Review: Good Clean Food by Lily Kunin

Good Clean Food front cover for review

I’m not a huge fan of the concept of ‘clean food’. I’m not gluten-free or dairy-free, and I am sceptical about claims made for the latest trendy ingredients and new diets. I eat meat, fish AND (horrors) sugar, and I am very partial to a piece of home-baked cake (as you know, from all my cake recipes!). So maybe I’m not the best person in the world to be reviewing this book, by Lily Kunin, blogger at Clean Food Dirty City.

On the other hand, I am a big fan of real food (by which I mean unprocessed food without loads of added extras), interesting tasty ingredients, well-written recipes, and meal ideas that put the focus fully on delicious veg, fruit, nuts and seeds, which I am very happy to eat a lot more of. It’s for that reason that I’m really glad that Good Clean Food (published by Abrams) has come into my life, because it ticks all those boxes.

The photography, by Gemma and Andrew Ingalls, makes everything look incredibly appetizing, as does the styling by Carol Cotner Thompson, as you can see:

Good Clean Food review dip

All the recipes I have made and eaten from the book so far have been delicious and have worked really well, something that I appreciate very much – so many recipe books I have used in recent years seem really under-tested.

Good Clean Food review Med feast

It’s thanks to Kunin that I have finally conquered the holy grail of falafel that don’t disintegrate or taste like chick-pea mush. I’ve made her recipe twice now, and been delighted with the results. The measurements in the all instructions, where applicable, are given in grams and cups, so it’s really hard to mess up the quantities. There’s great ideas for combining different elements to create feasts like the Mediterranean Mezze above. I made falafel with salads this weekend for friends and they were highly enthusiastic.

The concept of ‘Bowls’ seems to be super-trendy just now, so we, contrary as ever, served Kunin’s ‘Power Bowl’ recipe on plates earlier in the week. I haven’t done a taste-test of salad in bowl versus salad on plate, but I imagine it tastes as good either way.

Good Clean Food review Power Bowl

In her intro to the recipe Kunin talks about wanting to create a bowl that’s bursting with flavour, and this yummy combination of veg, beans and grains with a delicious cashew-nut dressing really does just that. It’s very filling, and because crunching through the veg takes a bit of time, if you are trying to lose weight, it’s a very satisfying eating experience too.

Good Clean Food review Winter Bowl
We haven’t tried this one yet, but looking forward to giving it a go – the balance of flavours and textures is just the kind of thing I like.

Good Clean Food review chilli

The chilli recipe looks fabulous, as you can see, but the recipe I really wanted to try, as soon as I saw it, was Lentil Tacos with Simple Slaw and Corn Avocado Salsa. It sounded perfect for a fun, tasty meal, to enjoy with friends, using the kind of healthy, spicy food I love to eat. It really didn’t disappoint… I could eat the Salsa on it’s own, it’s so delicious – here’s my version.

Good Clean Food recipe sweetcorn and avocado salsa

It’s so quick to make – just combining some fresh sweetcorn, chopped avocado, red onion, coriander (cilantro) and lime juice. Mmmmm. The whole combination of lentils, salsa and slaw is a crunchy, tasty feast. My friends loved that too!

I confess, although I am glad to know about the nutritional value of the ingredients used, I haven’t read much of the theory behind why some recipes/ingredients fit, for example, into the ‘detox’ category and others in the ‘nourish’ category. I’m only really interested in the quality of the recipes, and, slightly in spite of myself, I am really impressed. So, I’d say, if you are interested in new, very tasty, ways of getting more fruit and veg into your diet, or if you are a vegan or veggie, I’d recommend this book with enthusiasm.


The perils of perfection

Back at the beginning of the year, as part of my Creativity and Well-being Reading Project, I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s a fun read, and although I rolled my eyes a bit at the quirky cuteness and the ‘aren’t I great’ tone of some of it, there was some really good food for thought. For all you tl:dr people, the message which resonated hugely with me, and that I’ve come back to again and again since finishing the book, is that doing art/creativity is too important to let fear of meeting an impossible standard get in your way.


Scary thought or what? Is done really better than good? Personally, driven by my unhealthy ingrained habit of perfectionism (aka ‘I must not fail’), I flinch at the thought… but take a minute, think about it. Here’s a bit more from Elizabeth Gilbert:

The great American novelist Robert Stone once joked that he possessed the two worst qualities imaginable in a writer: He was lazy, and he was a perfectionist. Indeed, those are the essential ingredients for torpor and misery, right there. If you want to live a contented creative life, you do not want to cultivate either one of those traits, trust me. What you want is to cultivate quite the opposite: You must learn how to become a deeply disciplined half-ass.

It starts by forgetting about perfect. We don’t have time for perfect. In any event, perfection is unachievable: It’s a myth and a trap and a hamster wheel that will run you to death.

We don’t have time for perfect.

Ever give up on a project and consign it to the UFO pile because you were afraid of the next thing that needs to be done or because you can’t make a decision about the next step (which fabric…what colour… what next…)?  I’ve done this so so many times. I have boxes full of the ‘what next’ projects, if you need the evidence.

When I’ve worked on magazine projects I’ve sometimes been paralysed by indecision – afraid I would make a misstep and ‘ruin’ a whole project. The good thing, of course, when you’re writing for a magazine, you have to do something! Reflecting on my completed magazine projects and those awful anxious times, as doing CBT demands of me, I realise that, you know what, they turned out pretty much ok – some of them I really love, and I’m really proud of all of them.

So yes. Done is good.

I can definitely be a deeply-disciplined half-ass. Recently, I’ve adopted that as my aim every morning that I go into the studio… it makes me smile and that weight of ‘it’s got to be good’ lifts from my shoulders.

Here are some more thoughts that whizz round my mind for future reflection…

What if perfectionism is just something to hide behind?

  • What if fear of not being good enough stops me even getting started?
  • Should the process of creating become more important to me than the finished creative work?
  • Does fear of failure prevent risk-taking?
  • Is an obsession with good or perfect an obstacle to learning new skills?

Feel free to join our the Very Berry group for Creativity and Wellbeing – for reading ideas, reviews and a bit of discussion about stuff like this!

Mini-hoop tips and inspiration

So, I’m really excited about the mini-hoop swap! There are heaps of people signed up (the biggest swap I have ever run, I think) and there feels like there’s a real mini-hoop buzz going around! If I wasn’t having a duvet-day, feeling sorry for myself and full of cold I’d be rushing and leaping around in excitement..

If you want to get started buying your hoop and supplies, then today is the start of the 10% off offer at Cloud Craft – just use the code HOOPY10. This is valid until 8 February, so hurry along!

Cloud Craft

Here’s a direct link to the preferred hoop for the swap…

So, if you’ve not made a mini hoop before… Sonia, who invented the brilliant Dandelyne mini-hoop, has put together a really nice little tutorial on YouTube:

Top tip – you don’t necessarily need a glue gun – hi-tack glue is equally as effective for holding everything together.

But what to put into your hoop? Well, there’s all kinds of a different embroidery techniques, but there’s also patchwork and appliqué options – or maybe even crochet or weaving. Here are some of my favourites – I hope will give you lots of inspiration!

Clockwise from top left: Blackwork in purple by The Salty Stitchers; Monochrome mandala by High Stitch; Cross stitch heart by rubysewoh / Danielle MatthewsDNA cross stitch by Cute Cosy Crafts
From left to right: Foundation piecing by Love You Sew (Cristy); Tiny hexies by Willow and Trout Makerie (Kylie)
Cute felt cat appliqué by Lyndsey Thomas
Adorable kawaii book by Wild Olive
Sweet umbrella stitching by Haruki
Butterfly hoop by Loopy in Love

Hope your brain is buzzing with creativity right now! Have fun with the swap… and don’t forget that 10% discount with HOOPY10 at Cloud Craft.