Healthy Appetite

January arrives, bringing smack into our lives once again the annual ritual of making New Year resolutions. Hands raised, I admit to shirking even the thought of this short-lasting, farcical tradition, but do search for a more permanent solution with which to counterbalance the excess and extravagance of The Party Season. Cringingly, I hang my head in shame as I also admit to politely by-passing any food related book displaying the word ‘healthy’ in its title – though not through a desire to live an unhealthy life-style but out of boredom of yet another collection of patronising instructions and dull recipes which simply swap standard ingredients for low fat / low sugar / low interest versions.

To further continue my path of confession, I did feel a sense of trepidation as I prepared to peek inside the pages of Healthy Appetite, spurred on only because I own and regularly cook from several other Gordon Ramsay books coupled with of course, my incessant school-girl crush on The Maestro Of Cuisine.

In true Ramsay style, Healthy Appetite truly provides a refreshing alternative in this already saturated market, and I acknowledge my irreverence at ever doubting this. This is certainly not a diet book but an inspiration to prepare and serve healthy food “ without jeopardizing taste and flavour, or drastically changing (my) style of cooking. Whether it is an elegant dinner party or a simple mid-week supper, a few simple adjustments are all that is needed to make our favourite meals that bit more balanced…lower in fat and calories, yet rich in energy-giving nutrients.” Further, Gordon Ramsay pledges his commitment to seasonality and choosing the right ingredients at the right time when they are at their peak quality – an undertaking he has pledged for his latest restaurants, La Veranda and Au Trianon at the Hotel Trianon, Versailles where if a key ingredient is not available locally, then the dish will simply be removed from the menu. Ramsay is a chef who is passionate about promoting a discerning approach to choosing, cooking and eating, “ where with just a little extra knowledge and effort, (I believe) anyone can make little changes that will improve their diet and everyday lifestyle.”

Guinea Fowl with Pea and Lettuce Fricassée

Healthy Appetite stores a wealth of ideas which are neatly divided into ‘healthy’ chapters: breakfast, brunch/lunch, working lunch, Sunday lunch, barbecues, suppers, cooking for (or with) kids, entertaining, desserts and basics (stocks). To attempt to try and choose specific recipes to present was difficult; there are so many interesting and tasty dishes to choose from and everything I tried was so simple to prepare. The Bircher Muesli, which I quickly assembled prior to the school run to later enjoy in solitude, repressed any suggestion of mid-morning hunger pangs, but discover also a host of soups, a cracking Spicy Beef Curry, Sticky Baked Chicken Drumsticks, Saffron-Marinated Bream with Sweet and Sour Peppers and sinful desserts such as Ricotta Cheesecake with Orange and Cinnamon, Chocolate Mousse and Pavlova with Roasted Rhubarb Fool.

Interspersing pages of specific key-ingredients, colourful photography of Lisa Barber and the innovative food styling of Mark Sergeant lends a contemporary feel. Ingredients such as oats, oily fish, tomatoes, summer berries and leafy greens (to mention just a few examples), are highlighted with concise nutritional information and quick-fix recipes such as Summer Berry and Vodka Jelly, Raspberry, Mango and Watercress Salad and Homemade (tomato) Ketchup.

Marinated Halibut with Spiced Aubergines

Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy Appetite treads in the footsteps of his other great books, providing a wealth of all the year around (healthy) creativity in cooking and dining, whatever the occasion. Full of exciting recipes, this will definitely become a kitchen companion. With many thanks to Quadrille please enjoy these recipes for Guinea Fowl with Pea and Lettuce Fricassée and Marinated Halibut with Spiced Aubergines which I am confident that you will enjoy as much as I do.

Healthy Appetite by Gordon Ramsay, Published by Quadrille price GBP 20.

Food photography by Lisa Barber. Portrait of Gordon Ramsay by Brian Aris