Quick and easy cookbooks

Time Out reviews the best recipe books for simple, satisfying meals

Skinny Meals in Heels

Jennifer Joyce, Murdoch Books, £14.99

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A year after publishing ‘Meals in Heels’ – targeted at busy ladies who like to cook – food writer and stylist Jennifer Joyce is back with a new pair of hoofs. This time it’s all about healthier eating, so the busy ladies can still fit into their skinny jeans after cooking up a storm.

Those in search of diet ideas, step away now – this is not a book for calorie-counters, and neither is Joyce making it out to be. Instead, the figure-friendly recipes rely on healthy ingredients and flavour-boosting spices. Flicking through the pages, the first thing that strikes the reader – apart from the silly illustrations of a long-legged brunette leading a fabulous jet-set lifestyle – is the sheer variety of dishes. Joyce confidently jumps from Moroccan tagines and Swedish meatballs (no cream!) to the likes of South-East Asian noodle salads. None feels intimidating, as Joyce breezily guides us through her selection of globetrotting recipes – all of which are doable in less than an hour.

Stuffed chicken breast with spinach, cinnamon and dates was easy to make and delicious; it could have done with a salty component such as feta, but that would have added too much fat. A real treat was the polenta with roasted aubergine, tomato and olive sauce. Despite the omission of cream and butter, this dish really hit the comfort-food spot.

Each recipe comes with ‘prep ahead’ tips and explanations as to why it’s skinny. If it weren’t for these, one could easily forget that there’s no bacon or cream in these dishes. However, low fat doesn’t necessarily mean low calorie. A Japanese ginger-onion dressing for four may only require one tablespoon of oil – but it soaks up two whole tablespoons of sugar. A shortcoming is that the book offers no indication as to how many calories these skinny meals actually contain. Instead, one has to rely on Joyce’s judgement. But we’ll happily trust that if it means we can munch on meringues with blackberries and Greek yoghurt – sometimes not knowing is skinny bliss.

Anne Faber, Time Out London Issue 2168: March 8-14 2012

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