A couple of weeks ago I was banging on, as I do, on Instagram about my general eatings and in particular on a favourite Gizzi Erskine recipe when a cyber buddy asked me if I rated her book Skinny Weeks & Weekend Feasts as she was trying to level out her eating but didn’t get on with conventional plans. I sat up straight, smiled smugly to myself and went about sliding in a seamless link to my blog where she could read all about my gushingly embarrassing girl crush and all the reasons I love this book.
I absolutely cannot believe that I have failed to write about SWWF until now.
I came into possession of this book 2 Christmases ago by way of the older male sibling and kez-in-law. I have to admit I had not heard much about her at the time other than masses of grumbling when we went to Meatopia that she was there and cooking but we weren’t important enough to go and see her. With retrospect this is a double blow as back then I might have been able to maintain an iota of cool about it where I can only apologise now for the horrific fangirl outpourings that will ensue if I bump in to her in the future.
She really did have me at Hello. Or more accurately, she had me at the intro passage of her book where she says:
“I need to eat good food regularly or I’m not the same person. And, like so many of us, every so often, I get carried away and eat too much. I find it hard to control what goes in my mouth because frankly, I want it all.”
Ever see Velvet Goldmine? Remember the fantasy sequence of Christian Bale jumping up and down and pointing at the liberated snotty glam rockers on the TV going ‘That’s me!’? Well that was me on reading the opener blurb for SWWF- it is one of the most relatable and sense talking cook book openers I’ve ever read. SWWF is about eating healthily without gimmicks or deprivation and incorporating the 80/20 rule of being strict 80% of the time so that going slightly off the rails the other 20% of the time doesn’t lead to weight gain and health problems.
To be clear, SWWF is not a diet book, but a self proclaimed book of two halves with the intention of giving the reader a bank of tasty, nutritious recipes to call on without breaking the calorie bank because in this day and age girls don’t just want to have fun, we want to eat loads and not get fat. Boys too.
Skinny Weeks is the half of the book dedicated to your Monday-Friday, or your 80% with 100 pages of breakfasts, lunches and dinners including some light desserts and *fanfare* some really brilliant dips that you don’t have to feel bad about demolishing infront of your next Netflix binge. My first call of praise to this book is her Courgette Baba Ganoush- a really delicious tasty dip which is technically 57 calories a serving so it doesn’t matter when you eat the entire 4 serving recipe load of it in one go. It’s delicious, and you’d never know it was a skinny option.
Weekend Feasts brings you around to your 20%, your friday night blow out dinners, lazy brunches, epic sunday lunches and innocuously labelled ‘sweet treats’ where you will find the steamed puddings, gypsy tart and peanut butter cornflake brownies (I LOVE YOU GIZZI). Whereas all the skinny weeks recipes give you a handy calorie breakdown, in the weekend feast pages you simply get a ‘Wicked Rating’- a score of 1-10 which will indicate exactly how far into indulgence wonderland you are going. I really like this as a menu planning strategy if I am cooking from this book as often it helps to skinny down a menu without getting too hung up on counting calories and a lot of the time something that looks utterly evil from the pictures and ingredients actually only scores a 5 so to hell with it, let’s have that. I should add this scoring doesn’t detract from your treat times as lets all face it there could be a score of a million and it doesn’t matter because sometimes you are going to have a big fat southern fried chicken dinner and that’s that.
Although I love a big fat southern fried chicken dinner as much as the next person, I spend a lot more time in Skinny Weeks section and have to say this has seriously aided my more recent efforts at dieting as it really doesn’t feel like dieting. People say that about a lot of mainstream plans but in my experience that is BS. Slimming World feels like dieting. Ultra low carb potato counting methods feel like dieting. Spending 8 hours in the healthfood shop trying to find organic cracked arantha grains feels like dieting. Whacking together a mocha shake for breakfast every morning before I leave the house does not feel like dieting and yes, unless the Mr has finished all the whey again without telling me (I hate him) I have a Gizzi recipe shake every morning before I go to work. It’s quick to do and fuss free (other than remembering to order in your whey) and keeps me as full as many other breakfasts I have tried over the years at higher calorie, lower satisfaction levels. I also use her base dressing on my lunch salads probably 4 out of 5 days a week and I think it is the healthy fat content of this that makes these lunches seem to last a bit longer and help stave off the dreaded Kit Kat hour of the afternoon at my desk. Other notable favourites of this section are the fattoush salad and yoghurt chicken curry bowl- which I have to say is so good that it is often our Saturday treat dinner despite being in the saintly range of recipes.
It is worth saying that SWWF is a beautiful book, with wonderfully shot food porn as well as some fun illustrations. I struggle with word heavy food tomes and SWWF is perfectly broken up with the pretty pictures for my millennial mind. A lot of said food porn is also easy to re-create without a load of fancy lights and a gastro stylist, making a lot of the dishes in this book appropriate for your competitive dinner parties/instafood hashtag.
So yes SWWF is delicious and nutritious and gloriously free of any kind of food associated guilt, and much of it is very simple. The ‘working lunches’ chapter in particular is great for fuss free plates. There are however some more techy and time consuming recipes in there and the selection of Asian themed dishes might require a tiny bit more shopping that you might be used to but it is all worth it. I remember seeing Gizzi comment recently that she has been accused of fussy recipes but she doesn’t apologise for this because she likes cooking- and this also sums up this book for me: it is a pleasure to cook from if you enjoy being in your kitchen to create. And it is a double pleasure to eat from regardless of your desire to lose or maintain your weight.
Also, this book is by Gizzi Erskine. Hello!!!!! Talk about lifestyle goals, she is bloody fabulous and although I’ve said all of this level and food relevant stuff about her cookery book just look at her! She’s fantastic and together and has a brilliant wardrobe and lovely hair and she can do that sexy flicky eyeliner thing I can never manage and all of my shallow materialistic wantings are reflected in her as well as her kick ass kitchen style. Her social media accounts are worth following for her attitude and humour as well as all the foodie goodness. Gizzi is an all round good egg and you should listen to her. Girlcrush rant over.
Gizzi does have other, and newer, offerings available and although I am very excited to get my hands on her next release due in September (Season’s Eatings) SWWF comes with my highest and more urgent recommendation it really should be on your Amazon Wish List if you like modern, tasty and healthy food that isn’t depressing.
10/10, topnotch, brilliant.
Love you Gizzi.
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