“Power Bowls: 100 Perfectly Balanced Meals in a Bowl,” by Christal Sczebel. Sterling Epicure. $19.95

Photo courtesy of Sterling Epicure

There is a whole lot of information to go through before you ever reach the recipes in “Power Bowls: 100 Perfectly Balanced Meals in a Bowl.” In Part One, cookbook writer Christal Sczebel, a certified holistic nutritional consultant, explains the importance of food as fuel for our bodies. She follows that with profiles of the many ingredients called for in the book, the kitchen tools and cooking techniques required to make the dishes, and a list of special diets with substitutions for those ingredients that a person on such a diet wants to avoid. For example, readers who adhere to a Paleo diet can replace grains with a sweet potato and still maintain the bowl’s nutritional value.

The Ingredient Profiles are broken down into nine categories, among them Dairy, Complex Carbohydrates, Nuts & Seeds, Vegetables, and Fruits. Each profile details the origin, nutrients, and power properties of specific foods.

All this information serves as buildup of and explanation for the recipes that follow in Part Two, which is itself divided into parts: Wake Up Bowls, Workout Bowls, Small Bowls, Big Bowls, and Treat Bowls. Each recipe is tagged with icons that indicate whether it is dairy-free, fast-releasing energy, gluten-free, good for digestion, slow-releasing energy, vegan, or vegetarian. You’ll also learn the nutrients per serving and find variations for many of the recipes.

Though the recipes themselves are simple, it’s clear that the combinations of food resulted from a complex thought process to create a balanced meal. Many of the recipes combine foods that are not typically mixed together, say, quinoa with coconut flakes, artichokes with cucumbers, and crushed peanuts with broccoli crowns. In many cases, the vegetables are raw, shredded, and used to garnish bowls. The accompanying photos emanate healthy, colorful, fresh ingredients.

Our family decided to test a recipe from the Big Bowl section for dinner. My son Martin is experimenting with a dairy-free diet to see how it affects his athletic performance, so we read through the recipes together, landing on one that was dairy-free and described as offering the eater slow-releasing energy. Moreover, Pesto, Turkey & Kale Pasta contained many of our favorite ingredients. Like many other recipes in “Power Bowls,” it was written to make just one serving, so we tripled it. Tasty and filling, in fact it made a hearty meal for all the Nordic skiers in our house.

“Power Bowls” encourages readers/cooks to eat good, nutrient-rich food, and makes it easy to do so by offering many simple, flavorful recipes. It’s both inspiring and empowering to learn how our diets can help our bodies function at their best. I can already imagine that Martin will be taking this book with him when he heads off to college in a few years.

PESTO, TURKEY & KALE PASTA

Recipe from “Power Bowls: 100 Perfectly Balanced Meals in a Bowl.”

Serves 1

1 cup torn kale

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup cooked gluten-free or whole-grain pasta

2 tablespoons pesto

3 ounces baked or grilled turkey breast, chopped

2 sun-dried tomatoes, jarred in oil, chopped

Sprig of fresh basil

Pinch of black pepper

2 lemon wedges

1. Place the kale in a large bowl, sprinkle it with salt, and massage the leaves gently with your hands for 1 to 2 minutes, to soften them.

2. Place the cooked pasta in a separate bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of the pesto to coat the pasta. Spoon the pasta on top of the kale.

3. In the same bowl, combine the turkey breast and the remaining 1 tablespoon pesto, and stir to coat.

4. Place the turkey on top of the kale and pasta. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Place the sprig of basil in the middle of the bowl, sprinkle with a pinch of black pepper, and squeeze the lemon wedges over. Serve immediately.

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