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.

Book reviews, Cookbooks, Health, Personal, plant based, vegan

Back to the Cutting Board by Christina Pirello

4/5 stars

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When I was a teenager, I had an eating disorder.  Over the years, I have realized that I feel good eating certain foods and I don’t feel good eating others.  As long as I stick to the foods (vegetables, fruit, whole grains) that make me feel good, my eating disorder stays in the background.  Eating a little of the food that don’t make me feel good (processed sugars and carbs) I am ok, but if I have too much or too often, I get swallowed back up with my eating disorder.  So, I stick to a plant based diet and once in a while I go out to eat and have dessert or give in to a slice of pizza at a work function or indulge in some snacks at a party and I am ok.

I love to review plant-based cookbooks because, well, I am always looking for new recipe ideas!  Christina Pirello contends that “Getting back to the basics of cooking as you walk your path to wellness begins at the cutting board”.  In fact getting back to basics is what we need to do to get well.

Christina talks about the ingredients of healthy food and veg prep.  She gives readers on a path to wellness ideas for lunch and eating dinner in and what to do if you do go out to eat.  She talks about the five elements: earth, wood, fire, soil and metal.  I have found that the more attention I pay to getting back to the earth, the happier and healthier I feel, so I appreciated this section of the book.

She had a recipe for Burdock – a very nourishing, medicinal plant – that I am dying to try.

There are a lot of winter vegetable recipes, which I was really excited about as we go into winter and I know in the past I have gotten tired of the same old things.

We made the Carrots Osso Buco, which we thought was amazing and perfect for fall/winter.  I have never actually had Osso Buco because any time it was offered it was made with veal, which I did not eat even when I did eat meat.  So I was excited to try this version.  My husband has eaten his share of Osso Buco and said the taste was right on and it was very good.

I also made the Chickpea Farro soup because I love both chick peas and farro and am always looking for new hearty soup recipes and this one will definitely be on the list of soups that I make regularly!

This is a beautiful cookbook with lovely illustrations that will inspire you to make the dishes.

I received a digital ARC of this cookbook from BenBella books and Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

4 star reviews, Book reviews, Cookbooks, Health, vegan

Vegan Yack Attack On The Go by Jackie Sobon

4/5 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:

Some of the things I LOVE about this book: There are bulk cooking recipes, 30 minute recipes and lunch box recipes!  As a busy mom who tries to eat healthy, I appreciate being able to make food ahead of time or quickly.

My daughters and I tried the Recovery Smoothie which is like a decadent chocolate milkshake and soooo good and creamy and delicious!  I also made the Lentil Balls with Zesty Rice and my husband said to put it in the rotation!  My daughter is dying to make the Pumpkin Maple Donut Holes but she’s decided that sounds very fall-ish so she is forcing herself to wait until fall.

The Cauliflower Curry Grill Packets, Campfire French Toast and Campfire Banana Splits seem like they could be fun for camping.  We are going to a vegan potluck soon and I am planning to make the Peanut Butter S’Mores Dip.

I love the author’s take on ethnic dishes like Kluski – like the author’s father, my father is Polish, too, and I was excited to have a vegan option for this!  I was also excited to have vegan recipes for hearty fall and winter meals like pot pies.  I find it’s easy to be vegan in warm weather when fresh fruit and vegetables are plentiful for salads and it’s a little more of a struggle when fall hits and there are not a lot of stick-to-your-ribs hearty meal options…but innovative folks like Jackie Sobon are creating delicious, hearty vegan recipes and for that, they are my heroes!

I would like to thank Netgalley and Fair Winds Press for my copy!