After graduating from college, Serena Wolf packed up and headed to Paris for a three-month basic culinary course at Le Cordon Bleu. Not because she loved cooking — she was only semi-adept at making grilled cheese sandwiches — but she went there on a whim, expecting to figure out what she really wanted to do with the rest of her life.
But she fell in love with cooking, and ended up staying and completing the full diploma program. Oh, and she also started a food blog.
Fast forward a few years, with Serena back in the States: when her boyfriend Logan decided he needed to lose a few pounds, she challenged herself with creating some dishes that were both healthy and appealing to her junk-food-loving, vegetable-averse boyfriend’s palate. She called it “The Dude Diet,” and posted recipes on her blog. Soon, she received an overwhelming response from men and women alike.
Now it’s a cookbook. In The Dude Diet – Clean(ish) Food for People Who Like to Eat Dirty, Serena shares more than 125 dude-friendly recipes that replace refined flour with whole grain alternatives, minimize sugar, and minimize fats.
If you’ve read my blog much lately, you know that I don’t have a problem with fat, and I do like to minimize grains. But I’m on the same page as Serena in regards to replacing factory-made food with whole foods. I’m also a huge proponent of baby steps and starting where you are with what you have, so I think this cookbook would be a great first step for someone who’s hooked on fast food, carryout, and bar food, and not ready or willing to make drastic changes in their food landscape.
And the recipes are undeniably appealing! Categories include Game Day Eats, On the Grill, Serious Salads, Take Out Favorites, Sexy Sides, and Chronic Cocktails. Here are a few dishes that should appeal to any dude or dudette:
- Dude Diet Philly Cheesesteaks
- Chicken Parmesan
- Super Sloppy Joes
- Sausage and Peppers Skillet
- Cauliflower Puree with Parmesan and Chives
I’ve made a few of the recipes; here are a couple definite keepers we’ll make again and again:
Maple Bourbon Almonds
This one is definitely in the “occasional treat” category. In fact, they’re a little too addictive for me! Anything that combines sweetness and nuts is kryptonite for me (or, in Whole30 parlance, “food with no brakes”), so I make these for my hubs to take to work for a snack that’s still healthier than anything in the vending machine. They’re a big hit with his coworkers, too.
By the way, if you’re opposed to bourbon, you can substitute vanilla extract. I’ve made it both ways. I like the flavor a bit better with bourbon, but it’s not a huge difference.
Southwestern Sweet Potato Salad
I’d never made a cold salad with sweet potatoes before, but I loved this! The original recipe called for black beans, but I subbed avocado for some healthier fat with a similar texture. The original recipe would be easy to make ahead, either for dinner on a rushed night, or for a potluck. If you make it with avocados, though, you’ll need to cut and add those just before serving.
I also appreciate the well-done photography, typography, and book design!
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.