When I started exploring the benefits of a whole food diet around a year ago, I devoured every scrap of information I could find. And the more I read, the more I discovered there is a lot of unsolicited and contradictory material and advice out there. Especially in the online world where it’s open season for anyone with a keyboard and an opinion.
I think it definitely pays to take a ‘journo’ approach to what we read online – being open-minded but looking at both sides of a story and questioning, questioning, questioning!
Call me old school, but I still enjoy the physical experience of flicking through a good book. It is something tangible to hold on to, meander through, highlight, stick post it notes into, and return to again and again. A book purchase is usually something we consider. We investigate the author. Check their credibility. Figure out if their message resonates with us. Read reviews from other readers. Then hit the buy button. Or if we’re truly old school. Visit the book store.
When it comes to food I’ve bookmarked heaps of recipes and blogs online but still find myself grabbing my recipe books rather than my laptop when I want to try something new. Following is a quick guide to three interesting recipe books I’ve purchased in the last year. They each have a different take on healthy eating, Dr Libby’s ‘Real Food Chef’ is focused on whole foods; Mimi Kirk’s ‘Live Raw’ shows us how to follow a raw diet; and ‘Honesty Healthy’ by Natasha Corrett and Vicki Edgson provides an insight into alkaline eating.
Dr Libby’s Real Food Chef : The Power of Plant
Is there anyone left who hasn’t heard of nutrition specialist and weight loss expert Dr Libby? This sought after public speaker and author’s profile has gone through the roof in the last year thanks to her rapidly growing publishing empire, public appearances, seminars and a regular radio spot. Her first cookbook Real Food Chef is still my go-to book, both for fabulous whole food recipes, and lots of fantastic information about the benefits of eating a diet high in plant foods and whole, natural ingredients. Dr Libby has a PhD in nutrition and offers her readers the comfort of backing her claims with scientific fact. If you’re wondering how to start incorporating more of these sorts of foods into your diet in a family friendly way, this is the book for you. There are loads of delish juice and smoothie recipes, along with great meal and snack ideas for any time of the day, and some amazing sweet treats that not only taste great – they’re good for you too! The raw carrot cake and chocolate crackle (we incorporate Julia’s Make it Raw grawnola rather than drying our own buckwheat for this recipe) are big favourites in our house.
Rating : 4.8 out of 5
Live Raw by Mimi Kirk
Mimi Kirk is a glowing endorsement for a raw, vegan diet. Aged in her early 70s she was voted PETA’s sexiest vegetarian over 50. The California native, who was once a stand-in for Mary Tyler Moore and designed Valerie Harper’s wardrobe on Rhoda (you under 45s may not have a clue what I’m talking about here!) definitely looks years younger and even has a toyboy to boot! Mimi’s book, Live Raw has 120 yummy raw food recipes, interspersed with loads of interesting musings, instruction and advice on the raw lifestyle. It even includes a guide on how to sprout! It doesn’t matter if you don’t follow a 100 percent raw diet, as there are lots of great recipes to try and hopefully incorporate into your daily diet, including juices, smoothies, soups, salads, dressings, and even raw, vegan cheeses, pasta, pizza and desserts. Yep – you can still have your (cheese)cake and eat it too! This book is especially good if you have a dehydrator, as Mimi provides easy to follow instructions on how to make everything from nacho chips, tostadas and breads, to burger patties, grawnola bar and pancakes. I’m especially into the book’s juice, salad and hummus recipes. Mmmm mmmm.
Rating : 4.6 out of 5
Honestly Healthy (Eat with your body in mind the alkaline way) by Natasha Corrett and Vicki Edgson
Posh Spice’s endorsement of this book sent sales spiralling. Her Spice Girls bandmate Mel C and Robbie Williams are also said to be fans of the Alkaline Programme devised by UK vegetarian chef Natasha Corrett and nutritional therapist Vicki Edgson. The idea behind the Alkaline Programme involves eating predominantly alkaline foods in an effort to keep the body’s pH between 7.35 and 7.45. It claims to be able to heal a variety of ailments in addition to weight loss. All the recipes are vegetarian and ban ‘acid-forming’ foods which are said to lead to disease. The first section of the book explains the philosophy behind the programme, with the remaining section featuring 106 recipes. The photography in this book is stunning and there are some lovely recipes, although they are not quite as accessible as Dr Libby’s and Mimi Kirk’s. I imagine they are the sorts of dishes your private chef would make if you were someone super-famous! The diet is reasonably strict and is not something I would personally follow to the letter, however, I do intend to keep dipping in and out of it to try individual recipes. It has some great dressing recipes, and I can see the Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew appearing on this week’s menu.
Rating 4.0 out of 5.
I really want to encourage you to buy books locally from New Zealand bookshops. However it’s definitely worth scoping out the online options on sites such as The Book Depository, Amazon, Fishpond, Mighty Ape (the list goes one) as well. Search for ‘whole foods’, ‘healthy eating’, ‘raw foods’ etc and a plethora of options comes up. When you see a book that takes your fancy, it’s worth doing a google search of the author, checking out their website or blog, and reading as many online reviews as you can. When you are satisfied it’s the book for you – invest!