You may have flipped through plenty of traditional cookbooks, but have you ever read one that includes convenient how-to videos for every single recipe?
Greta Podleski is changing the (kitchen) game by embedding QR codes (machine-readable codes storing information that can be scanned with smartphones) that reveal minute-long how-to videos in her new cookbook, Yum & Yummer: Ridiculously Tasty Recipes That’ll Blow Your Mind, but Not Your Diet!.
“I wanted Yum & Yummer to be the most user-friendly cookbook ever published, and I also wanted it to stand out in the crowded sea of cookbooks,” Podleski told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. “I want the videos to inspire people to get in the kitchen and cook and not be intimidated by healthy cooking.”
She is already a household name in Canada: the cooking enthusiast and her sister Janet have coauthored multiple successful cookbooks (Looneyspoons; Crazy Plates; and Eat, Shrink & Be Merry!) that have sold more than 2.3 million copies during the past two decades.
The Waterloo, Ontario, native’s newest publication is her first solo cookbook, and it’s proven to be both a difficult and a rewarding journey.
“Writing and publishing cookbooks is a long, labour-intensive process. I’m also the publisher, not just the author, so this doubles my workload,” Podleski explained. “On the other hand, there’s a great feeling of satisfaction in venturing out on your own, overcoming obstacles by yourself, taking 100 percent of the risk, dealing with fear, nerves, and doubt, and having it all work out.”
Yum & Yummer has made it to the top of national bestseller lists, so it’s fair to say that her hard work has paid off. She spent five years concocting the recipes in her head and a year and a half creating them in her kitchen, not to mention the time-consuming task of styling and photographing each of her dishes as an amateur photographer.
“I really kept the photos about the food and not the props,” the author added. “I really wanted the book to make people’s mouths water and make them want to cook. I wanted them to look at the food.”
With so much cookbook-writing experience under her belt, Podleski can see the changing trends and diet focuses that Canadians have adapted to over time. This also means that her recipes have changed since the publication of her first cookbook.
“My focus for the last 20-plus years, beginning with Looneyspoons back in 1996, has been to create ridiculously tasty, healthy recipes using common ingredients found at your local grocery store,” Podleski said. “I’m keeping up with those trends and really listening to what my readers are asking for, which is more gluten-free, more vegetarian, less dairy.”
But that doesn’t mean the author and publisher is preaching healthy eating. Her focus is to help North Americans cook at home more and provide them with delicious recipes that can easily be replicated.
According to Podleski, her latest cookbook features recipes that are 80 percent gluten-free, 60 percent vegetarian, with many vegan options as well.
Readers will learn how to make plant-based dishes such as a summery chickpea salad; cauliflower, chickpea, and sweet-potato curry; Mediterranean grilled-vegetable pizzas; and maple-balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts. The cookbook also has recipes that cater to meat lovers, including apricot, sriracha, and ginger glazed meatballs; spicy chili-lime grilled shrimp; Indian-spiced chicken drumsticks; cranberry-balsamic–roasted pork tenderloin; and Asian grilled pork kebabs.
Besides starters, salads, and mains, readers can also learn how to make sides, desserts, breakfast dishes, and many more delicious creations.
“I honestly love every recipe in my books or they wouldn’t be included,” Podleski said. “But I don’t just create and include recipes that I love; I include recipes that I believe will have the widest appeal.”
When she was asked for her 2018 food-trend predictions, her answers included faux-meat products and more vegetarian, vegan, and plant-based meals. She understands that this is nothing new to Vancouver, a city that is home to a large population of people who embrace healthy diets.
“[Vancouver] is the perfect audience for my book, because while not everyone is vegetarian or vegan, a lot of people have an interest in that,” Podleski said. “That’s the direction that I’ve gone in. I still have the chicken and fish recipes, but I’m really emphasizing more plant-based and vegetarian [recipes].”
It takes plenty of time and energy to take on a project like this one, but she couldn’t seem happier with the results of her work.
“It’s more than a full-time job. I find the time because I love it,” Podleski added. “I’m really energetic and inspired by cooking and writing. I’m getting such great feedback, and it motivates me to spring out of bed every morning.”
Yum & Yummer ($34.95) is available across Canada at most retail outlets that carry books and online.