Melinda Gale

Fitness & Lifestyle

Cookbook Round Up

Growing up, my mom always loved trying out cool new recipes. Thankfully, no one in my family is a picky eater. When my brother and I were old enough to cook alone, we loved to try out weird new recipes that we found. Now that I am "an adult", I love finding quick, easy and super healthy recipes I can integrate into my meal plan each week. Because of this little blog, I get tons of cookbooks sent to me...mainly because people know that food is pretty much the #1 love of my life. Here are a few of my favorite cookbooks I've recently tried out, along with a recipe from each!


Like many Americans, Audrey Johns struggled with fad diets and constant weight gain. Nearing the three-hundred-pound mark, she was eating under 1,000 calories per day of frozen “diet” meals and still gaining weight. After trying every major diet out there (and some scary ones too!), Audrey was left with no lasting results and more broke than ever. That’s when she decided to go back to the basics. She taught herself how to cook and transformed her favorite foods into skinny versions. After only a year of eating her new skinny recipes, she went from a size 24 to a size 4, losing over 150 pounds in 11 months. LOSE WEIGHT BY EATING takes more than 130 recipes that are typically full of unhealthy processed foods and empty calories—recipes we simply shouldn’t eat every day—and creates skinny versions.

With fewer than 500 calories per serving that can actually help readers lose weight, she shows readers how to lose weight without giving up everyday family staples, such as pasta, scones, fried chicken, nachos, meatloaf, cookies, and so much more. A helpful and accessible diet and cookbook, LOSE WEIGHT BY EATING is full of guilt-free, low-calorie, unprocessed versions of all your favorite foods that are also picky-kid-friendly and husband-approved. With her new book, Audrey wants to help others who struggle with their weight or cooking skills to show that with a little kitchen confidence, you can change your life, your body, and your health.

Jalapeño Poppers with Cool Dip

Makes 8 servings
Serving size: 1 jalapeno popper and 3 tablespoons dip
Per serving: calories 52; fat 2.5 g; fiber 0.5 g; protein 3.5 g; carbohydrates 4 g

These jalapeño poppers are low calorie and delicious. You can make them mild, medium, or hot. To make them mild, remove all the seeds and ribs (the white membranes). For medium, take out all the seeds and half the membranes, and to make them hot, only remove the seeds.

Jalapeño Poppers
4 large jalapeños
1∕8 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
4 tablespoons soft cream cheese

Cool Dip
1/4 cup 0% Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1∕8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 sprig fresh dill
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 425˚F.
2. Cut the jalapeños in half lengthwise and use a paring knife to remove the seeds and ribs.
3. In a small bowl, combine the cheese, garlic powder, and bread crumbs.
4. Lay the jalapeño halves cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread 1/2 tablespoon of the cream cheese in each one and top with the cheesy bread crumb mixture.
5. Bake the poppers for 15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the bread crumbs are golden brown.
6. For the dip, blend all the ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.
7. Serve the poppers with the dip on the side.

NOTE FROM AUDREY: We love these so much in my house, I make them as a side dish on Taco Tuesday! I get mini sweet bell peppers to make kid-friendly poppers.

You can make the Cool Dip the day before. To store the dip, pour in a plastic container and cover with plastic wrap. Push the plastic wrap over the surface of the dip and push out all the air bubbles. Cover with the lid and store for up to 48 hours in the fridge. I like to use any leftovers as a yummy veggie dip.

THE QUICK SIX FIX by Stuart O’Keeffe 

Stuart O’Keeffe grew up in Ireland cooking alongside his mother and learning how to make fresh home-cooked meals made with more love than labor. By working efficiently, keeping the kitchen space clean and cooking with minimal yet flavorful ingredients, Stuart believes that anyone can make great meals fast—with just six key ingredients. A professional and celebrity chef, Stuart brings his philosophy to everyone’s kitchen in his first cookbook and includes helpful tips and reminders along the way. In THE QUICK SIX FIX, Stuart begins with the pantry essentials and tools readers will need to whip up a range of tasty dishes at a moment’s notice. Teaching readers how to make smart shortcuts, like pairing key store-bought items with homemade ingredients, Stuart demonstrates how to cut kitchen time, save money, and get out of the kitchen in thirty minutes or less.

Stuart believes that fewer ingredients afford higher quality. With an inventive menu and meal-planning sections filled with wholesome shareable dishes—plenty of vegetarian options too—plus more than seventy-five full color photos,  THE QUICK SIX FIX is the must-have tool for creating easy-to-make, great-tasting dishes that are sure to wow the ones we love.

Angel Hair with Lemon, Kale and Pecans

Serves 4–6
PREP 6 minutes
COOK 20 minutes
CLEAN 5 minutes

When kale started to take over the food world, I noticed it was juiced, made into chips, put into smoothies, and even sneaked into chocolate bars. So why not put it in a pasta dish? The nuts in this recipe give the dish another layer of flavor and a nice crunchy texture. The bitter, citrus, crunch, and chili all combine for a unique pasta.

½ cup pecans
1 pound angel hair pasta
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried chili flakes
½ pound kale, stems discarded and chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
8 basil leaves, torn
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Let’s Cook!

1. Toast pecans in a dry nonstick skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes until fragrant. Remove from skillet and chop. Set aside.
2. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to a pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta for 1 minute less than the package instructs.
3. While the pasta is cooking, heat ¼ cup olive oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet until shimmering. Add the garlic and chili flakes and stir for 30 seconds until fragrant.
4. Add kale and lemon zest and cook for 2 minutes more. Stir carefully so that the kale will not fall out of the pan.
5. Add the pasta, remaining olive oil, lemon juice, basil, salt, and pepper. Toss until everything is coated.
6. Portion pasta onto plates. Sprinkle with the pecans and Parmesan cheese.

FYI: Keep in mind that angel hair pasta is very thin and cooks very quickly.
FYI: Toasting nuts releases their natural oils and flavors.

Afternoon Tea at Home by Will Torrent : Will Torrent showcases the key techniques involved in pâtisserie, baking, chocolate work and serving savoury dishes in 80 beautifully illustrated recipes, including guest recipes from top restaurants and hotels.




The Ritz has been serving Afternoon Tea since it opened its doors in 1906 and remains the place for the quintessentially British afternoon tea. An institution in itself; songs, books and more have been written about The Ritz. Last year alone over 14,000 guests took tea in the glamorous setting of The Palm Court; the world-class service and ornate settings will make you feel like royalty. Gentleman, you will need a tie and ladies, dress in your best! John Williams, Executive Chef, and his team make an incredible 1,200 scones every day and these popular scones have never left the menu.

400 g/3 cups strong bread flour
60 g/scant .⁄. cup caster granulated sugar
30 g/3 tbs baking powder
a small pinch of salt
60 g/. stick butter
250 ml/1 cup buttermilk
100 g/. cup (dark) raisins
1 beaten egg, for glazing

good-quality jam/jelly of your choosing
clotted cream
 5-cm/2-inch round cookie cutter
a baking sheet lined with baking parchment

Makes about 24

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a large mixing bowl. Mix together with your fingertips to the consistency of fine breadcrumbs. Add the buttermilk and gently stir to combine until a dough forms. Add

the raisins and knead lightly to spread them throughout the dough. Don’t overwork the dough – the less you work it the more light and fluffy the scones will be. Cover the bowl and set aside to rest for 10 minutes. This

allows the dough to relax to avoid toughness. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll out to a thickness of 1 cm/3⁄8 inch. Stamp out rounds using the cookie cutter, turn them over and arrange

on the prepared baking sheet. Bring any scraps of dough together, re-roll and stamp out as many rounds as you can.

Brush the tops of each round with a little beaten egg to glaze. Cover the sheets with a clean kitchen cloth and set aside in a warm place to rise and prove for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 160C (325F). Bake the scones in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle of a scone comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Serve warm or cold with jam/jelly and clotted cream on the side.

Garlic by Jenny Linford: Jenny Linford’s inspired recipes include delicious ideas for dips, snacks, meat, poultry and fish plus pastas and breads. Master much loved classics such as Aioli, Ajo Blanco (almond gazpacho), Spaghetti alle Vongole, Garlic and Anchovy Roast Lamb and Boeuf Bourguignon, then try some new recipes such as Green Garlic Muffins, Korean Beef Bulgogi, Stir-fried Miso Pork with Wild Garlic and a Taiwanese Braised Pork Bao (steamed buns).

Ramps Salmon en Papillote

Serves 4

40 g/3 tablespoons butter, softened
10 g/1⁄2 oz. wild garlic leaves/ramps, finely chopped
grated zest of 1 lemon
4 salmon fillets (each around 175 g/6 oz.)
2 tablespoons dry white wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 squares of parchment paper, 30 x 30 cm/ 12 x 12 in.

Preheat to oven to 220°C (425°F).

Mix together the butter, wild garlic/ramps and lemon zest. Fold each piece of baking parchment in half. Place each salmon fillet, skin-side-down, on one side of the crease in the paper. Season each fillet with salt and pepper, spread with a quarter of the wild garlic/ramps butter and spoon over a quarter of the wine. Fold the paper over the fillets and crimp the edges together, folding tightly. Place the parcels on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until puffed up. Serve at once, opening each parcel at the table.