Tuesday Reviews-Day: The Healing Herbs Cookbook

Tuesday Revews-Day


I’m a big believer in the idea that what we eat affects our health far beyond just what it does to our waistbands. After all, haven’t I spent the last year avoiding many so-called healthy foods after discovering just how un-helpful and even harmful they were to my body? The results of that experience have led to a much happier day-to-day existence with a lot less pain and discomfort, I’m happy to say!

That’s why I was so keen to take a look at The Healing Herbs Cookbook by Pat Crocker. I already knew, for instance, that ginger is good for an upset stomach, that turmeric and nutmeg were naturally anti-inflammatory, and that clove was a topical analgesic (just try eating a ham that’s been studded with a few too many and you, too, will experience its numbing qualities!). Crocker has included quite the dossier on a number of similar herbs and spices if you’d like to learn more about them, or you can just skip ahead to the recipes.

Speaking of the recipes, she does note that the jury’s still out on whether the beneficial properties of any given herb or spice are hindered by cooking them. I tend to agree with her, though, that fresh herbs or dried spices make great additions to a meal and if there’s a chance they can improve your health, all the better! And to help you pinpoint the best options at any time of the year, each chapter is organized by season.

Vegetable Sushi with Wasabi Mayo

Vegetable Sushi with Wasabi Mayo Dip

Concentrating on the winter recipes (for obviously reasons), the first one to catch my eye was the Vegetable Sushi with Wasabi-Mayonnaise Dip (p.63), Sushi is one of our favorite meals when we go out and I’ve made some at home, as well, so I was confident this would work out well. Intended as a starter, with a side of seaweed salad it made a light-yet-filling supper. I ended up making one roll for each of us for supper but diced the rest of the vegetables and shredded the nori sheets to make sushi bowls with the leftovers. The sweet potato was the stand-out ingredient in this recipe.

The rest of the rice and veggies made a tasty nosh when combined in a big bowl. I snacked on it all weekend.

The rest of the rice and veggies made a tasty nosh when combined in a big bowl. I snacked on it all weekend.

The Cheddar Cheese and Root Soup (p. 77) was a wonderful dinner option on a cold, drizzly evening. The healing herb in this soup (dried ginseng root) can be a hard to come by, but it turns out the be a great soup even without it.

Cheddar Root Soup

Cheddar Cheese and Root Soup

Straying into the fall recipes, the Roasted Squash and Pepper Salad (p. 88) is a bit of a stretch to the salad name, but we’d never paired roasted red bell peppers with acorn squash and the combination was surprisingly tasty. Even though I skipped the high-FODMAP red onions, it made a great side-dish and looked very pretty in it’s dish–a good candidate for a fall or winter pot-luck, I think!

the colorful Squash and Red Pepper "salad"

the colorful Squash and Red Pepper “salad”

Had I not just made a seafood pot pie, the Vegetable Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Topping (p. 114) would have definitely made it on our list, and I’m looking so forward to many of the spring and summer recipes when those vegetables are back in season. While I appreciate the additional information on the healing properties of the plants featured in the book, I have to say I was more impressed with the wealth of creative vegetarian meal options it includes.

[I received a copy of The Healing Herbs Cookbook for purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own.]

Summertime Ice Cream Treat: Magnum Ice Cream Bars


It’s Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial beginning of summer–what better time to break out the ice cream makers, scoops, dishes and toppings.

But wait, maybe you’re pressed for time or just not into complicated frozen desserts. So you head to the ice cream section of your local grocery store and maybe, just maybe, you see something different that catches your eye.

Magnum Double Chocolate Ice Cream BarsMagnum ice cream bars have recently hit the American market and the premium perks don’t end at the snazzy packaging. These bars feature vanilla bean or chocolate ice creams dipped in rich Belgian chocolate. Some (like the Magnum Almond) come studded with nuts while others (Magnum Double Chocolate and Magnum Double Caramel) feature sauces in between the ice cream and chocolate.

But how do they taste?

I was offered a coupon for a free box of Magnum ice cream bars and went, first, for the Double Chocolate–how can you go wrong with more chocolate?

What we have here, folks, is chocolate ice cream with a thin coating of chocolate on it, a layer of chocolate syrup/sauce and the outer layer of Belgian milk chocolate. Being a bookkeeper I can tell you that that’s 4 chocolates, not 2, but I guess Quadruple Chocolate doesn’t roll off the tongue the way Double Chocolate does, so we’ll let that slide.

A cross-section of a Magnum Double Chocolate ice cream barAt first bite I was loving the chocolate upon chocolate flavors but, as Todd pointed out (yes, I shared), it was almost chocolate overload the further you got into it. I also found out that my co-tester is not a big fan of chocolate ice cream (3.5 years together and there’s still new things to learn!), but even so he liked them okay.

With that in mind, though, I picked up two more flavors on this week’s shopping trip: Magnum Classic and Magnum Double Caramel.

In the Classic variety, the Belgian chocolate really gets a chance to shine compared to the vanilla bean ice cream–which was pretty tasty itself–and tastes really luxurious. I’ve had richer ice creams before, but they were usually small batch chef-made varieties, so take what you will from that.

The Double Caramel, however, left us a little wanting. The caramel was lost in the shuffle of chocolate and vanilla bean and what you did get it of it was sharp and unpleasant instead of rich and creamy. Of the three versions we’ve tried I think we’ll be sticking to the Classic.

Aside from the ice cream bars themselves, packaging can either add to or take away from the experience. (Prime example? Apple products–hello pretty!) In this case Magnum does a great job at enhancing their product. Working for a printing company for 15+ years I tend to notice finishing details and know there’s a reason for most boxes having square corners: they’re natural, easy and cheap. Rounded edges require die cutting and specialty folding set-ups–that’s a step many manufacturers aren’t going to take.

The bars, themselves, are wrapped in printed gold foil sleeves; another step up from the waxed paper in most ice cream bars. Usually I find gold packaging tacky, but Magnum hits a nice balance between garish and classy. Even the sticks are branded and are a little different from your average popsicle-stick.

At 3.28 for a package of three they’re not that expensive ($1.09ish per bar) but they’re not the value that some other brands offer. It’s nice for a treat or to satisfy a craving, but I don’t think it’s destined to become a freezer staple for our home.


As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a coupon for one box of Magnum ice cream bars. All opinions and observations are my own.