Take all the preconceived notions you might have about cooking—that it’s hard, it’s time-consuming, that eating healthy is boring, et cetera—and toss them out the window. Do it, right now, before you open Fresh Made Simple, a deliciously different kind of cookbook that makes it easy and fun to cook tasty, healthy meals. With this cookbook, you’ll learn that eating well is easy, flavorful, and fun.
Fresh Made Simple, written by Lauren K. Stein and illustrated by Katie Eberts, is a truly fresh take on eating well. The book features minimalist recipes, most with five ingredients or fewer, that are simple to make and easy to enjoy. The recipes are paired with vibrant illustrations that make even food you may not ordinarily find exciting (parsley, dates, celery) look fun and fancy. If you weren’t hungry before you opened the book, your mouth will be watering after you’ve perused a few of its pages.
Stein’s inspiration for the book was her young daughter. As Stein began to feed her toddler fresh foods, it dawned on her that her own food should look more like the healthy vittles she was giving her child. So Stein dreamed up a fabulous cookbook full of fresh, simple, and flavorful recipes—the types of recipes that are perfect for you to make with your own child, just as she and her daughter have made and enjoyed many of the cookbook’s recipes together. And because the recipes are simple, they can be prepared pretty quickly—perfect for busy families who are strapped for time but want to eat wholesome, flavorful foods.
Stein intended Fresh Made Simple to be a jumping-off point for your culinary experiments. She advocates making substitutions where you need or desire them due to your own personal tastes. That’s ideal for those of us who have food allergies and intolerances, too. Many of the recipes in the cookbook are naturally gluten-free; for those that aren’t, simply substitute gluten-free ingredients for the gluten-containing ones. (Generally, where you’d need to make gluten-free substitutions would be in the recipes that call for bread, soy sauce, or a baking mix like pancake mix.)
Fresh Made Simple is designed for cooks of any level. Speaking as someone who is in no way a master chef, the cookbook is inviting and not at all intimidating. The cookbook’s 75 recipes have minimal text and instructions, and gorgeous illustrations that make you eager to prepare the foods listed. Instead of being organized by type of meal, the recipes are organized by form or texture, such as Stuffed, Cheesy, Scrambled, Wet, Spreadable, and more. (Just the names of the sections sound enticing! Right now I’m craving some Scrambled.)
So what kinds of recipes can you find in Fresh Made Simple? Here are a few of my favorites:
- Leek Corn Egg Bake
- Red Water (using watermelon and strawberries!)
- Apple Manchego Salad
- Spinach Salad (the standout ingredient here is sautéed onions—yum!)
- Roasted Red Pepper
- Ginger Lemon Honey Butter
- Cheddar Pepper Spread
- Cucumber & Tomato Sandwich (substitute gluten-free bread, dear readers!)
- Blueberry & Corn Pancakes (use your favorite gluten-free pancake mix, of course!)
- Black & White Bark
- One-Pot Tortilla Soup
- Cheese Fondue
These recipes use so few ingredients that the flavors of the foods you do use can really shine through; this can help you savor the flavors and truly enjoy the food. Also, the instructions for each recipe are so simple, which is refreshing—you don’t need to wade through long lists of steps to make any of these recipes. Because of this, even foods that might seem intimidating to make, like fondue, are easy to whip up.
While the recipes and foods highlighted in Fresh Made Simple are fantastic, what puts the cookbook over the top into outstanding territory are the illustrations. The colorful, whimsical, watercolor illustrations are the perfect complement to the recipes; they’ll put a smile on your face and will likely also inspire curiosity in your child. If you’ve been looking for a fun way to get your child interested in helping you prepare meals, Fresh Made Simple could be a very helpful resource! Let your child page through the recipes with you, choosing which ones to make together and which foods to try. And don’t be afraid to get your child involved in age-appropriate kitchen activities, such as washing vegetables and fruits, mixing or tossing ingredients, and—of course—taste-testing your culinary creations.
Hungry for Fresh Made Simple?
- You can buy it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble (it makes a wonderful holiday or hostess gift, and the price is right, too—it’s under $15)
- Visit Lauren K. Stein’s website, where you can check out her blog or plan to see her at one of her upcoming events
Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this cookbook for review purposes. This has in no way affected the integrity of the article.