A few weeks ago, I received an email asking me if I would be interested in trying some recipes from The Secret Ingredient by Sally Bee. Never one to turn down recipes, especially ones that are both healthy and delicious, I jumped at the chance.
Sally Bee’s cookbook is unique in that, at a very young age, Sally suffered several heart attacks. Some information from her About page is below:
At the age of 36, Sally was in the prime of her life, she successfully juggled a career as a writer and TV presenter, as well as looking after her three young children. Her life seemed perfect.
Then in 2004 Sally suffered three major heart attacks in the space of only one week. Unbeknown to her she was born with a major heart defect that had the potential to kill her at any time. The main artery which feeds her heart had become entirely dissected (SCAD) With Sally’s life hanging in the balance, doctors asked her husband to come and say his final goodbye. It was a huge surprise to doctors when Sally managed to survive three precious hours, astonishingly she also survived until the next morning!
Five years on, Sally appears to be glowing with health. Unfortunately there is no medication that can ever cure her but in spite of this she tries to live her life to the full and be as healthy as she can possibly be. She is a big believer in living life actively and in not making a distinction between ‘tasty food’ and ‘healthy food’. Sally is nothing short of a miracle and continues to confound doctors’ expectations.
Sally is a fund raiser for heart charities and is a trained therapist giving regular talks to heart rehabilitation groups. She is also an NHS ‘Expert Patient’ having completed the expert patient programme through Stanford University, USA.
I didn’t have time to do much research before I received the book, and I was surprised at how vibrant it is and how “normal” all of the recipes seem. I guess with the author being a heart patient, I was expecting really restricted eating. Not in this book. In fact, as many of the recipes are such hearty comfort food, I will definitely be using it often in the fall and winter. Things like Guinness Beef Stew and Magnificent Moroccan Chicken will definitely be making blog appearances!
Since I had an abundance of tomatoes and bell peppers from the farmer’s market, I decided to make the Italian Blushing Pasta which required me to roast grape tomatoes, red bell pepper, and a whole head of garlic, topped with garlic powder, oregano, black pepper, and crushed red pepper. I changed up the spices a little to make it spicier for my heat-loving palate
As the veggies roasted (for about 50 minutes at 375), I cooked up some multi-grain pasta. We eat pasta pretty rarely, but over the years I have definitely stopped buying white pasta altogether. There are so many great options out there that offer great whole grains with a delicious extra bite. This was from Barilla.
Once everything was cooked, I combined the ingredients, added a bit more crushed red pepper, and served the pasta, topped with a little bit of goat cheese that may have not been part of the original recipe.
We also had an Olivia’s Organics mixed herb salad with fresh farm tomatoes and a little basil oil that I made by throwing a huge bunch of basil in the food processor with some EVOO. Yummy.
The recipes in The Secret Ingredient are simple but also offer a wow factor that make many of them perfect for entertaining as well as for every day. They are broken down into Soups & Starters, Salads, Sides & Vegetarian, Chicken, Fish, Beef, Lamb & Pork, and Desserts. Each recipe is marked with Everyday or Treat, showing just how each one fits into a balanced diet. Sprinkled throughout the book there are tips for eating better, whether it be better fast food, including a rainbow of veggies, or learning proper portion sizes.
I am excited that many of the recipes in this book will be perfect for fall and winter weather, we all know we get enough of that in Boston, and staying in with some good homemade food and wine is the best way to get through it. I have to say while I enjoy summer, I look forward to those chilly nights. . .
If you could create the perfect season what would it be? Mine would include farmer’s market produce year round, warm, sunny days, and really chilly nights. Actually, that already exists. . . Northern California
So the good news is that I have a copy of The Secret Ingredient to give away to a lucky reader.
1) Leave a comment here telling me your favorite time of year to cook and why.
2) Visit Sally Bee’s website to check out the recipe of the week. Here you can get great free recipes!
3) If you have a blog, link back to this post. If you don’t have a blog, link back on Facebook or Twitter.
I will announce the winner of the Harvard Sweet Boutique giveaway tonight!