Who doesn’t love a wonderfully prepared meal that’s made with fresh ingredients and full of flavor? It’s for those people who truly enjoy food and healthful eating that Flavor First was written, a new cookbook by Cheryl Forberg, RD. This James Beard award-winning chef, and nutritionist for The Biggest Loser, wants to see us eating healthier foods that we’re making ourselves at home.
Inside Flavor First you’ll find 75 all-natural recipes that use the best ingredients any garden could grow and any well-stocked pantry should have. From fresh herbs and bold spices, to ripe vegetables and tender cuts of meat, each recipe from Flavor First will help you reconnect with the way food is supposed to be enjoyed.
“When you learn to optimize the flavor with each different ingredient there’s just an exponential explosion of flavor in the finished product,” Cheryl told us in an interview about the book.
Don’t be intimidated if you’re not well-versed at cooking, or even just starting your healthy journey, Cheryl wants you to use this book as a guide for conquering the kitchen, and says it can help the home chef increase their confidence. Flavor First is part cookbook and part culinary lesson, carefully teaching you about flavor layers, a way of preparing food and combining ingredients to bring out the best taste from any meal, and she uses simple, accessible ingredients to show you that even the busiest people can prepare meals.
“Bottom line – everybody is busy,” says Cheryl, and she wants us to re-prioritize and make meal planning an important part of our to-do lists.
Learn more in some excerpts from our interview with Cheryl, plus preview some of these delicious recipes.
What was really important to get across to the home chef?
“I’ve learned so much being a part of Biggest Loser for 11 seasons, and I’ve learned so much about the way America eats, and what we’re doing wrong. And whether or not people have a weight issue, a lot of people misunderstand what eating healthy is.”
She describes how people think and believe that ordering a salad at a restaurant is the healthiest choice. “So often we derail the healthiest meal, because we’re used to having so much flavor from fat and over-salted things,” Cheryl says about the way we fill our salads with cheese, croutons, dressings, and other unhealthy toppings.
“They don’t understand that you can kick-up the flavor yourself in a much healthier way.” It’s this reason that she created Flavor First, to show us how to achieve that flavor in a simple and approachable way.
What are the flavor layers and how do you achieve that?
Cheryl wants to get across in Flavor First that simple changes in cooking technique or cooking combinations will completely modify a meal, and turn what you see as a boring ingredient, in to something truly delicious.
She says a good example is onions. “You could throw a chopped onion in to a dish, but if you cook them first, slowly with a little oil, it breaks down the sugars, and it caramelizes and browns and has a completely different flavor than a raw onion.” She also advises that you take the time to grill or roast vegetables, something that can give a basic carrot “a completely different dimension of flavor.”
Some of her own kitchen staples include a spice collection of more than 100 varieties (more than most people, she admits), onions, jarred roasted peppers, fire roasted tomatoes, parmesan cheese and soy sauce. With these items on hand, and many others that she mentions in the book, you can always achieve “umami,” a Japanese word that Cheryl describes as that “intense savory flavor that makes you want to have another bite.”
Don’t take Cheryl’s word for it though, see, and better yet taste, for yourself in Flavor First. You can preview a few of the recipes here on DietsInReview.com:
Then, grab a copy of Flavor First to try some of Cheryl’s personal favorites, including the Chocolate Nut Truffles, and the Portobellos and Asparagus she describes as “addictive.”