Asian Noodle Soup | Fresh 20 Cookbook review on Recipe RenovatorEvery page of this book screams “fresh!” from the colors to the drop-dead gorgeous photos by Trent Lanz, styled by Chef Louise Mellor. It’s the perfect book for busy families who want to eat healthier and fresher.

I have known Melissa for a few years now, and also happened to stop by their busy home one day when they were shooting and cooking for this book. It was exciting for me to be able to buy it on Amazon and see the finished product. We’ll be giving away one copy in our September giveaway on the 27th.

The concept of the book follows her Fresh 20 subscription website: 20 fresh ingredients, 5 weeknight meals that serve 4. It’s arranged by season, which makes sense since she’s advocating buying local, organic, in-season produce. Melissa begins by explaining how to use the book, which truly is a lifestyle manual for busy families. If I still ate this way, I would also use the book for two, simply freezing the leftovers for future lunches or dinners. I liked her warm, open style, her explanation of ingredients and tools, and the clear instructions throughout.

Don’t skip reading her introduction or the short essays that open each section. Melissa is a lyrical writer, worth savoring.

Cucumber Carpaccio from The Fresh 20 Cookbook | Review by Recipe RenovatorI tried Cucumber Carpaccio, a super-quick side salad that made me rethink my aversion to radishes. Red Beans and Quinoa was easy and quick, with simple flavors appealing to kids. For my taste it needed more salt and spice. I thought her Spring Roll in a Bowl was a clever concept that kids would like. I had to make it using mung bean noodles (glass noodles) instead of rice noodles, which may have affected my opinion of it. I would have liked the sauce to have more depth of flavor, but I think kids would enjoy it. I ended up making spring rolls from the leftovers and creating my own dipping sauce the next day. Apple and Leek Soup was the highlight of the five recipes I tried. While it was not ingredient-heavy, the combination of leeks, white onion, and Granny Smith apples provided the depth of flavor I had been seeking.

Finally, I made Asian Noodle Soup, pictured at top. As promised, it was easy to make, offered clear instructions, and I think kids would like it. Easy to add more heat for the adults. Extremely fresh tasting. If I made it again I would add more lime juice and add the chard later so it was brighter.

What I liked about this book:
Gorgeous photos on every page. The food styling is soooo creative, often showcasing the ingredients versus the finished dish. Impeccably organized. Appealing recipes. Three clear icons indicate recipes that are gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian.

I wasn’t so keen on:
My only critique of the design is that, in a few places, they use colored type that doesn’t show up well on the photo background. While they are labeled, the focus is not on providing vegetarian or gluten-free recipes, so you may not wish to buy it if you fall into those categories.

Recommended for:
Busy families of four who want to eat healthier. Anyone who eats a traditional American diet (meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy) who wants to eat healthier, fresher food. If you have family members whose willingness to try new foods is limited, this would be a great book to introduce new foods and flavors without having to buy a lot of new pantry ingredients or foods with a high spice level. Not recommended for vegans.

Here’s the book for a look inside:

Today’s post is part of our mission to help you rebuild your health through food and lifestyle choices. Look for posts on Mondays featuring gluten-free, sugar-free recipes made with healthy plant-based ingredients, Tuesday reviews, Wednesday essays, Thursday how-to’s, and Flashback Fridays recipe posts plus monthly giveaways on the last Friday of the month. We support Meatless Monday. Check out our new Meatless Monday blog hop, and monthly Google Hangouts featuring Meatless Monday bloggers and authors.