Book review: Cornelia Guest's Simple Pleasures: Healthy Seasonal Cooking & Easy Entertaining

Just out today, June 12, is Cornelia Guest's Simple Pleasures: Healthy Seasonal Cooking & Easy Entertaining. The book by Ms. Guest, known for her business that caters charity and entertainment events with healthy and cruelty-free food, promises to be a practical guide to incorporating affordable, delicious and cruelty-free eating into your daily life as well as when entertaining.

Though I'm not a vegan, I found many recipes and ideas throughout the richly and beautifully illustrated hardcover book—which I received free for review—that I will definitely use when entertaining and even more that I hope to incorporate into my day-to-day dining options. There are even some that will appeal to kids, meaning my grandsons, of course, such as Watermelon Popsicles, Pineapple Popsicles, and Raspberry Muffins.

Dishes I plan to make for Jim and myself (neither of us vegan and Jim not particularly good about eating veggie dishes) are Grilled Corn and Avocado Salad, Black Bean Hummus, and Veggie Carpaccio. Okay, I admit those are things for me, not veggie-avoiding Jim. But I am sure he'll love the Spaghetti with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil and, naturally, the Chocolate Mousse Balls.

Cooks who lean more toward natural and cruelty-free cooking on regular basis will appreciate the many recipes featuring lentils, a wide variety of vegetables, and many grains and meat substitutes. They all sound lovely and delicious and I'm determined to try several myself.

What I love about the book: Recipes are far from the only thing included; they actually don't even begin until page 84. Much of the book is dedicated to entertaining suggestions, menus, tried-and-true tips for creative and effortless entertaining. The book is divided into the seasons so Guest provides foods, flowers, celebration ideas and more that work best for that season.

As Guest writes in her opening note, "Simple Pleasures is a lifestyle—an unpretentious way to live. It gives you the best of everything. For me, it's all about simplicity." She's elegantly relayed that and more in a lovely book that would seem just as at home and appropriate on the living room coffee table as the kitchen cookbook stand.

Cornelia Guest's Simple Pleasures: Healthy Seasonal Cooking & Easy Entertaining, from Weinstein Books, has a suggested price of $32.50 (hardcover).

Disclosure: I received a free copy for review. All opinions are my own.