Food, Health, and Happiness by Oprah Winfrey (Melcher Media, 2017)
In the Introduction to Food, Health, and Happiness Oprah Winfrey includes a photo of herself in size ten jeans, toting a red wagon loaded with fat. The caption with the photo reads, “Me, my Calvins, and that infamous wagon of fat turned out to be iconic television. But if I had it to do again, I wouldn't.” (p.2) Many of us remember that triumphant moment, when Oprah revealed her slim new figure after months of a starvation diet. And then, like so many of us, within months the weight had piled back on and Oprah felt humiliated and defeated.
Then, in the summer of 2015 Weight Watchers called Oprah to talk to her about joining their team. “Seventeen pounds beyond my already steadily overweight weight,” Oprah confesses, “And yes, you read that right---Weight Watchers actually called me.” (p.3) Now, Oprah has become a believer in the world's most successful and oldest weight loss program. Food, Health, and Happiness reflects Oprah's journey to healthy and satisfying eating along with 115 on point (Weight Watcher's points) recipes. For any one who is concerned about his or her health, but still enjoys a great culinary experience, this volume is a must have.
Chapter 1 is entitled “Soup is Love,” and includes seventeen scrumptious recipes for a variety of interesting and not terribly complicated soups. Each recipe includes prep and cook time, number of servings per recipe, Weight Watchers points, and a calorie count. The choices of soups range from a simple mushroom soup to an intriguing Mulligatawny. Of the Mulligatawny Oprah notes, “I used to tape two, sometimes three, shows a day. I'd grab a little snack between tapings to keep my energy from flagging, then I'd come upstairs for some lunch at about 3:00. Mulligatawny was always one of my comfort soups the diced apples and curry give it a slightly exotic flavor that you can't quite put your finger on---you just know it's wonderful.” (p. 21)
Chapter 6, Greens, Glorious Greens, is devoted to creating salads that are tantalizing and sumptuous. “I had no idea that a gorgeously composed salad---with textures running the gamut from crunchy crispy to impossibly delicate, a rainbow's worth of color and flavors that register exotic, bitter, sweet, citrusy, nutty, tart, and spicy, sometimes all in the same bite.” (p.184) The recipes that ensue in the chapter reflect Oprah's discovery. For example, “Heirloom Tomato and Summer Corn Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette,” “Brussels Sprout Salad with Shaved Parmesan and Meyer Lemon and Truffle Vinaigrette,” and “Roasted Eggplant with Kale, Fresh Mozzerella, and Pine Nuts,” are a few of the samplings that entice us to try these interesting combination of ingredients.
Chapter 4, “A World of Possibility,” is my favorite chapter in the book. In 2012 Oprah took a trip to India, a land of intrigue and splendor or as Oprah puts it “the kind of luxury generally reserved for fairy tales, complete with painted elephants and bejeweled camels.” (p.114) Chapter 4 showcases some of the outstanding dishes of Indian cuisine, including Indian Pumpkin Curry, Morel Pilau, Dry Prawn Curry, and Chicken Tikka Masala with Brown Basmati Rice. There is even a recipe for Naan, about which Oprah states, “There's something very moving, even romantic, about tasting a dish knowing that people have been eating that same dish for centuries. No matter where you're from, bread is the thing that connects us all. If anything's going to make you fall truly, madly, deeply, head over heels in love with Indian food, this is it.” Here's the best part of the Naan recipe included in Food, Health, and Happiness: the Naan is only two points a serving.
For those who simply must have a sweet, there is a brief section called “Sweeten the Deal,” included in the volume. Recipes include Fresh Cherry Crostate, Spiced Applesauce Minicakes, Lavender Shortbread, and five delectable flavors of sorbet. Again, the “cold comfort” page, which includes the sorbet recipes are enticingly exotic. They include “Coconut Lime, Ginger Peach, Lychee, Strawberry, and Banana sorbets, all of which will satisfy that sweet tooth for only one point per serving. That is a true treat.
Aside from hearing from Oprah about her struggles and triumphs with food throughout her life, the volume offers stunning pictures of each dish that make the reader want to rush off to the grocery store to stock up on ingredients to begin healthy eating ala Weight Watchers and Oprah's partnership. I have given this book already to several people whom I love. It makes a great gift and certainly offers a variety of interesting recipes that allow one to feel sated and healthy simultaneously.