Cookbook Review. One Bowl: Simple, Healthy Recipes for One

By Ashley Carter

A few Mondays ago, tired from a weekend of NFL tailgating, I found myself feeling particularly unmotivated to whip up anything fancy or time-consuming for dinner.  But my body was craving something healthy, so I checked the cabinets and the fridge for some inspiration and discovered that we had a few small sweet potatoes left from our previous week’s CSA share.  Suddenly I remembered my new cookbook, One Bowl: Simple Healthy Recipes for One, written by Friedman alumna Stephanie Bostic.  While interviewing her a few weeks earlier, she had mentioned that the recipe for Sweet Potato and Black Bean Soup with Lime was “one of her fallbacks that makes [her] happy.”  It seemed like the perfect solution for my dinner dilemma.

Broccoli Tomato Avocado Salad

It turns out it was.  As I looked through the list of ingredients, I realized that I was missing only one – the lime. Although Bostic’s theory on cooking includes being flexible with substitutions and variations in dishes, I figured it would be best to include all of the ingredients in the title of the dish.  A seven-minute walk and 69 cents later, I had a lime from the corner store and I was ready to go.

The recipe (see below) calls for 25 minutes of preparation and cook time – just about the time it took me to make the dish. Minimal chopping, common ingredients, and substitution flexibility make this recipe easy and enjoyable to prepare.  Because I love leftovers (what student doesn’t?), I doubled the recipe.  This made the perfect amount for a hearty dinner, with enough left over for lunch the next day.

The dish itself is flavorful, warm, and satisfying. The sweetness from the potato offsets the slight kick from the spices, and the tangy lime provides a nice contrast to the earthy flavor of the beans.  And best of all, it’s healthy!  I ate the dish with a piece of hearty wheat bread, which was useful for soaking up the remains of the soup.  Dinner was truly a success.

Other recipes in the cookbook range from Southwest Frittata to Salmon Artichoke Patties to Zesty Berries with Whipped Ricotta.  The cookbook incorporates traditional American dishes, recipes influenced by Bostic’s travels abroad, family classics, and some accidental combinations she discovered in her years of cooking.  The unifying theme of all the recipes in One Bowl is that they are simple, quick, and healthy. Also, none of the recipes require an excess of obscure ingredients or special kitchen gadgets – another plus for the grad student with a limited budget and restricted kitchen.

Zesty Berry Ricotta

Bostic’s idea for One Bowl began years ago with a frustration we can all relate to: difficulty finding easy, healthy, and affordable recipes.  “I wanted to buy a cookbook [like this] for a friend in college,” says Bostic, “and I couldn’t find one, so I started thinking about writing one for friends and family.”  Last year, she decided to compile her personal collection of recipes and publish them.

Bostic combined her background in nutrition with her love for sharing cooking advice to create a cookbook that offers more than just creative recipes – One Bowl also provides basic nutritional information and techniques on how to read a recipe, pair spices, plan meals, stock your pantry, and cook foods in a variety of ways.  Throughout the cookbook, she gives advice on substituting foods, tips on cutting preparation and cooking time, and information on the nutritional benefits of different recipes. Her philosophy of “simple is good” resulted in a concise, inspiring, and easy-to-read cookbook that warrants a spot on everyone’s cookbook shelf.

If you are looking for a great, affordable holiday present for friends, family, or co-workers, One Bowl is a perfect option.  The cookbook is available online (Amazon.com for less than $10), at various farmers’ markets around Boston, and as an e-Book on SCRIBD.  Check out the One Bowl website, or email Stephanie Bostic to get more information.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Soup

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Soup with Lime

1 T oil

½ small onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 t cumin

2 t chili powder

1/8 t cayenne pepper

½ c sweet potato, peeled and diced (¼ medium)

1/3 c cooked black beans (drained, if canned)

2/3 c water or broth

½ lime, juice

1 T chopped cilantro or basil

Sauté the onion in the oil until nearly translucent.  Add the garlic and spices and sauté for about a minute.  Add the black beans and sweet potatoes, along with enough water or brother to cover.  When the sweet potatoes are well cooked, add lime juice to taste and garnish with cilantro.

*Images from Stephanie Bostic

Ashley Carter is a first-year Nutrition Communication student at the Friedman School.  She enjoys cooking as a fun, healthy, and therapeutic addition to each day.  She likes trying new recipes and incorporating new flavors into her cooking, but she also appreciates the simplicity and comfort of old favorites.  Ashley also likes pairing good wine with food to create the most flavorful experience possible!

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