For a lot of amateur cooks and busy parents who are still trying to master the use of all-purpose flour, the thought of branching out into exotic-sounding grains like amaranth and teff might seem overwhelming — if not potentially disastrous.
But in “Grain Crazy: Recipes for Healthy Living,” Cherie Schetselaar and Britney Rule — a mother-daughter blogging team from Pleasant Grove — make cooking with a variety of nutritious whole grains simple and, most importantly, enticing thanks to easy-to-understand recipes that are as appetizing as they are healthy.
The 140-page, full-color cookbook from Familius, which also comes in e-book format, includes recipes the two women have perfected over years of meal preparation for their own kids and on their blog, graincrazy.blogspot.com.
The whole thing is laid out in a very approachable way, starting with a section that introduces the various grains for newcomers, including their unique nutritional properties. These range from the familiar, like whole wheat and brown rice, to the not so familiar, like millet, spelt and Kamut.
The rest of the book is divided into eight sections (breakfast, quick breads, lunch, desserts, etc.), each of which is color-coded — a small detail that proves to be pretty handy when you’re flipping back and forth.
The recipes themselves, though, are nothing like the egg whites and steamed broccoli people sometimes expect from anything with the phrase “healthy living” in the subtitle. From creamy spelt berry oatmeal for breakfast to peach pie muffins to tom kha gai (a coconut, ginger and lemongrass soup from Thailand) for dinner, Schetselaar and Rule have compiled a variety of flavorful recipes that should provide health-conscious families plenty of options to spruce up their meals throughout the day.
Some of the most useful features, though, are the tips and tidbits included with many of the recipes. Depending on the dish, these might be things like the specific combination of flours they’ve found to work best, a list of ways to help beans digest better or even just a nifty historical fact, for instance, amaranth, which can be popped like popcorn, was also a staple food among the Aztecs.
There are a few tiny oversights — a couple typos here and there, some of the recipes aren’t cross-referenced, etc. — but overall it’s a very nicely put together book. With around 60 recipes in all, it’s a fantastic introduction to the wider world of grains.
Almond Butter Oatmeal Puffs
There used to be some yummy treats called Peanut Butter Puffs. They had peanut butter, Special K cereal, sugar and corn syrup. Mom wanted to make a healthier version of them, and we loved the end result. They are quick and easy to make.
Makes: 6 to 8 puffs
½ cup almond butter
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
¼ cup of honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1. In a bowl, mix the almond butter, honey, and oatmeal together until it is all combined. Then stir in the vanilla.
2. Form the batter into small balls. Then roll in the granola. Eat them immediately or save them for later in an air-tight container in the refrigerator or freezer.
Jeff Peterson is a native of Utah Valley and studied humanities and history at Brigham Young University. Along with the Deseret News, he also contributes to the film discussion website TheMovieScrutineer.com.