Allow me to preface this review by stating: I didn’t want to like Idiot’s Guides: The Mediterranean Diet.. How’s that for reviewer bias?
Is anyone else tired of hearing about the Mediterranean diet? It’s good for you! It will save your life! Eat less red meat! Eat more vegetables! All I can think about when I hear these Mediterranean diet sound bites is, “duh.” To me, the Mediterranean diet sounded like a way to commercialize common-sense eating habits.
Then, I picked up Idiot’s Guides: The Mediterranean Diet and realized the value of having important dietary information, as well as recipes to put it into immediate practice, combined into a single resource. Although this book as the word “diet” in the title, author Denise Hazime makes it clear from the beginning that the book is not about a one or two week “cleanse”—it is about shifting to a lifestyle centered upon choosing more vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
The cookbook is divided into practical sections, beginning with an intro to the Mediterranean diet itself and ending with a glossary explaining key ingredients. Chapters are logically divided into meals for all times of day (though some chapters are very short), with tips and suggestions for recipe adaptations scattered throughout. I also love that this cookbook includes a dessert section. It is clear that Hazime wants her readers to feel satisfied, not deprived.
Overall, I found the recipes and tips to be very accessible. The recipes themselves are straightforward and realistic, without too many fussy ingredients (though certain Mediterranean staples such as tahini and bulgur are a must.) Though many of the recipes repeat similar flavors (and nearly all are classic Mediterranean flavors), none are difficult and all are in line with a balanced life style. I did find many of the recipes to be lacking in salt (I needed to add a bit of extra to the Cilantro Jalapeno hummus I tried to give it enough flavor), but it’s possible that Hazime is trying to encourage her readers to consume a bit less sodium.
I see this cookbook as being a fantastic resource to someone who is looking to make a healthy lifestyle change but doesn’t know where to begin. It does not contain pictures and does dedicate a few chapters to explaining the diet and ingredients, so those who are already very familiar with the Mediterranean diet may not find it as valuable. That said, I am happy to have a cookbook I can pick up, flip to any page, and be reasonably certain that what is on it is going to be good for my body and my taste buds. If you love Mediterranean flavors and are looking for the same, Idiot’s Guides: The Mediterranean Diet will be a good choice for you too.