Skinny Bitch: A Review

Another prime snow-day activity?

Why, book reading, of course! …except, for me, that means cookbook reading. I should probably work on expanding my book-reading – my real book reading – but I find a new cookbook so exciting to read through!

most times.

This new book arrived just in time for the snowday. Prior to purchasing, I was apprehensive. Not because the title Skinny Bitch offended me, but because I was afraid that something bearing such a title would be too diet-y. Although I will say – the title certainly wasn’t inviting. I was never part of the “calling-my-best-friends-bitches” craze. I just don’t get it. Call me old fashioned, but if I’m calling someone a bitch they did something that damn well deserves it, not just some random woman on the street.

But I digress. For now. According to Amazon, Skinny Bitch

features seasonal produce (no fake meat or hard-to-find ingredients) and provides a versatility of tastes and cuisines, from Mediterranean to California-fresh. With almost 150 recipes, full-color photos, complete nutritional breakdowns, and simple “switch-outs” for quick variations, it will be the new “gotta have” on any healthy bitch’s bookshelf.Whether readers are looking to gradually add more meatless dishes to their meals, or want to go “all-out” vegan, Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook will be their “go-to” source for getting their “bitch” on—in the kitchen.

Bold, no? I actually stewed over purchasing this book for a couple of days – which should have been my first signal to just get a different one. But I kept coming back to that “no fake meats or hard to find ingredients” portion as well as the fact that in general, the reviews were pretty positive.

I’m not that impressed. Sorry. (but not really)

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I hate this book. But lets say this: I don’t often receive a new cookbook – scratch that, I’ve never received a cookbook – that I didn’t immediately want to make at least one thing in.

Nothing in this book immediately jumped out at me. Yes, it has some great recipes, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t intended to be an all-out bashing, because I don’t think it’s really terrible by any means. I was reminded that I ought to make Sloppy Joes and pizza soon. There’s some handy dressing recipes. But when I flipped the last page in the main dishes section, I had this feeling of “it’s done?”

And then there’s the title situation again, and calling people bitches. Barnouin actually goes into describing the title right off the bat, which I appreciated, but it still left me wondering why everyone uses bitch as a term of endearment these days. Honestly, this is probably not a big deal to everyone – I’m just not so outspoken in my ways that I feel “I’m right, you’re wrong, and I’ll tell you that, too.” so when other people are that way, I’m a little taken aback. I tend to go about life with the opinion that people should be able to eat, drink, sleep and do what they want, rather than be told what or how to do things.

The book does offer useful information in the beginning of the book, with information on fats, oils, fruits, vegetables, seasonal eating and organically purchasing food. The book also has a wonderful layout and is very aesthetically appealing – probably the “prettiest” book on my shelf – both the photos and the design.

But with that, also comes the fact that I don’t consider the claim of no fake meats or hard-to-find ingredients to be entirely true.

Have I ever mentioned that I’m not big on “fake” products – meats, cheeses, mayonnaise, etc? I’m not. I mean, I’ve got nothing against them, I suppose – but I’d rather not try to make food something it’s not. I’m fine without cheese and meat, so I’m fine without recipes calling for fake meat and fake cheese. There’s no denying the fact that whether you’re vegan or you can’t have dairy, these products do sometimes come in handy. There’s also no denying the fact that when a craving hits, it hits hard – and sometimes you want some damn cheese. I do too! And that’s when “fake” cheese is handy. But when the majority of the recipes in the book call for some sort of fake cheese, vegennaise, “Match” meat, Earth Balance or otherwise – I’m not impressed. Not only is there a little bit too much product placement for my liking (it’s nearly a walking billboard for Match meats, Vegennaise and Earth Balance) there’s also entirely too much reliance on these products in my opinion.

Ways around this? Well – teach me how to make cashew cheese! Teach me how to make seitan! Teach me how to make my own Vegennaise, or have me use silken tofu instead! And not only that – but I’ve never even heard of Match meats, I probably don’t want to try them and having more than one recipe involving them is too many.

Overall, I sort of feel like this book, while valuable in some aspects, comes across as a little too bold. I don’t like people thinking I’m (almost) vegan because I want to be skinny – because that’s not the case. I want to be healthy, at my healthy weight – not my skinny weight. Unfortunately, I think that at least in my area, there are entirely too many stereotypes around being vegetarian or vegan. Like we’re doing it for vanity – when really, the reasons are anything but. I wish wish wish this stereotyping could be eradicated – but lets put it this way…what would someone think if I told them I got the recipe from Skinny Bitch? Would they think I want to be skinny, or would they think I want to be healthy? Nor do I want people to think that I have this elitist attitude solely based on how I eat or look.

Long story short…

Pros:

  • useful information in the beginning – chapters on pantry staples, organic produce, why buy organic, info on oils, supples, etc.
  • wonderful design and photos
  • recipes are diverse – not stuck on any one cuisine
  • has nutrition information (which is also a con, depends on how much that influences you. I sort of prefer books without, but you may prefer with!)

Cons:

  • very reliant on products such as Vegennaise, Earth Balance and fake cheese
  • not a lot of the recipes are ones that are all too new and unique – to myself, at least
  • has nutritional information (see note above)
  • Seems there is more emphasis on being skinny than being healthy
  • all of the recipes seem pretty lengthy utilizing many ingredients, not short and sweet. to add to this, cook times are not given which makes it seem even more nerve-racking.

To wrap up this incredibly long review – buy this book if you don’t necessarily want to learn new techniques such as making your own cheeses, but maybe want to ease into a new diet of veganism or vegetarianism. Or, maybe I’m just spoiled, having already read through Veganomicon and Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. Now those are some great cookbooks.

Of course, that’s just my opinion. The next person is, well, quite likely to have the complete opposite opinion – so if you swear by this book, by all means – do tell!

I’d like to bake cupcakes today, and was hoping to make a recipe from this book to give it a go…but there’s only two recipes to choose from. The first is out – I have no strawberries or tofu. The second is out because I don’t  want to use a half cup of Earth Balance and a cup of sugar…that adds up to $$.

Oh, well. I have someone to save me.

Do you feel sometimes like you’re stereotyped based on how you eat?

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22 Comments

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22 responses to “Skinny Bitch: A Review

  1. Totally agree with you. When I was in ED recovery, my nutritionist specifically told me NOT to read this book. Being called a fatass would have destroyed me. Bleh- not a fan.

  2. Are you vegan?
    Sorry that book was not that good! I have heard the name around and I kind of wanted to buy it! Not really anymore! LOL

    I totally know what you mean about fake meats and cheeses, they are gross.

    I think books should be emphasizing healthiness vs skinniness. Its probably just to get people to pick the book up. I mean hey…it caught my attention, I hate when people use the word bitch to their friends like “hey bitch, what’s up? It drives me crazy!

    Thanks for the review!

  3. I don’t really feel stereotyped, but I guess I don’t interact with enough people to feel that way? Anyone who knows me really doesn’t comment much. I guess I would have to say some parents of my friends, or those who know me indirectly, have a few biases toward me. One of my friend’s mom will make comments now and then about how “oh, he wouldn’t eat that” and I’m sure people don’t think I would eat certain foods, but really, I just like to eat healthy. Call me weird, but I don’t consider Doritoes nourishing, tasty, or real. They don’t make me feel good, so I don’t eat them. It’s not that I don’t eat cookies, it’s that you made them from a box mix (because it’s sooooo hard to make cookies from scratch…) and I’m not fond of the ingredients.

    And thanks for the book review. I was going to check it out of a library but I was skeptical too and this pretty much confirms what I’m not going to be reading. 😉

  4. Oh, no worries on your comment to me. My phone won’t let me comment on some blogs either and I read some at night when I am just hanging out. As for the book, I felt the same way. Since I can’t have soy or dairy, this type of cookbook does me no good. I think she uses bitch as an attention grabber. People are all about the shock factor and with cookbooks, you have to have something that will grab peoples’ attention. I appreciate your review and am not surprised you felt the same way I did when I skimmed it at the book store a few weeks ago.

  5. I had this really tedious experience over christmas… christmas party, and I had brought my own food – I asked beforehand and I couldn’t have any of the food by a long shot – I’m not vegan though I’d like to be, but I’m strictly gluten free.

    So – nice people, having fun, and we sit down to eat and I get to sit next to this guy who just looks at my take-away roast chicken salad, and he goes, so what do you have for protein? Er…I (brace myself and) point to some chicken and I just go I’m not a vegetarian, look: chicken. Case closed. But no-o-o, he was just using my salad as an excuse to open up a topic he apparently felt strongly about: that he can SPOT vegans/vegetarians by their sickly looks and sunken cheeks and the rings under their eyes….aaaargh. And I just look at his own totally unhealthy appearance and I really wanna tell him a thing or two – and I know I have to sit next to this guy for three+ hours! I tried to keep it general but MAN, what an idiot.

    Hm…not buying that book, then. The boyfriend just brought me a cookbook on glutenfree cakes and desserts, I read it cover to cover the same night, haha!

  6. I just realised how off topic my comment was, but I think it runs in the people-telling-other-people-what-to-do vein that you mentioned.

    I was guessing from the title that I wouldn’t like that cookbook and your review confirms it for me 🙂

  7. elk

    I suspect we share very similar opinions on fake ‘meat’ and mayonnaise (surely it’s not mayonnaise???? What is it???!) Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for veganism – it’s only this past year that I’ve been reintroducing minimal dairy (milk chocolate etc, some cheeses) after my system took a dislike to it for a few years, but I just don’t understand vegan mayonnaise. Mind, I hate normal mayonnaise too so I could be biased ;).

    As for ‘fake meats’, I’m just going to have to grumble like a disapproving old man at them. I can see how they appeal to some people, but why does there have to be this view that meat/dairy products have to have an alternate replica version, like you can’t surive without this ‘substance’? I don’t eat meat for a reason, so I don’t want to eat a fake version of it either, thanks.

    I’ve heard a lot about this book, but have to admit I’ve never even picked it off the shelf, and I’m not so sure I will. I liked your review, but I think it’s confirmed that I should…..not bother ;). I really just can’t get past the title, like it’s saying that all skinny people are bitches, or that it’s promoting skinniness over health. I can do without books with attitude. I might finally locate a copy of the Veganomicom or EDBV instead, after hearing so much about them. Which one would you recommend?

  8. I totally agree with you! When I firt began my clean eating to be healthy journey I had a friend suggest reading the “Skinny Bitch” book. I found it to be very offensive. Not only that but I do eat meat, and I do not judge others for their choices. I felt like the book was written to scare people and force them into veganism. Now I have nothing against vegan eating. I have made vegan recipes many times and love them, but I feel if you are writing a book it should be informative and explain the lifestyle so the person can make a decision if it is right for them or not. Not to convince them that they way the eat is really bad! I never recommend this book to anyone that asks about my healthy eating lifestyle.

  9. A Tablespoon of Liz

    I’ve had my eye on this book for a while… now that i’ve read what you think, I’ll check it out!

  10. great review, thank you 🙂 i probably wouldn’t have bought it based on the title anyways, i’m with you on that one ;p

  11. I really have had no desire to ever read this book. Perhaps it’s because it has the word “skinny” in the title, but I so don’t want to read it!

  12. I was actually turned off by the title of this book and never wanted to purchase it, but I keep hearing about it. It sounds like there are cooking and health books that are much better than this one. Thanks for the great review!

  13. I’ve read “Skinny Bitch”, which was a great way to get a teenager to go vegan, but all of the recipes in the Skinny Bitch cookbooks have never appealed to me. The reliance on “fake meats” and, as you said, Vegenaise, Earth Balance, fake cheeses, etc. turned me way off. Why not just use something that grew from the ground?

    Thanks for this review, it’s a good look into what a good cookbook SHOULD be:)

  14. Thanks for the review! I saw Skinny Bitch at the bookstore the other day and I’m glad I didn’t get it. I hate when cookbooks rely on fake meats and Earth Balance. I don’t like cooking with either of them.

  15. Amber Shea @Almost Vegan

    I’ve actually been very on-the-fence about buying this one, too (I still haven’t). I think they muddled with the “Skinny Bitch” image a little too much with this – the short-‘n-sweet, cartoony Skinny Bitch books were great, but this book looks like it’s trying to straddle the line between “classy, elegant, and gourmet” and “in-your-face, you-listen-to-me-or-else, classic Skinny Bitch-ness.” I think she should’ve either done another Skinny Bitch recipe book, with all fake meats and mandates and diatribes, OR switched gears with this one to make a name for herself as a dignified cook and healthy-recipe-writer in her own right, with pretty photos and stylish book design to match. The message is just unclear to me, overall.

  16. I read the original Skinny Bitch..well, got half way through it and never opened it again..and obviously, didn’t care for it too much. Like you said in the “cons”, they seem to care more about being skinny than healthy. Plus, it *really* was written in an incredibly bitchy voice. I got the impression that if we weren’t 100% vegan and eating grass, we were doomed to be unhealthy pigs dying under the weight of our own selves and our clogged arteries. Ugh…for that reason I didn’t even bother with the cookbook.

  17. I totally agree with you about the name of this book – I’m totally turned off by the use of the word “bitch” and the use of the word “skinny”. I really don’t like the message that either of those words send out.

    Thanks for the honest review of this book! I’ve heard a lot about it on blogs and I’ve always wondered whether it’s worth it to buy it. Now I’m pretty much convinced that it isn’t, but maybe I’ll pick it up at the library if I ever see it there just to see what it’s like.

  18. i definitely feel stereotyped sometimes. when i initially became vegetarian, the first thing people would say to me was: “why? you don’t need to lose weight.” and i sure am NOT doing this to be skinny. unfortunately, the part that kind of reinforced their thinking was the fact that i DID lose weight and when they noticed this, they attributed it to vegetarianism. but i know that it was due to several other factors and it just sucks that they don’t understand exactly what i’m doing and why i’m doing it.

  19. Thanks for the review. You seem to share the sentiment of a lot of other reviewers of this book, and I’m not surprised. I think any book that has an element of self-righteousness through harshness is going to turn some people off and not take it as seriously. Honestly, the title is probably what has made it so popular. If it had a more subtle name, way fewer would probably even know about it.

  20. thank u for the review! I have actually contemplated buying this book, but I’m quite turned off by it as I agree with a lot of the points you made!

  21. good for you. i really liked this review. i just wrote a cookbook review for the first time and it was positive and i did honestly like the book–but as i was writing it i just thought of how ALL reviews on blogs sometimes seem to be positive and sometimes its the most helpful to just hear something is NOT that great. I appreciate it! and agree with you about all the fake stuff.

  22. Pingback: Appetite for Reduction: A Review | Healthy Exposures

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