5 star reviews, Book reviews, Health, Sustainability, vegan

The Vegan Starter Kit by Neal D. Barnard, M.D.

5/5 stars

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I don’t give many 5 out of 5 star ratings, but this was definitely a FIVE STAR.  Neal D. Barnard is a physician and he recommends a vegan diet.  I have been looking for someone in the medical field who would look at a vegan diet from the perspective of a more traditional medical background. I wanted to see if someone who had that background would agree with the holistic nutrition community on veganism. Dr. Barnard feels a vegan diet can be healthy if people take the time to understand their nutritional needs.

I have been a vegetarian for 30 years.  Last summer, my daughter introduced me to Ellen Fisher and Hannah McNeely and through watching their videos, I started to really think about and look at and research vegan diets.  I don’t particularly enjoy eggs, but I forced myself to eat them for protein so giving them up was not difficult.  I thought it would be difficult to give up cheese, but it has not been at all.  I have not experimented much with vegan cheeses, but I have bought a few non-dairy ice creams and sorbettos and they are AMAZING!!! So, when I saw this book, I thought: THIS IS FOR ME!!

This book is great for anyone who is considering a vegan diet or someone who is already vegan.  Dr. Barnard presents things in an easy to read format.  The book starts by explaining what veganism is and then all of the health benefits: heart disease reverses, cholesterol levels improve, cancer risk falls, diabetes and high blood pressure improve, painful conditions improve because of less inflammation in the body and you reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.  Since Dr. Barnard has gone to medical school, he is able to really explain why these things happen on a vegan diet.

I absolutely love the way this book is written.  It is so easy to understand.  Dr. Barnard gives suggestions for eating a vegan diet while pregnant and he gives information on raising vegan children.  He also explores the myths surrounding veganism.  One thing that Dr. Barnard stresses throughout the book is the importance for vegans to take a B12 and a D vitamin supplement.  I thought this was one of the best books I have read on veganism.

4 star reviews, Book reviews, Cookbooks, plant based, Self Care, vegetarian

Clean Enough by Katzie Guy-Hamilton

4/5 stars

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Katzie Guy-Hamilton is both a pasty chef and a health coach and her approach to eating is to eat clean…most of the time.  And to recognize that there are times when you want a treat and that is ok.  She provides recipes for both clean, healthy, wholesome plant-based meals and tasty treats that still honor your body’s need for nutrition.

I have an eating disorder.  It started as anorexia when I was 12 and, like many people with eating disorders it spirals from anorexia to bulimia.  I wish I could say that I am passed it, but I have had to accept that, for me, it will probably be something I will deal with for the rest of my life.  Although in all honesty, it is nothing like what it was when I was a teenager.  The thing that has made the biggest change for me is focusing on nourishing my body, focusing on vitamins and minerals.  That never occurred to me in the 1980s when I was growing up, it was all about calories, not nutrition.  For me, eating a whole food plant based diet has helped tremendously.  I have read of and spoken to a lot of other people who suffer with eating disorders who have found the same thing: whole food, plant based, the less animal products the better and I actually have a theory that there is something in processed foods that triggers binging and for those of us with eating disorders, after binging comes purging.  But I have no proof of that, it’s purely anecdotal.

I love Katzie Guy-Hamilton’s approach because I think it’s realistic.  I think eating whole food, plant based meals is important to get the vitamins, minerals and protein our bodies need.  But I think we all crave sweets once in a while and having some good recipes for fairly healthy sweets is imperative when those cravings hit.

My daughters and I tried the Cinnamon Carrot Lemonade and found it to be super delicious and refreshing!  I was also really excited to have an actual recipe for Gold Milk because I love ordering it in cafès but I had no idea how to make it.  Also, I am excited for a chai latte that uses rooibos instead of black tea since I don’t do much caffeine!

The granola recipe looks amazing–the ingredients are on my grocery list!  And I am buying apple cider for the overnight oats!  I have made overnight oats many times with almond milk, but never thought to add apple cider and I can not wait to try it!!

There are recipes for things like sumac and gigante beans–which I have never heard of and don’t know where to buy, which is kind of a turn off with cookbooks for me.  But I am excited to try both the Gentle Lentils and the Blistered Miso Sweet Potatoes.

The recipes for treats all look amazing!  I have been trying to eat vegan desserts lately and all of the recipes contain eggs and dairy, but I did earmark a couple for my daughters to try and they look delicious!

I would like to thank Netgalley and The Experiment Publishing for my copy in exchange for my honest review.

Book reviews, Health

The DASH Mediterranean Solution by Marla Heller

2/5 stars

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I was not at all familiar with the DASH Diet books, however, although I currently eat a vegan diet most days, on days when I am not vegan, my diet most resembles a Mediterranean diet.  I do not limit olive oil or coconut oil or salt even on my vegan days.

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.  Hypertension is high blood pressure and it is an issue for many people. This book would be a good reference for someone with hypertension. I felt like there was too much information and that it was not presented in an easy to read, easy to understand format.  I felt like it dragged on and on about different diets and why the DASH diet was best and then went into all kinds of health issues.  I found myself getting anxious about certain health conditions.  I did think the De-Bunking Myths part was good and I liked how it went into how Americans eat too much protein.  I wish it had gone more into the benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

If you have hypertension, you may like this book.  If not, it’s a lot of information to get through.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Book reviews, Health, Holistic Health Care, Self Care

The Bloated Belly Whisperer by Tamara Duker Freeman, MS, RD, CDN

3/5 stars

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My Review:

This book explains the different areas of the abdomen and different kinds of belly bloating and then gives the reader a quiz to take to figure out what kind of belly bloat the reader has.  From there the reader can just read the section or sections pertaining to their type of belly bloat.  There are recipes and ideas for immediate changes to relieve the issue as well as long-term changes in diet to prevent recurrence.

I found the book interesting but the review copy does not contain the quiz and a lot of pages were in gibberish, I assume so that reviewers can’t steal info and if they are really interested, they still have to buy the actual book.  I think this book could be very helpful to someone experiencing bloating and the author does explain when you need to see a doctor because the symptoms require more than just a self-help book.

I requested this book because I have had issues with belly bloat.  I went to a functional medicine doctor who advised me to do an elimination diet, which the author discuss in several sections of the book.  It was determined that I have a sensitivity to corn.  As long as I avoid corn, I am usually fine, but sometimes too much sugar or salt can trigger some bloating for me.  I think knowing your triggers is helpful and there are times when you might decide to just go for it and have that kettle corn, even though you know it will bloat you the next day, it’s not a serious condition.  But it is imperative to find out if your bloating could be signaling something else in your body.

I am giving this book 3 out of 5 stars because there are not a lot of illustrations or photos, and I think in 2018, we are used to more visual presentations with at least little boxes of additional information and photos of recipes; also while I think there is a lot of great information in this book, a lot of the review copy was in gibberish and I don’t feel I was able to get a really good idea of the book.


Book reviews, Holistic Health Care, Self Care

Essential Oils for Mindfulness and Meditation by Heather Dawn Godfrey, PGCE, BSc


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Like many people, I got into essential oils a few years ago and I am still learning about them.  But I have experienced their power.  I have been having a bad day, in a bad mood and diffused Eden’s Garden Sunshine Spice and found that my mood improved and it turned my day around.  I have diffused Thieves or Fighting Five  when I felt a cold coming on and woke up completely fine the next morning.  I have used DiGize from Young Living (I will only ingest Young Living oils) when I had an upset stomach and it went away quickly.  My husband doesn’t like to use medicines, but he has allowed me to rub Thieves and oregano oil on his feet when sick and diffuse eucalyptus and balsam fir and found he felt much better.  So, we have become believers in essential oils.  I have thrown away my Yankee Candles and replaces them with diffusers and we diffuse whatever oils we think we need or that appeal to us.

I attempt to have a meditation practice.  Lately I have not been that great about it, but when I saw this book, I thought it might inspire me to starting practicing meditation again and it did!

I loved the chapter on Mindfulness.  I found it very informative and helpful in understanding what mindfulness is and how it helps us in our daily lives.  I also found the chapter on how our bodies absorb and utilize the essential oils to be fascinating.  I used some of the relaxation techniques.  I did, however, find the chapters on nutrition and food to be out of place in a meditation and mindfulness book.  I would have liked to see more practice techniques, maybe a section on practice techniques and essential oil blends for anxiety, for peace, for calming, for jet lag, etc.  I thought the presentation was too text-heavy and would have been better with more graphics and illustrations.

I found the chart about where essential oils are stored in the plant to be fascinating–this is information that I have not seen in any of the other essential oils books I have looked at or own.

I would like to thank Netgalley and Inner Traditions Healing Arts Press for my copy to review in exchange for my honest opinion.



5 star reviews, Health, Yoga

Body Mindful Yoga by Robert Butter and Jennifer Kreatsoulas

5/5 stars

This book found me just when I needed it.

I have struggled with an eating disorder since I was 12.  My teen years were difficult, as I didn’t participate in life because I was obsessed with food and not eating it or purging what I did eat.  I finally went for help when I was 20 and it was a long, slow struggle.

I felt my best in the years I was pregnant and when my girls were young.  I felt powerful, strong.  I was proud of my body and the two babies that it made.  I seemed to be able to easily maintain a normal weight with minimal effort.

I am 46 now and my body is changing it is has been presenting some serious issues for me.  I have been a vegetarian on and off for almost 30 years and as long as I focus on a whole food, plant based diet and do yoga several times a week, I am fine.  I can get myself to a place where I can accept my body and my natural aging process.  But it’s so easy to get caught up in…I should lift weights for bone density or I should do cardio for heart health and to burn some of the fat around my middle.  It all just seems to settle around my middle at this point.

Several months ago, I stopped eating Grape Nuts and fruit or a smoothie or toast and almond butter, banana and flax seeds for breakfast and started eating either a bowl of watermelon or a grapefruit.  I also cut out the crackers, almonds and piece of dark chocolate I enjoyed with my salad at lunchtime.  I made plant based dinners and took one helping and no more.  I had no dessert, no snacks.  I started doing pilates and Kettle Bell in addition to my almost daily yoga.  I thought I would lose weight.  NOPE.  After several months, my pants are TIGHTER not looser.  And I am angry and have become obsessed with eating, food, my diet and exercise.  Yoga is something I love to do and I have stuck with an almost daily practice for over 16 years (I started right after my youngest was born), but kettle bell and Pilates…not so much.  I don’t enjoy it, but I force myself to do it because it is good for me.  And yet I see no results and I am angry.  Also, my diet consists of watermelon or grapefruit for breakfast, a kale salad with either tomatoes, onions, beans, cucumbers and avocado or unsalted pumpkin and flax seeds, dried fruit and avocado for lunch and a plant based dinner – lentil tacos, chick pea chili over sweet potatoes, roasted vegetable and grain Buddha bowls, a veggie and tofu stir fry, etc.  No snacks, no dessert.  Lots of water.  No results.

I was defeated, depressed, upset…and then I saw this book on Netgalley.  Honestly, I had no idea what it was about, but I love yoga and I figured I would review a yoga book.  I did not expect it to be EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED to change my perspective.

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The authors contend that we often think of change on a large scale, in terms of events, but it starts with language.  What we say to ourselves shifts our perspective. We are bombarded with fad diets and before and after photos and that shapes how we view our own bodies.  But the author contends that “body image is a perception and not fact”.

The authors have mapped out a path to having healthier body narratives, with a step by step approach to learning to love yourself and your body.  They encourage you to listen to your body and know yourself, to learn about what makes you feel good or bad, Love: practice new guiding principles for your inner life and Live: share what you have learned with others.  There are personal stories from the authors and people they have worked with over the years.  There are also questions at the end of each chapter that the reader can use to journal and come to a deeper understanding of their own narrative and how to transform their inner life so that it can heal their body image.  Change starts from within.

Book reviews, Health, New Age, Self Care, Yoga

A Little Bit of Mindfulness by Amy Leigh Mercree

3.5/5 stars

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My Review:

This book is short.  I must say that for me, I find short books on these topics more appealing than heavy tomes.  I want to know more, but I really prefer reading fiction, so if I can learn about it quickly, I am in.  But if it’s going to be a long time commitment, I will watch a TED Talk.

This book starts out with an explanation of mindfulness and an exercise to center and focus the reader.  But then there is a lot of information on the history of mindfulness, Hinduism, Buddhism, how yoga became a part of Western culture, oxytocin and nuerotransmitters.  Once you wade through all of that, there are more exercises.  I found the exercise parts useful.  I practiced the Loving Kindness Exercise and found it very empowering.  The last part of the book shows the reader ways to incorporate mindfulness into their everyday life, from eating and drinking to emotions and relationships.  There were different exercises for each section.  I found it helpful and interesting.  There was a lot of good information in this book.

I would like to thank Netgalley and Sterling Ethos for my copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

To purchase this book: Amazon.

5 star reviews, Book reviews, Cookbooks, Health

The Ultimate Vegan Breakfast Book by Nadine Horn + Jorg Mayer

5/5 stars


I hope that those of you who follow me because we share a love of fiction will not mind if I review some vegan/vegetarian books and some yoga books.

I have been a vegetarian for 30 years and lately, more and more I am finding that I don’t want to eat dairy or eggs.  I know that part of this is that being a vegetarian has changed so much in the last ten years.  More and more people are eating healthier, organic and plant based – it’s no longer just for crunchy hippie types.  There are tons of blogs and cookbooks for plant based dishes and the innovation has been amazing!  Thirty years ago, at 16, I lived on vegetarian chili, pasta, salads and peanut butter sandwiches.  Now there are so many amazing and delicious recipes and more and more I am finding that I don’t want to eat dairy and eggs because there is just no reason to and I feel better when I don’t.

I will say that I don’t judge other people for eating meat or dairy or eggs.  I think we all need to do what makes us feel our best and I think often there is a learning curve with that.  I will also say that although I do follow a plant-based lifestyle, I don’t follow it blindly, I do my own research and I do what makes sense for me and for my family.

There are so many different ways to eat – paleo, vegan, raw food, Mediterranean – and they all claim to be the healthiest for you.  How are you supposed to know what is really the best way to eat?  Everyone agrees that more plants and less meat; more whole foods and less processed foods are healthy so start there.  Then listen to your body.  Moderation is key.  Drink plenty of water.  Move around more.  Anything that seems extreme is probably not the best idea.

I am so happy to be part of the book review community and when I signed up for Netgalley, I never thought about the possibility of reviewing vegan and vegetarian books or yoga books, but those are things that I am passionate about, too and so I hope you will bear with me.

My Review:

Out of all of the vegan books I have reviewed, this is by far my favorite!

The Ultimate Vegan Breakfast Book is JAM-PACKED with a TON of recipes.  There is everything from your smoothies and juices to superb lattes and specialty tea recipes to muffins and breakfast burgers to different porridge and muesli recipes to tofu scrambles and vegan pancakes and donuts.  There are even recipes for making your own nut milks and breakfast “meats”.

There is a page in the beginning that explains which nuts, seeds and berries contain which nutrients.  I am not sure if all vegan/vegetarians do this, but I think I actually think more about food and what I put in my body and what kinds of nourishment I need, so I found it really helpful to have all of this in one place.

So far, I have tried the Banana Coffee and OMG!  It was sooo good and rich and thick and delicious – my carnivorous husband said to make him a gallon of that!  I made the Cardamom Latte but it was my first time frothing nut milk (I actually borrowed a frother just to try it and I think I am going to buy a frother so I can make more lattes!) and I don’t think I frothed it enough, because it didn’t separate like in the photo in the book, but it did taste really good.

I’ve also made the Pear-Oat Smoothie, which they subtitle Liquid Muesli and it was BOMB!  So delicious and filling!  My daughter made the Raw Cheesecake Tartlets and they were delicious, too!  We are in the process of choosing some recipes to make for Sunday brunch and I will let you all know how that goes on my Instagram!!

I would like to thank Netgalley and Experiment Publishing for my advance copy of The Ultimate Vegan Breakfast Book.


4 star reviews, Book reviews, Health, New Age

Tough Truths: The Ten Happiness Lessons We Don’t Talk About by Deirdre Maloney

4/5 stars

D1B60F47-AA60-41A9-9B70-5BD04AC04B50.JPGThis is a tiny little book.  It’s the size of my hand only about 100 pages.  You can read it in one sitting if you want.  I chose to read a chapter, digest it and then read the next.  My husband read it with me and we discussed it, which was interesting.

There were a lot of interesting things in here.  A happy person is happy at least 70% of the time.  Some of our unhappiness may stem from our beliefs about what we “should” do.  I really like that the author keeps it quick and to the point, with one simple example.  This book is easy to read and understand and easy to apply the principles of happiness to your own life so you can be happier.

My husband and I read this book together.  When he would get home from work, I would read a chapter and we would discuss it and discuss how it applied to ourselves individually and as a couple.  It was helpful to discuss this book with someone and to see their perspective on things.  This book really doesn’t take long to read so I recommend it to everyone because I am sure we would all like to be happier!

From the Publisher:

Let’s get down to it. Everyone wants to be happy. Seriously.

Happiness may mean different things to different people, and those different people may go about it differently, but in the end we all want it. We all want to feel good.

Despite this…despite us all working so hard to find it, the reality is that many, many of us aren’t happy. Or we’re not as happy as we could be be…as often as we could be. Somehow happiness, a simple concept we learned as children, has become an elusive and frustrating aspiration. And, far too often and without even knowing it, the thing standing smack dab in its way is us.

Tough Truths is a little book that packs a happiness punch, tackling the topic by giving the straight scoop on how we tend to contribute to it…and get in its way. It also provides specific tips, examples, and even one simple mathematical ratio to help you get to greater happiness.

Because, seriously, who doesn’t want that?

I received this book from GetRedPR, Deirdre Maloney and Business Solutions Press in exchange for my honest review.


5 star reviews, Book reviews, Cookbooks, vegetarian

Sacred & Delicious: A Modern Ayurvedic Cookbook by Lisa Joy Mitchell

5/5 stars

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If you have taken a yoga class, you have probably heard of the term Ayurveda.  Ayurveda is ancient Indian wisdom regarding health and wellness.  It’s fascinating and dynamic and there are definitely things to learn from Ayurveda, in terms of food as well as other health and wellness practices.

Twenty years ago, Lisa Joy Mitchell, was struggling in her corporate PR position due to chronic health issues.  Doctors prescribed medications and even surgery, but Lisa chose to first try a 5-day detox program at the Ayurvedic Institute in New Mexico, which changed her life.

This book begins by explaining how we can have a sacred relationship with food.  Ayurveda recognizes food as energy, an expression of Divine Consciousness, the living power of creation.  “Each time we eat something delicious, there is the potential for bliss to bubble up inside us” which is a nice way of looking at food.

The book explains the basic principles of Ayurveda.  It explains the different doshas or body types and how we can tell if our body type is in balance or not.  The book also goes into detail on how we can eat for our body type.  The book then goes into digestion and foods that promote healthy digestion and how to incorporate those in your diet.  Next we learn Eight Guidelines to Eating Healthy:  organic produce, avoiding processed foods, avoiding cold foods and I was surprised at this, but avoiding fermented foods, which I have been told by other practitioners was important for a healthy immunes system.

One of the most interesting points of Ayurvedic wisdom surrounding food preparation is the cook’s inner state.  A happy cook, who cooks out of love will prepare food that is more abundant and enjoyable to eat.  Another piece of Ayurvedic wisdom that I find particularly true and something often missing in our modern world is that there should be a ritual around eating, having nice tableware, saying a blessing, having no distractions, etc.  I have often heard that you can lose weight simply by practicing that one piece of wisdom.

The book is color coded (which I LOVE!) for recipes for breakfast, soups, legumes, dals (sort of a thick bean stew), weekday meals, vegetables, salads and desserts.  We tried the roasted beet chips and the sautéed red cabbage, both were delicious!  I now make the tahini dressing regularly it is so delicious!  We also tried the red beans and rice, but I used black beans (sorry, we had A LOT of black beans on hand and I wanted to use them).

There are so many more recipes that I want to try–like the stuffed chard and the holiday dressing.  This is a beautiful book with enticing illustrations.  I am so happy to have a copy.  Thank you, Get Red PR and Lisa Joy Mitchell.  I received a free advance copy in exchange for my honest review and I am sure that I will make many recipes from this book in the years to come!