Every year, The National Herald receives many cookbooks submitted for the Literary Review. Some seem to be merely decorative, like massive coffee table books with gorgeous photos and glossy pages to flip through and admire usually at a great distance from the kitchen since it would be a shame to get any smudges on the pages. They are also heavy, so you can’t really lift them Other cookbooks are utilitarian, compiled by church groups for fundraisers, aimed at home cooks who probably already know what they’re doing, so no need for photos which can add unnecessary costs to the printing. Then there are the cookbooks designed to be used and loved which include photos but are not intimidating to tempt the tastebuds but also inspire us to cook as well.
The Everything Green Mediterranean Cookbook by Peter Minaki is a treasure trove of 200 delicious and healthy recipes. Part of “The Everything” series of cookbooks, it offers easy to read and follow recipes by Greek-Canadian chef and cookbook author Minaki who has a gift for creating wonderful dishes utilizing the flavors of the Mediterranean and inspiring us all to move towards a healthier way of eating. With flavorful plant-based recipes to enjoy throughout the day, this wonderful cookbook is a must-have for every foodie and makes an excellent gift this holiday season.
The first chapter, titled A Plant-Based Plan for Healthy Weight Loss, guides the reader through the Mediterranean diet, the healthiest on the planet, and notes that lifestyle changes are also part of this way of life. Adding daily physical activity, such as walking, and slowing down and enjoying meals with family and friends are also important parts of the healthy lifestyle. The chapter also refers to a November 2020 study on the effectiveness of the Mediterranean diet, published in the health journal Heart, which followed three groups and found those in the Green Mediterranean diet lost more weight than the participants in the other two groups in the study. Lower LDL “bad” cholesterol numbers were also noted as were reductions in blood pressure, insulin resistance, and inflammation, which are known to decrease the risk of heart disease.
The cookbook also includes helpful tips on planning meals ahead of time and what to stock up on for the Mediterranean pantry, including olive oil, olives, honey, spices and herbs, beans and lentils. Eating seasonally is also part of the diet with its focus on fresh vegetables and fruits.
Among the 200 recipes are tasty breakfast options such as Baklava Oatmeal with cinnamon, walnuts and honey, and Strapatsatha (scrambled eggs with tomatoes). The Snacks and Smoothies chapter offers the Kalimera (Good Morning) Green Smoothie made with kale, banana and kiwi, and Greek-inspired snacks like the Olive and Red Pepper Dip, Santorini Fava made with yellow split peas, and Pasteli (honey-sesame bars), the “original energy snack,” for a sweet treat.
For lunch, there are delicious and easy recipes for Greek Village Salad, Cretan Dakos, and Okra in Tomato Sauce, as well as Mani-Style Salad and the Greek Lentil Power Bowl. The chapter on salads includes even more flavorful options like Arugula Salad with Cabbage and Apples, Butternut Squash Salad, and Warm Mushroom Salad.
Among the plant-based main dishes are classic Greek dishes, Arakas Laderos (Greek-style peas), Baked Gigante Beans, and Gemista (baked stuffed vegetables) as well as some great Vegetarian Gyros which are made with delectable grilled vegetables.
Perfect for the chillier months, soups, stews, and chilis are grouped together in their own chapter as are rice and whole grains, while pasta dishes have a chapter all to themselves. Poultry and seafood recipes include Chicken Cacciatore, Shrimp Giouvetsi, and Swordfish Souvlaki.
Chapters on side dishes, desserts and beverages round out this delightful cookbook with all its healthy, easy-to-cook options.
The Everything Green Mediterranean Cookbook by Peter Minaki, published by Simon & Schuster’s Adams Media imprint, is available online and in bookstores.