I can hardly believe it’s been two years since the publication of Salt Sugar Smoke, a Diana Henry book that taught me so much about the art of preserving and which fast became one of the most-thumbed books on my shelf. Fast-forward to 2014 and Diana’s latest book, A Change of Appetite, shares her journey towards a healthier lifestyle where food remains delicious and enjoyable. This book was inspired by Diana’s experiences with friends turning to her for healthy recipes, and her Doctor’s advice to improve her own health. Throughout the book, the emphasis is firmly focussed on eating “really well and happily,” with more fish, vegetables and alternative grains, and fewer refined carbs, meats and ‘heavy’ foods. Diana doesn’t declare anything off-limits, and offers readers recipes which aim to improve our diets without sacrifice or need to turn ourselves into health food fanatics.
I’m much more into living life to the full than I am into thinking of my body as a temple – Diana Henry
Of A Change of Appetite, Yotam Ottolenghi says “[Diana] knows her colours, she knows her flavours and she knows how to marry them perfectly.” I find this summarises Diana’s recipes well – always filled with exciting, unusual and often intriguing ingredients, yet somehow effortlessly and perfectly brought together. Fresh ingredients are at the forefront, combined with delicate herbs, edible flowers and exotic spices to create her trademark ‘otherworldly’ cookery style. There are also plenty of eye-catching food photographs by Laura Edwards to gaze at, too.
Within Diana’s recipes there are always layers of flavours and interesting textures. You’ll find salad dressings inspired by the Asian ‘hot, sour, salty, sweet’ mantra, for example combining together lime juice, fish sauce, a sprinkle of sugar and groundnut oil. On other dishes, Diana adds an extra bite though the clever use of toppings like sesame seeds, a sprinkling of poppy seeds, and a basil gremolata with almonds and lemon. A walnut sauce based on a Georgian recipe for satsivi livens up her roast chicken, over which are scattered marigold flowers.
A Change of Appetite will help adjust any tendency to over-sugar, with a delicious recipe for raspberries with basil and buttermilk sherbet delivering a “mouth-puckeringly refreshing” hit, and Diana’s Greek yogurt and apricot ice cream, using apple juice and runny honey, quickly combining into a peachy-coloured Spring dessert.
There is an emphasis on seasonality, with recipes and chapters arranged into the four seasons, with accompanying menu ideas to help you frame the perfect dinner party. For example, in Spring, Diana suggests serving a menu of shaved vegetables with lemon and olive oil, salmon with baby leeks, and blueberry and gin jellies. Whilst in Winter, you would do well to serve hot bagna cauda, Georgian chicken with walnut sauce, followed by orange and pomegranate cake – recipe here.
Diana is an elegant writer, drawing her reader in and capturing their imagination with recipes inspired from a very wide selection of cuisines from around the world. I have found many new favourite recipes within A Change of Appetite, but at the top of the list are Diana’s salad of goat’s curd, blueberries and watercress, her beetroot and poppy seed loaf cake, and a very simple recipe for spiced pork chops with ginger and mango relish. For lunch today, I thoroughly enjoyed Diana’s nectarine, tomato and basil with torn mozzarella.
A Change of Appetite is a recipe book that you can both learn from and cook from. I especially liked Diana’s ‘final thoughts’, in which she shares useful mantras and notes, and her well-considered ‘essential reading’, ‘wider reading’ bibliography and supplier lists.
Having now read the book from cover to cover, I feel assured that, once again, Diana has proven that she remains able to predict the needs of her audience. In A Change of Appetite, she recognises that her readers are developing an interest to move towards foods that support a healthy lifestyle and a healthy attitude, without going overboard or giving up everything you love to eat. That you can make some very basic changes to your diet in order to feel healthier, and that a little treat every now and again isn’t off limits. Best of all, Diana’s attitude isn’t patronising or prescriptive, she simply states:
“I have undergone a change of appetite. I’m eating better, I feel better, I have more energy. My way forward has been to reduce refined carbs and significantly increase the range of veg I eat. You might use the knowledge in this book and settle on a slightly different path. Even if you’re not bothered about health you’ll eat deliciously…It’s food that makes you feel revitalized and energetic. Deprivation is not on the menu.”
A Change of Appetite – where healthy meets delicious – is published by Mitchell Beazley, RRP £25.00 – available on Amazon for £16.75 at time of writing.
With many thanks to Diana for the signed copy and to the publisher for two additional copies to give away – you can enter our competition here.
Diana Henry is one of Britain’s very best food writers, twice-named ‘Cookery Journalist of the Year’ by the Guild of Food Writers, The Sunday Telegraph’s Food Writer and the author of eight acclaimed books, including ‘Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons’ and ‘Food from Plenty’. You can follow her on Twitter @DianaHenryFood and visit her website here.
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