Disclosure: I received a sample of The Wellness Kitchen for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience using the book. I was not financially compensated for this post.
If you follow me on social media, you know that for the last few weeks I have been trying recipes and following a 21-day meal plan from Paulette Lambert's new healthy cookbook, The Wellness Kitchen: Fresh, Flavorful Recipes for a Healthier You. Paulette Lambert is a dietician who's known for her role as the nutritional expert in ABC's Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition.
This is a book I'd recommend, especially for someone who was trying to eat more healthily, but without feeling like they are restricted to plain, bland foods. The meal plan was also a great introduction into having a balanced diet using whole foods and fresh ingredients. Click here to purchase your own copy of The Wellness Kitchen on Amazon.
My goal was to try the 21-Day Food Plan for Health and Weight Loss in the book, but I ended up having my wisdom teeth removed this month (all four!), and had to take a week off in the middle to subsist on soup and applesauce. For the two weeks that I followed the diet plan, I was impressed and can see how it would work well and lead to weight loss. I lost six pounds during the three total weeks (but note that I was also consuming a low amount of calories the week after my wisdom teeth were extracted). The first week includes a lot of bran and fiber, which really helped regulate my digestion. The recipes were all really tasty (see my reviews of specific recipes below), and the meals really balanced. I was never hungry, because the meal plan keeps you full as you are always snacking (think hummus, nuts, Greek yogurt) - though in specific low-calorie portion sizes, and every meal includes a fruit or veggie side. In addition to the high-fiber aspect of the meal plan, you get a large amount of fruit and vegetables, and are eating all whole grains and fresh foods. The meal plan also takes into account how much weight you'd like to lose and gives you guidance on calorie targets.
Over the two week period I got to try several of the recipes. I was happy to see healthy versions of some of my favorite meal staples, such as chicken piccata, chili, omelets, and roast chicken. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that I didn't have to add much (if any) extra seasoning to the recipes, as they were all very flavorful. I usually find I have to add extra salt or garlic to recipes for flavor, especially for meals that are "healthy," but that was not the case with the recipes I tried from this book. Lots of garlic, fresh herbs, and a healthy amount of sea salt and cracked pepper made the dinners savory and full of flavor. I also loved that this didn't seem like a restrictive plan, and instead was very balanced. There were carbs, meats, and savory sauces.
Here are photos and reviews of some of the recipes I tried:
Blueberry Banana Bran Muffins
This was beyond good. Not dry and crumbly like some bran muffins, but fluffy and flavorful like a regular blueberry muffin. Definitely a keeper.
This is another keeper. This was a quick, simple fruit smoothie recipe that makes two creamy smoothies.
Turkey Meatballs Al Forno
The meatballs before going into the oven.
The finished product with the book's basic tomato sauce (definitely a keeper) and whole wheat pasta. I think this would have been really good over spaghetti squash as well. This meal took a little longer to make, as it was more involved than some of the other dinner recipes. The sauce has multiple steps, but was worth taking the time to make it fresh. I am considering doing a big batch of the sauce to freeze in portions. It is thickened with shaved and pureed carrots believe it or not.
Crispy Fish Sticks with Homemade Bread Crumbs
This was good, though I had to add some additional seasoning to the breading. It is baked in the oven, so you don't have the guilt of extra fat from frying. I did take the easy way out to make this a quicker weeknight meal by using pre-made whole wheat bread crumbs.
Grilled Margherita Pizza with Arugula
Before going into the oven.
The arugula salad that tops the pizza.
The finished product. While the pizza wasn't as cheesy as its non-healthy equivalent, it was very savory. The lemon in the arugula salad dressing paired amazingly with the garlic and olive oil of the pizza. This was a very guilt-free alternative to pizza.
Honey Mustard Salmon with Spinach and Lentils
The salmon was a really quick and easy meal. Not many ingredients, and great for a weeknight. The lentils made with the spinach was a delicious side dish, and very filling. I will definitely make the lentil and spinach side more often in the future.
Spinach-Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf
The sautéed spinach and onions are rolled up in the ground turkey like a jelly roll.
The meatloaf is topped with ketchup... as it should be!
The finished product. This was probably my favorite meal that I attempted during the two-week review period. The flavor was incredible, and it was a lot easier to make than it looks. I actually only did half the recipe, and it was plenty of food for my family of four.
French Chicken in a Pot
I always love an opportunity to use my Le Creuset French oven, so this was fun. It was also pretty simple - only a few ingredients and simple instructions. I found that the white wine sauce/chicken stock reduction at the bottom of the pan after roasting was phenomenal drizzled over the chicken on your plate. This meal has to roast for an hour (after taking 10 minutes to brown on the stovetop). So, I recommend either prepping in advance, or starting it right when you get home then taking a break to exercise while it's roasting.
Quinoa Chili Rellenos
This was delicious, but like the meatballs, it was a very involved meal. In the future I would only do this recipe on a weekend to ensure I had time for all of the prep and multiple steps. It also had a very spicy kick, so good for adults but not so much for the little ones.
I am sure I will be coming back to this cookbook regularly along with the other recipe favorites that rotate through my meal plan. It is nice to know that I have access to healthy recipes that also taste good. Don't forget to pick up your copy of the cookbook on Amazon here, and follow @fabeverydayblog on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram for ongoing recipe inspiration.