I may or may not have a book obsession. I blame it on my parents, who read to me frequently as a child and took me to the library every Saturday. For awhile it was under control, and then I started blogging. I no sooner find good homes for the books that I’ve read that I get an email from a publicist wanting me to review their authors’ book. I turn most of them down, actually. But even just picking the ones that 1) sound interesting and 2) I think my readers would enjoy, I’ve found myself quite behind.
Luckily I was able to catch up on the reading part on my flights to and from California. Below are my thoughts about the books I’ve read recently. Note that each Amazon link is an affiliate link, so if you happen to click through I get a small commission (feel free to also continue to do all of your Christmas shopping there, ha ha).
Valerie Baer has developed recipes that turn into unforgettable baked wonders. But just as amazing as her recipes is her ability to explain how any one of us can make these delicious breads and desserts ourselves. Valerie is a genius baker. She is equally a genius teacher.
Valerie and her husband grow the soft-grain wheat she uses in her baking on the 6½-acre homestead where they’ve raised their five children. She grinds the wheat by hand when she’s ready to use it. She began inviting friends into her own kitchen when they kept begging her to show them how she turned out such featherweight dinner rolls, tender pizza crusts, and tangy-sweet crisps and cobblers—always using whole grains.
I know that many in the weight loss community avoid bread and grains. But for me, I feel better when I incorporate some of them–especially when I’m marathon training. But I am not the best baker, so I turned to this book for advice. It is FULL of tips and down-home recipes that I look forward to trying. This book is perfect for the beginning-level baker. Even though most of us (or maybe it’s just me) tend to skip over the front matter to get to the recipes (the good stuff), there is a TON of great information in there! Make sure you don’t miss it.
Filled with a creative blend of recipes, advice, and cultural treasures Recipes from My Persian Kitchen offers a diverse collection—from Grandmother’s Spinach to Wishing Soup. Zereshki, who learned to cook from her mother, grandmothers, and aunts, describes how to combine herbs, spices, and textures in artistic ways that appeal to the senses. Her stories of Wheatsprout Pudding—prepared in groups of women dancing, singing, and praying together through the night—provide insight into both the Persian culture and the food.
I have to confess that I haven’t had much experience in eating (much less cooking) Persian food. But I love to experiment with spices so I thought I’d look into this book. After thumbing through the recipes, they sound very flavorful and things that would be easy enough to make. I have bookmarked several to try later.
Every recipe in the pages of The UnDiet Cookbook is gluten-free, dairy-free, and in most cases, vegan-friendly, with plenty of options to fit any style of eating, be it nut-free, soy-free, grain-free, or protein-powered. Gorgeously designed and photographed, and teeming with UnDiet-approved tips, guidelines, and techniques and important information about health and wellness in today’s world, The UnDiet Cookbook is more than just a book of recipes; it’s a must-have resource for every home, and for anyone trying to jumpstart a new, vibrant, abundantly healthful life.
I’m not gluten-free nor vegan but usually I can still find recipes that I like in these types of books. There are a number of recipes that look great (Quinoa Power Bowl, Takeaway Taco Salad, Chamomile Skin-Calming Salve). Only a few include ingredients that I don’t keep on hand (chickpea flour, hemp seeds, e.g.) I sort of ignore her undiet tips though because right in the beginning she eschews coffee, which just isn’t right 😉
Are you a triathlete, runner, cyclist, swimmer, cross-country skier, or other athlete seeking greater endurance? The Endurance Handbook teaches athletes how to stay healthy, achieve optimal athletic potential, and be injury-free for many productive years. Dr. Philip Maffetone’s approach to endurance offers a truly “individualized” outlook and unique system that he has refined over three decades of training and treating athletes, ranging from world champions to weekend warriors. Maffetone’s training and racing philosophy emphasizes building a strong aerobic base for increased fat burning, weight loss, sustained energy, and a healthy immune system. Good nutrition and stress reduction are also key to this common-sense, big-picture approach.
The beginning part of this book was really easy to read and understand, and I had a much better grasp of how to train and why. I’ve been following a marathon training plan but didn’t know the science behind it. This book has given me the knowledge to increase my endurance and the motivation to start heart rate training. It does start to get a bit scientific at the end, but my engineering husband loved it.
Written by Robert Duffy in conjunction with the team of fitness experts at BX Plans, ‘Physical Fitness: XBX 12-Minute Plan for Women’ takes it cues from a revolutionary proven exercise plan created by the Royal Canadian Air Force. This ground-breaking plan doesn’t require a gym, expensive group memberships or even any need to leave the house; just twelve minutes each day through which any woman can improve her health and wellness beyond measure.
Although I haven’t yet incorporated this into my daily routine, I plan to. I LOVE that it’s only 12 minutes, has clear instructions and visuals (I’m still new at this physical fitness stuff and need all the visual aids I can get), and provides a way to track your progress through checklists.
Lay out and rearrange these handy cards until your fluid, invigorating sequence takes shape—from the opening samastitihi to ending savasana.
OK so this isn’t a book, exactly, but I thought I’d include it in this roundup anyway. This is a handy deck of cards if you already know a lot of yoga and about sequencing. Although it does include a few cards of introduction about how to sequence, the cards include their official Sanskrit name and the English name and are alphabetized according to the Sanskrit name. Each card also includes a black and white photo of the pose. I am looking forward to getting back into yoga once marathon training is done and this will be a great tool for yoga on the go.
I have reviewed A LOT of books about people moving out to country and raising chickens, finding their roots and becoming one with the earth. One of these days I will be writing a book of my own, one that is actually the opposite–the story of a farm girl who moves to the city, then the suburbs and while she does do a bit of gardening she is more than willing to buy her eggs at the farmers market. She is also quite content living there.
His memoir Closer to the Ground: An Outdoor Family’s Year on the Water, In the Woods and at the Table (published by outdoor apparel company Patagonia) is about a dad learning to share his love of nature with his kids through the process of food. The book takes readers on foraging, cooking and eating adventures across four seasons of a single year.
Together, the Tomine family hunts chanterelles, fishes for salmon, digs clams and gathers at the kitchen table (mouths watering) to enjoy the fruits of their labor. A surprising result of their fishing and foraging life: the kids see healthy food, like salmon and homegrown vegetables, as delicious treats.
This book is divided into seasons, starting with spring and ending with winter. It reminded me a lot of growing up and spending time outdoors with my dad. I appreciate how the author is realistic about whether or not living “off the land” is really possible, good for the environment, or will prevent his kids from burying their heads in their phones when they get older. The recipes are ones I might actually cook, especially if I can go fishing with my dad, which I am inspired to do from this book. My only complaint is that about halfway through I realized he was talking about environmental stuff, and although he was trying to nonchalantly mention it, it distracted from the storyline. For example, he was talking about fishing salmon with his kids, and used that as a jumping off point to provide statistics about the declining natural fish habitat in the PNW. The rest of the book was so good I’m willing to overlook the proselytizing.
In POOR MAN’S FEAST, Altman expands on the “Poor Man’s Feast” blog and shares her upbringing as a foodie focused on only the finest dishes—until she met the woman who changed her entire perspective on both food and in life. When Elissa met Susan, a small-town Connecticut Yankee with a devotion to simple living—and simple food—her entire world shifted. Susan did not need a meal to be tall or fancy to be satisfying, and falling in love with her allowed Elissa to explore other ways of preparing, eating, and appreciating food.
This was a fascinating read for me. I was trying to figure out how old the author was, based on her stories of growing up in the 70s and 80s. I loved her descriptions of flashy food, big hair and shoulder pads. I figure she’s a bit younger than my mom but older than me. I definitely related more to Susan, the small-town girl, than I did the author, who is a Jewish lesbian who lived in New York. Part of me thinks it would be fun to live in the big city, but most times I am glad to live in a middle sized city. Anyhow, this is a really good read and it is a great commentary on relationships with food and others.
We are all born with the power to imagine what does not yet exist. What if we used that power to create the world we all dream of living in–for ourselves and others?
Meet seven inspiring people–Reza, Sherry and Bob Jason, Aliza Hava, Deeyah Khan, Yarrow Kraner, and Daniele Finzi Pasca–who used their passion and creativity in the arts to reach out and infuse others with values and understanding that are vital for their future and for the community.
Unfortunately it reads like a compilation of stories written by non writers, which . . . it is. I just couldn’t get into it, probably because the other two books I read were such page turners.
Nourish is an inspiring compendium by three women, three friends, covering good eating, well-being and fitness and exercise. Each woman presents her own area of expertise, bringing you a holistic guide to caring for your mind, body and soul. The friends conclude their stunningly photographed book with two week-long programs for good living?Nourish Week and Cleanse & Tone Week. They hope that, in Nourish, you will find the kind of advice and support that you will turn to again and again, and that you will keep it constantly at hand for inspiration, amazing food and companionship.
The recipe section includes lots of recipes that I’ve bookmarked, from smoothies to side dishes to legit dinners. The body section includes basic yoga, health & beauty, and wellness, and there is an extensive exercise section. Everything is very approachable and not as intimidating as I’d expected.
Start Where You Are is an interactive journal designed to help readers nurture their creativity, mindfulness, and self-motivation. It helps readers navigate the confusion and chaos of daily life with a simple reminder: that by taking the time to know ourselves and what those dreams are, we can appreciate the world around us and achieve our dreams.
As someone who has toyed with art journaling in the past and just couldn’t find the time for it, I appreciate this workbook type approach. On the left-hand page is an illustrated life lesson; on the right is an activity, fill in the blank, or question for you to answer. It’s very cool–and a portable size.
What books have YOU read lately?
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