x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Home cooking for the good of your health

Five cookbooks on UAE bookshelves help you to cook at home with your own well-being uppermost in mind.

Dining at home can be both healthier and cheaper than taking the whole family out.
Dining at home can be both healthier and cheaper than taking the whole family out.

If the current economic climate has you eating on a budget this summer, it's time to open the fridge and get cooking. There's no better way to save money, ensure freshness and avoid extra calories than by cooking at home. These five cookbooks offer plenty of light, tasty dishes that are easy on the wallet and the waistline.

If you're looking for flavourful summer recipes with a healthy twist, this is the book for you. Between the clean format, simple cooking methods and crisp pictures, it certainly has an air of freshness making it ideal for the coming months. Forget the usual categories of soups, salads, mains and desserts, this cookbook kicks it up a notch and divides over 100 recipes into intriguing sections based on ingredients and cooking techniques, including a chapter on tofu, raw food and umami (one of the five basics tastes, aside from sweet, bitter, salty and sour). What's more, it reaches all corners of the world with dishes such as Korean bibimbap, Thai beef with lemongrass and Tuscan bean soup.

While the title of this cookbook isn't the least bit appetising, conjuring thoughts of bland, tasteless dishes, the recipes inside are surprisingly good. It offers easy no-cook snacks and meals that are heart-healthy and there's plenty of choice. With names like blueberry lemon smoothie, shaved fennel, kumquat and frisée salad as well as cold fennel soup, these dishes not only sound delicious, they are healthy as well. As the title suggests, this collection uses plenty of whole grains, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables to boost the fibre content of many dishes. What sets this book apart is that each recipe includes complete nutritional information - a must for anyone watching their calorie, fat or sodium intake.

This gem is based around low-glycaemic-index (GI) foods, which break down slowly and cause a gradual rise and fall in blood glucose levels. Eating low-GI foods has been linked to a lower risk of type-2 diabetes and heart disease. Aside from being low-GI, these recipes use plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, low-fat protein and heart-healthy unsaturated fat. There is a selection of easy-to-prepare dishes, from sandwiches and wraps to refreshing smoothies. With meal ideas including prawn and mango salad and poached pears in lemongrass syrup, you can't go wrong.

This cookbook takes the guesswork out of healthy eating for diabetics and anyone else interested in cleaning up their diet. With detailed information on preparation time, cooking time and number of servings, combined with clear, concise directions, these recipes are ideal for the novice chef. Categories cover the gamut from light lunches to easy entertaining. Like the GI - High Energy Cookbook, this also offers detailed nutritional information for each recipe, a must for any diabetic following a strict diet. Mouthwatering meals include lemongrass fish skewers and chocolate raspberry soufflé. There's something for everyone here, whether you happen to be diabetic or not.

There's no style of cuisine better suited to the hot summer weather than traditional Arabic dishes, and this cookbook proves the point admirably. These scrumptious recipes will have you throwing away all your takeaway menus and fastening the strings on your cooking apron in no time. When the weather is too hot to cook, there's nothing better than preparing your own cold meze, including plenty of fresh vegetables and tasty herbs. While this book has all the usual suspects including hummus and tabbouleh, other dishes such as walnut and pomegranate salad, otherwise known as muhammara, will have you spreading your culinary horizons with little effort. As few recipes demand more than six ingredients, there are plenty of options for weekday-evening cooking. You may want to save some of the more decadent dishes for the weekend, though.