We all had a good laugh over Tom Brady’s cookbook, partly because the Patriots quarterback’s eccentric yet strident thoughts on nutrition already were well documented, partly because he steadfastly refuses to call it a cookbook (it’s a “living document”), partly because it costs $200 and partly because it sold out in a hot minute.

But because the book’s first printing got snapped up so quickly, it’s been hard to find an actual review of the thing, at least until now. The Boston Globe’s Michael Andor Brodeur got his hands on one, and he’s spilling all its secrets — its expensive, questionably beneficial, problematic secrets.

“As discipline, TB12 is a little too much; as dinner, it’s much too little,” Brodeur writes.

Here’s what he found out in his highly entertaining review:

1. It’s hard to actually use.

Much was mentioned of the fact that Brady’s cookbook had a cover of laser-etched natural wood, with recipes printed on 100-pound text paper. What went unmentioned is the fact that this makes things difficult for the at-home chef. Here’s Brodeur:

For one thing, cookbooks lie flat. This doesn’t. Despite the object’s allure as a hand-bound, inkjet-to-table, artisanally crafted three-ring binder of sorts, it’s infuriatingly not built for the job of cooking. This also applies to the maple cover, which wastes no time wicking up whatever “evoo,” coconut nectar, or mackerel water you’ve managed to spill on the counter.

2. You probably don’t have many of the ingredients in your pantry.

Among the building blocks of Brady’s recipes: mung beans, oat flour, yuzu juice and smoked salt. Plus nuts. So many nuts. Which brings us to issue No. 3.

3. The nut-allergic should go nowhere near this book.

Brodeur says “the recipes employ all sorts of nuts in all sorts of creative ways,” including a “cheese” that’s somehow made out of cashews. “Due to my entirely real and not-made-up nut allergy, this ensured that most of these dishes would come served with a side of anaphylaxis,” Brodeur writes.

4. The recipes seem culinarily suspect.

Ceviche with only one tablespoon of lime juice that also includes yams (not mentioned in the recipe, according to Brodeur: you have to bake the yam for 45 minutes). Japanese-style fish cakes that easily burned. A soup that simmers for just 12 minutes. Ingredients are listed but then never included in the actual recipes. Clearly, test kitchens and cookbook editors are not part of the “living document.”

The cookbook’s recipes come from Allen Campbell, who is Brady’s personal chef. Campbell has created for Brady (and now, apparently, you) a diet that’s mostly free of processed foods, sugar, refined carbohydrates, gluten, dairy, fungus, tomatoes, salt, caffeine and alcohol. But what it lacks in all of that it makes up in utter hokum, according to Mike Roussell, a nutrition consultant with a PhD who writes for Men’s Health.

For one, Campbell is not a nutrition expert, Roussell claims. Instead, he took a certificate program in plant-based nutrition from eCornell.

Unfortunately, Brady’s diet is full of buzzwords, not science. According to Allen Campbell, Brady avoids tomatoes because of the inflammation they cause. That makes literally zero sense.
Tomatoes are the richest source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. A 2012 study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research showed that a meal containing tomatoes reduced levels of inflammation and oxidation following the meal.

You can go to Amazon and choose from hundreds of cookbooks promising better health if you would just eat more of this thing or less of that thing. Most of them cost, at most, $20 and are easily opened on your countertop. Brady’s cookbook costs $200, is full of ingredients you don’t have and probably can’t find, and apparently is a logistical nightmare. But in the end, Roussell writes, Brady’s diet works not because of its jargon-filled claims: “It works because it is low in added sugar, high in vegetables, and moderate in lean protein, and he’s militantly consistent with it.” Stick with all that, and you, too, can be like Tom Brady without forking over $200 for whatever he’s peddling.