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The New American Plate Cookbook

Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life
by American Institute for Cancer Research

The New American Plate Cookbook

More than anything, we were pleasantly surprised when we received The New American Plate from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR). We were guilty of the prejudice that a cookbook put out by a public agency would certainly be filled with valuable, carefully researched information but probably lacking in the aesthetics department. Boy, were we wrong.

This noble three-fold effort by the AICR to publish a cookbook that helps people keep a healthy weight and live longer and healthier lives is as pleasing to the eye as it is packed with beautiful, doable recipes. We're sure it was no accident that they hired an award-winning photographer to make vegetables come alive with glossy, crisp succulence, ready to leap off the page and onto your plate. That's because vegetables have the starring role in (and on!) the "New American Plate."

This new way of eating proposed by the AICR does away with the favored American meal of a big piece of meat, a pile of carbs and a side of veggies (think steak, baked potato and a side of peas). In its place you fill two thirds of your plate with a variety of plant foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans, and leave only the remaining room — one third of the plate or less — for animal protein. Voilà: the "New American Plate."

In this pretty, appetizing volume you will find 200 recipes for such items as shrimp curry with asparagus and snap peas; fourteen-vegetable stew with pork; butternut squash, tomato and watercress soup; couscous and lamb pilaf with dried fruits and nuts; Asian-style salmon with sautéed carrots and leeks; and more. You're sure to encounter something from every corner of America's melting pot. You'll find gazpacho and beef stew; tofu stir-fry and bulgur, tabbouleh and chili; clam chowder and quinoa.

Spices and herbs are vivid sidekicks, from curry, cilantro, cardamom and chile to sesame, sage and ginger. In one week you can travel from India via Greece to the Deep South and get rare servings of cauliflower, kale, bok choy, kohlrabi and chard. The recipes are easy and quick, and involve ingredients you can easily find even if you don't live in an urban center. And — this is what we like best in a sort of self-satisfied way: all of these dishes, side dishes and desserts were carefully crafted by the AICR's teams of food scientists, cooks and recipe developers with the agenda of maintaining optimum health. They have already done the thinking for you. All you've got to do is pick up a fork.

Reviewed by Sylvie Greil

(Updated: 01/09/12 CT)

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