"wholefood" (sic): It's heart is in the right place, but it's just not as helpful as it could be

You may think that the soon-to-be-released book “wholefood (sic): 300 Recipes to Restore, Nourish, and Delight” is vegetarian.

It is not. In fact, the book has plenty of meat recipes.

You might think it is about lower fat or lower calories. As you can see by the food recipe, below, which has everything from sugar to butter, it is certainly neither low-fat nor low-calories.

You might think this is a food advice book. While there are snippets of advice, some quite good, some quite facile, the recipes far outweigh the advice.

So, then, the question is, what is “wholefood” (sic) about?

“wholefood” (sic)
According to the book, "Wholefood (sic) cooking is a broader perspective that acknowledges the integrity of food, the basic rule being that, the more food is refined and processed, the more its integrity and its inherent ability to nourish are lost."

In other words, “wholefood” (sic) is a cookbook that urges us to use unprocessed foods.

Sure, we agree with that. But do we need a cookbook that specializes in using unprocessed foods? After all, most of my cookbooks don’t specify processed foods in their recipes. For example, I don’t have a single cookbook that includes the processed sweetener high fructose corn syrup. And if I do trip across the occasional processed food, such as white rice, I can easily substitute a non-processed version. Such as brown rice. Or simply skip the recipe entirely.

The other thing “wholefood” (sic) does is encourage us to buy our apples, for example, at the farmer’s market, as opposed to the supermarket. Again, do we need a cookbook that specializes in using foods from the market, as opposed to the grocery store? Can’t I just use my market-bought apples in any of my cookbooks?

Which brings me back to my original question: Do we need a special cookbook for this? Wouldn't any recipe book do, just as long as we use quality ingredients? I think so.

So is there any value to this book at all?
Yes. There is. The how-to information.

Beyond recipes, “wholefood” (sic) offers both advice and how-to information.

Certainly the advice is good - don’t use plastic bags, shop at farmer's markets, eat a variety of foods, and so on. But it’s not very in-depth. And it isn’t groundbreaking stuff, is it? (If you want a book loaded with food-oriented insight and advice, you might want to try the recently released "What to Eat" by nutrition professor Marion Nestle. This book has some, if you’ll forgive the pun, bite to it.)

But it's in the how-to information that “wholefood” (sic) shines. Sorta.

The front of each section gives some truly helpful how-to information. For example, the grain section talks about how to prepare and cook grains.

Great start. But that’s all it is - a start. Because I would also like a real discussion on buying grains and storing grains and on the different types of grains and substituting grains and the nutritional values of different grains and calories in grains and ... so on.

That would have been amazingly helpful (and if the author goes this route in the next book, I’d certainly take a look).

Now to the recipes
Broken into sections such as beans and lentils, grains, and vegetable soups and stews, “wholefood” (sic) has a nice variety of recipes. And, despite the fact that it does not focus on vegetarian, low-fat, or low-calorie recipes, it does include a broad selection of recipes that fit into at least one of these categories. So if this is what you are after, you are bound to find something.

Last thoughts before we get to the recipe
  • While the photographs are nice, they are only black and white. And with all the amazing food bloggers raising the bar with their incredible color photographs, it's a shame. I appreciate that this keeps the cost down, but it drains food of one of it's most exciting elements: Vibrant and exciting colors.
  • And, speaking of photographs, don’t expect to find photographs of the 300 included recipes. This, for me, is a problem. Not only do I want to know what I am about to cook looks like, but it helps me see precisely how to prepare items (as in: Do I cut the carrots this way or that?).
  • There is no such word as “wholefood” (sic). Go on, try and look it up in a dictionary. You’ll never find it. And titles should start with a capital letter. As in: Whole. Which means the title of this book really should read: Whole Foods.
Interested? You can find copies of "wholefood (sic): 300 Recipes to Restore, Nourish, and Delight" ($22.95 US; $27.50 Canadian) by Jude Blereau, a Perth, Australia-based natural foods chef, here.
Food recipe from “wholefood” (sic): Sponge Cake with Lemon Butter and Blueberries
A sponge cake is a light, fluffy cake and it can be the basis for a delicious afternoon tea or dessert. Making it in a large pan gives you a thinner cake with more surface area— perfect for topping with this light lemon butter and passionfruit.

Makes 1 (11 ¼ x 7 Inch or 9 ½ Inch) Cake

Lemon Butter
2 large lemons
3 eggs, lightly beaten
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 ½ ounces raw sugar

Sponge Cake
4 eggs, separated
½ cup superfine sugar
1 cup cornstarch (or arrowroot) well sifted
1 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted and still warm
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
2 passionfruit
9 ounces blueberries
confectioners' sugar (optional), to dust

1 quantity almond cream, cold
¼ cup coconut milk
2 passionfruit, top top
9 ounces blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Lightly grease an 11 x 7 inch or 9 ½ inch round cake pan and line the base and sides with baking paper.

To make the lemon butter, finely grate the zest, then juice the lemons. Strain the juice into a bowl. Combine all the ingredients in a heavy-based saucepan. Whisk together and continue whisking over a gentle heat, until the mixture has thickened. You may find it easier to tell when it is ready with a wooden spoon— when it coats the back of the spoon, it is ready. Do not allow it to boil, or it will curdle. Continue to stir when it is taken off the stove to cool it down. Once cool, cover and place in the fridge until cold— it should be nice and thick.

To make the cake, use electric beaters on high speed to beat the egg whites until stiff, then slowly add the sugar and continue to beat until sugar is dissolved— about 30 seconds. Reduce the speed to medium, add the egg yolks and mix until just combined.

Gently fold in the sifted cornstarch. Add the melted butter and vanilla, folding through very gently until just incorporated. Pour or spoon into lined pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes (or 30 to 35 minutes for a 9 ½ inch round cake) until golden and springy to the touch. Turn oven off, and leave the cake in the oven with the door open slightly. Allow to cool completely before turning out onto a serving plate.

Spoon the cold and set almond cream mixture into a food processor and add the coconut milk and ¼ cup of water. Blend for 5 minutes, until very smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more coconut or almond milk— the finished consistency is that of whipped cream.

In a separate bowl gently whisk together 1 cup each of the lemon butter and the almond cream (or change the percentages to your liking).

Gently spread the light lemon butter over the cake, cut the passionfruit and drizzle the pulp over the icing and, finally, sprinkle with the blueberries. If desired, dust with a little confectioners' sugar.

If making a 9 ½ inch cake, cut the cake in half and spread with half of the lemon butter. Drizzle over half of the passionfruit pulp and scatter with 1/3 of the blueberries. Replace the top and spread with the remaining lemon butter, scatter over the remaining blueberries and dust with confectioners' sugar, if liked.
There are more recipes, here.