There’s no question that star country musician Trisha Yearwood is a great Southern cook. She’s a two-time New York Times bestselling author and her Food Network show, Trisha’s Southern Kitchen, won an Emmy. And did we mention she’s got three Grammy Awards to boot? After cooking our way through her two other books, we’ve been waiting patiently for her newest recipes, in Trisha’s Table: My Feel-Good Favorites for a Balanced Life.
The Overview: A Georgia native, Trisha grew up on the indulgent Southern fare featured in her two earlier cookbooks. Trisha’s Table centers around the more balanced diet that she and husband Garth Brooks have adopted in recent years. We’re big fans of her book’s guiding 80/20 rule; “80 percent of the time I make good choices; 20 percent of the time I let myself splurge a little,” she writes. While the decadent down-home recipes are far from gone, she focuses more on the 80 percent side of things for this cookbook, and lets us in on some great healthy substitution secrets.
What We Loved: How warm and inviting the book is. On nearly every page, Trisha references her nearest and dearest, whether it’s a smattering of family snapshots, or the numerous recipes she’s adopted from family and friends. Superstar singer or not, Trisha’s definitely true to her roots.
Her genius healthy substitutions are all through the book, like using avocado in Angel Hair Pesto-Pasta and homemade cashew cream in her Tomato Bisque with Homemade Croutons. We’re dying to make her Unfried Chicken with whole wheat panko next time we’re craving the flavor (but not the fattiness) of fried chicken. Most recipes feature a “Trisha Tip” with useful ideas for health-ifying and simplifying—we’ll be quickly freezing our steak before slicing it from now on! Thankfully, Trisha doesn’t shy away from some 20 percent splurges like Brownie Batter Cookies, stuffed Potato Skins, and a slow-cooker Georgia pulled pork inspired by her dad.
What we found inspiring: For a Southern gal accustomed to cornbread and collards, Trisha has some really inventive ways of using ingredients, especially tofu. We’re intrigued by the idea of using it to make ricotta or homemade lasagna, or even eating it as-is, with black pepper and soy dipping sauce. Like Trisha, we love a good burger (who doesn’t?) and her alternative versions go beyond the norm. Our favorites: A smashed sweet pea burger we’ll be making throughout the spring, and quinoa burgers with grated zucchini and Sriracha-laced yogurt sauce—ideal for a healthy summer cookout, which we’ll serve with Trisha’s Cold Cucumber Salad.
What We Found Intimidating: While we never say no to a caramel apple in the fall, we won’t be attempting Trisha’s recipe this Halloween. Store-bought is easier (and involves fewer sticky kitchen counters), not to mention having 10 candy apples around the house sounds downright dangerous. We’ll probably steer clear of pickling our own okra, too. While we appreciate this Southern staple, we doubt we’ll have the necessary energy (or canning equipment).
Needless to say, we’re adding this to our cookbook collection, for healthy tips, Dixie classics, and everything in between.
Trisha’s Table: My Feel-Good Favorites for a Balanced Life ($29.99, Clarkson Potter) will be out March 31, and available for purchase wherever books are sold.
Leah Bhabha is a cookbook co-author, recipe tester, and food writer who has written for numerous publications including, Food & Wine, Marie Claire, The Guardian and Food52. She chronicles her cooking and eating experiences on her blog, One Hungry Pickle.