With Gina Homolka’s Cookbook, You Won’t Think Healthy Food is Boring Ever Again

(Image credit: Coco Morante)

Overall Impression: Looking to drop a few pounds while still feeding your family meals they’ll enjoy? The Skinnytaste Cookbook is your new best friend.

Blogger Gina Homolka shows readers that when you put a healthy twist on traditionally indulgent recipes, low calorie cooking doesn’t have to mean boring food. Even if you’re a kitchen beginner, she will gently nudge you into working with fresh produce, whole grains, and other minimally processed ingredients. With this well-organized, sensible guide by your side, a lifestyle overhaul is well within your capabilities.

Recipes I Tried

  • Greek-a-licious Egg White Omelet, p. 33
  • Cinnamon-Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, p. 60

Cooking From The Skinnytaste Cookbook

When you flip to the first page of each recipe section, you’ll notice that each recipe has one or more color-coded icons. Dishes are designated with labels for the following categories: vegetarian, gluten-free, quick (ready in 30 minutes or less), freezer-friendly, and slow cooker. This is extremely helpful for meal-planning purposes, adding a whole extra layer of practicality to what is already a well-organized book.

In each section, you’ll find recipes to please just about every palate. Homolka’s recipes draw from many different world cuisines, and you can go sweet or savory, meaty or meatless, depending on your preferences.

There’s so, so much good stuff in this cookbook. If you’re new to healthy cooking, tackle the “quick” and “slow-cooker” recipes first — they require the least effort and produce great results. Fans of the Skinnytaste blog will find 125 brand new recipes developed specifically for the book, as well as 25 old favorites.

(Image credit: Coco Morante)

I’d forgotten about egg white omelets until I spotted the recipe in this book. It reminded me how good they can be when folded around a flavorful, vegetable-packed filling. Homolka’s recipe involves a mixture of spinach studded with crumbled feta, diced tomatoes, and fresh herbs — the first forkful made my brain light up and shout “Spanakopita!” Indeed, the dish recalls the flavors of that much richer, more indulgent dish.

(Image credit: Coco Morante)

I’m usually on autopilot when I roast a panful of cubed butternut squash, coating it with a generous amount of olive oil, salt, and ground cracked pepper. In this recipe, Ms. Homolka got me to do something I’d never done — roast a squash without any oil. It took a leap of faith to toss the dry, spiced squash into the oven without any added fat, but it cooked up just fine. Who knew?

My only quibble with this simple, satisfying soup recipe is that the instructions call for far less broth than is actually needed. Use the recommended 2 1/4 cups, and you’ll end up with a pot of something resembling baby food. Even with a whole quart of broth, the soup was too thick for my liking. Using the proper amount of liquid will raise the sodium count on this recipe considerably, so you may want to use a low sodium broth or use half broth, half water if you’re watching your salt intake.

What Could Be Better

It’s hard to review a cookbook largely focused on the family table without thinking about it in the context of your own lifestyle, and without comparing your own home to that of the author’s. Ms. Homolka’s approach works for her family, who are lucky to have her at the helm in the kitchen. The photogenic Homolkas appear in a handful of cute, casual-but-clearly-posed portraits throughout the book, and the recipe photos are effortlessly styled and photographed to match.

Depending on what mood you’re in, you will either find this all of this inspirational and aspirational, or discouraging and unrealistic. This is one of a deluge of beatifically-styled cookbooks with a cheerful, can-do writing style published in recent months — The Skinnytaste Cookbook is just so pretty that it’s easy to dismiss it as all style and no substance. Describing dishes as “perfect,” “so-addicted,” and “too-good-to-be-true” sets up even a slightly cynical reader to be more than a little skeptical of the results.

I’m glad that I gave this book a chance, rather than just judging it by its precious presentation. It contains a surfeit of smart techniques for pulling extra calories out of traditional recipes, and pretty much every dish looks like something I would love to eat. Would I use it more if it were spiral-bound, less weighty or cluttered with pretty pictures, and with fewer two-page recipes spanning adjacent pages? Probably. Maybe it’s just me, but given the content, I’d rather have a practical, comfortable-to-use cookbook than a coffee table tome. I can’t envision displaying a low-calorie cookbook in my living room, no matter how pretty it looks.

Final Takeaway

I’m looking forward to cooking through more of the recipes in this cookbook — the Meatless Mains section in particular is calling my name. Quinoa-stuffed peppers (p. 242) appear impossibly cheesy and delicious for a low calorie recipe, but I’m willing to bet they will be as good as they sound.

Once I put down my dukes and flipped passed all the frippery, I found a lot to love. I’ll be incorporating more dry-roasting, slow-cooking, and egg white-eating into my diet this holiday season to balance out all of the celebratory meals that lie ahead. Thank you, Gina, for sharing the sensible strategy that helps keep you healthy and your family well-fed.

Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: The Skinnytaste Cookbook: Light on Calories, Big on Flavor by Gina Homolka

Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.

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