For the past three weeks almost every meal we have eaten has come from the recipes in four “real food” e-cookbooks by Kate at Modern Alternative Mama.

Why?

Because we are giving the entire bundle away to one of you, and we wanted to make sure they were worthy of you wonderful people.

Guess what.

They are!

Let me tell you about them.

Review: Four Real Food E-cookbooks

In The Kitchen: Real Food Basics

Read Food BasicsI wish I had this simple guide to real food when we started our real food journey.  Much more than a cookbook, Real Food Basics is a thorough overview of the importance and how-to of switching to real food.  It is far more succinct than the volumes of literature I have read on the topic.  (Think of all that time spent reading when I could have been eating!)  Despite the easy-to-comprehend nature of this book, people first venturing out from the processed world to the real food world might still get overwhelmed.  That is why Kate’s page of baby steps is invaluable.  With one step a day, a week, a month, you will be improving the quality of the food you put on your family’s table with little effort.  The recipes are a simple and tasty means of applying your new wealth of knowledge.

Against the Grain: Delicious Recipes for the Whole Food and Grain-Free Diet

Against the GrainIf you have been following the GAPS or gluten-free movement, you know the dangers of consuming too much grain, especially the quality of grains available to today’s average consumer.  Against the Grain offers recipes to painlessly reduce the quantity of grains you feed your family.  I know, so do a lot of other cookbooks.  The difference is that you will not need a pantry full of weird ingredients that neither resemble nor taste like food, and you will not be feeding your family foods you can’t even pronounce.  Because the book offers recipes for making favorite dishes grain-free, many of the foods may already be on your regular menu.  Of course, you will eventually want some ingredients that are probably not in your pantry now, but there are not many, and they are neither hard to find nor hard to pronounce. If you are missing anything, you can substitute what you have on hand until you are ready to babystep your way to the healthier ingredients.

Healthy Pregnancy Super Foods

Pregnancy Super FoodsKate takes the “mystery” out of eating for two and simplifies it…a lot!  If you’ve been overwhelmed by the pregnancy nutrition gurus’ dietary requirements that resemble an equation from a masters’ level advanced mathematics class, you’re going to want this book.  Also, if your idea of eating healthy while pregnant is fortified cereal, a folic acid supplement, and low-fat ice cream, you need this book. Kate presents the basics of eating healthy for conception, pregnancy, and nursing, and provides a list of super foods for feeding your body and your baby. (Love that list!)  She then fills the book with great recipes that incorporate these super foods.  Despite the word “pregnancy” in the title, these foods are appropriate for anybody, and I happily fed them to my little ones, teens, and hubby.  My favorite part—because I’m a bit geeky—is that each recipe denotes how many superfoods you are consuming with each meal.  Seeing the super food count makes me feel like I could leap tall laundry mountains in a single bound, even nine months pregnant!

Treat Yourself: Real Food Desserts

Treat YourselfWhen you first venture toward eating healthy, you may cringe at the thought of never again tasting ice cream, never indulging in another handful of cookies, or never savoring a slice of birthday cake…ever! Pick yourself up off the floor!  Healthy eating is not about deprivation.  In Kate’s newest book, she shares information and recipes that not only take the unhealthy out of treats, but add some nutritional value besides.  Learn about healthy alternatives to sugar and white flour, and how to work around allergy issues while still treating your family.  This book has options for dairy-free, GAPS, and gluten-free eaters.  And, yes, you will be eating ice cream, cookies, and cake.  (Big grin!)

Our Overall Opinion:

We had a great time testing the recipes in these four books, and will continue to do so over the next few weeks.  We found them simple to make, even with the added challenge of being without a stovetop for three weeks.  That means that we had to adjust the recipes for use in a crockpot, in the oven, on the grill, or a combo.  These recipes are flexible.

I particularly love that you can make these recipes from foods you have on hand.  If you do not have some of the ingredients yet (almond flour, for example) you can effortlessly replace it with something you do have until you are at a place in life to start using the missing ingredient.  This is truly a flexible approach to improving your diet.

Because I have been cooking mostly from scratch for as long as I have been cooking, I already have my own versions of some of these recipes that my family loves.  Nevertheless, some of Kate’s recipes have found their way into our family cookbook with our longstanding family favorites.  The words “awesome,” “great,” and “this is a keeper” come to mind.  (My husband can’t stop talking about the chili we ate two weeks ago, and I’m seriously thinking of whipping up some more maple whipped cream and eating it straight out of the bowl…by myself…hiding in the closet.  Seriously!)

Has my family enjoyed eating from Kate’s cookbooks?  Definitely!  Did my family love every recipe?  No, not every family member loved every recipe, but most of the time the group response was really great, much better than our experiences with our other real food and grain-free cookbooks!  Will we continue to use the recipes we tried and test new ones?  Absolutely!

There is very little overlap between the four books.  While a couple recipe titles appear in more than one book, the recipes themselves vary. If you are just starting out with real foods, you will have more than enough recipes to begin rotating into your menu, even with just one of the books! If you are an old-timer in the real food or grain-free world, you’ll be able to greatly expand your family’s menu with these recipes, and can easily adapt the recipes to your family’s preferences.

If I were to change the books at all, I would merely add a recipe index to the two books that did not have one (in my review versions) and indicate how many servings each recipe made, which is absent from some of the recipes.

 [Update: my husband just installed a stovetop and my daughters and I have made three more of Kate’s recipes. The meals are even easier to prepare when you have a a stovetop (duh!), and all three made it into the family cookbook–they were that good!]

Want to try a recipe for yourself?  Here’s a recipe we loved from Pregnancy Superfoods.

Broccoli-Cheese Potatoes Recipe

(Its household name here is Cheesy Potato Goodness.)

Ingredients

  • 3 – 4 medium potatoes—slice ‘em thin
  • 2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional, but, seriously, it’s bacon! Why leave it out?!)
  • 4 tbsp. butter (mmmm…butter!)
  • ½ c. onion, minced
  • 2 tbsp. arrowroot powder (if your pantry isn’t stocked with arrowroot, use your thickener of choice—corn starch, flour, whatever you use)
  • 2 c. whole milk
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ c. cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ¼ c. Romano cheese, shredded (try parmesan if romano isn’t in the frig or the budget)
  • 1 c. broccoli, chopped

(We have a child that cannot eat bacon, onions, or broccoli (that’s a new one, eh?), so we left all three out.  We cooked broccoli on the side and some of us mixed it in.)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350.
  2. Lay the sliced taters fairly evenly in a 9X13 baking pan.
  3. Combine the bacon, onion, and butter in a sauce pan and cook until the onion is translucent—you know, see-through.
  4. Stir in your thickener until it is completely smooth—no dumplings.  We used arrowroot powder.
  5. Add the milk slowly, stirring constantly as you add to eliminate lumps.  Thicken by cooking over medium heat, stirring almost constantly…or enlisting your tallest child for this task.
  6. Add your seasonings and cheeses.  If you wish, save a little cheddar to add to the top of the taters.  I saved a little, but somebody small ate it.
  7. Stir in the broccoli.  (See my “no broccoli” note above.)
  8. Pour the whole shebang over the taters and top it with the cheese that my small child ate.  (Remember, we’re cooking without a stove, so we did all the stove work in the baking pan using our oven, and mixed the potatoes into the rest of the mixture rather than the other way around.)
  9. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until the potatoes are the texture you like.  Because doubled the recipe, we used a larger pan and cooked it much longer.

That’s a super food count of 4!  Don’t you feel super just looking at that number?

This dish was delicious, and, as you can see, Kate’s recipes are easily adapted to fit the needs of your family, whether those be dietary, equipment, time, or available ingredients.

This makes 4-6 servings.  Because there are 8-9 of us, we doubled it and still had nothing left over.  We served it, by Kate’s suggestion, with her baked salmon with garlic-herb butter from the same book and also with our homemade sourdough bread dipped in her olive oil herb dip (same book).  Mmmmmmm!  I’m still smiling!  Someone wipe this goofy grin off my face!

So…are you interested in the giveaway?  You know you are!

Click here to go to the cookbook giveaway page.

If you want to skip the giveaway but still want a book or four, you can buy the books at a savings.  Kate has made them even more affordable by offering a 25% discount to The Simple Homemaker’s readers.  Simply use the discount code SIMPLE25 at checkout to save 25% off any or all of the Modern Alternative Mama ebooks through November 15, 2011. What a gal!