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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IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS INTERESTED IN BEING VEGAN, THIS IS A GREAT BOOK!

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.

4 star reviews, activism, Book reviews, Keeping House, Minimalism, plant based, Sustainability

The Sustainable Home by Christine Liu

4/5 stars

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Several years ago, I was a homeschool mom blogger and I took on the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge for Lent.  Basically what you do is fill up 1 bag a day of stuff to donate (or discard) for each of the 40 days of Lent.  I felt so much lighter after I got rid of that stuff.  It was so much easier to keep my house clean.  So I just kept going with it.  It has made us be more intentional with what we bring in to our home and what we purchase.

Over the last couple of years, I have become more and more aware of how much is being wasted in our society.  The rate at which we are redecorating, stores that sell fashionable items for dirt cheap, all of this is contributing to waste.  What are we going to do with it all?  It won’t decompose.  Where on the planet will it all go?  We are depleting resources by continually creating these things.  The working conditions of the people making these products is often deplorable.  I want to be more intentional and so when I saw this book available on Netgalley, I knew I wanted to get my hands on a copy.

Christine Liu does a great job of explaining the global issues of consumerism and materialism.

Then she goes on to explain the benefits of a decluttered space with useful and meaningful items.

Which space would you rather work in?

I used to admire the one on the left, but think that was not where someone actually worked, it was just a design space.  I have found that when you get rid of what you don’t need, you can have a workspace like the one on the left.

Christine Liu gives a practical guide to how to decide what to keep and what to toss and gives suggestions on what to do with the things you decide not to keep.

She then goes into energy consumption in the home and making your home more energy efficient.  She discusses using plants in the home.  She goes into detail about being sustainable in the kitchen, from diets that sustain the planet to growing your own food to how to store your food to what to do with food waste.  There are recipes for several plant based meals.  She gives advice on clothing that is sustainable for the planet and what to look for.  Christine Liu advises getting higher quality pieces that last longer.  There is advice on caring for your clothing and laundering your clothing.  She also discusses bedding and has a recipe for making your own room spray.  From there she goes into being more sustainable in the bathroom from skin care and body care recipes and ideas to hair care and water usage.  Ms Liu also discusses greening the workspace, dining out, going places and taking action.  This is an extremely comprehensive guide to living a lifestyle that is better for the planet as well as our bank account.

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

 

 

5 star reviews, Book reviews, Cookbooks, Health

The Ultimate Vegan Breakfast Book by Nadine Horn + Jorg Mayer

5/5 stars

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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.

 

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, plant based

The China Study Cookbook: Revised and Expanded by LeAnne Campbell

4/5 stars

I have been a vegetarian for more than 30 years.  In the last few years, the emphasis on healthy whole foods, plant based diets and organic foods have really made being a vegetarian so much easier.  About a year ago, my daughter introduced me to a vegan vlogger Ellen Fisher and her sister Hannah McNeely, who is also an ethical vegan.  I love their videos and they have inspired me to eat less dairy and less eggs and less fish (I am not quite there yet as far as finding enough dinner recipes that my whole family likes, but I am completely vegan 3-4 days a week and vegan until dinner the rest of the week).

A few weeks ago, Ellen mentioned The China Study in her video and when I saw this cookbook pop up on Netgalley, I knew I wanted to check it out and hopefully find more dinner recipes!

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Eating a whole food, plant based diet greatly reduces risks for cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

One of my concerns about going completely plant based is protein.  As a vegetarian, I rely on eggs and fish for some of my protein (legumes, seeds and nuts provide some as well).  What I learned from this book and others, however, is that Americans consume too much protein and that actually increases risk of cancers.

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The first recipe I made from this book was Dominican Rice and Beans with Fresh Salad, which the author says is her sons’ favorite meal.  We liked it a lot, although this style of cooking greatly reduces oil and salt and that was a big hit for us in terms of flavor.  We added some hot sauce, but we really wanted to add salt.  So that is something we need to think about in terms of how we want to adjust – do we want to add salt or get used to using less salt?  I have gone salt-free before and it takes a while but eventually I did get used to it and found the food flavorful enough.

The second recipe I made was the Baked Tofu which used coconut aminos and we found to be perfectly flavorful and one of the best recipes we have ever used for baked tofu.

I was eager to try some of the baking recipes, because I always want baked goods but am always trying to eat healthy.  I made the Blackberry Lemon Tea Cakes (I subbed raspberries because our raspberry bushes were thick with fruit).  We also tried the Almond Topped Blueberry Coffee Cake.  We found both to be very good, but to taste a little healthy, which we actually appreciated because it gave us the sweetness we craved without feeling overly decadent.

I have also tried some of the salad dressings, as I am trying to get away from my kale massaged with oil and salt and garlic.  I liked the Lemon Tahini dressing and the Asian Ginger dressing.  I have to get the ingredients for the Mango Azteca Dressing so I can try that one.

If you are interested in reducing your risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes and are open to eating less salt and oil and more whole food plants, then you should check this book out.  Yes, some of the food is slightly less flavorful than what you may be used to, but you will undoubtedly feel better eating it.

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

Vegan Yack Attack On The Go by Jackie Sobon

4/5 stars

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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!