For most of my life, I did not have a clue what Southern food was. I thought it was mushy vegetables, bland grits and lots of butter and lard. Oh my! Then we moved to Georgia. The food snob in me turned my nose up to Southern food. I didn’t like it ;that was for sure and thought I never would. What is that saying “Never say never”. Yup, that is correct. It turns out I love collard greens, pimento cheese, properly cooked grits and so much more. I just had to give it a try. I still won’t eat mushy green beans, but bring on the biscuits and gravy. I even on occasion will find myself saying “y’all”. What is happening to me?
It turns out the South has some fantastic food. So when I was contacted by Virginia Willis about reviewing her cookbook, Lighten Up, Y’all, which is classic Southern recipes made healthy and wholesome, I said “Oh yes!”. I absolutely, positively love cookbooks anyway. I couldn’t wait to see how she lightened her dishes and learn some new tips and tricks. To really understand this cookbook, you have to understand Virginia’s influences. She talks about feeling fat as a child, although she wasn’t. That is something I can relate to. She did have a large love of food, which lead her to culinary school in France. This is, to me, the key to this cookbook. It is mostly about Southern food with a french twist. You will not find only traditional Southern recipes but so much more.
I was very excited to see a lightened recipe for Cheese Straws. These are a quintessentially Southern food her grandfather would make. Of course there is pimento cheese and macaroni and cheese. You absolutely cannot have a Southern cookbook without a recipe for Pimento Cheese. I certainly cannot forget about grits too. Her recipes are also influenced by New Orleans. I was absolutely drooling over Crab and Celery Rémoulade Wraps and New Soul Creole Dirty Rice. I decided to go with her brownie recipe. This isn’t just any ordinary brownie recipe. Claire’s Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies caught my eye. Who could resist the description of “grown woman” brownies? She worked with Claire Perez, a French-trained pastry chef to develop this recipe. It is decadently, chocolatey with a bites of a cheesecake like swirl.
I did enjoy this cookbook and look forward to trying more of the recipes. Each recipe also includes the nutritional value; so you can keep track of your calories or calculate Weight Watchers points. I think y’all will like it, too. So I am giving away one copy of Virginia Willis’ cookbook, Lighten Up Y’all. You can find the entry form below.
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Recipe courtesy of Lighten Up Y’All by Virginia Willis
Happy Healthy Eating,
But wait, there’s more. Check out these deliciously, low calorie chocolate recipes:
I have not been compensated for this review. I did receive a copy of the cookbook. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.