Real Simple Best Recipes
Author: Editors of Real Simple Magazine
If you're familiar with Real Simple
, the popular monthly magazine dedicated to making life easier with simple meals, beauty and fashion advice, as well as home organizing tips, then the quality and ease of recipes in Real Simple Best Recipes
won't come as a surprise.
Packed with 90 recipes, Real Simple Best Recipes is an invaluable resource for busy families and working professionals trying to put quality meals on the table at the end of a busy day. Staying true to its name, Real Simple Best Recipes
delivers recipes that are timesaving, quick and easy. Best of all, not only do these no-fuss recipes take little time to prepare, they're consistently delicious.
At first glance, recipes don't appear to contain any sort of nutrient analysis, with the exceptional of some recipes being flagged as heart healthy or vegetarian. However, it wasn't until I had looked through the book numerous times that I noticed the nutrient information for the recipes is contained at the back of the book. This format is a departure from most cookbooks and seems like an inconvenient arrangement, especially if you want to select recipes based on their nutrient content.
Recipes tend to fare pretty well on the nutrition front. They call for plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fresh herbs and whole grains. There are, however, a handful of recipes that use higher fat ingredients, such as heavy cream and sour cream, but these seem to be few and far between. Simple substitutions with lower-fat versions will help keep both the saturated fat and calorie content down.
Most recipes contain between six and eight ingredients and take less than 30 minutes to prepare. Recipes are organized into categories including soups, dinner salads, appetizers, vegetarian mains and desserts. Recipes are also flagged as being one-pot meals, vegetarian, kid-friendly and freezable.
The format and layout of the book is clean and uncluttered. The directions are clear and concise, so they're easy to read and follow. And unlike most other cookbooks, every single recipe in Real Simple Best Recipes contains a beautiful colour photograph to accompany it, which helps to further add to their appeal.
There are a wide variety of recipes in Real Simple Best Recipes, some of which seem appropriate for mid-week meals, such as Spaghetti with Quick Meat Sauce
and Chicken and Bok Choy Stir-Fry
while others seem better suited for entertaining such as Salmon and Fennel with Roasted-Lemon Vinaigrette
, Apricot Coconut Cake
and Beef Cocktail Sandwiches with Parsley Butter
. There are also some old classics including Simple Roast Chicken
, Turkey Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes
and Macaroni and Cheese
The taste test!
First up was Sautéed Tomatoes and Shallots
, a straightforward recipe with shallots, grape tomatoes, olive oil, white wine and capers. The result was delicious. I loved how easy this recipe was to prepare - it's perfect for busy weeknights, but could also double as an effortless side dish when entertaining dinner guests. The recipe makes enough to serve eight, so I had leftovers, which to my surprise tasted just as good eaten cold the next day.
Next I tried Butternut Squash Soup
, a simple, but rustic recipe that contains leeks, butternut squash, chicken broth, fresh rosemary and pumpkin seeds. The recipe was very basic, easy to prepare, and ready in less than an hour. While it contained a hefty amount of sodium for homemade soup (over 550 mg per serving), it was still less than many store-bought and restaurant prepared soups.
On the bright side, it did contain a whopping 10 grams of fibre per serving. I served the soup for lunch with a baguette, roasted garlic and a spinach salad - a perfect combination. I doubled the recipe, and froze the leftovers for a quick dinner when I'm short on time or don't feel like cooking.
Finally, I put Roasted Apple and Walnut Tarts
to the test. The recipe calls for small squares of puff pastry to be stuffed with apples, walnuts and brown sugar, baked in muffin tins and topped with whipped cream. To keep the calories down, I skipped the whipped cream and served the tarts on their own - although low-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt would have also been a nice alternative to the whipped cream.
While puff pastry isn't exactly a health food, this recipe felt like a decadent dessert without being too over the top in terms of calories and fat. My taste testers loved these tarts and were disappointed when they're weren't more to go around. I'll definitely make this again, and experiment with different ingredients such as dried cranberries, raisins and slivered almonds.
Real Simple Best Recipes
is a must-have resource for people who enjoy cooking and appreciate good food, but don't always have as much time to spend in the kitchen as they would like. There are a variety of recipes, suitable for both busy weeknights and entertaining. The recipes in Real Simple Best Recipes
are not only easy to prepare, they are reliable and tasty - in my opinion, the perfect combination for a cookbook.
Reviewed by Michelle Gelok, RD