By Serena Wolf
Available now from Harper Wave (HarperCollins)
I knew I was going to love THE DUDE DIET from the moment I saw that lovely plate of nachos on the cover. Serena Wolf is the blogger behind Domesticate Me, which started by journaling her efforts to get her boyfriend Logan to eat better. Now, there are a lot of blog-to-cookbooks out there, and not all of them are worth it. (Deb Perelman's The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is my gold standard, in case you want to question my taste.) Wolf has experience going for her; she's not just a blogger, she's also a Le Cordon Bleu Paris graduate and recipe developer.
Because THE DUDE DIET started as a blog, it is written in a very conversational tone. This makes it approachable, although I'll admit to liking my recipes in plain jane English. (I think I shuddered when quesadilla was shortened to 'dilla.) For the other downside, I do dislike the intense slant towards dudes. It makes sense in the context of Wolf's blog, where she was developing a diet for a specific dude. But the back copy of this cookbook rubs me the wrong way. There are plenty of women out there who could use a course in how to make easy, filling, and balanced meals. Fortunately, most of the dude focus is just the marketing.
THE DUDE DIET starts off strong with an intro about Wolf's inspiration and her boyfriend's decision to change his life for the better. As I grow farther away from my college metabolism, I've certainly been compelled to cut out more of my cheat foods and up the vegetable content of my go-to meals. I could related. Wolf also gives a quick set of "Dude Diet Commandments" to give you general guidelines to follow even if the recipes aren't floating your boat. Then there's an extremely helpful chapter on which staples to stock your pantry with and which kitchen tools to buy. (Not all at once, of course.) I've lived on my own long enough to own most of Wolf's recommendations, but THE DUDE DIET is very much written to be accessible and useful to cooking novices.
Speaking of life changes, almost immediately after my review copy of THE DUDE DIET arrived I got adult braces.
|You know you wish your smile was this metal.|
Fortunately, THE DUDE DIET contained foods I can still eat. Scrambled eggs are very friendly to those who don't have much chomping force, and the Big Green Scramble adds some nice soft greens like sauteed zucchini and spinach to the eggs. It's a simple recipe that adds some extra nutrient punch without making the process of scrambling eggs that much more time consuming. And I definitely have the Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes saved for a slow weekend.
The recipes range from breakfast and dinner to dessert and cocktails. Sometimes, as with the Chronic Chili Cheese Dogs, they might not be that far off what you do already, just with suggestions such as whole-wheat buns and 100% bison dogs.
Others go farther afield, like the Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Chicken Sausage. (Which does remain easy to cook.) I made this without the sausage for a softer texture. I also left out the Dijon (because I don't like mustard) and the panko breadcrumbs (because I do not understand putting a crunchy layer of breadcrumbs on top of creamy mac and cheese and ruining the mouthfeel). Adjusted to my preferences and needs, it was pretty similar to my family's mac and cheese recipe, and I didn't really notice the addition of the cauliflower. (I did notice the lack of egg providing a nice binding element, so I might toss that in the next time I try this with the sausage.)
THE DUDE DIET is a beautiful cookbook full of recipes that got my imagination going. The fact that they're healthy is a major bonus. I look forward to making many more of the meals within. This cookbook is definitely going on my keeper shelf.