Clean Slate (Blogging for Books review)

“Clean Slate” (from the editors of Martha Stewart Living) is part guide, part cookbook that emphasizes eating clean, whole, unprocessed foods (mostly plant-based), including detox juices and two different “action plans” (a 3-day “jump start” plan and a three-week detox diet). The first 70 pages or so include 11 golden rules, from “practice mindful eating” (Golden Rule No. 3) to “maintain a healthy perspective” (Golden Rule No. 11).

Along the way, you’ll learn about good fats (avocado, cold-water fish, nuts), umami-rich flavor enhancers (which lean strongly towards Asian flavors such as miso, nori, and fish sauce), detoxifiers and inflammation fighters, and tips and tricks on incorporating more physical activity, smart shopping, and finding inner balance. The included sample menus are color-coded to show vegan, dairy-free, nut-free and gluten-free recipes at a glance, but my only concern with the sample menus is that the calorie count seems extremely low (each meal only features one recipe and no sides). Basic recipes for stock, harissa, almond milk, etc. are included in the back.

The recipes feature simple prep and relatively few ingredients, making them easy to assemble and enjoy. I loved the breakfast options like coconut breakfast pudding with sautéed nectarines, honey-caramelized figs with yogurt, crostini with fresh ricotta, cherries, and lemon zest, and breakfast vegetable-miso soup with chickpeas. A large variety of juices and smoothies are also included, along with their respective properties (anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, energizing, hydrating, etc.). There’s a very strong Asian influence with the dashi-poached sweet potatoes and greens ad buckwheat noodles, bok choy, and sweet potatoes and miso-lime broth and the black sea bass with barley, shiitake, and edamame salad, as well as some Middle-Eastern inspired gems like bulgur with pomegranate seeds, a North African chicken-chickpea stew, and Moroccan steamed salmon with quinoa and carrots. There are also Latin- and Mediterranean-inspired dishes, so every member of your family should find something to enjoy.

Easy, healthy snacks such as trail mix, roasted edamame with cranberries, sweet potato chips, kale chips, and dried fruit and nut bites are great for school lunches or quick snacks on the go. Several lighter desserts and drinks are also included. Each recipe includes calories, fat, cholesterol, carbs, protein and fiber, although the print is a bit small and it doesn’t jump out at first glance. A thorough color-coded recipe index allows you to quickly plan a menu around dietary needs or plan out weekly menus. There are full-color, full-page photographs for nearly every recipe.

Nearly all of the included recipes appealed to me (I frequently cook light Japanese-inspired fish and rice dishes), and I loved the whole grain recipes in particular as I am always looking for ways to jazz up whole grains (the farro and roasted sweet potato salad and quinoa salad with zucchini, mint and pistachios were standouts). Pescetarians will find many great fish dishes, and vegetarians will enjoy the many roasted vegetable salads and variations, although there are few vegan main-course dishes. I found this more valuable for the recipes than the “detox” sample menus, but your mileage may vary. Overall, “Clean Slate” offered many fantastic new recipes to add to my repertoire.

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