Reviewed on 27th October 2016

From Junk Food to Joy Food by Joy Bauer

Genre: Food and Drink / Non-Fiction
From Junk Food to Joy Food by Joy Bauer Synopsis

We all want to look and feel better, but where’s the fun in nibbling on boring salads and choking down steamed broccoli? It’s tough sticking to a diet when you’re craving barbecue ribs, fettucine Alfredo, vegetable lo mein, and chocolate milkshakes. But best-selling author and TODAY show nutrition expert Joy Bauer is fresh from her kitchen with news for you: You can have your cheesecake and eat it, too!

From Junk Food to Joy Food by Joy Bauer Review

An Exciting New Way to Whip Up Your Favourite Treats!

Okay, I must be honest. It is never a piece of cake for me to review a ‘healthy eating’ cookbook, simply because I am from the slightly unconventional school of thought that doesn’t label food as good versus bad. Ever. I eat what I want, when I want, love my food by sending it positive energy, drink plenty of water, take my Pink Himalayan Salt, try to get some exercise, and remain happy and healthy. But I accept that this is far from the mainstream philosophy. And when Hay House sent me nutrition and health expert, Joy Bauer’s latest collection of recipes, I couldn’t resist but to road test the sweet section!

And it is BIG…

Which immediately put a smile on my face because I am a cake addict.

But with so many mouthwatering low calorie alternatives to tempt me, trimming my taste test down to just five recipes, was far from a picnic!

Eventually, I opted for the following, which I think gives the best idea of the sheer variety Joy has spent hours upon hours cooking and blending up for us:

Black Bean Brownies
My daughter had a birthday party. My daughter also had a friend coming to said celebration who wouldn’t be able to eat anything containing dairy. Cue the Black Bean Brownies which perfectly fitted the bill. Now, when you first read the recipe and think about the seemingly bizarre concoction of black beans and chocolate as a cake, well, you kind of turn your nose up. But bare with. Give it a try! Obviously, although I could eat the actual birthday cake I was simultaneously baking, I needed to be sure this alternative to the traditional Brownie was edible for my daughter’s guest, for want of a better word!

Whilst I can’t deny that it wouldn’t quite hit the spot as far as a ‘normal’ chocolate fix goes, if I was on a diet, oh yes, it would suffice pretty nicely. There’s a kind of fudgyness to these brownies, not to mention a whole lot of goodness going on (although I have to say, if we are labeling food as healthy and not so… I would be slightly questioning the inclusion of the processed ingredients that are a Brownie packet mix…)

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But anyway, the proof is always in the pudding (and with the above thought in mind, the protein from those super food beans is going to overpower any ‘naughtiness’ that comes from artificial food), and my little guinea pig, Izzie, flippin’ well loved them! So much so that when I offered her the entire batch to take home with her as part of her party goodie bag, she was jumping for Joy.

High praise indeed.

Chocolate Covered Popcorn
Wow, was this ever a hit with the kids. And me! What a treat. You just wouldn’t know that it contained far less fat and cals than a regular sweet coated popcorn. It really was good and oh, so simple to put together. I’m no pushover when it comes to popcorn, contrary to my taste buds’ usual requirements, I actually prefer my popcorn very lightly sweet and salted. But this worked really well. The addition of cinnamon and salt (I used my trusty Pink Himalayan), really lifted the whole chocolate experience to another dimension. We made a bowl and settled down for a movie in style, very happy… until the bowl was empty and the children screamed, ‘More!!!’

Chocolate Popcorn
Image: Pippa Perriam

Blueberry Mojito
I tried to like this. I really tried. But alas, no. It wasn’t for me. I simply couldn’t detect any sweetness at all and put in far less mint leaves than the recipe stated (10 did seem a lot) but even that completely overpowered the liquid so it was more like supping a cold mint tea… That said, I am sure that those out there with far less of a sweet tooth would have quite happily knocked the cocktail back… and blitzed up a second. I think these things are all relative. And certainly when it comes to cocktails, I am always opting for those with the less bitter twang. So give it a try and if this recipe doesn’t float your boat, for sure Joy’s alternative Pina Colada or Sangria WILL. I know I am intrigued to move on to those next…

Banana Ice Cream
The absolute star of the show! Joy, I could have kissed you. Really. Picture yourself on a 40 degree day (we live in a hot country), melting onto the sofa as you wonder what on earth you can conjure up for supper. Especially when you’ve taken salad to just about every extreme…

And then I remembered: I’ve frozen the bananas!

This simple two (okay, three if you count the ice) ingredient recipe is the perfect way to cool down and give a really healthy boost to an overheated body on a seriously balmy night. We’re talking banana coins, we’re talking a splash of low fat coconut milk and we’re talking ice. What this produces when you follow the steps in Joy’s magic method, is utterly soothing paradise in a bowl. At this time of year I could devour it every single night.

Iced Coffee
Perfect again for those sultry sizzlers of an afternoon when a siesta is just about the only order of the day. I had an errand to run in (this time) 38 degree heat. There was only one thing for it: Joy’s Iced Coffee. As with my popcorn, I actually prefer an iced coffee (and a warm one) that is sugar free, so the hint of chocolate sauce worked perfectly for me to compensate for the skimmed milk…! What came out of the blender was a wonderful kick of frozen caffeine bliss that sailed me through my afternoon and tasted so much better than anything I might have ordered in a cafe. Another winner.

Iced Coffee
Image: Pippa Perriam

There are so many of us who are into ‘clean’ and healthy eating, cutting down the fat and calories, that this book really is a veritable treasure trove. Whilst I can’t say it has changed my personal view on the trend for ‘food shaming’ and orthorexia, it has introduced me to more than a handful of alternative recipes which I know I will come back to again and again. So thank you, Joy.

But as if reviewing five of the recipes was not enough – it seems that Junk Food to Joy Food has piqued the interest of more than just one lady here at The Glass House. When I discussed the book with The Duchess, her intrigue was sparked so much so that she decided to barge in on my review!

So for good measure and balance – here are her own thoughts on three other recipes within the book.

When Miss Pollyanna bragged to me about her latest recipe book from Hay House, I have to admit I was more than a little envious. Our prim and perfect little princess over there in the corner always gets to hog the exciting foodie books, and I never get a look in. So being The Duchess, I decided to take an authoritative stand and muscle in on her Joy. 

My personality is a little different to that of Miss P. I don’t spend my days concocting fancy chocolate cakes, making fresh soups or even whipping up exciting salads. But I do love my food and I love to entertain. And I am always on the search for new (read ‘easy‘) ideas.

On this particular occasion, I was looking for recipes to help me get through a particularly tough day. You see, it’s winter. The summer has slid behind the grey clouds and left us with only memories of warmth. The idea of Christmas brings with it excitement but a foreboding of hangovers and excessive eating of warm comfort food. So the very thought that I could whip up some easy, delicious and healthy foods to help me prepare my body for the excess that is about to bestowed upon it, really did pique my interest.

So, flicking through the book, there were three recipes that stood out for me.

Watermelon SpritzerWatermelon Spritzer
This recipe lit up for a few different reasons. You see, I love my cocktails and the word spritzer always conjures up relaxing afternoons with my feet in the warm sand holding a cool sparkling drink watching the sun drop down over the horizon. The only problem is that these days I tend to find myself wrapped up in a hundred layers of wool with my feet feeling soggy and cold from the wet dew of the grass as I peel my cold frozen fingers from the sides of a travel coffee mug. Summer has gone yes, but dreaming of summer remains. So with friends due round for a spot of ‘lunching’ I decided to whip up a drink that would remind us of sunnier days and warmer climes.
The only thing is, we all know that Christmas is around the corner and with alcohol in abundance, we are all on a pre-Christmas detox.
So this recipe was perfect.

The ingredients were easy to find, the recipe was simple to follow and the best bit about it was chucking all the bits and bobs into a blender and letting a machine do its magic. After all, when making a yummy drink, I don’t want to burn the calories off before I indulge. The only thing I added to the recipe was the zest of the lime as well as the juice. I was hankering after some extra zing to perk up the grey day and dreaming of Mojitos on the beach made me do it… but actually it seemed to enhance the recipe.

Despite the ease of the recipe, the simple ingredients (and the lack of alcohol), I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. It looked impressive and would stand up to the “wow factor” when my girls arrived for lunch. The only negative (if you can call it a negative) was that because it was alcohol free, I had no excuse when my darling (slightly annoying) daughters begged to steal some for themselves. Oh well, at least it was easy enough to whip up a second batch!

Spinach Dip
Spinach Dip

As well as treating my lovely girl-friends to a kick ass drink, I needed a recipe to make for nibbles for the occasion, and being the ever aspiring hostess-with-the-mostess, I wanted to make something I knew everyone would like instantly. This recipe immediately conjured up images of that amazing dip we all order at TGI Fridays or Hard Rock Cafe when we are sipping on Strawberry Margaritas. So it seemed the perfect accompaniment to our amazing virgin cocktail.

The only issue I had with this dish was the fact that I could not for the life of me find water chestnuts in the supermarket. So after a quick search (thanks Google) I decided to substitute them for Jerusalem Artichokes. I am not entirely sure it enhanced the recipe, but it did give it texture. But to say that it made the perfect mini dip would be an understatement. It was devoured quicker than the drink!

Again – an easy recipe to follow, quick and easy preparation but a beautiful outcome. So far these two recipes were making me look like a domestic goddess!

Turkey Tacos
Turkey Tacos

Not long after finishing, garnishing and placing my beautiful drink and nibbles on the table did I realise that in my haste to be the perfect hostess, I had neglected to think about my darling mini people! With all the fuss of cleaning the house and preparing for my friends arrival, I had neglected to think about dinner for my kids. But this recipe saved the day.

Tacos – because who doesn’t love a ‘make your own’ dinner? This recipe was simple. I didn’t have to make anything from scratch and had all the ingredients already in the fridge.

Ta dah! Super Mum wins again.

The kids loved making their own dinner. The turkey mince is a great option for kids, meaning you don’t have to fill them full of more red meat. The salsa is an easy way to get a fix of one of their 5 a day vegetables, and, although it was messy to clean up after the prep, the kids kept going back for more. Which meant no arguments at the dinner table about them eating ALL their dinner!

At the end of my crazy, perfect Stepford Wife day, I sat down on the couch with a large glass of watermelon spritzer and gave my Junk Food to Joy Food book a pat on the back cover. It had not only saved the day but helped me look like a domestic goddess with very little effort and no need to hunt down that bottle of chardonnay I had hidden for the end of my detox.

The recipes in this book are basic – yes. They are easy – yes. But they work. They do exactly what they say on the cover. They take all that junk food that you know you love and transform them into healthy, everyday recipes that you can fool your kids and husband with, whilst still allowing you to indulge in your guilty pleasures at the weekend, safe in the knowledge that you were ‘good’ this week.

This is one recipe book Miss Pollyanna may have to wrestle out of my hands. It has well and truly earned its place on my bookshelf – next to my bible of cocktail recipes… you know… for those naughty days I have earned!

From Junk Food to Joy Food is published by Hay House.
ISBN: 978-140195-037-8

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