite inspirational magazines is free! Yes, you don't even have to pay for a subscription to get Kraft's seasonal mailing. Just go to . It's a great site and all the ingredients can be found easily at your local grocery store. Watch for the healthy recipes. Not all of them are tagged "healthy", you have to look for the sunshine symbol. Of course the site pushes the kraft product line so you'll have to use your judgement, sometimes opt for cheaper products and watch the sodium levels but you should leave the site feeling inspired to get into that kitchen and shake out the cupboards. Did I mention it's free!? The magazine comes out 4 times a year, once per season. Last night I was reminded of chicken pot pie, sheppards pie, fajitas, easy stir-fry dishes, some great chicken dishes.... mmmmmm.

I have another favorite. I recommend this magazine for the health conscious foodie. The recipes are a step up from average in skill and taste. But they are all pretty healthy and a lot of fun. Check out their site at

Cooking Light also has a regular exercise article. There is also information about healthy trips and great destinations. They also do a yearly feature on a 'fit' house, a house that is healthy. The last issue had a whole section on Chocolate (which I feel is a necessity during these dark days of winter!) including a recipe for Chili with Chipotle and Chocolate. I'm dying to try that one! You can get this mag on your newsstands to try it before you decide whether or not to subscribe to it. It does have a lot of recipes though, you may get overwhelmed. I do. I end up tearing out recipes and piling them up to try throughout the month. I never get through the pile but, again, it's great to get inspired once a month! And Cooking Light does an annual cookbook each year. You can always get last years annual on the website. I have "The Best of Cooking Light" and it is one of my favorite cookbooks.

I have one more recommendation.

This magazine has some nicely gourmet type recipes that aren't typically low fat or low sodium but the nutritional information is included for every recipe so adaptations can be made. While the magazine isn't packed full of recipes, it does focuses thoroughly on a couple of key ingredients or cooking styles in each issue. So you will learn quickly and easily how to do whatever it is the magazine is showcasing in that issue. This is a great magazine for those who love to cook and know a bit about nutrition so they can adapt the recipes and make them a little more healthy. They also do product reviews. I have never made anything out of this magazine that didn't turn out perfect. The magazine only comes out once every 2 months so it's great for the occasional chef-wanna-be. And yes, it leaves me inspired. Because of this magazine I've made my own Creme Brulee, I've ventured into the world of "sunday gravy" in the form of Ragu, and I've braised just about anything that will stand still. The end results seem complicated but this magazine shows you how to make great food quite easily.

Now after all the inspiration I'm not even cooking tonight! Nope, instead I'm eating out of my freezer. I'm in the middle of test running the first chapter's menu from my cookbook. Tonight it's Coconut Curry Shrimp and Veggies.

All I have to do is make rice or noodles to go with it. Luckily, after all the inspirational reading, I took the lid off this container and the yummy smells smacked me hard. I can't wait for dinner!

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