Light Basics Cookbook: The Only Cookbook You'll Ever Need if You Want to Cook Healthy


Light Basics is an all-in-one cookbook for today's healthy cooking. Filled with step-by-step cooking instructions and more than 250 delicious recipes (each with a complete nutritional analysis), it provides the fundamentals of eating well and eating healthy. Martha Rose Shulman explains how to incorporate fresh foods and more healthful ingredients into your everyday cooking, while cutting down on fat and calories. If you're trying to eat healthy, Light Basics provides a one-stop...

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1998 Hard cover New. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 320 p. Contains: Illustrations.

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Light Basics is an all-in-one cookbook for today's healthy cooking. Filled with step-by-step cooking instructions and more than 250 delicious recipes (each with a complete nutritional analysis), it provides the fundamentals of eating well and eating healthy. Martha Rose Shulman explains how to incorporate fresh foods and more healthful ingredients into your everyday cooking, while cutting down on fat and calories. If you're trying to eat healthy, Light Basics provides a one-stop kitchen companion for beginner and experienced cook alike!

The Cooking Light Basics

Convert your favorite recipes into healthier dishes by cutting the fat

Learn healthy poaching, pan-grilling, and roasting techniques

Make a delicious low-fat vinaigrette or sauce

Enhance the flavor of your food using fresh herbs and spices

The Kitchen Basics

Learn the correct way to hold a knife

Master the art of chopping, slicing, and dicing

Understand how to store fresh fruits and vegetables properly

Learn to follow the guidelines for food and kitchen safety

The Fruit and Vegetable Basics

The secret to keeping tomatoes tasting their sweetest

How to reduce the zing of chile peppers

The easiest way to dice a fresh mango

The Entertaining Basics

Sample seasonal menus

Advance preparation tips to make party-throwing a cinch

Detailed shopping lists and countdown schedules for preparation

Flavorful Meals with Only 1 Tablespoon of Oil

Asparagus and Smoked Trout Frittata

Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger

Herb and Scallion Quiche

Spinach Quesadillas

Grilled Fish Steaks with Asian Flavors

Hot-and-Sour Shrimp and Rice Soup

Desserts to Devour with Only 1 Gram of Fat

Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote

Almond Biscotti

Chocolate Meringue Cookies

Pears Poached in Ginger-Honey Syrup

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Learn the Light Basics

How many times have you resolved to start cooking healthier, spent a week or two trying recipes that call for unappealing ingredients like fat-free cheese or mysterious seaweeds or processed soy products, and finally given up in disgust after too many inedible meals? Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could cook the same food you've always cooked, the food you love, but make it healthier? That is the beauty of bestselling cookbook author Martha Rose Shulman's new book, Light Basics Cookbook. Not only does she offer more than 250 simple, appealing, healthy recipes but she also teaches you how to adapt the recipes you've always made to today's standards for health.

What if you'd love to do more home cooking, but you're not sure where to start? Light Basics Cookbook is also a terrific primer for the beginning cook, with sections on everything from cooking pasta perfectly to whisking egg whites until they hold "soft peaks." Shulman also includes simple charts, such as one that explains preferred cooking methods for vegetables from artichokes to turnips, and great introductory chapters with sections on equipment, stocking a healthy pantry, ingredients, cooking terms, techniques, safety, and many other useful tips. Her chapter of "Warm-up Exercises" includes simple recipes designed to teach basic healthy cooking techniques — from how to make a basic tomato sauce and then vary it with different flavors to how to time three separate dishes — chicken breasts, a green vegetable, and potatoes — so they're all ready at the sametime.

Throughout, Shulman uses only real ingredients, using moderate amounts of high-fat ingredients and lots of flavorful low-fat ones, from herbs and spices to citrus juice and fresh chilies. Her recipes range from all-American classics like Roast Turkey with Corn Bread and Sage Stuffing to internationally influenced favorites, such as Japanese "Meal-in-a-Bowl" noodle soups and Avocado and Green Salsa Quesadillas. The chapter on desserts contains a miraculous assortment of options with less than a gram of fat, including Chocolate Meringue Cookies and Strawberry and Rhubarb Compote, plus many more with only moderate amounts, like Fresh Fig Tart and Pear Clafoutis. All the recipes in Light Basics Cookbook are simple enough for busy weeknights, but many are quite elegant and perfect for entertaining. This is a great way to start off a healthier new year.

—Kate Murphy Zeman

Mollie Katzen
Martha is one of the best American cookbook authors writing today. Her recipes are delicious and balanced, her prose informs and always makes sense, and she infuses the experience with warmth, clarity, and encouragement. Take her word for anything!
Deborah Madison
Everything about Light Basics Cookbook is clear and straightforward—as well as healthy and delicious!
Marion Nestle
Martha Rose Shulman cares deeply about how to taste, feel, and think about food, how to make cooking (and even cleanup a pleasure, and how to produce clean, fresh, vibrant—and, of course, nutritious-meals with ease and confidence.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Shulman (Mediterranean Light; Proven al Light) expands her light-and-healthy motif with this fundamental cookbook. Much of the organization here is terrific, like the inclusion of a chapter of Warm-Up Exercises: five easy recipes for dishes like Pasta with Simple Tomato Sauce and Tossed Green Salad with Classic Vinaigrette are recorded in such detail that there are paragraphs dedicated to pressing garlic and peeling tomatoes. Introductory sections on everything from shopping to equipment are also first-rate. Some chapters are more muddled, however, including one on Grains, Beans, Vegetables and Tofu, in which Tomato and Bean Gratin, Spicy Stir-Fried Tofu and Asparagus with Rice, and Corn on the Cob are lumped together. The recipes themselves are uniformly well written and express modern American tastes with lots of poultry (Pan-Cooked Chicken Breasts with Ginger and Soy, Turkey Chili) and fish (Grilled Marinated Swordfish, Fish Fillets with Tomato Caper and Mint Sauce), as well as sections dedicated to pizza and Mexican dishes. (Jan.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688155490
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/28/1999
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 8.41 (w) x 9.47 (h) x 1.42 (d)

Read an Excerpt

How to Make Risotto

I debated with myself about including risotto in a basic cookbook. Risotto won. I have never found it difficult to make, even when I was a beginner. And it's a great, substantial, impressive, and delicious dish for the low-fat cook. It intimidates some because it requires tending, but it isn't really finicky—you just have to stir it a lot. Risotto is a creamy, savory rice dish made with short-grain Italian Arborio rice, which has a roundish, chewy grain. It can be very simple—rice, stock, a little onion, and Parmesan—or it can contain vegetables, seafood, and other seasonings like saffron and herbs. It's a great dish for putting vegetables like asparagus, peas, mushrooms, or green beans to use. And it is incredibly versatile—I have made it with pumpkin, fennel, sweet peppers, radicchio, greens, favas, and fish.

Risotto is made by cooking rice slowly in a fragrant broth. First you cook the rice, often with a bit of onion and perhaps some garlic, in a little butter or olive oil (a lot, in traditional recipes) to separate the grains. Then you add a bit of wine, which adds great flavor to the rice. When the rice has absorbed the wine, you add a ladleful or two of simmering stock, just enough to barely cover the rice, and stir the rice until it has absorbed most of the stock. You keep adding stock gradually in this way until the rice is cooked al dente, firm to the bite, which takes about 25 minutes. Then you add one last ladleful and any final enrichments, like Parmesan or a beaten egg, and serve the creamy dish. For most vegetable risottos I usually add the vegetables about halfway through and cook them in the simmering stockalong with the rice.

Basic Risotto

Makes 4 side-dish servings or 2 very generous main-dish servings

About 4 cups vegetable, garlic, or defatted chicken stock (pages 155-157), orcanned broth, as needed
1 tablespoon olive oil or unsalted butter
1/2 small onion, peeled and minced (about 1/4 cup)
1 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
Salt to taste
1 large egg (optional), beaten
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/4 cup)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Have the stock simmering over low heat in the saucepan.

2. Heat the oil or butter over medium heat in the skillet and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until the grains of rice are separate and beginning to crackle, 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Stir in the wine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly The wine should bubble, but not too quickly-you want some of the flavor to cook into the rice before it evaporates. When the wine has just about evaporated, stir in a ladleful or two of the simmering stock, enough to just cover the rice. The stock should bubble slowly Cook, stirring often, until it is just about absorbed. Add another ladleful of the stock and continue to cook in this fashion, not too fast and not too slowly, adding more stock when the rice is almost dry, for 20 to 25 minutes. Taste a bit of the rice. Is it cooked through? It should taste chewy but not hard in the middle and definitely not soft like steamed rice. If it is still hard in the middle, you need to add another ladleful of stock and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Now is the time to ascertain if there is enough salt. Add if necessary.

4. Add another small ladleful of stock to the rice. Beat together the optional egg and the Parmesan, stir into the rice, and immediately remove from the heat (if not using the egg, just stir in the Parmesan with the last ladleful of stock). Season with pepper, taste one last time, and adjust the salt. The rice should be creamy. Stir for a couple of seconds and serve.

Variation: You can add I to 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed, after cooking the onion for 3 minutes, along with the rice.

Advance preparation: I've experimented with cooking risotto halfway through, then returning to the dish and finishing it just before serving, with good results. Several hours before serving, you can begin the risotto and cook halfway through step 3, that is, for about 15 minutes. The rice should still be hard when you remove it from the heat. Fifteen minutes before serving, resume cooking as instructed.

Per Serving:
5.8 gm total fat
1.9 gm saturated fat
292 calories
49.0 gm carbohydrates
7.2 gm protein

Simple Mexican Soup with Tomato, Onion, and Cilantro

Makes 4 servings

I learned this recipe when I was working on my book Mexican Light. It's so easy and delicious that I can't bear to leave it out of this collection too. The flavors of the mint, lime, chile, and cilantro are wonderful, and the soup is thrown together in no time.

2 quarts good-quality de-fatted chicken or garlic stock (page 155 or 157)
2 fresh spearmint sprigs
1 medium-size white onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced or pressed
1 jalapeno chile, seeded if desired and finely chopped
1 pound firm, ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Salt to taste
1 small avocado, pitted, peeled, and finely chopped
2 limes, cut into wedges, for serving

1.Combine the stock, spearmint, onion, garlic, and chile in the soup pot or saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes and cilantro. Reduce the heat to low, simmer for another 5 minutes, and remove from the heat. Taste. Is there enough salt? Adjust the seasoning.

2.Place a spoonful of chopped avocado in each bowl, ladle in the soup, and serve with lime wedges to be squeezed into the soup if people wish.

Variation: Crumble toasted tortillas into each bowl of soup just before serving.

Per Serving:
11.0 gm total fat
0 gm saturated fat
163 calories
7.8 gm carbohydrates
9.3 gm protein

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