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Cookbook author Kate Jones shares her 'Best Bites'

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Cache Valley cooks got a few tips on healthy recipes from a native daughter and former Logan High Grizzly on April 8 when Kate Jones returned to Logan for a cooking class at Kitchen Kneads that afternoon, followed by a book-signing at Deseret Book that evening.

Jones, a married mother of three children, and her partner, Sara Wells, run the cooking blog Our Best Bites, and the pair have been promoting their third cookbook, “400 Calories or Less with Our Best Bites.”

The two women have been operating their blog since March 2008, and their published cookbooks have been a natural outgrowth of the blog’s popularity. Their previous two cookbooks are “Best Bites: Mormon Moms in the Kitchen” and “Savoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites.”

“Our first one was published in 2011. It was kind of a general, overall cookbook,” Jones said. “It was big, and it was kind of all-encompassing. And it was a really fun experience, and it was a learning experience. And then we published our second one almost immediately after. We published the first book in March of 2011, and then the manuscript for the second one was due by Christmas. So that one, the turnaround was really quick. And it was a seasonal cookbook. And it was fun, but we felt like we needed to take a little break and regroup after that. It was a lot of work, and it was a lot of time away from my family and things like that.”

During this hiatus from cookbook writing, both women became more interested in living a healthier lifestyle, including healthy eating, which led to the inspiration for their newest offering.

“It seemed like the natural next step, when we were ready to write another one, was to write one about healthy eating,” Jones said. “But it was also eating like a real person, you know, real food that you can eat whether or not you’re making a conscious decision to eat healthy or lose weight. It’s using real ingredients and real food and stuff that kids will eat and you’ll eat. Nobody wants to make a meal for themselves while everyone else is eating pizza or lasagna or whatever.

“So, we wanted it to be something that everyone would like, so there are a lot of family friendly recipes in there. And we’ve gotten a lot of really positive response from the whole thing. And we’ve used it in our own health and weight-loss journeys, and it’s probably been our favorite book to write.”

The class at Kitchen Kneads on April 8 featured two of the recipes from the new book, plus a rather indulgent dessert recipe not found in the book.

“We do have desserts in the book, but I just wanted to go in a different direction for that,” Jones said. “And that’s part of our theme, is that we really believe in balance, and you know, you can splurge a little bit in some areas as you’re cutting back in others.”

The recipes in the new book have a lot of international influence, particularly since Wells served an LDS Church mission in Brazil and gained an appreciation for Latin American cuisine. But Jones’ favorite recipe in “400 Calories or Less with Our Best Bites” has more of a Far Eastern flavor to it.

“I think my favorite is probably the banh mi tacos,” Jones said. “And they are kind of a lot of work, and the ingredients list is kind of intimidating, but they’re totally worth every second that you’re going to spend in the kitchen.

“It’s like a Vietnamese sandwich with a kind of spicy, sweet pork, and so I use a pork tenderloin and just marinate it, and it’s a really flavorful marinade. And then we grill it and then slice it really thin and put it on tacos with pickled vegetables and kind of a spicy lime mayonnaise.”

And while international fare may sound a bit intimidating for some Cache Valley families, Jones and Wells have tested the recipes with their own families with excellent results.

Another recipe with maybe a bit more of an American feel was one inspired by cuisine from Jones’ current home in Louisiana, creamy Cajun pasta.

“It’s a little bit spicy, and it’s kind of an alfredo sauce, but it’s lightened up, and it’s ful of skillet-cooked red onions and peppers and sausage, all that good stuff,” Jones said. “But it really isn’t too bad when it comes to the calorie count, and it’s really been one of our most popular recipes. We’ve got some honey lime shrimp that are good too.”

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