Pure & Simple: A Natural Food Way of Life by Pascale Naessens

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Pure & Simple: A Natural Food Way of Life by Pascale Naessens

Category: Cookery
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The principles of food combining simply explained and supported by delicious recipes.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 208 Date: May 2017
Publisher: Abrams Books
ISBN: 978-1419726170

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The idea of being able to eat what you want without putting on weight seems impossible. If you can do it without counting calories then it seems almost incredible, but that's what Pascale Naessens is offering us in Pure & Simple: A Natural Food Way of Life. There is, of course a catch to this, but it's just one simple rule: do not eat concentrated carbohydrates with concentrated protein in the same meal. You can eat everything but not together. It's the science of food combining presented in a very attractive hardback book, complete with recipes and excellent photography.

I'll confess that I've always rather dismissed the idea of 'food combining' after a friend attempted to explain it to me. She said that there were certain foods which you ate together and the combination made you lose weight. She didn't seem entirely certain about which foods you had to combine and put on rather a lot of weight in search of this Eldorado. I don't particularly need to lose any weight so Pure and Simple is really the first time that I've looked at the subject in any depth and there is a good deal of logic to the principle. Forget the thought that there's something magic about the idea: if you don't eat meat plus potatoes at mealtimes, but have meat and vegetables instead, you're naturally limiting the calories and you're consuming a lighter, more digestible meal. Think how much lighter pasta plus a tomato sauce with a sprinkling of parmesan is than pasta with a meaty sauce. Just a few pages into the book and I'm nodding in agreement.

Naessens doesn't follow the strict rules of food combining but looks to have a diet with a healthy balance of fats, protein and good sources of carbohydrates. She's eaten like this for twenty years, has had no problems with her weight or addictive eating disorders and she has lots of energy. What's not to like about all that? We're encouraged to move away from processed food (hurrah to that!) to honest products prepared with care. Her recommendations are not prescriptive either - you're encouraged to be decadent every once in awhile! And alcohol isn't off the menu either.

The recipes are gloriously simple - no long lists of ingredients to put you off even thinking about a dish - and the instructions are clear. There's a heavy emphasis on seafood, including seaweed. Some of the combinations might make you stop and think, such as crabs stuffed with tomatoes, basil and hazelnuts, but the combination works well both in terms of flavour and texture. Similarly, shrimp-topped roasted tomatoes includes pine nuts and is delicious with an unexpected combination of hot and cold.

The meat section includes poultry and one of my favourite dishes in the book appears here: Cajun chicken salad with guacamole. It feels quite decadent and is ready in 35 minutes. Chicken and zucchini curry soup is wonderful for when you get the glut of courgettes in the garden and are wondering what to do with them all. Ground beef and tomato bake with cauliflower topping almost made me regret that I don't eat beef these days.

I enjoyed the cheese section not least because it moves away from the traditional English cheeses which tend to be what I buy most of. Gazpacho with basil-cheese crisps is perfect for a summer lunch, with fruit to finish the meal. Eggplant and zucchini lasagna is intriguing, particularly because of the omission of any pasta, but it is tasty.

The vegetable section is excellent - I particularly liked the idea of serving tomatoes stuffed with herbs and anchovies, baked red onions, baked cauliflower and baked garlic eggplant and simply allowing everyone to help themselves. The wild rice salad with fennel and herbs takes an hour to cook, but is worth waiting for with its nutty flavour and a lime-ginger dressing. It's sharp and filling.

The recommendation for breakfast is fruit (I'll second that!) and there are some recipes for desserts to finish the book. These recipes are heavy on blueberries, but are none the worse for that. It's an enjoyable, useful , informative book which has certainly left me thinking. And carefully reconsidering my favourite ham, cheese and tomato sandwich...

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might also enjoy Eating Well Made Easy: Deliciously healthy recipes for everyone, every day by Lorraine Pascal.

Buy Pure & Simple: A Natural Food Way of Life by Pascale Naessens at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Pure & Simple: A Natural Food Way of Life by Pascale Naessens at Amazon.co.uk.

Buy Pure & Simple: A Natural Food Way of Life by Pascale Naessens at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Pure & Simple: A Natural Food Way of Life by Pascale Naessens at Amazon.com.


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