The Make-Ahead Kitchen
written by Annalise Thomas
published by Front Table Books, 2016
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Did I enjoy this book: Melissa and I both tested some recipes from The Make-Ahead Kitchen cookbook.
I tried the Pumpkin Pie Slow Cooker Oatmeal. It was really easy to throw together in the crockpot, and it was done by the morning. I did substitute the brown sugar with Splenda Brown Sugar Blend. What I failed to realize is that you should use half the amount called for when using the blend. The Splenda brown sugar blend doesn’t measure 1-to-1 like Splenda. The recipe was still good, but by reducing the amount by half, I can knock a few carbs off the recipe, which is important in our household. Anyway, I put everything in my crockpot on low and went to bed.
When I made it downstairs, I found my crockpot half empty.
My husband really liked it. A lot. My youngest liked it, too. My other kids didn’t want to try it. It was tasty and reminded me of pumpkin pie. I think it will be a frequently made breakfast in our house this fall and winter.
When I make it again, I’m going to use half the amount of Splenda Brown Sugar Blend and set my crockpot to warm instead of low, which was a tip from the cookbook’s author. My crockpot on low resulted in a delicious oatmeal that was a bit overcooked. I think the warm setting will be perfect.
As for the rest of the cookbook, I echo some of Melissa’s sentiments. There are a lot of full-fat ingredients. But, if you know what you’re doing, swapping out some of the heavier ingredients (light mayo for regular mayo, Splenda instead of sugar, etc) won’t be a problem. I do wish the nutritional information was included for each recipe. For a family like mine that has to count carbs, I spent quite a bit of time inputting the recipes into an app to determine the nutritional values. The recipes all look delicious. There are a few more that I really want to try. The recipes are easy to follow as well. I also like the introductions to each recipe.
Would I recommend it: If you are looking for some cook-ahead comfort meals and some easy recipes, then you may like this book. Take a look at some of the recipes and ingredients and decide from there.
I tried out the recipe for Roasted Cauliflower & Chicken Curry Pasta Bake. Here’s how things went down:
I was sort of horrified by the ingredient list. I mean, a CUP of mayonnaise? That’s just plain crazy. I calculated the calories per serving given the listed ingredients and came up with something nearly 800 calories per serving (and that’s assuming 8 servings in the 13×9 pan the recipe calls for). I decided to make a few swaps.
- Instead of regular cream of chicken soup I used two cans of Fit and Active brand (175 calories per can compared to Campbell’s 270 per can).
- Instead of a cup of regular mayo I used a half-cup of Hellman’s low fat mayo (only 120 calories instead of nearly 750 for regular) and a quarter cup of regular mayo. I skipped the last quarter cup all together because I just couldn’t bring myself to include it.
- Instead of melted coconut oil I used a calorie-free coconut oil spray.
- I swapped out the full fat cheese for Fit & Active’s reduced fat cheese, which saved me another hundred-ish calories.
I wanted to healthify the meal without losing the integrity of the recipe (especially since I’m reviewing it for the blog), which is why I didn’t drastically change anything. If I made the recipe again I’d skip the pasta all together and add an extra head of cauliflower and more chicken. I’d also, I think, skip the second can of soup and swap the rest of the regular mayo for fat-free. I’d likely have to add a bit of liquid… skim milk perhaps. . . to make up the difference. I’d also mix everything together before I popped it into the baking pan, but that’s a personal casserole preference of mine. Ultimately my family thought this recipe was UBER tasty, and I will be making it (albeit a less calorically dense version) again. Thanks, Ms. Thomas!
Would I recommend it: Though I didn’t try them, the rest of the recipes appear to be just as filled with full-fat ingredients as the one I chose, so if you’re looking for a new round of healthy recipes I’d keep looking. If, however, you’re interested in some updated comfort foods, I’d give this book a look.
About the book – from Goodreads: Skip the hassle of last-minute meals and leftovers and replace them with simple, healthy, delicious, and easy-to-prepare make-ahead dishes! Your family will love these comfortable meals, new favorites, cozy drinks, and tantalizing desserts–all of them prepared ahead of time so you don’t have to worry! Enjoy simple, soul-filling foods without the chaos of preparing them at the last minute.