Laurel’s Kitchen made its debut in 1976 as a hand-bound publication from three dedicated foodies who were as concerned about the health of their patrons as the health of the planet. The diet they support protects against cancer, diabetes, diverticulitis, obesity, tooth decay, and osteoporosis. It does not harm animals, birds, or fish. And it focuses on whole, unprocessed foods.
By 1986, the book had made its way into a publishing house with support by a broad network of enthusiasts. That edition includes a gaggle of scientific data on nutrition, detailed information on the ingredients (e.g., vegetables, grains, legumes) and how they’re prepared, and some delightful essays on embracing a lifestyle that extols the value and sacredness of kitchen work.
The recipes come from daily living. We sampled about a quarter of them, largely in deference to my dairy and gluten sensitivities. We found them to be less complex than ones we sampled in other cookbooks, but that’s a good thing if you’re a cook who wants to master the basics. If you work through this cookbook systematically, you’ll learn to prepare delicious foods without having to refer to a collection of recipes.
The food guidelines that underscore all of their recipes include:
- Reduce or eliminate meat, processed foods, and fried foods. Focus on whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits.
- Explore ways to flavor food without fat: parsley, lemon juice, exotic vinegars, citrus peel, yogurt, cottage cheese, shoyu, herbs, horseradish, spices. When planning dinner, allow for 2 teaspoons of oil or equivalent per person maximum.
- Choose lower-fat milk products, and substitute them for higher fat ones in cooking.
- Make your own salad dressings. (It’s not hard!) Commercial options are loaded with fat and chemicals.
- Reinvent sandwiches by using bean and pea spreads instead of mayonnaise, cheese, and nut butters. They’re delicious with fresh or grilled vegetables.
- When planning a meal, aim for balance. If you want to serve a rich dish, make the rest of the items on the menu especially low in fat.