And a healthy new year

Henri looks to the “Skinny Bitch” for ideas on a healthier diet

“Skinny bitch!” Colette exclaimed as we browsed Lyon Books the other day.

“Excuse me?!” Flattering, but Henri hasn’t been skinny since second grade.

“Another Skinny Bitch book. I’ve never seen this one, The Ultimate Everyday Cookbook: Crazy Delicious Recipes that Are Good to the Earth and Great for Your Bod.” She headed straight for the cash register.

While Henri has always preferred classic cookbooks—think Larousse Gastronomiquemon soeur is drawn to novelty and celebrity. Her new fave is Kim Barnouin, the Skinny Bitch herself. Its target audience ambiguous (“Cooking a romantic dinner for him is always a nice gesture. But you don’t want nice. You want to get laid. Not tomorrow. Not over the weekend. Tonight”), The Ultimate Everyday Cookbook is especially appropriate for those who have been advised by their physicians (ahem) that detox might be in order for the new year.

Barnouin’s books are loaded with practical advice, dispelling—or at least recontextualizing—many of our myths about shopping, cooking, and eating responsibly and sustainably. One section of The Ultimate Everyday Cookbook lists nonorganic foods that should be avoided—The Dirty Dozen (peaches and apples top the list of foods of which you should seek organic versions)—and those that are “okay to purchase without the organic stamp of approval”—The Clean Fifteen (avocados, eggplant, onions). Barnouin stresses seasonal and local over strictly organic.

Part Two of the book (“The Secret to Being a Skinny Bitch”) is devoted to foods and ingredients to avoid and how to substitute for them: “Your local grocery store might as well be a land mine. The smiling checkout associates and god-awful elevator music are just disguises for the shopping cart of disease-causing crap you’re pushing along like Suzie Freakin’ Homemaker.”

Like Michael Pollan, she recommends avoiding eating anything processed and lists the 11 worst food additives on the market, including propylene glycol, “found in automatic brake fluid … and antifreeze” and which, according to the FDA, is safe “except when used in foods.” It’s used in dairy products, soda and salad dressing. The section also recommends “green” cookware, from pots and pans to cutting boards (the “sexy, two-toned … chemical and dye-free” Terra Verde bamboo).

The bulk of the book, though, is given over to recipes that comply with her philosophy—all are vegetarian and all list serving size, calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates, fiber and protein. Recipes include: orange scones, Thai coconut soup, roasted curried cauliflower, veggie pot pies, peach crisp and an antioxidant sangria.

We’ve tried several, all excellent, although we were most impressed with her vegan cassoulet, which, thankfully, Colette let me prepare. I’ve modified it slightly:

Skinny Bitch’s vegan cassoulet


2 tablespoons olive oil

6 tablespoons Earth Balance (butter substitute)

2 leeks, thinly sliced

1 carrot, sliced

1 stalk celery, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

3 15-ounce cans white beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup vegetable broth

3 tablespoons tarragon, minced

1 tablespoon thyme, minced

1 tablespoon chives, minced

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Heat oil and 2 tablespoons Earth Balance in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add leeks, carrots, celery and garlic and cook for five minutes. Add beans, broth, herbs and chives and half the bread crumbs. Simmer for 20 minutes.

In a small pan, melt remaining Earth Balance, mix in remaining breadcrumbs and set aside. Pour bean mixture into a baking dish, discarding bay leaf, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees till bubbly (about 30 minutes). Remove foil, pour on breadcrumbs and cook another five minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Henri’s modifications …

First, substitute duck fat for Earth Balance, then add 2 cups of cubed pork shoulder, one pound pork sausages and four confit duck legs, plus a cup of white wine and a cup of heavy cream. Henri Freakin’ Homemaker will detox next year!