Photos: Gabi Valladares LePage

Reviewed By Elizabeth Lane Partners Village Store

By Maggie Battista

It seems that much of the focus within our culture today is on “living your best life”. Instagram posts highlight this through #livingmybestlife, self-help books teach techniques, celebrities seem to have an innate understanding of how to do this, and often times (from the sidelines of real life), many of us are left to feel somewhat overwhelmed, left out and asking why we haven’t caught up with our own best lives. An answer to this seemingly out-of-reach lifestyle question may come from Maggie Battista’s latest cookbook, A New Way to Food. Here, Maggie lays bare her journey to self-acceptance, showing us that our best life comes only with an acceptance of ourselves.

Boston author Battista first won our hearts with her book Food Gift Love, showcasing how a shared meal or food made from scratch, is—at its most essential—love given, love shared. Now, in A New Way to Food, Battista turns the lens (and the love) on herself, showing us, in a real, simple, and stunning way how she came to love herself by paring back expectation to focus on simply that which nourishes—the food and time spent in the kitchen that sustained and nourished her journey to self-love one meal at a time.

In the first section, “A New Kind of Pantry”, Battista shares the nitty-gritty basics: how to first revamp your pantry, then revamp your menu-planning, providing the reader with a road-map for success. She then gives us the building blocks—a selection of simple recipes from which to build our fresh starts in the kitchen. And here, simplicity is key. With recipes for cashew milk, stone-fruit jam, sandwich bread, and spicy tomato sauce, among others, she reveals a new path. We no longer need to rely on supermarket versions of these staples. In fact, by showing us how to make these essentials, she takes nourishment beyond the stuff of food to the grounded healing inherent in the act of cooking. Kneading dough, learning the science of jams, each connects us to the earth, connects us to our bodies, and then by sharing what we’ve made, connects us to others.

Photos: Gabi Valladares LePage

In the second section, “A New Way to Food”, Battista shares the core of her cookbook: simple and stunning recipes that brought wellness to her own life. She highlights meals to “love your body”, meals to “love yourself”, or to “stay connected” and share with your partner. While this section could lean prescriptive in another’s voice, Battista writes with warmth and honesty. As she presents each tip with the light touch of a friend, she cracks open possibilities for her readers to grow and experiment rather than providing limits and dogmatic rules.

Maggie Battista is the refreshing real deal. With A New Way to Food, she invites us on her journey. Battista shares her struggles and delights with a disarming, endearing candor, thereby revealing that our best lives are simply lived one day at a time, doing the best we can, with a few good meals and recipes at hand.

Elizabeth Lane is the book buyer at Partners Village Store in Westport, MA. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Westport, and often finds her own moments of self-care cooking in the kitchen.