Anita Bean’s marvellous cookbook is something suitable for exercise freaks and lazy sloths alike. The recipes are easy, tasty and, more importantly, healthy.
With more than a hundred recipes on offer, Bean begins the book with general information around calorie requirements and diet, featuring sections specifically on carbohydrates, protein fat, and hydration, amongst other important topics. Her style is easy to follow and the layout uses lots of sub-headings – often in the form of questions – to help the reader find the most relevant information. They’re good, common questions too, from How can I avoid gaining weight while injured? on page 29 where she begins to discuss injury recovery, through to food-specific questions like How do I carb-load? How many calories do I need in a day? and Is too much protien harmful?
The colourful photos help break up the text, while the two-column format also uses boxes and lists to make the pages easy to read. The glossy pages help prevent stains and, unlike so many other recipe books nowadays, this one stays open on your page, making it far more practical in the kitchen than many others.
Despite the slant towards running and runners, the information provided is valuable for everyone and the recipes are great. As expected, they range from breakfasts, salads and soups through to main meals, desserts and snacks. It’s a rare treat to see a separate chapter for vegetarian main meals too. Each recipe provides nutritional information per serving while main meal recipes also offer suggestions for accompaniments to round out the meal.
I tried the following three recipes, all successful and deceptively simple, making The Runner’s Cookbook a must-have even for a desk-bound and oft-lazy cook like myself. Highly recommended.
Root Vegetable and Butternut Squash Soup (page 96)
Embarrassingly easy to make, the toughest part of prepping this soup is cutting and peeling the pumpkin. Served with a sprinkle of pepita seeds and plain Greek yoghurt, the soup is thick and satisfying. Warm, buttered crusty bread is the ideal finishing touch. The recipe makes enough to feed a family of four with potential left overs for a second helping. Delicious and perfect for our cool winter nights.
Salmon and Sweet Potato Fishcakes (page 110)
I’m in two minds about this recipe. It’s easy to follow and simple, if not a bit messy to make. Poached salmon and baked potatoes combine with zest of lemon, parsley and other ingredients to make tasty patties that go well with the suggested salad. As a creature of habit however, I swapped processes to bake my salmon and boil my potatoes. It’s a meal I often make, so felt no need to them mash and roll together with eggs and breadcrumbs to fry into fishcakes. Following the recipe through to the end provided a delicious meal of eight fishcakes but the thought never left me that I would have been equally content to have stopped half way through for a healthier, faster meal.
Asparagus and Cherry Tomato Omelette (page 72)
This breakfast idea provides the basic recipe along with four optional extra combinations for more taste. When it comes to omelettes, mine invariably turn out like scrambled eggs and this attempt was no different despite clear instructions on what to do. I added an extra egg to compensate for adding additional ingredients from the suggested options: mushrooms, spinach and avocado. It was a great combination although feta or goat’s cheese might be worth adding next time too. This quick breakfast feast is definitely a keeper, as is this cookbook.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 10
Distributed by: Bloomsbury
Released: January 2018