reviews

FITNESS TO GO

The Burst! Workout

By Sean Foy, MA

WORKMAN (www.workman.com), 246 PAGES, $14.95

The fact that library shelves groan under the weight of studies enthusing over exercise means nothing if you don’t have the time for it—or don’t believe you have the time. Many recommendations call for 30 to 60 minutes of daily physical activity; if you feel achy and winded after going up a flight of stairs, your response may well be, “Why bother?”

“What’s needed is a new approach to exercise, a way to achieve maximum results in the shortest amount of time possible,” says exercise physiologist Sean Foy. The author of The Burst! Workout: The Power of 10-Minute Interval Training believes short-term exercise sessions can be effective as long as they address all of the body’s needs. His solution: a mini-workout that combines cardio, muscle strengthening, core work and stress relief—all in 10 minutes.

One strength of The Burst! Workout is that it contains three training levels—beginner, intermediate and advanced—so that you can get going no matter what shape you’re in, although Foy does recommend that all but the fittest start at the beginning. Another advantage is that you won’t wind up with expensive equipment gathering dust in the garage. Level I exercises are bodyweight only, while Levels II and III use (for the most part) low-tech aids such as stability balls, resistance bands and dumbbells. Besides clear illustrations, exercises such as the Band Squat, Chair Spinal Twist and Ball Thigh Stretch feature tips on proper form and ways to either increase or decrease the intensity level. (Exercises suitable for office use are marked with a phone icon.) A journal at the back lets the reader track progress.

Foy says small, incremental improvements in fitness “can have a significant impact on your energy, metabolism, health, weight and happiness.” The Burst! Workout may be what you need to finally make that happen. —Lisa James

 

REVIEWS ARCHIVES

Alternative Medicine
Herbal Antivirals
Magnificent Magnesium
9000 Needles
Power of the Five Elements
Principles of Chinese Herbal Medicine
The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine
The Healing Remedies Sourcebook
The Transformational Power of FastingTouching the World Through Reiki
Whole Health
Wild Medicine Solution, The


Baking

Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook
Baking by Hand
Bread Revolution

 

Beauty & Skincare

Beauty and the Soul
Bonding Over Beauty
Japanese Holistic Facial Massage
Natural Beauty
Vital Face

Brain, Emotional & Mental Health
Blissful Brain
Chemistry of Calm
Emotional Wisdom
Herbs for Stress & Anxiety
Living a Life of Gratitude
Mindful Way Workbook, The
Reboot Your Brain
Recover! (addiction)
Thanksgiving Commentary
The Chemistry of Joy Workbook
What You Must Know About Memory Loss
Winner’s Brain
Yoga for Emotional Trauma

Cancer
Beyond the Magic Bullet
Cancer-Fighting Kitchen
Finding Your Way Through Cancer
Radical Remission

Childhood & Pregnancy
Allergy-Free Cooking for Kids
Best Food for Your Baby & Toddler
Feeding Eden
Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering
Heart & Hands
Helping Baby Sleep
Life After Baby
Owner's Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain, The
Simple Food for Busy Families
The Organic Nanny’s Guide to Raising Healthy Kids
You Are Your Child's First Teacher

 

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Alzheimer's Prevention
Blood Pressure Down
Complete Arthritis Health, Diet Guide
Dropping Acid
Everything Thyroid Diet Book
Healthy Gut Workbook
Immune System Recovery Plan, The
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Managing Multiple Sclerosis Naturally
Mystery of Pain, The
Naturally Pain Free
What You Must Know About Kidney Disease

Environmental Issues
The Circumference of Home
Our Chemical Lives
Raising Elijah
Tuna
Zero-Waste Lifestyle, The

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Ballet Beautiful
Burst! Workout, The
I’m Not a Size Zero 
Long May You Run
Paleo Fitness
Running for Women
Unapologetic Fat Girl's Guide to ExerciseVegan Athlete, The

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Brown Fat Revolution
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How to Cook Everything
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Illustrated Step-by-Step Cook
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Quick Check Food Facts
Salad Days
Science of Skinny
The Family Meal
The Top 100
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Clean Start
Eat to Live
Everything Anti-Inflammation Diet Book
Everything Guide to Food Remedies
Honestly Healthy for Life
Longevity Kitchen
Plant-Powered Diet
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The Detox Diet


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Jerusalem: A Cookbook
Lebanese Kitchen, The
Sicily
Summerland: Recipes for Celebrating with Southern Hospitality


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Chia
Eat-A-Bug Cookbook, The
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500 Best Quinoa Recipes
Healing Powers of Chocolate
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Lust for Leaf
Super Seeds

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Gaining Ground
Kitchen Garden
Natural Living
Organic Farming Manual
Starter Vegetable Gardens
Tender

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Happily Ever After
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The Undruggist
Watchful Eyes
Your Blood Never Lies

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Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism
Beginner’s Guide to Edible Herbs
Herbal Antibiotics
Herb Gardening from the Ground Up
Lavender
New Healing Herbs

Raw Food
Choosing Raw
Easy Sexy Raw
Raw Challenge
Raw Food
Raw Food Detox

Self-Help
Bouncing Back
Energies of Love, The
First Intelligence
I Can Make You Happy
Intuition Pumps & Other Tools for Thinking
Life Organizer, The
Living Fully
Pain Free Living
Radical Forgiveness
Secrets of Your Cells
Seeds of Freedom
77 Questions for Skillful Living
The Bliss Experiment
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The Gift of Anger
The Misleading Mind
Think Confident, Be Confident
365 Ways to Raise Your Frequency

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Culinary Tea
The Tea Enthusiast's Handbook
The World in your Teacup

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Almost Meatless
Cheesy Vegan, The
Grilling Vegan Style
Healing Patch Cookbook
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
Isa Does It
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Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook
Rose Elliot's New Complete Vegetarian
30 Minute Vegan Soup's On, The
Vegan Chocolate
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Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life
Happy Women Live Better
Great Sex, Naturally
Second Spring
Secret Pleasures of Menopause Playbook
Uterine Health Companion
Vegan for Her

Yoga
Energy Medicine Yoga
Pick Your Yoga Practice
Weight Resistance Yoga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ENERGY HEALING, EXPANDED

energy

 

Energy Medicine Yoga

By Lauren Walker

SOUNDS TRUE (www.soundstrue.com), 201 PAGES, $18.95

erergies

The Energies of Love

By Donna Eden & David Feinstein

TARCHER/PENGUIN (www.us.penguingroup.com), 262 PAGES, $25.99

Energy medicine—broadly defined as techniques that tap into the universal energy field which animates everything, including people—has long been an accepted mode of healing among alternative practitioners. Two recently published books expand on that concept in interesting ways.

Yoga is linked to prana, an Ayurvedic term for the cosmic energy that sustains life. In Energy Medicine Yoga: Amplify the Healing Power of Your Yoga Practice, Lauren Walker presents an eight-week program designed to “influence[e] the direction of our body’s energy patterns in order create positive change.” As she explains, “Often energy gets stuck in one specific location or fixed in patterns. This stuck or fixed energy becomes painful, and that pain signifies something, whether physical or emotional, needs to move.”

A student of Rod Stryker, the creator of ParaYoga, and Donna Eden, founder of Eden Energy Medicine, Walker combines the two disciplines by presenting classic yoga poses, such as Sun Salutations, along with techniques such as chanting that tap into sound’s healing power. The ultimate goal of Energy Medicine Yoga is developing the ability to scan one’s body for subtle signs of illness before, as Walker puts it, “it is forced to scream its messages.”

Eden herself has already written a book on energy medicine with her husband, clinical psychologist David Feinstein. Now Eden and Feinstein have written The Energies of Love: Keys to a Fulfilling Partnership. Like Walker, Eden and Feinstein aim to help people change unhelpful energy patterns. But in The Energies of Love, this involves the more complex task of taking two people’s energy systems into account.

A society in which gender roles have become more flexible makes relationships more complicated. As Eden and Feinstein put it, “A marriage today is more than ever a creative arrangement harboring extreme challenges and unanticipated possibilities as the maps from the past have lost their currency and the terrain itself is in continual flux.” The Energies of Love provides a way to navigate this new world; Eden and Feinstein give the reader tools that range from communication methods honoring each partner’s point of view (hint: asking “do you mean…” is better than sarcasm), to using Emotional Freedom Techniques (also known as tapping) as a way of defusing overwhelming emotions, to enhancing a relationship’s energy levels through sexual passion. The fact that they’ve experienced the joys and frustrations of a long-term marriage themselves gives their advice greater weight.

Many of us live in relationships with intimate partners, and how we interact with our loved ones can profoundly influence our physical and mental well-being. The Energies of Love can help strengthen those relationships so each partner benefits. —Lisa James

BASIC EATING

Honestly Healthy for Life

By Natasha Corrett and Vicki Edgson

STERLING (www.sterlingpublishing.com), 272 PAGES, $29.95

As any gardener knows, one of the factors that determine how well plants grow is the pH, the balance between acid and alkali (base), of the soil. Everything else can be perfect: sun exposure, moisture levels, fertility. But if the pH balance is off, plants will simply fail to thrive.

It turns out we’re not that different—and in our case, basic is better. “When your body is bombarded with acid-forming foods, it has to rely on supplies within your body to recalibrate your blood pH…which can mean leaching minerals out of your bone tissue or putting extra work on your kidneys and liver,” explain Natasha Corrett and Vicki Edgson, authors of Honestly Healthy for Life: Eating the Alkaline Way Every Day, who say consuming a mostly plant-based diet produces the mildly alkali environment that best promotes health.

Corrett, a vegetarian chef, and Edgson, a nutritional healer, use the first part of their book to explain the principles behind alkaline eating and help the reader set up a pantry accordingly. The recipes in the second half are creatively arranged. After a Recipes at a Glance chart with the book’s offerings broken out into standard listings (breakfast, soups, main meals, etc.), the actual recipe chapters use headings such as On The Go (“to fit with your busy times”) and A Breath of Fresh Air (suitable for outdoor eating). The recipes themselves offer novel twists on standard dishes, such as Curried Sweet Potato instead of potato salad and Wild Mushroom Quinoa “Risotto.”

Eating to foster a basic body environment doesn’t have to be boring. Honestly Healthy for Life can help you stay balanced in style. —Lisa James

 

 

THE CUTTING-EDGE KITCHEN

seedsd

Super Seeds

By Kim Lutz

STERLING (www.sterlingpublishing.com), 192 PAGES, $14.95

raw

Choosing Raw

By Gena Hamshaw

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 276 PAGES, $19.99

bread

Bread Revolution

By Peter Reinhart

TEN SPEED PRESS (www.tenspeedpress.com), 256 PAGES, $30.00

Once upon a time, you earned your home-gourmet stripes by learning how to chiffonade basil into elegant ribbons or prepare a whole fish en papillote (in parchment, if you haven’t taken French Cooking 101). But today the well-educated chef stays on top of the latest trends in healthy eating, an effort aided by three recently published cookbooks.

Super Seeds is, in the words of the subtitle, The Complete Guide to Cooking with Power-Packed Chia, Flax, Hemp, Quinoa and Amaranth—all of which rank high on both the health and hipness meters. Written by Chicago food blogger Kim Lutz, it provides some basic information on these extremely nutritious foods before presenting more than 75 recipes, including such novel items as Strawberry Breakfast Pudding (which uses chia seeds) and Hemp Tofu Lasagna.

Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat, is not dedicated to the idea that 100% raw is the only way to go. “I’m a raw foods enthusiast,” clinical nutritionist Gena Hamshaw explains. “I don’t adhere to any particular percentage of raw vs. cooked.” Hamshaw helps the reader adopt a rawish diet by addressing raw-food myths, misconceptions and FAQs, and by supplying 125 recipes for everything from nut-based pâtés (Nori Rolls with Gingery Almond Pâté and Raw Veggies) to “pasta” made from julienned zucchini (Zucchini Pasta with Quinoa Meatless Balls).

Bread has been a dietary staple for thousands of years. But in Bread Revolution: World-Class Baking with Sprouted & Whole Grains, Heirloom Flours & Fresh Techniques, professional baker and instructor Peter Reinhart reminds us that everything old is, eventually, new again. For people who are serious about the art and craft of home baking, Bread Revolution provides a master class on materials, including sourdough, and techniques that include baking with healthful sprouted grain flour and making specialty items such as croissants and English muffins. —Lisa James

 

INTUITION FOR EVERYONE

First Intelligence

By Simone Wright

NEW WORLD LIBRARY (www.newworldlibrary.com), 256 PAGES, $15.95

For many people, the idea of deliberately invoking one’s intuition, that inner sense of knowing what one should do in any given situation without using cognition-based thought, is something for the spiritually gifted, or the psychic, or—to be less charitable—the mildly nutty.

Simone Wright says all those notions are simply wrong. Wright, who consults on this topic with clients ranging from athletes to cops to CEOs, says that everyone has a sense of intuition. What’s more, as she says in First Intelligence: Using the Science & Spirit of Intuition, “This intelligence is in our biology. It’s a head-heart thing. Not a voodoo, woo-woo thing…I can teach anyone to do it.”

First Intelligence is Wright’s textbook. She explains how our bodies are biologically attuned to our environment, including the emotional environment we create for ourselves, and to “the unified field” of a universe alive with energy. It is this field in which thoughts create waves of energy; when waves collide, Wright says, “This is how we experience an intuitive hit.” Wright then goes on to discuss how intuition can be harnessed by accessing the unified field with questions about health, relationships, career and other matters, and learning how to interpret the messages that come back. A series of exercises helps the reader put this information to work.

In a world where making one’s way through life means hacking through a constantly expanding barrage of information (and disinformation), it helps to have a sharp, ever-present tool. Wright says intuition is that tool, and First Intelligence is her guide to wielding it most effectively. —Lisa James

BEYOND THE CLOTHES RACK

I’m Not a Size Zero

By Laticia “Action” Jackson

www.laticiajackson.com, 210 PAGES

For too many women, “physically fit” is synonymous with “better looking.” Improved health and well-being? That’s nice, but what’s really important is getting into that slinky black dress or hot-pink bikini—and turning heads while doing so.

Laticia Jackson is having none of it. In I’m Not a Size Zero: Defining Your Curves While Loving Yourself, she says women “are constantly led to believe their value is measured by their appearance. Trying to measure up to these unrealistic expectations has the ability to create feelings of inadequacies, low self-worth and low self-esteem.”

Jackson, a certified trainer who holds degrees in exercise science and public health, is determined to push back against these pressures. “What good is a flat stomach if you don’t love yourself?” she asks.

True to Jackson’s word, the first part of I’m Not a Size Zero, entitled “Love Yourself Fit,” focuses on how women can fight subliminal “skinny is better” messages. “The weight scale isn’t your friend,” Jackson writes. “I know you and the scale have been friends for years, but it’s time to limit the time you spend together.”

Instead, you can spend time with the diet and fitness sections in Jackson’s book. Her diet recommendations focus on the now-standard triad of lean protein, healthy fats and low-glycemic carbs. Her exercise background comes through in the fitness section, which covers setting goals and measuring progress, cardio fitness, resistance training basics and exercises for the upper and lower body as well as the abdominals.

“Take each day and continually work on becoming a better version of yourself,” Jackson advises. I’m Not a Size Zero can help you on that journey. —Lisa James

 

FEEDING CHILDREN
WITH ALLERGIES

Allergy-Free Cooking for Kids

STERLING EPICURE (www.sterlingpublishing.com), 184 PAGES, $14.95

A lengthy list of foods have been found to cause adverse effects in a significant number of children. Some suffer from true allergies, in which an abnormal immune response can lead to potentially life-threatening reactions; others experience food intolerances, which can result in digestive upsets, headaches and hives.

But one thing all these kids have in common—they all still need to eat. What’s a parent to do?
According to Allergy-Free Cooking for Kids, “it’s possible, and very important, to make delicious food that not only your child will like, but that the whole family and your children’s friends will like as well.” Each of the book’s three sections—gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free—include recipes for breakfasts, lunches, snacks, dinners, desserts and party items. Many of the recipes avoid multiple offenders. For example, the Beef Lasagna in the gluten-free section, which features rice-paper pasta, is also nut-, dairy- and egg-free.

Providing tasty, nutritious meals for a child who can’t eat one or more common foods can be a challenge. Allergy-Free Cooking for Kids helps make that job easier. —Lisa James

 

FINDING EMOTIONAL HEALTH

workbook

The Mindful Way Workbook

By John Teasdale, Mark Williams and Zindel Segal

THE GUILFORD PRESS (www.guilford.com), 228 PAGES, $24.95

 

herbs

Herbs for Stress & Anxiety

By Rosemary Gladstar

STOREY BASICS (www.storey.com), 128 PAGES, $8.95

Recently, the World Health Organization announced that depression is the main cause of illness and disability among the world’s teenagers—and suicide the third most common cause of death in this age group.

Distressing as this news is, it really isn’t a surprise. WHO estimates that 350 million people worldwide suffer from the sadness, fatigue and apathy that mark depression. What makes it worse is that this common mood disorder has been linked to physical ailments such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

One therapeutic response to depression involves mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), which helps the mind avoid the autopilot mode that allows negative thinking to take hold. John Teasdale, PhD, Mark Williams, DPhil, and Zindel Segal, PhD, first laid out the principles of MBCT in 2007 with the publication of The Mindful Way Through Depression (Guilford).

Their latest volume, The Mindful Way Workbook: An 8-Week Program to Free Yourself from Depression and Emotional Distress, uses a workbook format to better enable “profound and lasting change” among readers. Each chapter covers a week’s worth of exercises on each step in the MBCT program. For example, week six helps the reader see thoughts as mental events, not as representations of reality; in one exercise, the authors ask, “What was your attitude towards the thoughts you encountered? Were you impatient, irritated, wishing they weren’t there, or accepting, interested, or just neutral towards them?” A series of guided meditations in CD format helps bolster the book’s written content.

Anxiety is the world’s other great emotional burden. And while extreme anxiety and panic should be discussed with a practitioner, milder occurrences are amenable to self-help. In Herbs for Stress & Anxiety, Rosemary Gladstar—known to many as the Godmother of American Herbalism—provides natural plant-based remedies that promote calmer nerves and a greater ability to weather the stress experienced by everyone at some point in their lives. —Lisa James

          

 

RETRAINING THE ADDICTED BRAIN

Recover!

By Stanton Peele, PhD

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 296 PAGES, $24.99

Addiction extracts an enormous human and societal toll. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the totals for alcohol and drug addiction in the US include $41 billion for healthcare costs alone, $428 billion if you add in expenses related to crime and lost work productivity. And what addiction costs to the people involved—not only the addicts themselves but also their families, friends, neighbors and coworkers—is incalculable.

These costs explain why addiction treatments have proliferated over the past several decades. Many programs are based on the 12-step treatment model, in which addiction is seen as a progressive disease and the lifelong abstinence required to keep it under control necessitates the addict admitting his or her own helplessness.

“This is what we have been told for decades. This view is wrong,” says Stanton Peele.

Not surprisingly, statements like this have their detractors. But Peele isn’t just anyone voicing an opinion about the nature of addiction; he is, in the words of Psychology Today, “a seminal figure in the addiction field.” In Recover! Stop Thinking Like an Addict and Reclaim Your Life with The PERFECT Program (written with Ilse Thompson), Peele presents a treatment plan based on the addict’s own power to change his or her circumstances.

Mindfulness—paying deep attention to the present moment—lies at the heart of this book. “Addiction is the mindless and relentless chasing of superficial urges and compulsions, a desperate grasping at fleeting satisfaction; mindfulness is its perfect, natural opposite and antidote,” Peele says. It is the skill discussed in the Pause part of the PEFECT Program, followed by the self-forgiveness of Embrace, the learned integrity of Rediscover, the life management skills of Fortify, the ability to stay on an even keel of Embark, the call to joy of Celebrate and the ability to roll with life’s punches of Triage.

“The absence of self-acceptance is the worst thing about the 12 steps,” Peele writes. Recover! takes people who struggle with addictions in the opposite direction. —Lisa James

 

A LIFE WORTH LIVING

The Life Organizer

By Jennifer Louden

NEW WORLD LIBRARY (www.newworldlibrary.com),
248 PAGES, $15.95

“Time is a thief” the saying goes, and it’s true: The tasks of daily life can occupy many hours without providing any deeper payoff. Bills need to be paid and clothes need to be cleaned, of course, but is that all there is to existence?

Jennifer Louden doesn’t think so. The life coach and retreat leader has written The Life Organizer: A Woman’s Guide to a Mindful Year (now available in paperback) to guide busy women into “a way of living where paying attention to your inner knowing and intuition is as important as logic and to-do lists.”

The heart of Louden’s book is “The Life Planner: Fifty-two Weeks of Mindful Living.” Each week’s entry asks the reader what she can “let go of,” “have to” and “could do” in response to a series of questions that probe an issue in depth. For example, Week 1 asks in sequence, “What experience or feeling do I yearn for today? How might shadow comforts or time monsters block me from trusting myself or from exploring the yearning I just named? What would help my body feel listened to and loved? How have I been talking to myself lately?” Answers can be written in the book itself—although one might not want to mar such a beautifully produced book—or in a separate journal.

Many women give so much of themselves away to others that they have a hard time attending to their own concerns. The Life Organizer provides a gentle path to self-care. —Lisa James     

THE KEYS TO BEATING CANCER

Radical Remission

By Kelly A. Turner, PhD

HARPER ONE (www.harperone.com), 312 PAGES, $25.99

A cancer diagnosis is always unwelcome, no matter what the circumstances are. But imagine being told it’s stage four, and that modern oncology’s entire arsenal of weapons—surgery, chemo, radiation—will, at best, likely buy you nothing more than a little extra time.

And then imagine that you change your lifestyle and your cancer disappears, allowing you to live years beyond the point when you “should” have been dead.

While rare, such cases do occur. And they raise a question: Why?

That’s what Kelly Turner, PhD, then working as a counselor at a cancer hospital in San Francisco, asked when she first heard about someone who had what Turner calls a “radical remission.”

Turner’s investigation of the more than 1,000 such documented cases provides the backdrop for Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds.

What’s surprising about the “key factors” Turner discusses—those that came up repeatedly in her interviews with these remarkable people—is that only two of them, radical diet change and herb/supplementation usage, are physical in nature. The others exist in that borderland where body, mind and spirit meet. For example, Turner, who now lectures and consults in the field of integrative oncology, was struck by how many radical remission survivors “believe the body has an innate, intuitive knowledge about what it needs in order to heal.” This led her to list “follow your intuition” as a key factor. Others factors include taking control of one’s health, releasing suppressed emotions and increasing positive ones, embracing social support and deepening one’s spiritual life.

The final factor is having a strong reason for living—a compelling motive to continue one’s earthly existence. As Turner puts it, these patients’ “unwavering conviction is ‘Yes! I want to keep living.’”

“What makes Radical Remission cases so inspirational is that they are true,” Turner says. “Some people with advanced cancer have found ways to become cancer-free.” These stories engender a hope that gives Radical Remission its power. (To read case histories, or to report your own story, go to radicalremission.com.) —Lisa James

 

A TASTE OF PESACH

pesach

By the women of Yeshiva Me’on HaTorah

ARTSCROLL/SHAAR (WWW.ARTSCROLL.COM), 240 PAGES, $29.99

Passover is the holiday in which Jews swap out bread products with yeast for matzah. The move symbolizes the desert wanderings of the ancient Hebrews after their deliverance from slavery in Egypt, when their mobility did not offer enough time for bread to rise. Food and symbolism are also central to the seder, the festival meal that marks the beginning of the eight-day holiday. The seder plate holds foods such as horseradish, or bitter herbs, representing the slavery; charoset, a mix of chopped nuts, apples and wine, symbolizing the mortar with which the Hebrews were forced to make bricks for the Pharoah.

Passover is also laden with fried foods, but many of the more than 150 recipes in A Taste of Pesach—and more than 140 of those are gluten-free—marry good health and great taste. The book’s recipes were collected by the women of Yeshiva Me’on HaTorah in Roosevelt, New Jersey. “Among us are working mothers who need quick and easy recipes and stay-at-home-mothers who have more leisure time for cooking,” the women write in their introduction. “Some of us are super-organized and prepare everything in advance; others do everything at the last minute. For a few of us, it’s all about coking large quantities quickly; for others, exquisite individual presentations are a priority. Some of us cook on a budget; others will splurge on more exotic items. Some of us serve only healthful foods; others enjoy serving an indulgent treat, especially for Yom Tov,” or holidays.

So while A Taste of Pesach has something for everyone, there is plenty to satisfy the health-conscious kosher cook. An Olive-Tomato Salad or Tomato Basil Salad will help begin the festive meal, as will Seared Tuna with Avocado and Spicy Mayo. A Mushroom-Stuffed Sole will make for a hearty and wellness-promoting main dish, while a Roasted Vegetable Medley will help balance out the plate. For dessert, the Stuffed Baked Apple with Pecan Sauce will not be cause for guilt. No one said Passover had to be a holiday of deprivation.

medit

Mediterranean Cooking:
More Than 150 Favorites to Enjoy with Family and Friends

By the editors of ACP Magazines

STERLING (WWW.STERLINGPUBLISHING.COM), 368 PAGES, $19.95

Instead of that big fat ham that usually sits in the middle of your Easter table, why not add religious resonance, and a more healthful approach, to your holiday meal by turning to the region most central to the Easter story—the Mediterranean? The region’s diet has long been known for its health-boosting qualities, and you won’t sacrifice taste. Especially not if you dive into Mediterranean Cooking by the editors of ACP Magazines, an Australian outfit.  The collection features traditional classic dishes, such as Lamb Kebabs with Yogurt and Pita Bread, with inspired contemporary variations.
Saffron Rice with Zucchini Flowers will add a nice touch of Easter yellow to your holiday table, while Salt Cod and Potato Pie and other fish dishes may put you in the mind of the Galilee.

The enticing color photographs that accompany the recipes show that presentation is an important ingredient for preparing these dishes. Pickled Zucchini Salad, for instance, is a handsome sculpture of green, while a Chicken Tagine with Dried Plums is dressed in its holiday best on a bed of finely shredded Swiss chard leaves.

This book is not marketed as a holiday cookbook—that’s the leap, and not such an outrageous one, that we’re making as reviewers. But you can dip into Mediterranean Cooking any day of the year and it will feel like a holiday.

 

 

THE RIGHT APPROACH FOR YOU

Pick Your Yoga Practice

By Meagan McCrary

NEW WORLD LIBRARY (www.newworldlibrary.com), 220 PAGES, $15.95

Once little known outside of its native India, yoga has become one of the hottest wellness trends in the United States. But for the neophyte reading a class schedule it can all seem a bit daunting: Bikram? Integral? What do those names mean—and which of them do I try?

Meagan McCrary, certified instructor and retreat leader, answers those questions in Pick Your Yoga Practice: Exploring and Understanding Different Styles of Yoga. A chart near the front of the book that highlights core elements—intense or gentle, for example—of the different styles (with references to specific chapters) makes it easy for the reader to find a yoga format suitable to his or her purposes. Each chapter then provides an overview of a single style, such as a discussion of how Bikram Choudhury came to set his 26-posture sequence in a room heated to 105 degrees or why the Integral style takes a big-picture, combined-method approach to yoga practice. Additional material, including a history of yoga in the US, provides a framework that helps explain how yoga got from its ancient roots to its modern incarnations.

“You know yourself best. The choice of which yoga style, or styles, you want to practice is very personal and one that only you can make,” McCrary says. Pick Your Yoga Practice can help make that decision easier. —Lisa James

VEGAN SPECIALTIES

soups

The 30 Minute Vegan Soup’s On!

By Mark Reinfeld

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 262 PAGES, $17.99

cheesy

The Cheesy Vegan

By John Schlimm

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 244 PAGES, $19.99

 

vegan

Vegan Chocolate

By Fran Costigan

RUNNING PRESS (www.offthemenublog.com), 304 PAGES, $30.00

Veganism—a form of vegetarianism that eschews all animal products including dairy and eggs—is becoming ever more popular, especially among people who eat a plant-based diet for both health and ethical reasons. At one time the budding vegan would have been hard-pressed to find any cookbooks on the subject. But it’s a sign of this category’s growth that publishers are starting to come out with vegan books tailored to specific needs.

Two recent examples come from Da Capo Press. One of them, The 30 Minute Vegan Soup’s On!, tackles a subject that fits fairly comfortably within most people’s framework of what a vegan diet might look like. Author Mark Reinfeld, a culinary teacher who also wrote The 30 Minute Vegan, calls Soup’s On! a “soups preparation training manual” that covers everything from creating flavorful all-vegan stock to making creamy soups that don’t require the usual dairy finish. A series of “Chef’s Tips and Tricks” throughout the book help the novice soup chef master recipes such as Fire-Roasted Tomato and Rice Soup with Spinach and Creamy White Bean Soup with Broiled Artichoke Hearts.

One thing that puts off some would-be vegans is the thought of having to give up such favorites as cheese. Another Da Capo title, The Cheesy Vegan: More than 125 Plant-Based Recipes for Indulging in the World’s Ultimate Comfort Food, tackles this problem head-on. “We have officially entered the Age of Vegan Cheese!” proclaims author John Schlimm, and he gets the party started with recipes for cheddar, feta, brie and other cheeses using ingredients such as nutritional yeast, agar powder (a natural thickening agent) and tofu. Schlimm then instructs the reader how to use his cheeses in recipes that run the gamut from Swiss & Cheddar Sunday Brunch Tarts to Cheesecake Party Parfaits.

If anything can give cheese a run for its money in terms of popularity, it’s chocolate—and there are vegan versions of that, too. In Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, vegan pastry chef Fran Costigan spends a whole chapter discussing chocolate; she says that even non-milk chocolates may have milk solids in them, so it is “of the utmost importance that you carefully read labels every time, even when you are purchasing a favorite vegan brand.” But she also lavishes the same care on her recipes’ other ingredients, including the non-dairy milks and fats that give desserts their richness. All this attention to detail shows in recipes such as Raw Cacao Superfood Truffles and Gluten-Free Brownie Bites. (The pictures in this beautifully produced book will make you want to gnaw on the pages.) —Lisa James

Living a Real Life With Real Food:
How to Get Healthy, Lose Weight,
and Stay Energized—the Kosher Way

By Beth Warren, MS, RD, CDN

SKYHORSE (WWW.SKYHORSEPUBLISHING.COM)

374 PAGES, $24.95

The approach that Beth Warren, MS, RD, CDN, takes in promoting good health in her sensible new book, Living a Real Life With Real Food: How to Get Healthy, Lose Weight, and Stay Energized—the Kosher Way, is rooted in ancient times: It is the concept of keeping kosher, the name given to food that adheres to Jewish dietary laws.

The author calls upon both her lifelong Jewish observance and her credentials as a registered dietician and certified dietician-nutritionist to present a fascinating hybrid approach to health. And, for those who remember the old rye bread commercial, you don’t have to be Jewish to embrace it.

In her nuts-and-bolts explanation of kosher dietary laws, Warren notes that keeping kosher is a commandment from G-d, but she also endorses eating kosher as a way toward better health. A kosher diet eliminates roughly 30% of food products on the market, letting you narrow your choices for more healthful eating. It encourages inspection of food packages, training your eye to search labels for wellness-promoting ingredients. And keeping kosher encourages discipline. Warren is quick to add, however, that foods with a kosher symbol on the package do not automatically make them more healthful.

The author also calls upon her Syrian heritage, which lends itself to the healthful tips in Living a Real Life With Real Food, apparent in some of the 50 accessible recipes included in the book’s second half. Most Syrian dishes that Warren recounts included vegetables such as okra, eggplant, potatoes, mushrooms, as well as a variety of beans, lentils, and peas—healthful ingredients, to be sure.

In Living a Real Life With Real Food, the author waxes poetic about health through the lenses of the Bible, the Talmud, the Sabbath, and Maimonides. Yet even without the kosher element, Warren’s book stands on solid ground as an approachable and worthwhile guide to healthy living.

With an accessible writing style, she offers meal plans, case studies of some of her clients, and pragmatic tips. Her explanations about such subjects as grass-fed versus grain-fed beef, alternative milk sources, wild versus farmed seafood, how to identify food intolerances, and a host of other topics will help you make the shift from a diet of processed foods to a real life with real food.

Warren’s readers might find themselves pleasantly surprised to find that her world of real foods encompasses all food groups. “To me,” she writes, “real food is defined as the closest thing to being fresh and whole, minimally processed, G-d given, and available since biblical times.”

 

REMEMBERING BETTER

What You Must Know About Memory Loss

By Pamela Wartian Smith, MD, MPH

SQUARE ONE (www.squareonepublishers.com),
224 PAGES, $15.95

If there’s a nearly universal concern associated with aging, it’s the inability to remember. Trying to do anything from locating your car keys to coming up with the name of someone smiling in front of you can quickly devolve into an exercise in frustration. But hey, you’re getting older so forgetting things is inevitable, right?

Not as far as anti-aging doctor Pamela Wartian Smith is concerned. “It really is possible to keep your mind sharp and focused throughout your lifespan, but it will not happen without a commitment on your part,” she says in What You Must Know About Memory Loss: A Guide to Proven Techniques and Supplements to Maintain, Strengthen or Regain Memory. Wartian first discusses possible causes of memory loss, including some you are familiar with (dementia) and others you may not be (heavy metal poisoning); each chapter comes with a checklist to help you pinpoint what’s behind your forgetfulness. She then presents a number of memory-strengthening factors, including exercise, stress relief, sleep, diet, supplementation and mental activity.

Wartian puts the responsibility for your mental prowess squarely on your shoulders. “Only you can determine how well or how poorly your mind fares as you age,” she says. What You Must Know About Memory Loss can provide the tools you need to stay sharp. —Lisa James

 

HERBAL STRESS-BUSTERS

Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism

By Donald R. Yance, CN, MH, RH(AHG)

HEALING ARTS PRESS (www.healingartspress.com),
658 PAGES, $50.00

Asthma, depression, high blood pressure: Scanning even a partial list of the disorders that researchers have linked to stress can be a sobering experience. Given the potentially fatal consequences of these illnesses, it is no exaggeration to label stress a killer condition.

Fortunately, nature provides an answer for the biological havoc that uncontrolled stress can create. Adaptogens are herbs that, as the name suggests, help the body adapt to both physical and emotional stressors. These plants, prized by traditional healers the world over for centuries, have made their way into modern alternative medicine. But how do you choose the remedy that’s best for your needs when faced with a wall of bottles in the health food store?

That’s where Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism can be helpful. Written by a master herbalist, this book isn’t for the casual, just-make-me-better-doc kind of healthcare consumer; it wouldn’t look out of place on a practitioner’s bookshelf, actually. But anyone who takes their health seriously will find an abundance of valuable information within its covers.

One of the book’s strong points is that author Donald Yance doesn’t present the adaptogens—a category that includes plants such as ginseng, ashwagandha and rhodiola—in a vacuum. Based on his more than two decades of clinical experience, Yance has found that herbal stress-fighters work best when used with “targeted nutritional remedies and supportive herbs, which I refer to as adaptogen companions.”

The first part of the book expands on Yance’s healing philosophy by presenting key topics such as cardiovascular health, weight management and the metabolic basis of aging. The second part presents writeups of more than 60 adaptogens, supplemental herbs and nutrients. Each section covers traditional usages and modern research, and includes a reference list.

In today’s hectic world, stress is an unavoidable fact of most people’s lives. Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism allows you to make intelligent choices when it comes to stress management. —Lisa James

 

SOUL SMART WISDOM

By Karen L. Garvey

Artwork by Diane Daversa

Published by Intent, 40 PAGES, $9.99

Soul Smart Wisdom (Intent) is a joyful pick-me-up for anyone needing a little uplifting, and that’s most of us at some point. Author Karen L. Garvey’s aphorisms push and pull you to progress, however you define it, in succinct nuggets that are not meant to be consumed and spit out, but savored for their depth.

Consider this: “Language poses limits. Practice using your heart, gestures, body language, facial language and touch to unite with others.” Or how Garvey, a professional coach, pulls together the dichotomies of life in this simple yet golden reflection: “Everyone matters as an individual and we all matter together.”

Culled from Garvey’s previously published The Answers, her motivational gems are brought vividly alive by stunning artwork that bursts with color from Long Island fine artist, illustrator and designer Diane Daversa, who is clearly among her element when working from nature. Daversa’s rays of sunshine beaming through treetops or reflections on bodies of water are themselves a cure for the winter blues.

Like the meditative qualities of water, Daversa’s magical lakeside landscape, for example, makes ruminations like this come to life: “The reflection pool mirrors what it sees. You cannot create a new image in the reflection. Your life is a reflection as well, mirroring back in physical matter the quality of your thoughts and your beliefs. The pool can only reflect back what is there.”

Soul Smart Wisdom is like having a sunlamp nearby when the day’s skies are darkened with snow or clouds. It is available in bookshops, boutiques and at DianeDaversa.com and TheAnswersUnlimited.com.

 

 

TAKE THIS MINERAL TO HEART

Magnificent Magnesium

By Dennis Goodman, MD

SQUARE ONE (www.squareonepublishers.com), 174 PAGES, $14.95

Cardiovascular disease affects so many Americans that it’s easy to become numb to the statistics. But when the Heart Foundation says, “Every 33 seconds someone in the United States dies from cardiovascular disease, which is roughly the equivalent of a September 11th-like tragedy repeating itself every 24 hours, 365 days a year,” it’s enough to make you sit up and take notice.

The relentless nature of heart disease has led researchers to look for some way to slow the torrent. And one of the simplest, yet most promising, may be to increase our national intake of magnesium. No wonder a search of PubMed, the nation’s biggest medical-study database, under “magnesium cardiovascular” returned more than 6,200 results.

“As a heart specialist, I feel that the treasures held within magnesium have yet to be embraced by the medical community,” says Dennis Goodman, MD, author of Magnificent Magnesium: Your Essential Key to a Healthy Heart and More. “This master mineral is a necessary ingredient for approximately 350 enzyme systems, thus playing a role in the majority of your body’s metabolic processes. Surprisingly, however, upwards of 80% of Americans are deficient in this nutrient.”

Goodman, a clinical associate professor at New York University Langone Medical Center, says magnesium’s effects are so far-reaching because it is a cofactor, a substance that helps activate many of the body’s life-sustaining actions. That includes the processes by which cellular energy is produced (critical for hard-working cardiac muscle) blood vessels relax to lower blood pressure and calcium goes into bones instead of arterial walls. Unfortunately, modern life’s toxic mixture of chronic stress, poor diet and impaired digestion—among other factors—can drain the body of magnesium, setting the stage for hypertension and a variety of heart woes. In the book, Goodman explains how to increase magnesium levels through diet and supplementation.

“Perhaps one day, popping a magnesium supplement in the morning will be as common as taking a baby aspirin to protect yourself from a heart attack,” says Goodman. Magnificent Magnesium makes a strong case for that scenario. —Lisa James

 

Notable Books of 2013

There is no shortage of books that aim to improve your health. We’ve plumbed through the volumes that have crossed our desks over the past year to come up with this list of books that can directly or indirectly benefit your health. Good reading!

 

baking

Baking By Hand

(Page Street Publishing) by Andy & Jackie King

Food is healthiest when it’s local, and it doesn’t get more local than when you make it yourself. Baking By Hand shows aspiring bakers how to make artisanal breads by getting up close to their ingredients and forgoing a mixer. You can make your own chewy-crust Ciabatta, a Roasted Potato, Onion and Rosemary Bread, a Semolina-Apricot Bread and nearly 100 other bread and pastry recipes. The Kings are professionally trained bakers who started A&J King Artisan Bakers in Salem, Massachusetts. There are plenty of step-by-step photos to help you craft your breads.

 

eat

Eat to Live Cookbook: 200 Delicious Nutrient-Rich Recipes for Fast and
Sustained Weight Loss, Reversing Disease, and Lifelong Health

(Harperone) by Joel Fuhrman M.D.

In this companion cookbook to his bestseller Eat to Live, Dr. Fuhrman presents recipes that fulfill his long-time nutrition-first “nutritarian” philosophy. Dr. Fuhrman’s approach makes cooking simple and, with recipes like Coconut Carrot Cream Pie and Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream, doesn’t sacrifice taste for good health. Included are breakfast recipes, including Polenta Frittata and Blueberry Nut Oatmeal, main meals such as Too Busy to Cook Vegetable Bean Soup, among many others that will help keep you in top-top shape.

 

the

The Immune System Recovery Plan

(Scribner) by Susan Blum M.D., M.P.H.

Hope and encouragement are key ingredients in any effort to regain good health, and they are supported by the important themes of Dr. Blum’s book—that reversing chronic illness is a real option and that improvement can happen almost immediately with the practical program she recommends. The Immune System Recovery Plan is a highly accessible read, with sections on food as medicine, understanding stress, healing your gut and liver support. Each section features a “workbook” that lets you personalize the program and a series of recipes to follow. This book is a roadmap for treating autoimmune diseases—and then preventing them.   

intuition

Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking

(W.W. Norton) by Daniel C. Dennett

Daniel C. Dennett is one of our most important philosophers, and this volume collects many mind-stretching exercises and vignettes. Intuition pumps are thought experiments that grew out of a seminar to a dozen freshmen at Tuft University, where Dennett is the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy. For example, Dennett urges the reader to examine the sentence “Love is just a word.” Such a phrase is a “deepity,” a “proposition that seems both important and true—and profound—but that achieves this effect by being ambiguous.” There’s much more here, from explorations of Occam’s Razor to Rapoport’s Rule, that make Intuition Pumps… a healthy excursion for the mind.

invisible

Invisible Worlds: Exploring Microcosms

(h.f. ullman publishing) by Julie Coquart

Invisible Worlds comprises 99 photos of objects in nature, biology, chemistry, medicine, mineralogy and textiles, and represents the best of microphotography. Most have been taken by scientific researchers. Invisible Worlds is at once a breathtaking scientific journey, a work of art and the basis for a spiritual awakening. Even more than that, by showing how beautiful these objects are in their most basic forms, these photographs make science and our potential to understand life less daunting. There is plenty here to please the naturalist and health enthusiast. For instance, what resembles milky globules from the mind of a science-fiction film’s set director is actually a section of sage leaf. As Coquart explains, sage was seen as a universal remedy during the Middle Ages, and today is mainly cultivated for its essential oil, used in making vermouths, liqueurs and perfumes. Page after page, this book puts on display the building blocks of life in all their inspirational glory, making a journey to these invisible worlds well worth the trip.

isa

Isa Does It: Amazingly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week

(Little, Brown) by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

The idea of going vegan can be daunting, but Isa Chandra Moskowitz makes veganism fun and accessible in this delightful cookbook. Whether she is explaining how soup is one of the “most forgiving” meals to make or gently cautioning aspiring vegan cooks to avoid a “dusty” taste by replacing their old spices, Moskowitz is a comforting and reassuring guide through recipe after delicious recipe. Illustrated with handsome photographs of the meals and segmented by headings in fun typefaces, Isa Does It is chock full of recipes like Ancho-Lentil Tacos and Pesto Risotto with Roasted Zucchini that anyone would love.

lust

Lust for Leaf: Veggie Crowd-Pleasers to Fuel Your
Picnics, Potlucks, and Ragers

(Lifelong) by Alex Brown and Evan George

As the title of this unconventional cookbook shows, Lust for Leaf also puts the fun in healthy cooking. Authors Brown and George employ plenty of alliteration (Verdugo Verde, Radish Remoulade and Summer Seitan) and heaping servings of cool in edgy and entertaining recipes like Ambient Nachos, solar-cooked on a cookie sheet, and Eggplant Crasserole. We’re looking forward to trying the Kaleslaw, a recipe in Lust for Leaf’s BBQ Mosh Pit chapter. Afterward, we just may take in a Green Day show.

reboot

Reboot Your Brain: A Natural Approach to Fighting Memory Loss,
Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Brain Aging, and More

(Skyhorse) by Gary Null PhD

That Alzheimer’s has no known cure makes this book an important read; that two billion people worldwide are expected to suffer from some form of dementia by 2050 makes it a compelling one. Author Null taps 35 years of research in Reboot Your Brain, describing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, memory loss, depression, anxiety, dementia and other mental conditions and the diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes that help in each condition. A lengthy appendix of recipes, coupled with the in-depth look at each mental affliction, caught our eyes.

sicily

Sicily

(Phaidon Press) by Phaidon editors

The Mediterranean Diet is one of the planet’s healthiest, and Sicily offers an in-depth look at one of the region’s most storied islands. Sicily is at once a cookbook and travelogue, a book of history and health. In a section on olive oil, for instance, we learn that the olive was probably introduced to Sicily by the Phoencians, but that the citrus fruit took priority under Arab rule, with the olive regaining its crown in the Middle Ages; we also learn that unfiltered oils have the best flavor and health benefits. Phaidon is known for the beautiful images in its books, and with Sicily’s gorgeous photographs, of both food and landscape, you can almost taste the Cernia al Forno (Baked Grouper) and feel the sun on your back.

summer

Summerland: Recipes for Celebrating with Southern Hospitality

(Rizzoli) by Anne Quatrano

Owner of four celebrated restaurants in Atlanta, Anne Quatrano was named Best Chef of the Southeast by the James Beard Foundation and Best New Chef by Food & Wine, and her credentials show in Summerland. Putting a new spin on seasonal cooking, Quatrano features recipes for each month of the year. While there is plenty about southern food that makes it no friend to your arteries, Quatrano’s cookbook illustrates the depth of southern cuisine with decidedly healthy recipes such as Citrus Salad with Dried Olives and Candied Zest or the southern favorite, Hoppin’ John, both winter recipes. Along with the delectable recipes and handsome photography, Summerland features Quatrano’s folksy insights. Eating collard greens on New Years Day, for instance, is a traditional way to ensure wealth, she writes in her Braised Winter Greens recipe. Reading Summerland any day ensures immersion in a regional culture and its culinary riches.

whole

Whole Health: A Holistic Approach to Healing for the 21st Century

(Tarcher Penguin) by Mark Mincolla, PhD

The author’s Whole Health Healing System, developed over three decades, integrates elements of classic Chinese medicine, personalized nutrition and energy medicine. Considering that 65% of Americans are medicated, with over $250 billion spent on prescription medications, Whole Health is a worthwhile read and makes a good case for finding alternative ways to treat and prevent illness. Central to Whole Health is the author’s trademark Electromagnetic Muscle Testing (EMT) system, which is performed with the help of a partner who applies pressure on designated acupuncture points to help determine food intolerances.

owner

The Owner’s Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain

by JoAnn Deak, PhD and Terrence Deak, PhD

Books and other media that can get young people thinking and ultimately caring about their health are a welcome sight, and The Owner’s Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain doesn’t disappoint. With tasteful cartoon illustrations by Freya Harrison and written in plain English by the Deaks, this book urges adolescents to understand the processing power of their grey matter rather than their iPads. A follow-up to Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, it tackles the tough subjects and feelings young people are likely to encounter: overwhelming emotions, drama with friends, and romantic feelings. The Owner’s Manual… is a useful and informative guide, for young people, parents, and educators, to help keep adolescents grounded during these potentially tumultuous years.

 

FINDING HAPPINESS

trista

Happily Ever After

By Trista Sutter

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 254 PAGES, $24.99

 

happy

Happy Women Live Better

By Valorie Burton

HARVEST HOUSE (www.harvesthousepublishers.com),
218 PAGES, $12.99

gratitude

Living a Life of Gratitude

By Sara Wiseman

LLEWELLYN (www.llewellyn.com), 358 PAGES, $16.99

Ah, December: Tis the season to…feel more stress than during the other 11 months combined. Whether it’s trying to fit shopping and cooking and cleaning into weeks that are already overscheduled or watching Uncle Denny get nosily sloshed at the family get-together, sources of stress abound in what is supposedly a season of joy and good cheer. Where’s the happiness?

As it turns out, happiness is the topic of two recently published books and a strong component in a third.

You would think Trista Sutter has every reason to be happy. Starring in the first season of “The Bachelorette,” she married winner Ryan Sutter, a firefighter, in 2003; the ceremony was televised by ABC, which paid the couple a million dollars for the privilege. Life since then must have been easy, right?

“Away from the cameras, away from the spotlight, everything was different…Our off-camera lifestyle now includes a daily balancing act of work and play, a house in need of constant tidying, bills to pay, mail to open, kids needing Mommy and Daddy,” Sutter says in Happily Ever After: The Life-Changing Power of a Grateful Heart. “I have also suffered and struggled through my fair share of disappointment and pain,” including the premature birth of a child after Sutter developed pregnancy complications. (Mother and son are now fine.) In the book Sutter examines various life experiences, both her own and those of loved ones—her reaction to the early death of a favorite cousin, her husband’s abortive attempts at an NFL career—and decides to look on life with optimism. “No matter what life throws at me, I do my best to look toward hope and a greater meaning bigger than myself,” she says.

Valorie Burton believes hope, and the happiness it engenders, is lacking in a lot of women’s lives. “As women, we have more, but we enjoy it less,” says the personal and executive coach in Happy Women Live Better: 13 Ways to Trigger Your Happiness Every Day. “We are more educated. We have more choices. We make more money…And yet, research shows that collectively we are less happy than we were 40 years ago.” Burton’s response is to give women tools in 13 different areas designed to dispel sadness and depression. (You can take her quiz at HappyWomanTest.com.) In the chapter on connection, for example, Burton explains why people tend to feel more isolated nowadays—more people living alone, more text messages than conversations—and provides a list of ways to activate the connection “happiness trigger,” such as allowing oneself to be vulnerable and making eye contact. Other chapters cover topics such as managing finances, learning how to relax and practicing gratitude.

Learning how to be grateful is the focus of Living a Life of Gratitude: Your Journey to Grace, Joy and Healing. “In the moment we give thanks, everything changes. Our hearts crack open. We are flooded with love and light,” says spiritual intuitive Sara Wiseman. “The trick is to learn how to create this moment not just once in our lifetimes, but over and over again.”

Unlike Burton’s checklist approach, Wiseman tells a series of stories followed by questions meant to provoke gratitude-inspiring thought. In one of them, an attempt by Wiseman and her partner to drum by the moon on a Puget Sound beach is foiled by the damp Northwestern weather; “the realization sank in that we were not having fun at all.” But when Wiseman’s partner started skipping stones, they saw the water light up with phosphorescent sparks. She joined in “to watch the glowing circle of light create an aura in the waves…our plans for drumming were instantly forgotten, and we were suffused with joy.” Her recommendation to the reader: “Think back to a time when you made plans that changed unexpectedly.”

Life is full of interrupted plans and unexpected occurrences; the art of living lies in learning how to find contentment and delight amid the challenges. These three books, each in their own way, provide guidance for navigating the often-rocky road to happiness. —Lisa James

MODERN HOMESTEADING

artisan

The Artesian Market

By Emma Macdonald

DUNCAN BAIRD (www.randomhouse.com), 224 PAGES, $24.95

ferment

The Essential Book of Fermentation

By Jeff Cox

AVERY/PENGUIN (www.penguin.com), 262 PAGES, $25.99

In a complex, globally connected world filled with forebodings of catastrophe, some people are actively preparing for the unraveling of society as we know it. A number of these “preppers” yearn for what they see as a simpler era in which hardy settlers enjoyed independent lives far away from the dangerous chaos of city life. But survivalists aren’t the only ones looking to become self-sufficient. Many modern homesteaders see farmhouse arts such as conserving food—a skill now mostly lost to an urbanized population—as sources of joy and improved health.

As its title implies, The Artesian Market: Cure Your Own Bacon, Make the Perfect Chutney and Other Delicious Secrets takes an enjoyable high cuisine, rather than rough-and-ready survival, approach to food preservation. That’s hardly a surprise; author Emma Macdonald is a professional chef and founder of The Bay Tree Food Company, purveyor of pickles, dressings and other delicacies to many of London’s high-end department stores. Macdonald offers readers the chance to take baby steps at first; some recipes lean on purchased foods while others “show how you can create your own deli products at home.” It’s helpful that the instructions for a specific food-conserving technique, such as making rillettes (in which cooked meat is stored in fat) or preserving lemons, is shown next to an appropriate recipe. And while Macdonald’s first focus isn’t necessarily on health, there are enough dishes that fall into the healthy category—Moroccan Chicken Patties with Date Confit, Roasted Red-Pepper Gazpacho with Serrano Chips—to make The Artesian Market worthwhile for the nutritionally minded reader.

Nutrition is more front-and-center in The Essential Book of Fermentation: Great Taste and Good Health with Probiotic Foods. As a long-time writer and editor in the fields of food, wine and gardening, author Jeff Cox sees vital linkages between an organic approach to growing food and the use of fermentation in food preservation. “The more fermentation power in the soil, the more dead plant and animal matter will be thoroughly decomposed into its nutritive elements, and the plants that grow there will consequently be better fed and healthier,” he writes. “The more fermentation power in the guts of animals, the healthier those animals will be. And that includes us.” After explaining how fermentation works—how microbes help make foods tastier and more healthful—Cox then explores fermentation’s beneficial effects in the creation of bread, cheese, wine, dairy products such as yogurt and vegetable products such as sauerkraut. Recipes that include the finished products allow the reader to incorporate fermented foods into meal planning.

Even if you don’t expect civilization’s imminent demise, home-based food conservation is a skill that shouldn’t be allowed to lapse. The Artesian Market and The Essential Book of Fermentation are valuable sourcebooks in passing along this ancient knowledge. —Lisa James

STAYING ALIGNED

Natural Posture for Pain-Free Living

By Kathleen Porter

HEALING ARTS PRESS (www.healingartspress.com),
302 PAGES, $21.95

Are you slumped in a chair or sprawled across a couch while you’re reading this review? Most of us are unaware of how we position our bodies on a daily basis until pain, either transitory or persistent, reminds us that our skeletons are not infinitely flexible.

Much of this misery can be attributed to the fact that people, who are meant to walk upright, now spend much of their time sitting down—and misalign themselves in the process. “I have been privileged to have worked with many people who have shown me how readily chronic pain can be relieved by relearning how to align their bones and engage the deepest core of internal support,” writes Kathleen Porter in Natural Posture for Pain-Free Living: The Practice of Mindful Alignment.

Porter, director of the Center for Natural Alignment in Portland, Oregon, says modern living, with not only its sedentary nature but its emphasis on appearance over functionality, promotes poor posture by encouraging people to hold their bodies in unnatural positions; think of the teenager with a hip cocked out at a defiantly cool angle. Eventually such postures become ingrained, leading to skeletal imbalances and pain.

In Natural Posture for Pain-Free Living, Porter explains what normal human alignment looks like and how to re-establish this crucial baseline. For example, she says in many people the pelvis tilts backward, leaving it “unable to support a naturally upright spine,” which in turn pulls the rib cage out of position. Porter then provides a simple exercise called Turning Your Wheels designed to bring the pelvis and rib cage back into proper alignment.

“I believe, barring accidents, most orthopedic surgeries could be avoided if the body’s natural alignment is never lost in the first place,” Porter says. Natural Posture for Pain-Free Living provides a blueprint for returning to that state of nature. —Lisa James

INSIGHT BY THE VIAL

Your Blood Never Lies

By James B. LaValle, RPh, CCN

SQUARE ONE (www.squareonepublishers.com), 352 PAGES, $16.95

It happens thousands of times a day across the country: People file into small cubicles, roll up their sleeves and have blood taken for testing. But what do those tests measure and how are the results interpreted?

Most people would assume test interpretation is a practitioner’s concern, but James LaValle disagrees. “A blood test is essentially a blueprint of your health and a glimpse of its future. It tells you so much about what is going on inside your body, and it can speak volumes about what may go on inside of it somewhere down the line,” says the pharmacist, nutritionist and author of Your Blood Never Lies: How to Read a Blood Test for a Longer, Healthier Life. LaValle’s mission is to help the reader make sense of the numbers and form an action plan based on them.

Standard blood tests are broken into several categories including the lipid panel, which includes cholesterol and triglycerides; the basic metabolic panel, which measures blood sugar, kidney health markers and various mineral levels; the hepatic function panel, which assesses liver health; a complete blood count, which measures red and white blood cell markers; and hormones, such as thyroid and sex hormones. LaValle addresses all these test categories along with several optional tests, such as those for levels of homocysteine and C-reactive protein (CRP).

For each test, LaValle provides reference ranges, possible causes of high readings and associated symptoms, and drugs, supplements and lifestyle changes that can be used to bring readings into the normal range. For example, high levels of bilirubin, a product of red blood cell recycling, indicates liver dysfunction. LaValle lists possible causes of high bilirubin levels ranging from mononucleosis to liver failure; along with a drug used to fight this problem, he also lists supplements such as alpha lipoic acid and lifestyle changes such as getting more sunlight exposure. (Test results and possible treatments should always be discussed with one’s practitioner.)

Knowledge is power. Your Blood Never Lies gives you the information you need to address health problems before they worsen. —Lisa James

 

 CELLULAR SPIRIT

Secrets of Your Cells

By Sondra Barrett, PhD

SOUNDS TRUE (www.soundstrue.com), 282 PAGES, $17.95

One result of the Age of Enlightenment’s attempt to divide each person into discrete elements—physical, emotional and spiritual—is a profound sense of disconnection between our spirits and our bodies. A hallmark of societies in which technological advances have outstripped innate wisdom, this disconnect may help explain rising rates of emotional illness, including anxiety and depression, as well as the anomie and rootlessness that afflict so many people.

But what if the body itself provided the blueprint for a renewed union of our physical and spiritual selves? Biochemist Sondra Barrett started out believing that health was a simple matter of addressing chemical imbalances. Then she saw living cells under the microscope for the first time and was “enchanted by what I was seeing.” Thus began a journey that has culminated in Secrets of Your Cells: Discovering Your Body’s Inner Intelligence.

“This book speaks to two dimensions of our human experience: scientific investigation and spiritual exploration,” Barrett writes. “To fully know and appreciate life and our place in it, I believe both dimensions need to be present.” Her main thesis is that our cells, those trillion or so little packets of protoplasm that make up our bodies, “are little crucibles of measurable, discernible biochemical interaction that also carry the seeds of divinity.”

True to her training, Barrett presents clear, understandable discussions of such topics as how the body tells its own cells apart from those of foreign microbes (cellular identity) and how immune cells learn to detect and destroy such invaders. But she also addresses the connections between cell and spirit, and how the reader can use those connections to fashion a deeper, richer existence. For example, after noting that each cell has its own role to play within the body, Barrett asks the reader to consider questions such as “Where in my life am I the most creative?” and “What must I do before I die?”

Our bodies are, in the words of the Biblical psalm, “wonderfully and fearfully made.” Secrets of Your Cells explores this wonder in all its aspects. —Lisa James

SAVING FACE

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Vital Face

By Leena Kiviluoma

SINGING DRAGON (www.singingdragon.com), 192 PAGES, $19.95

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Japanese Holistic Face Massage

By Rosemary Patten

SINGING DRAGON (www.singingdragon.com), 144 PAGES, $24.95

face3

Natural Beauty

By Elizabeth TenHouten

HATHERLEIGH (www.hatherleighpress.com), 172 PAGES, $20.00

With an estimated $8 billion spent annually on cosmetics alone in the US, beauty appears to be one of our national obsessions. But no powder or potion, no matter how exotic or expensive, will help if the deeper issues that underlie poor skin tone and appearance aren’t addressed. Fortunately, there are ways to maintain a youthful visage based on substance instead of style.

Two offerings from Singing Dragon, an imprint of Britain’s Jessica Kingsley Publishers, employ massage as a key component in facial care. In Vital Face: Facial Exercises and Massage for Health and Beauty, Finnish physiotherapist Leena Kiviluoma presents her MimiLift Facial MuscleCare system. This program of self-massages and relaxation exercises targets two main groups of facial muscles—the chewing muscles and the mimic ones that form facial expressions—along with other muscles (including the tongue) in the head and neck. It is designed to help reduce facial pain, neck and shoulder pain, and headaches related to muscle tightness, in addition to improving one’s appearance and reducing stress. Vital Face provides an excellent introduction to facial anatomy before presenting the MimiLift system in a series of easy-to-follow, cleanly illustrated steps.

British holistic healer Rosemary Patten has written Japanese Holistic Face Massage to teach other alternative practitioners this technique, which developed in the 18th and 19th centuries as a way of combining massage with acupressure. But the book is also a valuable guide for the interested layperson. Unlike standard Western massage, which focuses on how different strokes affect the body’s physical structure, Japanese massage—like other forms of Asian medicine—concentrates on shifting the body’s subtle energy flows. Patten says the practice “is a perfect treatment to calm and release anxiety or tension” that can be used with other treatment modalities such as reflexology and aromatherapy.

Beauty industry insider Elizabeth TenHouten has written Hatherleigh Press’s Natural Beauty: Homemade Recipes for Radiant Skin and Hair “to teach you how to assess and reassess your skin’s condition on an ongoing basis.” Problems can then be addressed through TenHouten’s recipes for masks, moisturizers and other beauty aids, all of which use natural ingredients such as aloe and lime juice, and are organized by area of concern—face, lips, eyes, etc. The idea, she says, is to create an at-home spa that “should really feel like a break in your day-to-day life.” —Lisa James

 

Ritual Explored

We Are What We Are

Directed by Jim Mickle

140 Minutes

Opens today in New York

 “We Are What We Are,” Jim Mickle’s well-crafted horror film about a family of fiercely self-protective cannibals, is a multilayered story. It is a medical thriller with a bit of western drama that pits the sleuthing town coroner against the family patriarch trying to keep his macabre customs alive. And it has a toe in historical fiction, as a parallel story of an 18th-century family unfolds and sheds light on the roots of the creepy family tradition.

 It is also a treatise on ritual that explores the degree to which practitioners adhere to them and the risks associated with doing so.

 “When Jim talked to me about the story, it was that aspect of it that got my attention, that he wanted it to be an examination of ritual and kind of question why people do rituals. That really fascinated me,” actress Kelly McGillis of “Top Gun” and “Witness” tells Energy Times.

 “I do believe people can fall into rituals, and it doesn’t even have to be in terms of spiritual rituals,” McGillis continues. “It can be any kind of ritualistic behavior that one has. By becoming a ritual it loses its meaning because it becomes familiar. It loses it’s kind of importance by rote.”

 Though McGillis has a supporting role as the innocently helpful neighbor Marge, the Golden Globe nominee provides the comic relief in “We Are What We Are.” McGillis plays her role with a frivolous innocence. When Marge brings lasagna to the carnivorous clan, she declares: “It’s vegetarian.”

 Her borderline naivete is a sharp contrast to the measured performances by Bill Sage as the cannibalistic father Frank Parker and Michael Parks as his nemesis, helping “We Are What We Are” move along at just the right unhurried pace. Adding to the mood are what sound like bluesy old slave hollers playing during a family meal for which the Parker children graduate to more involved aspects of their ritual. The sinister goings-on are all supported by shadowy indoor and overcast outdoor shots, as if the film were layered in a sheet of grey.

 Director Mickle crafts poetic symmetry during a scene in which Parks’ character bathes his dog as the Parker family cleans and prepares its dinner. “We Are What We Are” is engaging suspense, even as the physician pores over medical books and case studies of rare diseases to uncover the mystery of the region’s many disappearances.

 As “We Are What We Are” builds to its “High Noon” crescendo, and torrential rains threaten to literally crumble Frank Parker’s world around him, one hopes that Parker’s kids finally get a decent meal and he his just desserts. —Allan Richter

 

 

MARKET DAY


cover1a

Fish Market

By Kathy Hunt

RUNNING PRESS (www.perseusbooksgroup.com ),
248 PAGES, $22.00

 

2a

Kale

By Stephanie Pedersen

STERLING (www.sterlingpublishing.com), 192 PAGES, $14.95

 

3

Fifty Shades of Kale

By Drew Ramsey, MD, and Jennifer Iserloh

HARPER WAVE (www.harperwave.com), 162 PAGES, $19.99

 

4

The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook

By David George Gordon

TEN SPEED PRESS (www.tenspeed.com), 126 PAGES, $16.99

Healthy cooking starts with healthy ingredients. But no food, no matter how powerful its benefits, will boost your well-being if you don’t know how to prepare it or what to look for when you’re shopping for it. Four recently released cookbooks are intended to help you cook—and shop for—healthy meals in confidence.

Fish and other marine edibles are among the foods that often give the novice cook pause, even if they are rich in healthful omega-3 fats. But veteran food writer Kathy Hunt says seafood is “flavorful and incredibly easy to prepare…a blessing on nights when I’m juggling six different activities” in the introduction to Fish Market: A Cookbook for Selecting and Preparing Seafood. Hunt then tries to instill that confidence in the reader with clearcut instructions for buying, handling and cooking fish, including boxed material on subjects such as shucking oysters (“acquire a sturdy oyster knife”) and handling live lobsters placed near the relevant recipes. Breaking the recipes into categories based on the type of fish being cooked (such as small oily ones or mild white-fleshed types) is another helpful touch.

A sign of kale’s stature as superstar food of the moment can be counted in the number of cookbooks that feature this leafy broccoli cousin. In Kale: The Complete Guide to the World’s Most Powerful Superfood, Stephanie Pedersen focuses squarely on kale’s stellar health-promoting properties, as befitting a holistic nutritionist, as well as those of other ingredients featured in her recipes. And while eating kale “at least three times a week (more often is even better!)” might seem a bit much, especially if you’re a kale newbie, Pedersen does include a chapter of shake and smoothie recipes, making it easier to pack more kale into your diet.

In contrast to Pedersen’s straight-up emphasis on nutrition, the authors of Fifty Shades of Kale: 50 Fresh and Satisfying Recipes That Are Bound to Please take—as you could guess—a more lighthearted approach. Psychiatrist Drew Ramsey, who uses diet modification in his work with patients, and chef Jennifer Iserloh continue the title’s mildly racy theme throughout the book with recipe titles such as “Lox Me Up and Throw Away the Key” (smoked salmon with kale cream cheese on whole wheat English muffins) and chapter headings that include “Morning Quickies.” But don’t let the playful text and gorgeous photography (including kitchen utensils tied up with string) fool you.

Ramey and Iserloh know their nutritional stuff and their recipes are easy for a beginning kale cook to follow, with no esoteric ingredients to track down.

Ok, so the featured ingredients in The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook aren’t exactly hopping off market shelves in this country just yet. But naturalist David George Gordon, the self-styled Bug Chef, points out that insects are eaten with enthusiasm “nearly everywhere except for Europe and the United States and Canada. That’s right: We’re the weirdos for not eating bugs.” He cites the benefits of a bug-based diet including cheap protein—a nutrient that forms 20% of a grasshopper’s body, according to Gordon—and a smaller ecological footprint than that left by meat production. And while you may have to dig a little, literally or figuratively, to find edible bugs (Gordon suggests pet stores for such critter chow as crickets), The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook provides imaginative ways for preparing them. Cream of Katydid Soup followed by Wasabi Wax Worms, anyone? —Lisa James

 

 

DIFFERENT DIETARY

APPROACHES

100

The 100

By Jorge Cruise

WILLIAM MORROW (www.harpercollins.com), 262 PAGES, $25.99

 

lo


Low-GI Slow Cooker

By Dr. Mariza Snyder, Dr. Lauren Clum and Anna V. Zulaica

ULYSSES PRESS (www.ulyssespress.com), 214 PAGES, $14.95

 

raw

Raw Challenge

By Lisa Montgomery

HATHERLEIGH PRESS (www.hatherleighpress.com), 222 PAGES, $17.00

 

vegan

Vegan for Her

By Virginia Messina, MPH, RD, with JL Fields

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 384 PAGES, $16.99

Diet books are a staple of the publishing business, forming a solid core among the offerings from just about any publisher with a significant health-and-wellness presence. And while losing weight is still the main focus of most diet books, other concerns such as blood sugar control and the ethics of meat-eating have also fueled continued growth in the diet category.

The diet book creating the biggest splash has been The 100: Count Only Sugar Calories and Lose Up to 18 Pounds in Two Weeks, a New York Times Best Seller. Written by Jorge Cruise, who has authored a string of popular diet books, The 100 also boasts a polished marketing program; the phrase “The 100” is trademarked and the cover carries a blurb from Andrew Weil. But Cruise’s basic assertion—that sugar really is much, much worse for you than other foods—is one that has been made by a growing cadre of researchers (such as childhood obesity expert Robert Lustig, MD, whose anti-sugar YouTube lecture has nearly 3.8 million hits to date). The book’s premise “is shockingly simple,” writes Cruise. “By simply consuming no more than 100 Sugar Calories (sugar in all its guises, plus refined starches) per day, you can drop up to 18 pounds in the first two weeks.” A two-week meal planner allows you to start the diet right away while picking up finer points from The 100 as you go along.

Sugar—as in blood sugar, or glucose—has been the focus of would-be pound shedders ever since the Glycemic Index, a measurement of how fast different foods raise glucose levels, was created more than 30 years ago. A small mountain of books have been written to make this concept as user-friendly as possible; among the latest is The Low-GI Slow Cooker: Delicious and Easy Dishes Made Healthy with the Glycemic Index. Authored by two chiropractors and a chef, the book presents nearly 90 recipes for everything from Polenta Breakfast Casserole to Upside Down Pear Chocolate Cake. In addition to a standard nutritional analysis—calories, fat, etc.—each recipe is also rated for not only Glycemic Index but also Glycemic Load, a measure of how all the foods in a recipe affect blood sugar when eaten in combination.

Another popular trend in modern eating is the move to a raw, or raw as possible, diet for not only weight loss but health enhancement in general. “The raw diet is a raw lifestyle. When I eat this way I feel at peace, which is a gift that no money can buy,” says chef and holistic health practitioner Lisa Montgomery. In Raw Challenge: The 30-Day Program to Help You Lose Weight and Improve Your Diet and Health with Raw Foods, Montgomery encourages the reader to ease into uncooking over the course of a month. Her 30-day meal plan not only specifies raw-only recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner but also provides daily facts and affirmations in addition to space for the reader’s log entries. A section of testimonials provides helpful real-life advice from people who have gone through Montgomery’s program.

Veganism—a strict approach to vegetarianism that avoids all animal products, including eggs and dairy—is another dietary approach that has seen a rise in recognition over the past few years, aided by the influx of celebrities such as actresses Natalie Portman and Betty White. Vegan writer and speaker Virginia Messina authored Vegan for Her: The Woman’s Guide to Being Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet “because women’s nutrient requirements and health concerns are unique.”

Unlike the other three books, Vegan for Her is more self-help medical primer than cookbook; Messina explains how vegan eating intersects with hormone production, female fertility, pregnancy issues and other women-centered concerns. But there are recipes, which are provided by food blogger and vegan lifestyle coach J.L. Fields. Her offerings include such playful items as “Ice Cream” for Breakfast and Chik’n Lentil Noodle Soup.

Whether you want to shed some pounds or simply feel and look your best, there’s a diet book tailored to your needs. —Lisa James

 

FARM AND FAMILY

Gaining Ground

By Forrest Pritchard

LYONS PRESS (www.lyonspress.com), 288 PAGES, $17.95

Forrest Pritchard’s return to the family farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley was supposed to be temporary, a time to contemplate his next move after graduating college. But the only thing keeping the farm in business were the paychecks from Pritchard’s father and mother, who had hired a series of farm managers while they worked at jobs in town. The low point came when five freight cars full of corn produced a profit of not the $10,000 the family was hoping for, but $18.16.

“Our family farm was broken,” Pritchard says. “I made up my mind that, somehow, we were going to fix it.”

How Pritchard has gone from agricultural greenhorn (“It came to my attention rather quickly that I had no idea what I was doing”) to successful proprietor of Smith Meadows over the past two decades defines the narrative arc of Gaining Ground. As you would expect he tells plenty of amusing tales about his steep learning curve, such as the time a careless butcher labeled Pritchard’s beef “Not for Resale.” But this book is also an ode to the interplay between generations. Pritchard’s father, at first skeptical of his son’s decision, comes to admire the younger man’s dedication to the craft of small-scale farming; in one of the book’s more moving passages Pritchard eulogizes his father, overweight and diabetic, who dies of cardiac arrest after a lifetime spent eating junk food while spurning farm-fresh produce.

As the subtitle—A Story of Farmer’s Markets, Local Food and Saving the Family Farm—indicates, Gaining Ground goes beyond life on the farm. Pritchard’s efforts have has been part of a small but important trend towards the kind of sustainable farming in which contact with dedicated local customers, often through farmer’s markets, is a key to survival—as it was for Smith Meadows.

Noting that many people don’t flinch at the prices of sports cars and luxury hotels, he says, “For some reason, even to this day, food has largely escaped this price-quality association.” Part of Pritchard’s mission is to help consumers understand the true costs of cheap food.

If you’re a veteran farmer’s market shopper or just someone who wants to find a new way to eat, Gaining Ground presents a farmer’s-eye view of the locovore experience. —Lisa James

RIGHTING HYPERTENSION

Blood Pressure Down

By Janet Bond Brill, PhD, RD, LDN

THREE RIVERS PRESS (www.threeriverspress.com), 340 PAGES, $15.00

They don’t call it “the silent killer” for nothing. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, often causes no symptoms until a stroke or heart attack sends its victim to the emergency room—or to the grave. And this deadly condition is pervasive, affecting nearly one in every three American adults.

The good news is that “high blood pressure is the most preventable cause of premature morbidity and mortality in the United States and the world, and that lifestyle therapy is the cornerstone of treatment for this disease,” says nutritionist Janet Bond Brill, who specializes in cardiovascular disease prevention. Having lost a grandmother, father and brother to untimely deaths fueled by hypertension, Brill has laid out her own lifestyle program in Blood Pressure Down: The 10-Step Plan to Lower Your Blood Pressure in Four Weeks without Prescription Drugs.

Like other books on the subject, Blood Pressure Down employs the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, a whole-foods eating plan low in sodium and high in calcium, magnesium and potassium, which over the past two decades has become the dietary gold standard for blood pressure control. Brill’s contribution is to combine DASH with other helpful advice and break it all down into 10 easy-to-follow steps. From losing that crucial first five pounds, through cutting out salt, adding key foods such as spinach and crucial supplements including vitamin D, and finally adding exercise, the idea is to present one manageable task at a time instead of overwhelming the reader with too much information at once—an overload that for many newly diagnosed patients leads to lifestyle paralysis and poor pressure control.

“Get your blood pressure down and you can prevent disease, disability and premature death,” writes Brill. Avoiding these calamities is the urgent message behind Blood Pressure Down. —Lisa James

PLANT-POWERED HEALING

wild

The Wild Medicine Solution

By Guido Masé

HEALING ARTS PRESS (www.healingartspress.com), 310 PAGES, $18.95

 

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Herbal Antivirals

By Stephen Harrod Buhner

STOREY PUBLISHING (www.storey.com), 480 PAGES, $24.95

Have you heard the joke about the history of medicine? It begins in 2000 BC with someone saying he doesn’t feel well and being told, “Here, eat this root.” Remedies are then swapped in and out as the centuries pass—“That root is heathen, say this prayer,” “That prayer is superstition, drink this potion”—until the modern-day punchline, “That antibiotic doesn’t work anymore. Here, eat this root.”

Behind the humor lies the fact that many practitioners have returned to the healing wisdom found within traditional plant lore. Among them is Guido Masé, cofounder of the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism in Montpelier and author of The Wild Medicine Solution: Healing with Aromatic, Bitter and Tonic Plants.

Masé argues that humans and plants coevolved and that plant-based medicine (including kitchen remedies such as ginger and garlic) provides substances our bodies have come to expect, such as bitter compounds in such plants as dandelion and burdock that promote effective digestion and improved liver function. “Our minds, our guts, our immune systems all evolved in the context of consuming wild plants,” Masé says. The Wild Medicine Solution provides a framework for using these plants intelligently.

Putting plant power to healing use has also been the life’s work of Stephen Harrod Buhner, cofounder of The Foundation for Gaian Studies in Silver City, New Mexico, and author of more than a dozen books, the latest of which is Herbal Antivirals: Natural Remedies for Emerging & Resistant Viral Infections.

Viruses are the spies of the microbe world; treating the infections they cause can be difficult because they hide inside of the body’s cells, where neither the immune system nor antibiotics can find them. This stealth ability had led public health authorities to fear the possibility of viral pandemics sweeping across the planet similar to the flu epidemic of 1918-20 that killed as many as 130 million people worldwide.

Buhner believes the use of plant-based antivirals may help prevent such doomsday scenarios. After noting that many poorer countries are systematically exploring botanical antibiotics as alternatives to prescription drugs they can’t afford, Buhner adds, “It is my hope that this same kind of movement will begin in the treatment of viral diseases. We need new ways of thinking about viruses, their emergence and their treatment.” In addition to providing information on specific plants, Herbal Antivirals discusses respiratory infections and brain inflammation, two of the more common—and serious—consequences of viral activity.

Whether for everyday well-being or in dealing with dangerous diseases, plants offer natural options for improved health. The Wild Medicine Solution and Herbal Antivirals help put plant power in the reader’s hands. —Lisa James

UNDERSTANDING THE ACHE

The Mystery of Pain

By Douglas Nelson

SINGING DRAGON (www.singingdragon.com), 224 PAGES, $25.00

One thing we share with all sentient creatures is the ability to feel pain. But the fact that pain is a universal experience doesn’t make it easy to comprehend, especially the chronic variety that clouds many people’s days. Why does pain become an endless loop of affliction? What happens when it does, both biochemically and in the entity we describe as the body-mind? And how can someone who suffers from chronic pain finally break free of its grip?

These are the questions that massage therapist Douglas Nelson grapples with in The Mystery of Pain. Nelson’s practice has always included a lot of hurting clients, but eventually he realized “that I did not, at a very deep level, know what pain was, why it happened and how to treat it effectively.” This book reflects his efforts to understand the phenomenon that presents itself in his office every day.

Nelson finds that pain is mediated by nociceptors, a series of sensors throughout the body that serves as an early warning system. “The more you experience a specific stimulus as painful, the more likely it is that your nociceptors will be sensitized to that experience,” Nelson writes. Other, non-offending stimuli can then become swept into pain’s orbit; after a while the entire system, including the brain, is on a constant state of high alert.

Fortunately, pain sensitization can be reduced. Nelson presents ways to distract the brain, including meditation; reducing the fear that often accompanies pain; dealing with pain referred from other places in the body including amputated limbs (known as “phantom limb pain”); fibromyalgia; and the importance of social support.

While acknowledging the need for continued pain research, Nelson says, “We don’t always need more data, we need a deeper understanding.” The Mystery of Pain provides such insight. —Lisa James

FINDING MEANINGFUL ANSWERS

77 Questions for Skillful Living

By Michael Finkelstein, MD

WILLIAM MORROW (www.harpercollins.com), 354 PAGES, $26.99

Sometimes people cling emotionally to the notion of disease as a disaster that befalls from without—the “why me?” syndrome—even if intellectually they realize that most ill health in modern society comes from within as the result of poor habits. Yet habits, by their very nature, can become ingrained to the point where someone doesn’t know how to even approach them in a thoughtful and aware manner, much less change them. And given statistics that show a country plagued by serious chronic disorders, it would seem that many Americans are stuck in a health rut.

Michael Finkelstein is an optimist despite the gloomy numbers. “I believe that each one of us has the intelligence, the ability and the responsibility to make better choices,” says the author of 77 Questions for Skillful Living: A New Path to Extraordinary Health. As the title implies, Finkelstein—a board-certified internist who went into integrated medicine more than two decades ago—believes that you have to find your own way through the dark thickets of pain, disease, loss and confusion to find the sunny meadow of optimal wellness, and that answering a series of carefully crafted questions can help.

Finkelstein’s queries reflect an approach that may start with one’s physical habits (“Are you taking more medicines than you would like?” “Is your water intake adequate?”) but then go much deeper.

Questions such as “Can you reevaluate your financial ‘needs’ so that you’re not working so hard for things that aren’t important?” and “Are you able to let go of your attachment to specific outcomes and embrace uncertainty?” probe into the underlying discontents—especially the sources of chronic stress—that can promote both disease and profound unhappiness.

Living a life of unthinking habit can lead to unhealthy outcomes, emotionally and spiritually as well as physically. Answering 77 Questions for Skillful Living may lead the way to a healthier, more aware life. —Lisa James

HERBS FOR BALANCE

Principles of Chinese Herbal Medicine

By John Hicks

SINGING DRAGON (www.singingdragon.com), 160 PAGES, $15.95

When asked about what they know about traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), most people in this country will mention acupuncture. But acupuncture represents only part of the TCM arsenal; another is a highly organized system of herbal practice. Principles of Chinese Herbal Medicine by John Hicks, co-founder of Britain’s College of Integrated Chinese Medicine, provides a compact, accessible introduction to this subject.

Chinese medicine is based on whether or not the patient is in balance; imbalance leads to patterns of disharmony among the body’s “organs,” a term used in TCM to denote sets of interrelated energetic functions. Hicks explains this system in terms a reasonably educated layperson can understand.

Especially helpful is a chapter of patient stories that shows how TCM works in practice. One example is Peter, whose neglected cold deepened into what Western medicine would most likely call acute bronchitis but what Chinese medicine labels as “Wind-Heat.” He was treated with a five-herb formula and eventually other formulas designed to resolve residual symptoms after the main infection had passed.

Peter’s case illustrates an important point. Chinese medicine almost always uses herbs in combination because, as Hicks says, “The subtle blend of the actions of the individual herbs produces a greater overall healing action.” He then explains how these plants work, alone and in concert, to promote well-being.

Chinese medicine is more than just a decidedly different approach to the body and its ills. This ancient healing system is relevant today because it still has much to offer people in need of healing. Principles of Chinese Herbal Medicine can help you become an aware TCM patient. —Lisa James

TRAINING TABLES

vegan

The Vegan Athlete

By Ben Greene and Brett Stewart

ULYSSES PRESS (www.ulyssespress.com), 128 PAGES, $15.95

 

paleo

Paleo Fitness

By Darryl Edwards with Brett Stewart and Jason Warner

ULYSSES PRESS (www.ulyssespress.com), 176 PAGES, $16.95

One offshoot of the diet genre, aimed specifically at athletes, is the book in which a detailed eating plan and an illustrated exercise guide are presented together. Two recent offerings from Ulysses Press illustrate this development from opposite points on the dietary spectrum.

In The Vegan Athlete: Maximizing Your Health & Fitness While Maintaining a Compassionate Lifestyle, certified personal trainer and vegan Ben Greene pairs with ultramarathoner and writer Brett Stewart to show how veganism—a strict form of vegetarian dining that eliminates all animal products, such as eggs and milk—is compatible with athletic pursuits. “Vegan athletes are strong, resilient, mentally tough and resourceful,” they write. The authors present a complete training program including an overview of vegan dietary principles, two weeks of meal plans, recipes and a set of exercises. The idea is to help the fitness enthusiast ease into a vegan lifestyle while staying on top of his or her game.

In Paleo Fitness: Primal Training and Nutrition to Get Lean, Strong and Healthy, Stewart teams up with certified personal trainer Jason Warner and Paleo clinical nutritionist (and primary author) Darryl Edwards to promote the Paleolithic diet—the so-called “caveman diet” based on organic meats and poultry, wild-caught fish, healthy fats and organic produce—as a way to provide the athlete’s body with what Edwards believes to be its natural fuel. As in The Vegan Athlete, Paleo Fitness explains the diet plan’s basic tenets before giving sets of meal plans, recipes and exercises; it includes weekly workout charts as well. The authors say, “Paleo Fitness should not be seen as a quick fix but as an effective method to kick-start a new attitude toward food, activity and life.” —Lisa James

BRAIN RETRAINING

Bouncing Back

By Linda Graham, MFT

NEW WORLD LIBRARY (www.newworldlibrary.com),
434 PAGES, $17.95

The news from the Centers for Disease control is sobering: Suicide rates have skyrocketed among middle-aged Americans, with more people between the ages of 35 and 64 now dying by suicide than in motor vehicle accidents. It is believed that the housing crash and resulting recession may be at least partially to blame. Many people in this age group have suffered the loss of their jobs, their homes or both, while many others are just one missed paycheck or mortgage payment away from deep trouble.

Riding the waves of existence instead of being knocked over by them is one of the most crucial life skills anyone can have. And given the CDC report, it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine that for some people such a skill may even be lifesaving.

“Resilience is the capacity to respond to pressures and tragedies quickly, adaptively and effectively,” says psychotherapist Linda Graham in Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being. “Whether we tend to bounce back from terrible setbacks or stay where we’re thrown depends on our learned patterns of response.” Learning how to change unhelpful response patterns is the focus of Graham’s book.

Graham combines psychology, neuroscience and the received wisdom of earlier ages to present a program that rests on mindfulness, “the steady, nonjudgmental awareness and acceptance of experience,” which promotes a clear-eyed, flexible view of reality, and empathy, which promotes a deep sense of connection with self and others. According to Graham, practices that encourage these traits—such as meditation and forgiveness-seeking—help rewire the brain so one can move from a place of stagnant fear to one of resilient compassion.

It’s easy to huddle, terrified and stuck, in a corner when faced with the worst that life can dish out. Bouncing Back provides a map into a wider world of challenge mingled with joy. —Lisa James

PRESERVING GOODNESS

Put ’Em Up! Fruit

By Sherri Brooks Vinton

STOREY PUBLISHING (www.storey.com), 278 PAGES, $19.95

It used to be a farmhouse ritual, back when the United States was covered with farms: Preserving part of the year’s harvest to last through the coming winter. And in an age before refrigeration, canning—putting food in jars that were then boiled to retard spoilage—was one of the most popular preservation methods.

Nowadays, we take the ready availability of jarred and canned foods at the local supermarket as practically our birthright. However, a small but dedicated band of folks are disseminating the old knowledge of living off one’s own resources before such practical information is lost. Among them is Sherri Brooks Vinton, author of Put’ Em Up! Fruit: A Preserving Guide & Cookbook, who says, “Home food preservation is being rediscovered for what it is—a practical, economical way to enjoy seasonal foods all year round.”

Vinton provides everything the novice preserver needs to know, including required equipment, the boiling-water method itself and how to troubleshoot problems that can arise, such as overly thin or thick preserves. She then supplies processing information and recipes for 16 fruits (plus tomatoes—hey, everyone loves tomatoes). In addition to the things you’d expect from a book such as this, like recipes for Lemon Ginger Marmalade and Classic Cherry Jam, Vinton also covers tasty-sounding treats such as Blueberry Ketchup and Poached Quince.

Looking to expand your kitchen repertoire to include home canning? Put’ Em Up! Fruit will give you a solid knowledge base to build from. —Lisa James

CHILDREN IN TOXIC DANGER

Raising Elijah

By Sandra Steingraber

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 350 PAGES, $17.99

Parents writing about their harrowing experiences with a child under threat elicit a certain amount of sympathy because other parents can put themselves in the writers’ shoes, imagining what it would be like to feel the fear of, for example, shepherding a child through cancer treatment.

Raising Elijah is different because as the book’s subtitle, Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis, attests, Sandra Steingraber’s tale doesn’t concern her children, Elijah and Faith, only. Her background as a researcher—she’s a scholar in residence at Ithaca College with a PhD in biological sciences—makes Steingraber more than just a mom on a mission: She pleads for a stop to the wholesale ecological destruction that threatens all children.

Steingraber’s lyrical prose alternates between domestic affairs and those of wider scope, showing the connections that lay them—and the decisions those connections entail. For instance, the young Steingrabers looked for ways to economize and a friend suggested they could save money on food.

But that would mean throwing over organic food for supermarket alternatives, something that Steingraber, a cancer survivor, wouldn’t do. “Why does organic food cost more than conventionally grown food?” she asks. Research unearths several reasons, including the fact that “in the United States, labor is more expensive than chemicals.” Steingraber sticks to her guns, convinced that buying organic means “investing in a healthy environment for my own children.”

However the all-encompassing nature of chemical pollution means that individual initiative, no matter how diligently pursued, simply isn’t enough to keep the toxic world at bay. “My children do not live solely within the bubble of my kitchen and property lines,” Steingraber writes. “The occupy a much bigger ecological niche, and I cannot verify the agricultural origin of every food item served at every birthday party, summer camp, sleepover…I am a conscientious parent. I am not a HEPA filter.”

That’s the message that lies at the heart of Raising Elijah. “I discover that the domestic routines of family life with young children…are inextricably bound to the most urgent public health issues of our time,” Steingraber says. “Current environmental policies must be realigned to safeguard the healthy development of children…such realignment necessitates emancipation from our terrible enslavement to fossil fuels in all their toxic forms.” Steingraber walks her talk; since the book’s publication she has been jailed for protesting the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in her upstate New York community.

In a chapter on the potential hijacking of industrial chemicals as weapons of terror, Steingraber says, “It’s hard to write these words—as if the very act of describing horrific possibilities has the power to make them come true.” But ignoring the dangers posed by environmental contamination does an injustice to our children and all the generations to follow. Raising Elijah is a tribute to the joys of home—and a call to action. —Lisa James

 

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _

Evidence of America’s very rich culinary history can be found in the large number of books that have covered the nation’s cuisine over her many years. The number of volumes on America’s culinary offerings undoubtedly is also a function of the cuisine’s regional variety. Here are some books on the subject that we found compelling.

Capitol Hill Cooks: Recipes from
The White House, Congress,
And All of The Past Presidents

capital

(Taylor)

by Linda Bauer

Is it telling about the health of our public servants that, say, the contribution to this book by Rep. Mike Honda of California is what appears to be a decidedly healthful Japanese Chicken Salad, while Vice President Joe Biden’s are recipes for oatmeal cookies and two kinds of chocolate cake?

Author Bauer isn’t making those kinds of judgments, but it’s still interesting to see recipes from the nation’s leadership spanning our full history, from George Washington’s beer to the Obama family’s linguini.

 

Eating Up the Santa Fe Trail:
Recipes and Lore from the Old West

(Fulcrum)

by Sam’l P. Arnold

Reading about coffee in this book is just one reminder of the many ways our predecessors, with their simple way of life, got it right, perhaps even without knowing it. Back in the day, author Arnold reports, coffee was sold in its green unroasted state—witness the popularity of green coffee bean extract in today’s health movement. The authentic recipes that Arnold has collected in this book come from trappers, traders, setters, Indian tribes, and others. You can almost smell the coffee brewing on the fire.


The Great American Cookbook:

500 Time-Tested Recipes/

Favorite Foods from Every State

great

(Rizzoli)

by Clementine Paddleford

Paddleford is considered America’s first food journalist. Beginning in the 1930s, Paddleford began to chronicle regional American cooking. She traversed the nation, sometimes piloting her own propeller plane, and tracked down the best cooks in each place she landed. This volume is a revised edition of How America Eats, the culmination of Paddleford’s research first published in 1960.

 

The Founding Foodies:
How Washington, Jefferson,
and Franklin Revolutionized
American Cuisine

(Sourcebooks)

by Dave DeWitt

 This well-researched book sheds light on the seldom-told stories of the agrarian lives of the nation’s founding fathers. DeWitt’s reporting on the ardent support that our founding father’s gave to sustainable farming and ranching add nuance to today’s efforts toward sustainability by making us yearn for a better way that once worked, and worked well, as this book confirms. Recipes abound, as Washington, Jefferson and Franklin wrote many of their own and shared their love of food with friends and fellow politicians.

 

Food in the United States, 1890-1945

(Greenwood)

by Megan J. Elias

This volume sometimes reads more like a textbook, but don’t let that keep you from reading it. You’ll learn, for instance, that shredded wheat and cream of wheat made their debuts in 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago (celebrating, one year late, the 450th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the Americas. There are also some fascinating photographs. Witness, for instance, President Theodore Roosevelt having breakfast in 1903 with a group of Colorado cowboys, serving himself from pots over a fire. Or President Franklin D. Roosevelt carving the Thanksgiving turkey in 1941.

 

Secrets from the White House
Kitchens: A Celebration of Foods Enjoyed at The White House &
the People Who Lived There

(LaMarque)

by John R. Hanny

Secrets… is filled with recipes from leaders and first ladies throughout America’s history. As published here, these recipes convey a sense of privileged access, considering author Hanny served as a food consultant for six presidential administrations, first as a visiting chef with Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Jackie Kennedy’s Salmon Mousse with Cucumbers is here, as is Lady Bird Johnson’s Spinach Souffle, as are tales of the first President Bush’s disdain for broccoli and the weight-loss prescriptions that President Clinton received in the mail.

 

Eating with Uncle Sam: Recipes and Historical Bites from the National Archives

uncle

(Foundation for the National Archives)

Edited by Patty Reinert Mason

This handsome and colorful little hardcover is decidedly focused on and organized by food type—from breakfast and breads in its opening chapters to vegetables, fruits and sweets in its closing pages. But there’s also plenty of Americana as many of the recipes are from our nation’s leaders and other historical sources. Consider the recipes for Plum Conserve, Carrot Marmalade and Gooseberry Jam from the U.S. Food Administration’s “Sweets Without Sugar” campaign back in 1918. There are also wonderful illustrations and memorabilia, like the memo to President Nixon’s party that encouraged them to practice using chopsticks before their historic 1972 visit to China.


A White House Garden Cookbook: Healthy Ideas from the First Family
for Your Family

(Red Rock)

by Clara Silverstein

The theory behind First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to get American kids to eat more healthfully, a daunting task considering the nation’s high obesity rates, is that they will do just that if they have a hand in growing and preparing their food. That is at the heart of this colorful paperback, which chronicles the lifecycle of the White House garden and includes recipes from across America, including from the White House.

 

Our Founding Foods:
Classics from the First Century of American Celebrity Cookbooks

(Willow Creek)

by Jane Tennant with S.G.B. Tennant Jr.

Author Tennant, more explicitly than many, points out that early American cuisine—and its descendants—is really the cuisine of the English, as well as that of the Dutch, the Spanish, the French, the German, the African and the Irish. That’s because the earliest American cookbooks came across the ocean with those groups, who left their imprint on American cookery for generations to come. Martha Washington was America’s earliest celebrity chef, Tennant observes, but what makes this book so fascinating are the recipes from others whose names we may not be as familiar with but who were the bestselling cookbook authors of their time.

 

Reaching Past Suffering

Yoga for Emotional Trauma

By Mary NurrieSterns and Rich NurrieSterns

NEW HARBINGER (www.newharbinger.com), 200 PAGES, $17.95

Traumas large and small cause us to shut down, keeping the outside world at arm’s length. What’s more, emotional trauma has been linked to inflammation, a key factor in chronic disease.

Getting past life’s pains and griefs requires “practicing compassion in an intentional way...healing involves learning to be compassionate with yourself,” say Mary and Rich NurrieSterns, authors of Yoga for Emotional Trauma: Mediations and Practices for Healing Pain and Suffering (New Harbinger). Their backgrounds—she as a psychotherapist and yoga teacher, he as a meditation teacher—give them solid grounding for handling this topic.

The authors explain how trauma upsets the balance between the body’s fight-or-flight urges, which makes you feel jittery, and its rest-and-digest system, the one that lets you relax. Trauma often leaves people stuck in fight-or-flight; yoga, the NurrieSterns explain, helps the mind “unstick” and become calm.

While the book includes a set of asanas, or poses (none so extreme as to be beyond a fairly fit beginner), Yoga for Emotional Trauma goes well past the yoga mat in its recommendations, which also include breathing exercises and those that encourage the reader to get past the past and pay attention to the present moment.

“Your life is your message,” write the NurrieSterns. “Let it be one of hope, for your benefit and the benefit of others.” That is the ultimate message of Yoga for Emotional Trauma. —Lisa James

 

ENCOURAGING A YOUNG MIND

You Are Your Child’s First Teacher

By Rahima Baldwin Dancy

TEN SPEED PRESS (www.tenspeed.com), 322 PAGES, $17.99

Many parents will do almost anything to get their children into schools that offer youngsters the greatest opportunities, from the best pre-school in the area to an Ivy League institution. But while no one doubts the necessity of a good formal education, it is a child’s earliest years that helps set their course in adulthood. “The years between birth and age six are a time of growth and learning that is unparalleled in later life,” says Rahima Baldwin Dancy, Waldorf early childhood educator, mother of four and author of You Are Your Child’s First Teacher: Encouraging Your Child’s Natural Development from Birth to Age Six.

First published more than two decades ago, You Are Your Child’s First Teacher is now in its third edition. In it, Dancy confronts “the forces working against childhood”—including a rigid, test-centric approach to academics, plus a youth obesity epidemic and related increase in screen time among youngsters—that have come to the fore over the last 20 years with a methodology that sees the child as a “whole human being—body, mind, emotions and spirit.” The first two chapters expand on this theme with an in-depth look at the cultural forces that, in Dancy’s view, assail parenthood and home life.

The book’s remaining 11 chapters provide information on encouraging a child to reach his or her full potential. Topics include dealing with a newborn; speech and locomotion skills; weaning; providing a rich play environment; stimulating a child’s imagination as well as his or her artistic and musical abilities; discipline issues; and evaluating early childhood education options. One chapter covers common questions parents have, from how to handle TV and other media to promoting a child’s spiritual development.

In a world of hot-button adult issues, early childhood development often gets short shrift. You Are Your Child’s First Teacher provides a useful counterbalance. —Lisa James

FIGHTING AGE, DELICIOUSLY

The Longevity Kitchen

By Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson

TEN SPEED PRESS (www.tenspeed.com), 244 PAGES, $29.99

If you asked the average person, “Would you like to know which foods promote a longer, healthier life?” they might answer, “Sure, but can I eat anything that tastes good?”

The answer to that second question, according to chef Rebecca Katz and writer Mat Edelson, is yes. The authors of The Longevity Kitchen: Satisfying Big-Flavor Recipes Featuring the Top 16 Age-Busting Superfoods (Ten Speed Press)—who previously teamed up on The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen, also from Ten Speed—believe “great taste and great nutrition can joyfully coexist at the dinner table.” Actually, that’s the only way to maintain health over the long term; as a friend of Katz’s remarked, “If something doesn’t taste good, people won’t eat it no matter how good it is for them.”

The Longevity Kitchen’s “super 16” foods offer enough variety in taste and texture to please most palates. Not a fan of asparagus? Maybe kale will tempt you. Don’t appreciate thyme? Maybe basil is more your speed. What’s more, Katz has created recipes that blend healthy foods in creative ways, such as Quinoa with Edamame, Ginger and Lime or Roasted Olives with Citrus and Herbs. In addition to nutritional analyses, the recipes come with prep times and storage tips, making it easier for busy cooks to put in more kitchen time on slow nights and enjoy healthy leftovers on hectic ones.

“I’ve spent more than a decade motivating people to eat well,” Katz says. The knowledge she has amassed in that time is thoughtfully presented in The Longevity Kitchen. —Lisa James

 

CHEATING THE TRASH MAN

The Zero-Waste Lifestyle

By Amy Korst

TEN SPEED PRESS (www.tenspeed.com), 262 PAGES, $14.99

Of all the ways to reduce the waste piling into the nation’s landfills, recycling materials such as plastic, glass and metal has become the method of choice for many municipalities. But is that the best we can do?

Amy Korst doesn’t think so. “Trash is intimately connected to every environmental problem we face today,” she says. Korst’s response to her own waste stream was the Green Garbage Project, a year in which she and her husband, Adam, “tried to make absolutely no garbage.”
Korst distilled what she learned into The Zero-Waste Lifestyle: Live Well By Throwing Away Less. Recycling plays a role, but so do reduce and reuse, the other parts of the eco-friendly triad.
It may not be easy to find a bulk foods store, for example, let alone bring your own containers. But Korst believes this and other actions are worthy efforts: “The earth is the home to all of us, and we don’t have the right to trash it out.” —Lisa James

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Christmas and Hanukkah, with their respective images of Bethlehem and the Maccabees, give the Middle East a degree of symbolic significance that may not be as acute other times of the year. Three excellent cookbooks, The Lebanese Kitchen, Jerusalem and Cooking from the Heart, celebrate the culinary wealth and history of the region with fare that is mostly healthy and tantalizing year-round.

The Lebanese Kitchen

leb

By Salma Hage

PHAIDON (WWW.PHAIDON.COM), 511 PAGES, $49.95

Phaidon has a strong track record of publishing cookbooks that could easily be considered the bibles of ethnic cuisine. The trend began in 2005 with The Silver Spoon and has included 1080 Recipes, Vefa’s Kitchen, I Know How to Cook and India Cookbook. The Lebanese Kitchen belongs on the same shelf with those titles. Salma Hage, a Lebanese housewife with more than 50 years experience of family cooking, has delivered a comprehensive guide to Lebanese cooking that can only be called definitive.

Hage hails from Mazarat Tiffah (Apple Hamlet) in the mountains of the Kadisha Valley in north Lebanon. She learned to cook from her mother, mother-in-law and sisters-in-law. Because she helped bring up her nine brothers and two sisters, Hage would often cook for the whole family. Coming from the eastern Mediterranean, many of these Lebanese recipes, comprising lentils, greens, spices, fish and, yes, meats, too, are decidedly healthful. Makes sense. As the brief history of Lebanese cuisine in the front of Hage’s book poetically says, traditional Lebanese food is “based on the rhythm of the seasons” and locally available produce.

Dishes like Broccoli Quinoa Salad, which calls for mint, parsley, toasted pine nuts and olive oil, are tantalizingly good for the mouth and the heart, as are Hage’s Spciy Tomatoes and Cumin and her Walnut and Cayenne Dip. Her Saffron Monkfish and Rice, which calls for turmeric and pepper, among other ingredients, is also a heart-healthy delight, while her Sardines and Garlic is a feast in healthful omega oil.

Whole grains, harvested in summer months in Lebanon, are central to the cooking. “We always grew our own beans,” Hage explains. “When they were fresh in summer, we would sew them together with needle and thread like necklaces, and hang them up to dry. When you need them in winter, you drop them in hot water and they come up like new again.”

As explained in The Lebanese Kitchen, the culinary scene in Lebanon is “a mix of the earthy, hearty traditional peasant dishes that come from the country’s many mountain villages and the cutting edge, contemporary cuisine found in Beirut and other cities, influenced by the mixture of cultures, both of the Levant and Europe, that have called Lebanon home throughout its history.” The Lebanese Kitchen will encourage cooks to leaf through that history one recipe after another.

 

Jerusalem

otto

By Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

TEN SPEED PRESS (WWW.TENSPEED.COM), 320 PAGES, $35

Anyone who has spent time in Jerusalem and tasted daily life in the city will tell you that there is more coexistence between Arabs and Jews here than you would glean from the media. People work. People shop. People eat. Yotam Ottolenghi, a London restaurateur and author of the bestselling vegetarian cookbook Plenty (Chronicle), and Sami Tamimi, a partgner and co-author with Ottolenghi, were both born in Jerusalem in the same year. Their friendship and partnership is testimony to the goodwill that often goes overlooked in the mainstream press.

In fact, some of the foods that the co-authors of this wonderful cookbook cite seem to erase the differences. Ottolenghi and Tamimi say that one of their favorite dishes in the collection is a simple couscous with tomato and onion. The recipe is based on a dish that Tamimi’s mother used to cook for him when he was a child and very similar to a dish that Ottolenghi’s father used to make for him. In fact, the authors write, “everybody, absolutely everybody, uses chopped cucumber and tomatoes to create an Arab salad or an Israeli salad, depending on point of view.” Stuffed vegetables with rice or a rice-meat combination are cross-cultural. You’ll find the liberal use of olive oil, lemon juice and olives on many tables, no matter the culture.

Most of the dishes in Jerusalem are as healthy as the authors’ attitudes. Jerusalemites, Ottolenghi and Tamimi observe, eat seasonally and cook what’s grown locally: vegetables such as beets, cauliflower, kohlrabi and eggplants; fruits including figs, peaches, apricots and pomegranates; herbs; nuts; dairy products; grains; beans; lamb; and chicken; among many others.

Jerusalem is artfully photographed by Jonathan Lovekin, whose images freeze street and market scenes into a kind of calm and peace that one wishes for Israel’s capital. At the same time, they entice one to dive into the kitchen and get to work on dishes like Burnt eggplant with garlic, lemon and pomegranate seeds or Open kibbeh, described as a layered savory cake incorporating bulgur, ground meat, spices and pine nuts. Jerusalem is a very personal book, too. Consider Ruth’s stuffed Romano peppers, a recipe from Ottolenghi’s mother. Personal, yes, but a dish we’d love to see on our tables, too.

 

Cooking from the Heart:
A Jewish Journey through Food

heartcooking

By Hayley Smorgon & Gaye Weeden

HARDIE GRANT (WWW.HARDIEGRANT.COM.AU), 320 PAGES, $39.95

With stories and recipes from every continent, Cooking from the Heart is a fascinating journey of Jewish cuisine through the history of the people that have developed, cooked and eaten it. We are including the volume in this roundup of Middle Eastern fare because that region is ably represented here and is the geographic heart of the Jewish people and their history. The region is represented in Cooking from the Heart by recipes from Israel, Kazakhstan and Syria, but other influences seep into the melting pot: Israeli Erez Sharaba’s version of Aruq, or Iraqi chicken patties, for example, or Israeli Yuval Ashkar’s Aashpelo, or Afghani rice with chicken and sultanas (golden raisins).

Cooking from the Heart is not only a cookbook that will yield often healthy, always delicious exotic cuisine. It is also a delightful read because of the heartwarming profiles of the cooks who nurture the dishes they clearly love. Smorgen and Weeden tell the story of Tamara Ruben, who was born in a small Kazakhstan village in 1943, tells of the hunger she experienced while hiding with her parents in different towns during World War II. Despite the challenges, the authors tell of her “childhood spent playing with children in the same predicament, picking flowers at each train station their families visited during their escape.” Tamara’s family journeyed to Israel, and like others profiled in this book, ended up in Australia, where Cooking from the Heart was developed and where its authors are based.

One of these transplants, Sara Sutton, with roots in Syria, didn’t learn how to cook until after she arrived in Australia. We learn from Saras’s story that Aleppo, which dominates much of today’s news because it is a center of the fighting between Syrian rebels and the Assad government, was once the “jewel” of the Jewish people in that country. Despite her later immersion in cooking, Sara’s traditional recipes look mouthwatering. Her Kibbeh filled with mushrooms is a vegetarian delight (Sara stopped eating meat long ago) that uses ingredients such as bulgur, cumin, onions, walnuts and toasted pine nuts.

Cooking from the Heart also takes readers on a culinary journey through Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and the Americas. It’s a trip worth taking.

BETTER WEIGHT LOSS
THROUGH CHEMISTRY

The Science of Skinny

By Dee McCaffrey, CDC

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 430 PAGES, $16.99

The amount of information available on ways to lose weight can be overwhelming: There are books galore and diet experts on nearly every talk show. Unfortunately, many people don’t really understand how the body assimilates, metabolizes and stores food calories—and how modern processed foods throw the whole system out of whack.

Chemist Dee McCaffrey, who lost 100 pounds after replacing packaged foods with whole ones, turned her passion for nutrition into a second career. In The Science of Skinny (Da Capo Press), she shares her hard-won knowledge with a wider audience.

The first part of the book focuses on food science. McCaffrey presents famous research from the past—such as a study in which cats fed raw diets did much better than those that ate cooked food—with modern studies as proof that our bodies aren’t designed to handle refined sugars and flours, trans fats, additives and other items that originate in laboratories instead of fields and pastures. The book’s second part focuses on what McCaffrey calls “the processed-free plan for balanced eating and living.” It includes chapters on such “skinny superfoods” as organic eggs and sprouted whole-grain bread, a two-week initial phase, an ongoing phase and recipes such as Cheddar Sweet Potato Wraps and Wild Alaskan Salmon-Stuffed Tomatoes.

“We have to become conscious and aware shoppers and diners, and take responsibility for everything we put into our bodies,” says McCaffrey. The Science of Skinny is designed to give people the knowledge they need to become responsible consumers. —Lisa James

 

 

ENHANCING FEMALE INTIMANCY

sex

Great Sex, Naturally

By Dr. Laurie Steelsmith & Alex Steelsmith

HAY HOUSE (www.hayhouse.com), 306 PAGES, $16.95

For too many women, poor body image and pervasive exhaustion—in addition to vaginal infections, pelvic pain and other medical conditions—have stopped any semblance of an active love life in its tracks. “Thousands of my female patients have privately expressed their need to have more sexual energy, greater sexual sensation or a deeper connection to their sexuality,” says naturopathic physician Laurie Steelsmith. That vast need prompted Steelsmith (with husband Alex) to write Great Sex, Naturally: Every Women’s Guide to Enhancing Her Sexuality Through the Secrets of Natural Medicine, which takes a holistic approach to the often complex factors underlying female sexual difficulties.

The book’s first part, “Getting In Balance,” helps build the foundation for a healthy sex life. That includes helpful mental approaches to sexuality and relationships; lifestyle concerns, such as diet, exercise and detoxification; creating optimal pelvic and vaginal health through the use of food, herbs and other means; and achieving hormonal balance. The second part, “New Dimensions,” discusses natural aphrodisiacs, including herbs, foods and essential oils. And because both partners need to be fully present in an intimate relationship, the book includes a chapter on enhancing male sexuality.
Steelsmith says, “Your sexual energy affects your entire life, touching every dimension of your being.” If your energy is sinking, Great Sex, Naturally may help you revive your intimate core. —Lisa James

EASING THE ACHE

Naturally Pain Free

By Letha Hadady, DAc

SOURCEBOOKS (www.sourcebooks.com), 310 PAGES, $15.99

A lot of us are limping through life. According to a recent Gallup-Healthways survey, 47% of all Americans report suffering from balky backs, cranky knees and other sources of chronic pain. This helps explain why, with only 4.6% of the world’s population, the US accounts for 80% of its opioid use (including 99% of the world’s Vicodin).

Many people, including acupuncturist and natural health writer Letha Hadady, believe it doesn’t have to be this way. “Everywhere I go I meet people who are in pain who are bewildered, lacking an awareness of its cause and best remedy,” she says in Naturally Pain Free: Prevent and Treat Chronic and Acute Pains—Naturally. Her solution lies in realizing that “different pains require specific, individualized prevention and treatment in order to reduce reoccurrence and complications.”

Hadady presents her pain-reduction information in three sections. The first deals with six common sources of chronic distress: headaches, backaches, sciatica, arthritis, digestion problems and pain related to the female reproductive system. The chapters sort pain into subcategories—for example, back pain caused by everyday stress and fatigue versus that related to poorly fitting shoes or to smoking—and suggest sources of relief, many of which reflect Hadady’s background in Asian medicine (such as triphala, an Ayurvedic herbal combination, for arthritis). The book’s second part covers acute pain sources, such as injuries (include repetitive stress problems), surgery, skin discomforts and toothaches. The third part imparts Hadady’s suggestions for a pain-free lifestyle, with topics that include emotional trauma, nerve-related pain and Asian healing tonics.

The overall approach presented in Naturally Pain Free is to always reassess pain in terms of your overall health and symptom patterns, and to be willing to experiment with different healing techniques. In Hadady’s words, “Effectively dealing with acute and chronic pain is part of a healthy, enjoyable lifestyle.” —Lisa James

MAKING MERRY WITHOUT MEAT

The Meat Lover’s Meatless Celebrations

By Kim O’Donnel

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 226 PAGES, $18.99

Once again, it’s time for turkey and stuffing and a little quivering log of canned cranberry sauce…year after year for as long as you can remember. If you’re tired of the annual turkey trot, try consulting The Meat Lover’s Meatless Celebrations. As the subtitle, Year-Round Vegetarian Feasts (You Can Really Sink Your Teeth Into), indicates, food journalist Kim O’Donnel’s comprehensive approach to holiday cooking allows even the most dedicated carnivore to enjoy a meatless holiday without feeling deprived.

The book’s recipes are divided among four seasonal sections. They cover the holidays you would expect, including Thanksgiving in the fall, Hanukkah and Christmas in the winter, Easter and Passover in the spring, and July Fourth in the summer. But O’Donnel provides recipes for other occasions, from recognized celebrations such as Halloween and Valentine’s Day to more informal revels, such as the Super Bowl and spring break. The book also takes a multicultural angle with menus for Cinco de Mayo and the Indian festival Diwali.

The recipes in The Meat Lover’s Meatless Celebrations fall into two categories, makeovers of meat-based classics and vegetarian originals. For example, O’Donnel’s version of timpano, an Italian pie with a meat-and-pasta filling, uses eggplant slices to form a shell that encases a combination of risotto and vegetable sauté. The other category includes party food, such as Indian Style Spiced Nuts, and more substantial fare, such as Roasted Red Onions with Pumpkin-Rosemary Stuffing. You should be able to find something suitable for even your family’s pickiest eaters. —Lisa James

 

Two Views on Female Fitness

ballet

Ballet Beautiful

By Mary Helen Bowers

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 252 PAGES, $20.00

fat-girl

The Unapologetic Fat Girl’s Guide to Exercise

By Hanne Blank

TEN SPEED PRESS (www.tenspeed.com), 208 PAGES, $14.99

For women, staying fit has traditionally been intertwined with the idea of staying (or becoming) thin. But that is changing in a world where women are aware of how unhealthy body image can cut to the core; as the writer and feminist Simone de Beauvoir once said, “To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself.” This clash of viewpoints is on display in two recently published books.
Weighing in from the more traditional end of the scale is professional dancer Mary Helen Bowers.

She calls her fitness program “a transformative approach to reshaping the body” in Ballet Beautiful: Transform Your Body and Gain the Strength, Grace and Focus of a Ballet Dancer. Bowers believes every woman can transform herself through exercises designed to increase flexibility and core strength in addition to toning the bottom, legs and arms. Bowers surrounds this center portion of the book with introductory material on developing a mindset that encourages growth and change, and a concluding section on diet and eating strategies, such as keeping healthy snacks in the house and watching portion sizes. The main message is that Bowers has helped others sculpt the bodies they wanted—and she can help you, too.

Hanne Blank is never going to have a ballet-beautiful body, and she’s fine with that. “I have never weighed less than two hundred pounds,” she says in The Unapologetic Fat Girl's Guide to Exercise and Other Incendiary Acts. “I also exercise a lot.” While Blank acknowledges the health benefits (“If I stop exercising regularly, my body turns up its metabolic nose like a thirteen-year-old girl with a grudge at the insulin it produces”), what she really appreciates is that exercise “makes it possible for you and your body to coexist in better and more integrated ways.” The Unapologetic Fat Girl's Guide provides encouragement for women of a certain weight with chapters on motivation (“Why Bother?”) bolstered by practical advice on everything from finding the right gym and fitness wear (including the right bra) to building a satisfying workout. All of it serves Blank’s core message: “Your body is a valid and worthwhile body, no matter what size it is.” —Lisa James

 

EATING FOR HEALTH

plant

The Plant-Powered Diet

By Sharon Palmer, RD

THE EXPERIMENT (www.theexperimentpublishing.com), 412 PAGES, $15.95

 

alz

The Alzheimer’s Prevention Cookbook

By Dr. Marwan Sabbagh and Beau MacMillan

TEN SPEED PRESS (www.tenspeed.com), 232 PAGES, $30.00

 

arth

The Complete Arthritis Health, Diet Guide & Cookbook

By Kim Arrey, BSc, RD, with Michael R. Starr, MD, FRCPC

ROBERT ROSE (www.robertrose.ca), 352 PAGES, $24.95

The expression “digging your grave with your fork” sounds ghoulish but is true, given what we know about how diet drives health (for good or ill). This explains the steady stream of books that not only address eating for overall well-being but how to tailor a diet to prevent (or ease) specific conditions.
“Eat more whole plants. That’s the simple advice I dole out when asked about the best diet for optimal health and weight,” says registered dietitian Sharon Palmer at the beginning of The Plant-Powered Diet: The Lifelong Eating Plan for Achieving Optimal Health, Beginning Today. But Palmer, editor of the newsletter Environmental Nutrition, realizes that most people need more guidance than that—and provides it in 14 chapters that are both densely factual and readily accessible. The Plant-Powered Diet covers topics such as plant-based protein (Palmer is a big fan of the pea-and-bean legume family); eating a variety of vegetables, including charts with cooking suggestions and nutrients supplied; and healthy plant-based fats, such as avocados, olives and nut butters. Palmer also provides 14 days’ worth of recipes to get you started. At the end, she says you will be ready to “plunge into your own personalized eating plan.”

Some people want eating plans to help them avoid specific disorders. “If you’ve picked up this book, it’s probably because you’ve witnessed the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease on someone you love…and you fear the day when you might find yourself in the same position,” write geriatric neurologist Marwan Sabbagh and chef Beau MacMillan, authors of The Alzheimer’s Prevention Cookbook: Recipes to Boost Brain Health. The pairing of a medical expert and a professional chef strengthens the book’s two-part organization. The first covers the science behind Alzheimer’s, including chapters on antioxidants and cell damage, inflammation and how the Mediterranean Diet—with its emphasis on olive oil, fresh produce, legumes and seafood—offers “full-package protection” against Alzheimer’s. The second part provides recipes that incorporate ingredients found in Mediterranean cookery, such as Striped Bass with Golden Tomato and Sweet Pepper Stew, Arugula and Fennel Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette and Israeli Couscous with Mango, Almonds and Baby Spinach.

While not as devastating as Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis causes pain and disability for millions. The Complete Arthritis Health, Diet Guide & Cookbook focuses on “the role nutrition can play in managing arthritis,” say consulting dietitian Kim Arrey and rheumatologist Michael Starr. The book contains more than 125 recipes designed to reduce or eliminate common inflammatory foods, such as the grain protein gluten, and increase portions of such inflammation fighters as fresh produce and flavor ingredients like ginger and capers, along with menu plans for men and women. The recipes are supported by chapters on topics you would expect, such nutritional supplements and home remedies for managing pain, along with thoughtful extras, such as designing a kitchen that accommodates disabilities, and tools that make cooking and eating easier for people with limited hand mobility. —Lisa James

 

MOTHERS’ LITTLE HELPERS

heart

Heart & Hands

By Elizabeth Davis

TEN SPEED PRESS (www.tenspeed.com), 320 PAGES, $35.00

 

lifeafter


Life After Baby

By Victoria Dolby Toews, MPH

BASIC HEALTH (www.basichealthpub.com), 230 PAGES, $18.95

Ever since the publication of Benjamin Spock’s Baby and Child Care in 1946, when rapid suburbanization meant more young women living far from their older, more experienced kinfolk than ever before, there has been a steady stream of books intended to inform new mothers about the joys and potential pitfalls of childbirth. The intervening six decades has seen a swing from home-based births to mostly hospital deliveries and back, for many women, to births at home assisted by attendants who combine ancient female childbearing wisdom with modern scientific knowledge.

Elizabeth Davis, cofounder of an accredited midwifery institute, first wrote Heart & Hands: A Midwife’s Guide to Pregnancy and Birth in 1981, when midwives were just finding their professional footing. In this year’s revised and updated fifth edition, Davis writes, “[A]s midwifery develops its own body of research, we find that many of our practices and beliefs are well founded…deep reverence for what is truly natural in birth must be restored to all cultures.”

Heart & Hands addresses the concerns of both midwives and the families they serve. Most chapters—which include areas such as prenatal care, problem pregnancies, labor complications and postpartum care—contain sections addressed to parents that provide easy-to-follow checklists for choosing a midwife, self-care during pregnancy and other pertinent issues. Davis tackles sensitive subjects, such as the problems faced by estranged couples, with straightforward, compassionate common sense.

New mothers may be tempted to focus so completely on the newborn’s needs that they forget their own. “But at some point it is okay to put yourself back on the list of priorities,” says veteran health writer Victoria Dolby Toews in Life After Baby: Rediscovering and Reclaiming Your Healthy Pizzazz.

Toews addresses this need for self-care with chapters on losing baby weight, nutrition, exercise and supplementation. She also discusses topics that new moms often face with trepidation, such as resuming sexual relations after giving birth, dealing with perpetual fatigue (“How tired will you be?

More tired…than you thought it was possible for a person to be and continue to function”), rediscovering a beauty routine in the midst of doing endless loads of laundry and such post-birth health concerns as constipation and foot problems. As Toews puts it, “Your body will never be quite the same as prebaby, but you can get to a new normal—and for some women this is an even healthier place than before they had a kid.” —Lisa James

COOKING WITH SUPERFOODS

super

Superfood Kitchen

By Julie Morris

STERLING EPICURE (www.sterlingpublishing.com),
256 PAGES, $24.95

500

500 Best Quinoa Recipes

By Camilla V. Saulsbury

ROBERT ROSE (www.robertrose.ca),
528 PAGES, $27.95

chia

Chia

By Wayne Coates, PhD

STERLING (www.sterlingpublishing.com),
192 PAGES, $14.95

Within the past 20 years or so nutrition science has focused its attention on so-called superfoods, those that deliver the biggest nutritional bang for one’s calorie buck. In addition to their vitamin and mineral content, superfoods offer concentrated amounts of beneficial phytonutrients ,including free radical-fighting antioxidants. Some also supply useful quantities of protein without the saturated fat levels found in meat.

The only problem is that superfoods tend to be novelty items in North American kitchens, which means that the health-conscious cook is often at a loss in terms of how to use them. A number of books attempt to cover this knowledge gap.

In the preface to Superfood Kitchen: Cooking with Nature’s Most Amazing Foods, recipe developer and food writer Julie Morris asks, “How do superfoods function? How do they taste? What do they go with?” The rest of the book answers those questions by introducing the reader to different superfoods, such as goji berries, maca and flax seed, before providing recipes suitable for breakfast (Chocolate Energy Bars, for example), soups, salads, entrées (such as Black Bean-Hemp Protein Patties), sides, snacks, sweets and drinks. Conversion charts and a section of frequently asked questions are intended to bolster the new superfoods chef’s confidence.

Some books focus on a single ingredient. Quinoa, a grain-like seed, is the star of 500 Best Quinoa Recipes: Super-Easy Superfood. Food writer and cooking instructor Camilla Saulsbury commends quinoa for its nutritional profile (particularly its balance of carbohydrate, fiber and protein) and its status as a “culinary triple-threat: It’s delicious, easy to prepare and ultra-versatile.” Chapters on quinoa basics and stocking a quinoa-friendly pantry are followed by more than 400 pages of recipes, including creations such as Rosemary Walnut Bread that can satisfy a yearning for baked goods by someone who has to eat gluten-free.

Chia is another seed that’s high in protein and fiber, and provides omega-3 fatty acids to boot. In Chia: The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Superfood, agricultural engineer Wayne Coates explains how chia can be used for weight loss, including three weeks’ worth of meal plans, and for energy and general well-being. This information is supported by more than 75 recipes, including Chia Quesadillas and Chia Polenta with White Beans. The book also provides beauty recipes, such as Moisturizing Chia-Avocado Mask, and how to use chia for pet health. —Lisa James

 

NATURAL MEDICINE, IN DEPTH

The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (3rd edition)

By Michael T. Murray, ND & Joseph Pizzorno, ND

ATRIA (www.simonandschuster.com), 1220 PAGES, $29.99

Naturopathic medicine went into eclipse in the middle of the 20th century only to experience a revival in the 1970s and 80s. As part of this resurgence, many writers attempted to make the modality’s principles more accessible to the public. This effort included publication of The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine by Michael Murray, ND, and Joseph Pizzorno, ND, two notable names in the field.

More than a million copies sold later, The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine is now in its third edition (Atria). The first three parts present an introduction to natural medicine, the four cornerstones of good health—positive attitude, healthy lifestyle, healthy diet and appropriate supplementation—and information on special topics, such as stress management and immune system support.

The heart of the book, though, lies in the fourth part, where detailed discussions of more than 80 health conditions are presented. Each includes causes, therapeutic considerations, a bullet-point review and a treatment summary.

Murray and Pizzorno say their book is “based on firm scientific inquiry and represents an evidence-based approach to wellness.” Combining this white-coat approach with alternative medicine’s time-honored belief in the body’s power to heal itself helps explain The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine’s enduring appeal. —Lisa James

 

FIGHTING BACTERIA NATURALLY

Herbal Antibiotics


By Stephen Harrod Buhner

STOREY PUBLISHING (www.storey.com), 468 PAGES, $24.95

Antibiotics represent one of modern medicine’s greatest triumphs. Before 1928, when Alexander Fleming discovered the germ-killing capacity of penicillin, simple cuts and scratches could result in fatal illnesses that doctors were powerless to hinder. The development of agents that could stop infection in its tracks spared the lives of millions.

However, medicine’s celebrated victory came with a hidden danger—the ability of microbes to eventually overwhelm the drugs designed to eliminate them. Ironically, this possibility was first voiced by Fleming, who warned that misuse of these medications would create what we now call antibiotic resistance. His warning went unheeded, and today the development of so-called “superbugs” threatens a return to the bad old days of infection run rampant.

Or does it? “Plants have long been, and still are, humanity’s primary medicines,” says herbalist Stephen Harrod Buhner, author of Herbal Antibiotics: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria. “And as they have always done, they bring their healing to those in need, at least to those who know about them.” Herbal Antibiotics provides this knowledge by grouping herbs according to mode of action: systemic, such as artemisia; localized, such as juniper; synergistic (plants that increase the effectiveness of other herbs), such as black pepper; and immune strengthening, such as echinacea. Another chapter supplies instructions on how to create plant-based remedies at home, including cough syrup and antibacterial skin wash.

At the end Buhner says, “One of the most important lessons from our ancient legends and myths is that the gods take a dim view of human arrogance.” Humans have misused antibiotics to the point that these drugs are becoming worthless. In Herbal Antibiotics, Buhner argues that by turning to plants for healing, we would be working with nature—and improving our chances of surviving the superbugs. —Lisa James

 

DIETING TO DETOXIFY

 

The Detox Diet

detox

By Elson M. Haas, MD, with Daniella Chace, MSN

TEN SPEED PRESS (www.randomhouse.com/crown/tenspeed),
260 PAGES, $16.99

 

Raw Food Detox

raw

By Ulrika Davidsson

SKYHORSE PUBLISHING (www.skyhorsepublishing.com),
128 PAGES, $14.95

While weight loss is the biggest reason people go on diets, it isn’t the only one. Detoxification—the removal of bodily toxins, from both internal and external sources, in an effort to maintain well-being—is another common goal. (Detoxification, in turn, can help promote weight loss by ridding the body of substances that may slow the shedding of pounds.)

Elson Haas, MD, founder of the Preventive Medicine Center of Marin in California, has written extensively about detoxification for decades. In The Detox Diet: The Definitive Guide for Lifelong Vitality with Recipes, Menus and Detox Plans (Ten Speed Press), now in its third edition, Haas explains why he believes detox to be a crucial cornerstone of healthy living. “The human body continually detoxifies itself, yet when it is stressed or overloaded, the body may not be able to keep up,” he says. Making conscious choices in diet and lifestyle that assist this process “may prevent chronic illnesses, reducing existing problems and improve health and vitality.”

The Detox Diet provides detoxification guidelines that are both comprehensive and comprehensible. The diet itself is the centerpiece of the book’s first part, which also includes information on fasting, transitional diets, supplements and other detox support products, and advice tailored to different life stages. The second part addresses five specific classes of toxins—sugar, nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, and chemicals and drugs—while the third part supplies suitable recipes.

Recipes form the heart of Raw Food Detox: Over 100 Recipes for Better Health, Weight Loss and Increased Vitality (Skyhorse Publishing)—not surprising, given Swedish author Ulrika Davidsson’s background as a nutritionist and cookbook writer. She supports her two-week detox menu with easy-to-follow recipes (some call for a dehydrator, a basic appliance in the raw chef’s kitchen), enhanced by beautiful photography. —Lisa James

 

Overflowing With Joy

If your life feels like a cheerless grind, these books may
help you find that missing joie de vivre.

365

365 Ways to Raise Your Frequency

By Melissa Alvarez

LLEWELLYN BOOKS (www.llewellyn.com), 424 PAGES, $16.95

Each page of 365 Ways to Raise Your Frequency: Simple Tools to Increase Your Spiritual Energy for Balance, Purpose and Joy presents a concept with a suggested action and a supporting explanation. For example, in “Don’t Respond to Criticism” spiritual advisor Melissa Alvarez says, “Believe in your own truth and don’t let negative people change those beliefs,” noting that those who disparage are often responding more to what’s going on within themselves than to anything you may have said or done. If you prefer your joy-building exercises in convenient daily nuggets, 365 Ways to Raise Your Frequency is a valuable resource.

 

liv

Living Fully

By Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche

NEW WORLD LIBRARY (www.newworldlibrary.com), 276 PAGES, $19.95

“The most amazing and sublime beings excel in living fully and never seem to dwell in the past.” Anyone who has watched a toddler (or a kitten, or a puppy) at play could agree with the opening sentence of Living Fully: Finding Joy in Every Breath by Tibetan Buddhist teacher Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche. Living Fully provides a roadmap back to that pure, elemental state of being by taking the reader from first steps, such as having what the author calls “kindhearted intentions,” through a meditation practice guide to, finally, learning how to appreciate the vast riches to be found in life lived fully every day.

bliss

The Bliss Experiment

By Sean Meshorer

ATRIA BOOKS (www.simonandschuster.com), 352 PAGES, $24.00

Finding joy on a more profound level often takes us through uncomfortable territory. “Few people have found more ways to be unhappy than I have,” says Sean Meshorer. But he adds, “I am grateful for my sufferings, for each of them has taught me valuable lessons that have helped me to achieve greater—and deeper—levels of genuine happiness.” In The Bliss Experiment: 28 Days to Personal Transformation, Meshorer offers a program designed to help the reader along a similar learning path, including end-of-chapter exercises and scannable tags for additional online information. The goal, according to Meshorer, is bliss—the place where happiness, meaning and truth meet.

 

chem

The Chemistry of Joy Workbook

By Henry Emmons, MD, with Susan Bourgerie, MA, LP, Carolyn Denton,
MA, LN, and Sandra Kacher, MSW, LICSW

NEW HARBINGER (www.newharbinger.com), 216 PAGES, $21.95

For some people, joylessness can slide into clinical depression serious enough to require healing on a number of levels. As its subtitle suggests, The Chemistry of Joy Workbook: Overcoming Depression Using the Best of Brain Science, Nutrition and the Psychology of Mindfulness addresses this need in a comprehensive treatment program that includes three “pathways”: body, mind and heart. Topics include nutrition for proper neurotransmitter production, learning to deal with difficult emotions and reconnecting to one’s traumatized inner self. The idea is to become better able to withstand life’s bumps and setbacks; as the authors put it, “We want you to reclaim your birthright gift of resilience and the joy that accompanies it.” —Lisa James

 

The Organic Nanny’s Guide to Raising Healthy Kids

By Barbara Rodriguez

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 260 PAGES, $16.00

 

Feeding Eden

By Susan Weissman

STERLING (www.sterlingpublishing.com), 232 PAGES, $24.95

It can be difficult to raise children with healthy eating habits in a chicken-fingers-and-french-fries world. But worrisome obesity rates—to say nothing of increased levels of type 2 diabetes and other serious disorders—among youngsters makes getting kids off on the right dietary foot crucial for their future well-being.

Barbara Rodriguez, who has worked as a nanny for more than two decades, sees the problem at close range. She says, “Our children are at risk of trudging through their lives on automatic pilot, fueled by fake food.”

To counteract this trend, Rodriguez has written The Organic Nanny’s Guide to Raising Healthy Kids (Da Capo). In addition to explaining how to replace the junk (especially sugar) in a child’s diet with healthier options, the book covers topics such as home detoxification, gentle plant-based remedies and wellness advice for mom.

Even normally healthy foods can harm some kids. In Feeding Eden (Sterling), New York teacher-turned-writer Susan Weissman chronicles how her son Eden’s food allergies have affected her family.

After one scary incident, in which she had to rush Eden to the ER with uncontrollable swelling, “crazy and I became as intimate as lovers,” Weissman writes. That led her and husband Drew on a perplexing search for an answer to Eden’s problems—and eventually to engagement with the food allergy community at large and a system that works for them. “We have refashioned much of our lives,” Weissman says. “But we have what we need.”

 

HEAL THYSELF

It’s never a bad idea to seek professional medical advice when you need to. However, the foundation of good health rests on a bedrock of self-care. Here are two books that can enhance your well-being.

healing

The Healing Remedies Sourcebook

By C. Norman Shealy, MD, PhD

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 432 PAGES, $25.99

Back before every store had aisles full of over-the-counter remedies for common afflictions, people turned to traditional medicine to soothe their ills. The Healing Remedies Sourcebook: Over1,000 Natural Remedies to Prevent and Cure Common Ailments, by C. Norman Shealy, MD, founder of the American Holistic Medicine Association, introduces the reader to traditional remedies using a two-part format. In the first part, Shealy provides information on healing systems, such as Ayurveda and homeopathy, and the therapies used in these systems. The second part of the book presents 21 categories of health problems and the remedies suitable for each. To treat acne, for example, Shealy lists suggestions taken from Chinese medicine, herbalism, homeopathy, flower essences, and vitamins and minerals. “These are the secrets of good health from around the world,” he says. “Experiment with care and you’ll be amazed at the results.”

 

fasting

The Transformational Power of Fasting

By Stephen Harrod Buhner

HEALING ARTS PRESS (www.healingartspress.com), 208 PAGES, $16.95

Foregoing food for a time is one of humanity’s oldest healing practices. And while we mostly think of fasting today in terms of physical health, particularly weight loss, it has always been about much more than that. “Traditionally, fasting concerned itself with the emotions—our psychological selves—and with the soul and with our souls’ communication with the sacred,” says Stephen Harrod Buhner, herbalist, lecturer and author of The Transformational Power of Fasting: The Way to Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Rejuvenation. No matter what level of healing you seek, this book provides a thorough grounding in this ancient technique, including how to prepare for and break a fast, along with a ten-week cleansing diet and a list of juices suitable for fasting. —Lisa James

 

Weight Maintenance Bookshelf

One way to keep weight off for good is to arm yourself with information, and the following books can help fulfill that need.

hyman

The Blood Sugar Solution

By Mark Hyman, MD

LITTLE, BROWN (www.hachettebookgroup.com), 448 PAGES, $27.99

One approach to maintaining weight loss focuses on avoiding the surges and crashes in blood sugar that can lead to disordered eating. Mark Hyman, MD, bestselling author of the “Ultra” series of books (UltraMetabolism, etc.), tackles the problem of glucose control in The Blood Sugar Solution.

The book looks at seven items crucial to long-term wellness—nutrition, hormones, inflammation control, digestion, detoxification, energy and mental calm—with specific recommendations for each. Quizzes help determine which areas you need to work on, and checklists help keep you on track.

The key, Hyman says, is not to treat seemingly disparate symptoms—including weight that doesn’t want to leave—but to “look for and treat the fundamental underlying causes.”

 

pal

Paleoista

By Nell Stephenson

TOUCHSTONE (http://imprints.simonandschuster.biz/touchstone),
288 PAGES, $23.00

The paleolithic (paleo) diet encourages eating like our ancestral hunter-gatherers, with an emphasis on fish, fruits, meat, nuts, roots and vegetables. In Paleoista, paleo nutritional counselor Nell Stephenson puts a cavewoman spin on what is also known as the “caveman diet”: She defines a “paleoista” as someone who is “feminine, fit and knows that eating Paleo will give her the boundless energy she needs to maintain her insanely busy lifestyle.” Behind the “hey, girlfriend” style is a trove of useful knowledge on stocking the paleo kitchen, cooking tips, recipes and more.

 

book3

Grilling Vegan Style

By John Schlimm

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 240 PAGES, $20.00

For many people, the stumbling block to eating more weight-friendly vegetables is a lack of knowledge about the best ways to cook them. If you want to add something other than the standard baked potato or ear of corn to your barbeque repertoire, Grilling Vegan Style can help. “Did you know you can grill salads and sandwiches? And even desserts?” asks John Schlimm—and he proceeds to answer his own question with dozens of creative recipes (including new approaches to corn and taters). The recipes are supported with a chapter on basic grill setup.

 

book4

Quick Check Food Facts

Introduction & Notes by Linda McDonald, MS, RD

BARRON’S (www.barronseduc.com), 594 PAGES, $6.99

No matter what approach you take to weight maintenance, it helps to know the nutritional content of the food you’re eating. Quick Check Food Facts lists the calories, total and saturated fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates, fiber, sugar, protein and sodium for hundreds of foods, including separate listings for some of the bigger restaurant chains. Registered dietician Linda McDonald’s introduction and notes provide valuable explanatory information.

 

book5

The Misleading Mind

By Karuna Cayton

NEW WORLD LIBRARY (www.newworldlibrary.com), 214 PAGES, $14.95

The mental component to long-term weight loss includes the ability to overcome life’s difficulties without turning to food for solace. Psychotherapist Karuna Clayton, author of The Misleading Mind, believes Buddhist psychology—with its emphasis on detachment from passions of the moment—can help people see their problems as opportunities “to think in new, more successful ways, thus becoming freer, happier and more mentally balanced.” The book focuses on learning how suffering comes from our own minds and ways to escape this self-imposed misery; case histories and exercises help drive Clayton’s points home.

 

Bonding over Beauty:
A Mother-Daughter Beauty Guide
to Foster Self-Esteem,
Confidence, and Trust

By Erika Katz

Greenleaf Book Group

There are books about beauty and skin care; there are books about strengthening relationships. “Bonding over Beauty” is both.  Author Erika Katz covers beauty from head to toe, with entries on hair and brows, puberty and hygiene, the hands and feet, and more. The relationship-building comes in with the myriad activities that moms and their tween daughters can share, hopefully sparking conversation and bringing a level of comfort to some otherwise uncomfortable subjects, like body odor, facial hair, skin breakouts and menstruation.

As Katz writes, “I use beauty as a vehicle to get the ball rolling. Taking the time to soak your daughter’s sweet little feet and giving her a pedicure is a fun way to lavish attention on her while also providing her with the opportunity to talk about what’s on her mind.” “Bonding over Beauty” is full of great recipes, like a Carrot Honey Nourishing Mask and an Oatmeal Yogurt Scrub, that form the basis of these activities. There’s also plenty about nourishing the inside of the body with sections on diet and supplements.

Katz asks the moms that read “Bonding over Beauty” to break from rigid thinking when helping to nurture their daughters into their teen years and beyond. If you think girls should not shave their legs until they are thirteen, and your ten-year-old is embarrassed by the dark hair on her legs, Katz writes, rethink your position. From where we stand, that’s a healthy prescription.

Each of “Bonding over Beauty's” chapters is capped with a short list of bonding activities relating to each particular issue. Moms can help their daughters deal with puberty and hygiene issues, for example, by reading coming-of-age books together or by mom sharing humiliating stories about her youth so mom and daughter can laugh about them together. To help daughters embrace fitness, Katz suggests that moms and daughters learn a new activity together; she and her daughter took surfing lessons.

Katz, a former intern in the beauty department at Seventeen magazine, has the trail-by-fire credentials to write about the sensitive issues associated with growing from tween to young woman. Now a mother of two, Katz was a child model who, at age 11, she was wearing a leotard and got her period during a photo shoot.

“Bonding over Beauty” may cover the fine nuances of beauty and relationships, but it’s really about effective communication strategies during a crucial time in a woman’s development.

 

HEALTHY, HEARTFELT
KOSHER COOKING


The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen

By Lévana Kirschenbaum, photos by Meir Pliskin

LÉVANA COOKS (WWW.LEVANACOOKS.COM), 399 PAGES, $39.95

 

Fresh & Easy Kosher Cooking

By Leah Schapira

ARTSCROLL/SHAAR PRESS (WWW.ARTSCROLL.COM), 336 PAGES, $34.99

That yolk-yellow glaze on the noodle kugel in the deli counter may not shout “heart healthy,” and that bottled gefilte fish in the supermarket’s ethnic aisle may not scream “fresh,” but kosher cooking can be healthful, fresh and relatively simple. That is made delightfully clear in two new kosher cookbooks chock full of mouthwatering recipes and good advice that only a nurturing mother might give.

whole


In The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen: Glorious Meals Pure & Simple, author Lévana Kirschenbaum credits her mother’s mantra, “the cure is in the pot,” with fueling her love of fresh, real ingredients, and with cooking them as a means to healing. In Kirschenbaum’s many recipes, which are anything but boring or bland, “healthful” resides comfortably with “tasteful.”

For Kirschenbaum, the onetime co-owner of Lévana Restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the cookbook is the culmination of 30 years of developing simple, healthy recipes that are at once accessible and yield results that are full of flavor. The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen is also a whole globe cookbook: Equipped with Kirschenbaum’s volume, the home cook can tackle the author’s native Moroccan cuisine as well as Indian, Italian, French and Chinese recipes. We’re looking forward to tossing her Kale, Beet and Seaweed salad with her Chinese Green Tea dressing.

Kirschenbaum offers helpful primers on how processed and packaged foods affect health, as well as an extensive chapter on eating and shopping tips. The book includes a general index with more than 350 recipes; a gluten-free index with natural and gluten-free adaptations of more than 250 dishes; and a Passover index with more than 250 holiday-friendly recipes.

fresh


Like Kirschenbaum, Fresh & Easy: Ordinary Ingredients, Extraordinary Meals author Leah Schapira found her inspiration for cooking from her mother. A self-described finicky eater as a child, Schapira began learning the craft at at age 8 in her mother’s kitchen. Indeed, in Fresh & Easy, Schapira reaches back to the traditions of her heritage with recipes for dishes like Stuffed Cabbage, Challah and Cholent (a kind of slow-cooked stew), but there are also recipes that are more gourmet, like Plum Asian Chicken and Citrus Sea Bass.

In all, there are more than 170 recipes, none with more than a half-dozen simple steps. Schapira also offers side dish pairing suggestions, as well as tips for food preparation and storage. A handy kitchen information guide details tips on shopping for seasonal produce and shows you how to pick the correct pasta shape for the sauce you use. You’ll also learn which pots and pans are made for the dish you’re preparing.

Schapira’s book and its recipes are about accessibility, a theme of the online presence the author launched in 2010, www.cookkosher.com, a kind of kosher recipe community where home cooks can share their own recipes and interact with each other.

“To all mothers of picky eaters,” Schapira writes in Fresh & Easy, “Never force children to eat. Instead, teach them to cook. Let them understand how food is prepared. Learn what appeals to them. If they love BBQ potato chips, start incorporating the taste into other foods. There’s a world of great flavors out there.”

Fresh & Easy is a great place to start finding them. —Allan Richter

ATTACKING CANCER
FROM ALL SIDES

Beyond the Magic Bullet

By Raymond Chang, MD

SQUARE ONE (www.squareonepublishers.com), 208 PAGES, $16.95

For decades, scientists have searched for a single, sure treatment that could destroy cancer. But we’ve learned that cancer is more complicated than we thought—and the magic bullet has proven maddeningly elusive.

Today, doctors often combine standard anti-cancer therapies. But Raymond Chang, MD, author of Beyond the Magic Bullet: The Anti-Cancer Cocktail (Square One), doesn’t think that approach goes far enough. He advocates the use of “cocktails” that mix conventional treatments with off-label use of non-chemo drugs, such as blood thinners, along with supplements and herbs. The idea, Chang says, “is to attack the cancer from multiple angles in order to overwhelm it.”

Chang, trained in both Western and Eastern medicine, makes his case for cocktail therapy in the first part of Beyond the Magic Bullet. The second part provides data on more than four dozen off-label drug classes, herbs and supplements. Case studies show how cocktail treatments work in real life.

Cancer, once thought unstoppable, has been found to have its vulnerable spots. Beyond the Magic Bullet presents an intriguing way to target those weaknesses. —Lisa James

 

HERBS FOR EVERYONE

Herb Gardening from the Ground Up

By Sal Gilbertie and Larry Sheehan

TEN SPEED PRESS www.randomhouse.com/crown/tenspeed),
272 PAGES, $12.99

Almost every gardener has tucked a few herbs into stray corners of their plots from time to time—a little basil here, some chives there. But if you’re serious about cultivating these flavorful and healthy plants, Herb Gardening from the Ground Up (Ten Speed Press) will help you become the envy of your neighborhood gardening set.

Sal Gilbertie, third-generation professional herb grower, and writer Larry Sheehan address the novice herb gardener with chapters on plant life cycles, starting seed indoors, taking cuttings from perennials, creating the perfect soil mix and tips on harvesting and storage.

The garden plan section is valuable for gardeners of all experience levels. Specific plans, including diagrams, are broken out by culinary need, such as a soup garden and a Tex-Mex garden featuring Mexican oregano and tarragon; by herb variety, such as an all-mint garden; by color; and by special needs, such as a dyer’s garden and one for shady spots. —Lisa James

 

GETTING RAW WITH CAROL ALT

Easy Sexy Raw

By Carol Alt

CLARKSON POTTER (www.randomhouse.com/crown/clarksonpotter/index.php),
256 PAGES, $18.99

We checked in with supermodel Carol Alt in January 2005, when she appeared on our cover. In fact, Alt, one of the world’s great beauties, has graced the cover of more than 700 magazines. Now Alt can appear in your kitchen, courtesy of her new book Easy Sexy Raw: 130 Raw Food Recipes, Tools, and Tips to Make You Feel Gorgeous and Satisfied (Clarkson Potter). In it, Alt extols the benefits of the raw food diet that for nearly 20 years has kept her healthy, energetic and slim.

Filled with tips and helpful tools, Easy Sexy Raw makes a raw diet accessible to any novice by providing a shopping list of essentials, a swapping list of raw substitutes for favorite cooked items, and a “Turn It Raw” section that shows you how to gradually convert favorite dishes to raw—even chocolate chip cookies.

For the beginner and the more seasoned raw foodie alike, Easy Sexy Raw is jam-packed with delectable recipes such as Yellow Squash Fettuccine with Creamy Pine Nut Alfredo, Apple Marzipan Pie and Swiss Chard Burritos.

Alt’s entry on “Soaking and Sprouting” is a practical primer on getting the full nutritional benefits from germinating your nuts, beans, seeds or grains, and then sprouting them. “They are like little Sleeping Beauties just waiting for you to wake them up” and release their vitamins, minerals, amino acids and proteins, Alt writes. Likewise, Alt’s folksy style takes the fear out of dehydrating: “It’s the difference between a plum and a prune, a grape and a raisin...a potato and a chip.” —Allan Richter

 

SWEET DANGER

Killer Colas

By Nancy Appleton, PhD

SQUARE ONE (www.squareonepublishers.com), 148 PAGES, $15.95

A powerful thirst for soft drinks helps explain our national obesity problem. But excess weight is only one hazard. “The glut of liquid sugar consumed without the fiber of whole fruit hits the bloodstream running, causing a suppressed immune system and eventually disease,” says Nancy Appleton, PhD, author (with G.N. Jacobs) of Killer Colas: The Hard Truth About Soft Drinks (Square One).

Appleton, a nutritionist, first took aim at the sweet stuff in her 1985 book, Lick the Sugar Habit (Avery). Her latest volume finds connections between intake of sugary sodas and health hazards ranging from acid reflux to cancer. What’s more, Appleton says soda is addicting—and provides advice on how to break free.

If you sip soda too often for your own good, Killer Colas may provide the push you need to put that can down once and for all. —Lisa James

 

TRANSFORMATIONAL STRENGTH

Weight Resistance Yoga

By Max Popov

HEALING ARTS PRESS (www.healingartspress.com), 206 PAGES, $18.95

The phrases “yoga practitioner” and “weight lifter” create two very different mental pictures: one lean and lithe, the other chiseled and muscular. However, fitness trainer Max Popov says yoga and weight lifting complement one another. “Together they make a whole and complete fitness regimen. They seem incompatible only because of the way weight resistance training is commonly performed,” he writes in Weight Resistance Yoga: Practicing Embodied Spirituality. Popov believes that combining the two disciplines allows the practitioner to not only develop physical strength and flexibility but to also incorporate a sense of transcendence into what is, for many people, a body-here-mind-elsewhere experience in the gym.

Weight Resistance Yoga is divided into three parts. The first proves guidelines on topics such as safety, proper breathing technique and exercise sequencing. It demonstrates attention to small details, such as proper wrist angle and hand placement when gripping weights or handles. The second part presents detailed exercise instructions for all major areas of the body, from the shoulders to the ankles. The third part presents mediations for all these areas, in which Popov makes connections between seemingly mundane activities—pulling a lat bar, raising a dumbbell—with the deeper issues that run below the surface of daily living. For example, Popov discusses how hip-strengthening exercises can provide “a physical stability that over time comes to correspond to an inner stability—a stability that isn’t a steady condition impervious to the world but an engaged response to the world.”

If you lift weights just to build some strength and bulk, that’s fine. But if you’re looking for a link between the muscles and the spirit, Weight Resistance Yoga might be what you’re looking for. —Lisa James

WORLD-CLASS EVERYDAY EATING

The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adrià

By Ferran Adrià

PHAIDON (www.phaidon.com), 385 PAGES, $29.95

The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adrià provides a direct pipeline to the average kitchen from the chef and owner of what was widely considered the best restaurant in the world, el Bulli in Spain. A few years ago, Adrià reexamined how he was feeding his staff of more than 75 each night. Factoring in nutrition and affordability (his aim was around $4.50 per person), he set out to create a three-course menu of meals that could be prepared in less than an hour.

The 31 menus that resulted from Adrià’s work, collected in The Family Meal, take the guesswork out of meal preparation. Each menu includes recipes for an entrée, an appetizer, a soup or side dish and a dessert. There is a menu for fish soup, sausages with mushrooms, and oranges with honey, olive oil and salt (Meal 26) and one for guacamole with tortilla chips, Mexican-style chicken with rice and watermelon with menthol candies (Meal 18). “It was never our intention to invent brand-new recipes; this is simply a collection of everyday varied and inexpensive meals,” Adrià writes. “It is a book about simple cooking. We wanted to showcase ordinary recipes for dishes that people might imagine are difficult to make,” with the benefit of strategies professional chefs employ.

If you’re feeling a little creative, a handy list of the individual recipes will help you mix and match courses to create your own meals. Primers on freezing, storing and shopping, as well as tips on organization, tools and more, are welcome additions, especially coming from this maestro of the kitchen. A "basic recipes" section near the beginning of The Family Meal includes recipes for a variety of pasta and meat toppings, including picada, tomato, romesco, barbecue, teriyaki and chimichurri sauces; you'll never need to reach for a store-bought bottle of these again.

Despite Adrià’s status in the culinary world, there’s nothing intimidating in The Family Meal, not even the inclusion of dishes like Vichyssoise, the classic French leak and potato soup, and Crème Catalane, one of the oldest desserts in Europe. Step-by-step instructions are laid out in some 1,500 full-color photographs, and the book offers handy conversions on preparing a meal for 2, 6, 20 or 75 people.

El Bulli closed in July and will re-open in 2014 as the El Bulli Foundation, a center and think tank for creative cuisine and gastronomy. As lofty a place as that sounds, The Family Meal shows that the chef who put it on the map knows very well how to appeal to the everyday home chef and to the tastes of the discerning palate. —Allan Richter

WHO NEEDS TURKEY?

Vegan Holiday Kitchen

By Nava Atlas

STERLING (www.sterlingpublishing.com), 308 PAGES, $24.95

If there’s one thing more difficult than being a vegan during holiday meals, it’s cooking for a vegan when you’re not one. Turkey, ham, lamb and other festive meats are off your guest’s menu, as are such pantry staples as milk, butter and cheese. Throw in guests and family members who are concerned (sometimes pointedly) with eating more for comfort than for principle, and you have the makings of a day marked by simmering resentment instead of a warm get-together glow.

If you are the cook in question, relax. Nava Atlas, who has written about all things vegetarian for more than two decades, has you covered. “We of the plant-based predilection want to celebrate holidays in style, without apologies, and enjoy every course of the meal from appetizers to desserts,” she says. In Vegan Holiday Kitchen, Atlas provides recipes broken down by holiday—Thanksgiving, the Christmas season, the Jewish holidays, Easter and Independence Day—along with a chapter on brunches, appetizers and potlucks. Some recipes put a new spin on classic dishes, such as butternut squash soup enriched with coconut milk. Others use standard holiday ingredients in new and inventive ways, such as sweet potatoes grated into coleslaw with a poppy seed dressing.

Whether you’re a full-time vegan yourself or simply trying to show hospitality to a guest, Vegan Holiday Kitchen will help keep peace around your table. And isn’t that what the holidays are all about? —Lisa James

MAKING LIFE MEAN SOMETHING

desires

The Four Desires

By Rod Stryker

DELACORTE PRESS (www.rodstryker.com), 328 PAGES, $26.00

seeds

Seeds of Freedom

By Heather Marie Wilson

HAY HOUSE (www.hayhouse.com), 210 PAGES, $14.95

The question can come in the best of times—steady employment, money in the bank, a loving relationship—or the worst—job loss, a nasty breakup, poor health. For many, if not most, people the question that eventually arises was stated most succinctly by the late Peggy Lee: Is that all there is? Two recently published books offer to help the reader answer that insistent inner query.

Rod Stryker, author of The Four Desires: Creating a Life of Purpose, Happiness, Prosperity and Freedom, acknowledges that material comfort and emotional intimacy are indeed part of lasting contentment. But to those two desires he adds two more: spiritual connection and finding one’s life purpose. As a teacher of yoga and meditation, Stryker believes these disciplines are essential tools for helping one access the silent stillness within, the place where deeper fulfillment “emanates from something unchanging” and not from external circumstances. In The Four Desires Stryker tries to help the reader discover why he or she exists—and how that unique purpose can be fully expressed in a life well-lived.

Heather Marie Wilson, author of Seeds of Freedom: Cultivating a Life That Matters, suffered a bad case of professional burnout that led her to question her own life’s purpose. Believing that everyone has a fundamental choice “to either play it safe and continue living as they have, or to rely on faith and find the courage to discover a better way of being,” Wilson eventually came to find parallels between her better-way choice—planting a garden—and the search for meaning. “It was in the garden that I learned to see the fertile ground of possibilities and plant the seeds of freedom,” she writes. With chapter titles such as Focus, Growth and Balance, Wilson’s book takes a straightforward approach to purpose-finding that includes a number of helpful exercises. —Lisa James

A FOODY TOUR OF THE CALENDAR

As the leaves begin to change color and the air becomes infused with a bit of a nip in many parts of the country, we thought it an appropriate time to explore several new books that celebrate the change of seasons as appreciated by foodies. Each of the following volumes includes recipes with seasonal ingredients that offer a tasty and nourishing journey through the calendar year, neatly dividing each season into distinct sections.

veggies

Vegetables from an Italian Garden: Season-by-Season Recipes

By the editors at Phaidon

PHAIDON (www.phaidon.com), 432 PAGES, $39.95

Vegetables play a big role in Italian cuisine so it makes sense that most of the recipes in Vegetables from an Italian Garden are vegetarian. From asparagus to zucchini, this beautiful book celebrates 40 vegetables widely used in Italian cooking.

The more than 350 delectable recipes are accompanied by lovely matte-finish photographs that will encourage readers to begin growing, harvesting and cooking their own food. The recipes offered make for dining the way it was meant to be—straightforward and simple.

Each chapter features a garden journal profiling that season’s vegetables, best-known varieties, storage tips and insights to get the best flavor and nutritional value from the recipes. We especially like the sowing/harvest chart and directory for aspiring gardeners, making this a definitive garden-to-plate must-have for your cookbook shelf.

With the colder weather on the way, some savory cauliflower pie could do nicely to help hold you over until the warmer months tempt you to whip up artichoke lasagnette, a spring dish, or cold cucumber cream soup in the summer. In the meantime, there’s still plenty of time left in the fall to enjoy a plate of pumpkin gnocci with orange butter. Mangiare bene!

clean

Clean Start: Inspiring You to Eat Clean and Live Well
With 100 New Clean Food Recipes

By Terry Walters

STERLING EPICURE (www.sterlingpublishing.com), 165 PAGES, $25.00

In Clean Start, Terry Walters takes a decidedly holistic approach to food in its emphasis on health, nourishment and an eye on sustainability without shortchanging taste. Consider her winter cocoa brownies or fall pumpkin spice muffins—both recipes call for dates, almond meal, apples and other wholesome ingredients.

Clean Start is a follow-up to Walters’ Clean Food, but with more emphasis on farm-fresh ingredients among its 100 vegan and gluten-free recipes. In the especially helpful pages that introduce the recipes, Walters, the author of the popular blog Eat Clean Live Well (www.terrywalters.net), shares the tools that every healthy kitchen and pantry should be stocked with. She also tells how to prepare the basics, including vegetable stock, grains and sautéed greens.

Among helpful tips in those beginning pages, Walters encourages readers to eat all five tastes—sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent. Clean Start has plenty of recipes to cover those tastes in a natural and nutritional way.

Now that it’s fall, we can’t wait to cook up Walters’ pan-seared sweet corn and her balsamic glazed roasted root vegetables. But we’re also itching for her spring dips, summer salsas and, of course, those tantalizing cocoa brownies.

 

fredh

Fresh from the Garden: Food to Share with Family and Friends

By Sarah Raven

UNIVERSE PUBLISHING (www.rizzoliusa.com), 464 PAGES, $40.00

Fresh from the Garden is certain to put its readers closer to the land while inspiring year-round gatherings of family and friends for any occasion. Each seasonal section is loaded with recipes for a wide range of dishes, including snacks, salads, soups, fish, meat, drinks and desserts, among others, made all the more appetizing by Jonathan Buckley’s colorful images.

Creative simplicity is Raven’s mantra. “The food I like best is simple and not too fussed over,” she writes. “When planning a party, I’ll always try to choose food that is showy and original enough to hold its own, but easy enough that it won’t stiffen up the atmosphere of the party (or take over my life).”

Indeed, Raven’s creativity shows up in clever but simple ways to use fruits and vegetables: basil ice cubes for cold soups, smoothing out hummus with roasted squash or dressing potatoes instead of pasta with puttanesca sauce.

If you haven’t yet planted a kitchen garden or visited your local farmers market, you will after you’ve turned the pages of Fresh from the Garden.

salad

Salad Days: Recipes for Delicious Organic Salads
and Dressings for Every Season

By Pam Powell

VOYAGEUR PRESS (www.voyageurpress.com), 160 PAGES, $19.99

Sure, you thought salad days were reserved for spring and summer. Pam Powell, founder of Salad Girl Organic Salad Dressing Company and author of Salad Days, is here to show you otherwise with enticing fall and winter salads as well, from persimmon and spicy pumpkin seed salad in the autumn to pink pummelo and heart of palm salad in the winter.

Digging into a hearty fresh-made salad promotes a feeling of healthful satisfaction. Making a dressing from fresh ingredients is a bonus that adds a level of nutrition-fueled fun. The aforementioned persimmon salad, for instance, gets a creative, flavor-melding chili cranberry vinaigrette dressing. Virtually every salad in Salad Days, in fact, has an accompanying dressing recipe; it could be fun to mix and match.

Before each season’s section, Powell offers a brief introduction that adds to the anticipation of what’s to come in the pages ahead. “For me, there is no more glorious time of year than autumn,” she writes. “The pantry shelves are lined with pretty jars of preserved whole-fruit syrups, jams, jellies and tomatoes, just waiting to add a burst of flavor to handcrafted vinaigrettes. The farmers’ markets are loaded with every type of vegetable imaginable, from eggplant to Brussels sprouts to endive.”
Powell makes creative use of the various seasons’ bounty, offering interesting combinations such as fig and orange in the winter, pea sprout and strawberry in the spring, watermelon and feta in the summer and a cabbage and grape slaw in the fall. She prefaces it all with a welcome primer on greens, tips on washing produce, and the makings of a well-stocked kitchen. —Allan Richter

MULTI-MEDIA HELP

I Can Make You Happy

By Paul McKenna

200 PAGES, $22.95

happy

 

Pain Free Living

By Pete Egoscue

166 PAGES, $17.95

STERLING (www.sterlingpublishing.com)

pain

It’s the book lover’s dilemma of the moment: Hard copy or e-reader? The idea of a book that transcends the printed word goes beyond the choice between old-fashioned paper and high-tech wizardry, however. Two of Sterling Publishing’s recent offerings take a third approach, one in which the message of a standard print volume is amplified via disc media tucked into a back-cover pocket.

In I Can Make You Happy, part of author Paul McKenna’s “I Can Make You” series, the disc in question is a guided hypnosis CD. McKenna says depression and unhappiness can become habits wired into the brain’s circuitry; the idea is to break those negative connections and create a brighter, more positive outlook on life. The book amplifies the CD content with exercises meant to reprogram the mind in ways that encourage greater happiness, which McKenna says is “how the mind and body guide you toward what is most rewarding for you.”

In Pain Free Living, Pete Egoscue explains how to use his posture-correcting Egoscue Method to not just relieve physical pain but to also break free of the painful emotions, most notably fear, that can prevent true healing from taking place. “The mind-body connection is the pivot-point on which your health balances,” he says. “Years of studying the human musculoskeletal system convince me that posture functions as an on-off switch that activates emotions.” Egoscue discusses three personality types most prone to imbalance—fact collectors, skeptics and pessimists—and provides exercises for each. The enclosed DVD lets you see the exercises and reinforces other points made in the book. —Lisa James

CHEAP, HEALTHY EATS

The Feast Nearby

By Robin Mather

TEN SPEED PRESS (www.randomhouse.com/crown/tenspeed),
266 PAGES, $24.00

feast

 

Wildly Affordable Organic

By Linda Watson

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 256 PAGES, $17.00

wildly

Food trends sometimes come with a whiff of snobbishness. For example, the word “locovore” may remind you of someone who has the time and money to roam a farmer’s market, where they find locally sourced baby carrots and humanely raised beef for a leisurely linen-and-china sort of meal. It makes you forget that back before the supermarket age, most people ate locally and organically—there simply weren’t any other options.

As a food journalist, Robin Mather was well-acquainted with culinary trends in fine dining. And then within a week, a layoff from the Chicago Tribune and her husband’s divorce request sent Mather to what originally was to be a retirement cabin in her native Michigan, where she learned to eat locally on $40 a week as a freelance writer. The Feast Nearby documents Mather’s new existence for a year, season by season; essays on life with Boon the poodle and Pippin the parrot are interspersed with recipes that combine practicality and the tastes of someone for whom “eating well had become a habit.” It wasn’t an easy transition but Mather finds the life she now leads rewarding. As she puts it, “The good food that I found near my home strengthened and nourished me.”

If The Feast Nearby provides both inspiration and useful advice, Wildly Affordable Organic offers menus and recipes to let you “eat fabulous food, get healthy and save the planet all on $5 a day or less.” The first part includes a summer-long version of Mather’s year-long experience, in which author Linda Watson learns how to go organic on a food-stamp budget. The second part provides planning and shopping strategies; the third, detailed seasonal menu plans, including shopping lists and cooking advice. The fourth part supplies nearly 100 recipes that will let you eat well organically without breaking the bank. —Lisa James

A HEALING JOURNEY

9000 Needles

By Doug Dearth

BIGFOOT ASCENDANT (www.9000needles.com), 83 MINUTES, $16.99

At age 40, Devin Dearth was living the good life in Central City, Kentucky, with challenging work, a loving family and a strong faith. He was also a highly competitive champion bodybuilder who would rise at 4:30 every morning to train; it was during one of those workouts that a bleeding stroke left Dearth fighting for his life over what would become a three-week ICU stay. And while he made significant progress during an inpatient rehab assignment in nearby Louisville, expiring insurance coverage sent this 200-pound man home profoundly disabled and dependent on his 110-pound wife, Stacey, for absolutely everything. Now what?

The documentary 9000 Needles, made by Devin’s brother, Doug, answers that question by following Dearth as he travels to Tianjin, China for a 12-week stroke program based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The pace is intense. Dearth is treated with the first of 9,000 (actually, 9,157) acupuncture needles on his very first day, a regimen that would eventually include Chinese herbs, physical therapy and other treatments. Through it all, Dearth remains focused on his goal—to walk out of the hospital he entered in a wheelchair.

9000 Needles does more than just document a treatment program, however. It is, at its core, a film that attests to the power of personal perseverance and family love, sketched in a series of vignettes: Dearth listening via computer to his son’s high school graduation back home (“How do you feel?” “Lonely”), fighting to regain his ability to walk, standing proudly (against a wall) when his wife and daughters come to visit.

There is no falsely happy ending. For all his achievements—including a halting, aided walk out of the hospital—Dearth’s life isn’t going to be what it was before his stroke. But he and his wife have set their faces towards the future, a hopeful note that 9000 Needles captures beautifully. —Lisa James

THE PROBLEM WITH PILLS

The Undruggist

By Larry Frieders, RPH

BALBOA PRESS (www.balboapress.com), 94 PAGES, $11.95

Prescription drugs are not without their benefits. But that assistance comes at a price: According to a study in the May 2010 American Journal of Preventive Medicine, deaths and hospitalizations caused by medications more than doubled between 1999 and 2006. In fact, by 2006 the use of pain relievers called opioid analgesics led to more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.

As a registered pharmacist, Larry Frieders is well acquainted with the world of scripts and pills. But he doesn’t like the trend towards multiple prescriptions that stands behind the ominous statistics.
“Something has gone very, very wrong in our ‘relationship’ with the medications we take,” he writes in The Undruggist Book One: A Tale of Modern Apothecary and Wellness. What’s wrong, Frieders believes, is an over-reliance on drugs for absolutely every ill the body is prone to, and a concurrent rise in the number of patients taking 10 or even 15 medications at a time. And while he has harsh words for Big Pharma, Frieders says the pharmaceutical industry is just the symptom of a bigger disease. “The truth is, we are all the problem,” he writes. “We have lost our perspective about what medications can and cannot do; what they should and should not do.”

To rectify this situation, The Undruggist presents chapters on such conditions as urinary tract infections and bad breath that Frieders says can best be handled through home remedies and common sense. The book also contains a section on healthy choices, such as the need to drink enough water and stop smoking, that can greatly enhance well-being.

Frieders isn’t against drugs. “Many people benefit from the kinds of medications that are being created every day,” he says. But he also honors the body’s ability to heal itself, given a little help—the kind of help found in The Undruggist. (To order this book, type the title into the search function of the site listed above.) —Lisa James

A CHEF’S GARDEN

Tender

By Nigel Slater

TEN SPEED PRESS
(www.randomhouse.com/crown/tenspeed),
618 PAGES, $40.00

Vegetables are regarded by some people as the wallflower of cookery, healthy and even tasty if properly prepared, but just a little dull compared with exotic spices and other intriguing pantry supplies. Not so for Nigel Slater. “Perhaps because I was brought up on frozen peas, I now have a curiosity and an appetite for vegetables that extends far beyond any other ingredient,” says the British food columnist and TV cooking show host in Tender, a massive compendium of all things vegetable.

In the book’s introduction, Slater explains how he turned a scruffy patch of lawn behind his London townhouse into a rich, ever-changing tapestry of edible plants. That description is followed by 30 chapters on vegetables from asparagus to zucchini. Each presents garden and kitchen information, including varieties, growing tips, suitable seasonings and lovingly photographed recipes with amounts in both metric and US standard measures.
It is obvious that Slater regards his charges with wonder. For example, he writes in the cabbage chapter, “Seen in the field under a flint-colored sky, they are as beautiful as any rose, as complex and mysterious as any peony.” In that sense, Tender is as much a love story as a cookbook—a volume to be savored, cool drink in hand, under a shady tree. —Lisa James

HEALING CUISINE

The Everything Guide to Food Remedies

By Lori Rice, MS

292 PAGES, $16.95

every

The Everything Anti-Inflammation Diet Book

By Karlyn Grimes, MS, RD, LDN

294 PAGES, $15.95

every

The Everything Thyroid Diet Book

By Clara Schneider, MS, RD, RN, CDE, LDN

292 PAGES, $16.95
ADAMS MEDIA (www.adamsmedia.com)

every

At one time, the word “diet” was practically synonymous with the words “weight loss”—why else would you go on a diet? In recent decades, however, the idea of designing food plans to support specific health outcomes has taken hold. People have rediscovered the ancient principle of letting “food be your medicine and medicine be your food,” in the words of the Greek physician Hippocrates.

That concern with specialized diets is reflected in three books from Adams Media, all part of the publisher’s Everything Series. The Everything Guide to Food Remedies by food blogger Lori Rice covers the broadest range of the three. This volume is organized by disorder, from acne to varicose veins; for each it provides an overview of the condition, helpful nutrients, foods those nutrients are found in and two sets of recipes, basic and advanced.

The Everything Anti-Inflammation Diet Book by registered dietitian Karlyn Grimes focuses on fighting the sort of chronic, “silent” inflammation that has been linked to a number of serious illnesses, including cancer and cardiovascular disease. After chapters on various aspects of an inflammation-fighting lifestyle—including supplements, exercise and the need for sleep—the book presents a pantry setup chapter followed by recipe chapters by usage (such as appetizers and breakfast) and specific foods (such as grains and root vegetables).

The Everything Thyroid Diet Book, the most tightly focused of the three volumes, concentrates on ways to support a sputtering thyroid. Written by registered nurse Clara Schneider, who has lived with thyroid disease for more than 30 years, it contains several chapters of basic thyroid health information before providing 150 recipes divided among 13 chapters. —Lisa James

ANGER’S ADVANTAGES

The Gift of Anger

By Marcia Cannon, PhD

NEW HARBINGER (www.newharbinger.com), 178 PAGES, $17.95

“For every minute you are angry, you lose 60 seconds of happiness,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson—but try remembering that the next time your husband leaves wet towels on the floor or your boss hands you a rush job at 4:45 p.m. In fact, anger is as normal as grief or joy. But it is the only emotion thought in need of “management,” especially in an era in which happiness is considered a panacea for all manner of psychic ills.

Marcia Cannon, a marriage and family therapist in the San Francisco Bay area, takes a different approach to anger. “I wrote The Gift of Anger as an antidote to the negativity and misunderstanding that so often surround this emotion,” she says. While other books focus on effectively communicating your anger to others, Cannon’s volume concentrates on using anger “to help you uncover and integrate a more accurate and positive definition of yourself and of the world around you.”

The book’s subtitle, Seven Steps to Uncover the Meaning of Anger and Gain Awareness, Truth Strength and Peace, reflects its structure; nine of the eleven chapters explain how to follow these steps, which are designed to help you understand what you’re really angry about and how to act on those “unmet needs.”

Step One is preceded by chapters on anger’s two stages, the initial “protective” stage—the one marked by that familiar surge of energy—and a quieter, more reflective “awareness and growth” stage. While the first stage is automatic, Cannon says the second one isn’t. “To reap the benefits of stage two, you have to consciously choose it,” she notes; the book facilitates this process with exercises and case studies. (A discussion of self-directed anger forms the book’s final chapter.) —Lisa James

 

HORMONALLY HEALTHY LIVING

Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life

By Claudia Welch, MSOM

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com) 338 PAGES, $18.00

Run down, bone tired, stressed out: If there aren’t any fresh ways to convey the pervasive, never-ending fatigue many women fight each day, it’s because each new phrase almost immediately becomes a cliché through overuse. But where does this fatigue come from?

“Over the years I have seen that the medical problems of most women who come to me are rooted in a hormonal imbalance brought on by doing too much while getting too little physical and emotional nourishment,” says Claudia Welch, doctor of Oriental medicine and author of Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life. This book employs three perspectives—those of Western, Chinese and Ayurvedic (Indian) medicine—to provide a well-rounded view on an often-confusing subject.

Balance Your Hormones is divided into three parts. The first explains female hormones in terms of yin and yang, the two opposites that lay at the philosophical core of Chinese medicine—and how they are affected by stress. The second part discusses common female health concerns in terms of hormonal upsets and ways to counteract them. Topics include menstrual problems and menopause, fertility and birth control, and heart, breast and bone health. (There’s also a chapter on “feeling crummy,” a state that Welch sees as a precursor to more serious ailments.) The third part of the book presents the “three pillars”: diet, lifestyle (including exercise and avoiding pollutants) and stress management. Bulleted “What Should I Do?” lists let the reader put the material being presented into action.

One fundamental tenet of all medical systems is that well-being starts with a healthy lifestyle, which in turn depends on creating healthy habits. Balance Your Hormones puts a lot of useful meat on these basic bones. —Lisa James

 

HEALING AND CHANGE

Touching the World Through Reiki

By Eileen Dey, LMHC

BOOK PUBLISHERS NETWORK (www.bookpublishersnetwork.com),
100 PAGES, $14.95

 

The concept of an energy that flows through everything in the universe, including the human body, is a core component of all eastern healing disciplines. (Qi, the term used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, refers to this energy.) Reiki, a practice that directs universal energy through the palms, has become increasingly popular since its development in Japan in the 1920s.

Eileen Dey, founder of The Reiki Training Program in Seattle and author of Touching the World Through Reiki , has seen her life transformed by this energy—and she thinks it can transform your life, too. When you are supported by Reiki’s healing power, “what does not serve you can leave, falling away effortlessly. What is true to your essence remains,” she writes.

After two chapters describing what Reiki is and how it works, Touching the World Through Reiki is presented in two parts. In the first, Dey uses her own story—in which a young Philadelphia social worker discovers Reiki and eventually moves to Seattle to found a school—to introduce what she calls “five tools to transform your world”: discernment, following your spiritual journey, practicing what she calls “insight Reiki,” cultivating a creative career and bringing Reiki into the community. Dey expands on the last tool in part two through ideas such as using Reiki to help veterans deal with trauma suffered during deployment. A chapter of guided meditations lets you put Reiki’s principles to work right away, and a list of resources allows for more in-depth exploration. (You can order the book by searching for author or title via the website above.) —Lisa James

FRAGRANT WELLNESS

Lavender

By Philippa Waring

SOUVENIR PRESS (www.ipgbook.com), 124 PAGES, $12.95

Noted for its purple flowers and enchanting scent, lavender has been used in perfumes and therapeutic preparations since antiquity and remains one of the most popular aromatherapy agents to this day. Lavender: Nature’s Way to Relaxation and Health provides a comprehensive overview of how this herb has been employed throughout the ages.

In the first of the book’s three parts, author Philippa Waring covers this plant’s history, including its medicinal history, and the process that turns picked flowers into essential oil. In the second part, Waring discusses growing and drying your own lavender and how to use it in cooking. She also presents lavender-based home remedies for everything from athlete’s foot to sunburn. The book’s third part provides helpful resources.

“Throughout my research, I have been constantly surprised at the versatility of the plant, the many uses to which it can be put and the enormous pleasure it can give to gardeners, herbalists and cooks,” says Waring. Readers who fall into any, or all, of these categories will find Lavender fascinating. —Lisa James

READS FOR THE ROAD

Long May You Run

By Chris Cooper

TOUCHSTONE (www.simonandschuster.com), 226 PAGES, $24.00

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Kara Goucher’s Running for Women

By Kara Goucher

TOUCHSTONE (www.simonandschuster.com), 320 PAGES, $16.99

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Humans have been running—towards prey, away from predators—since the dawn of time, but it wasn’t until the end of the 20th century that large numbers of people started hitting the road for fun and fitness. And while putting one foot in front of the other very quickly would seem to be a simple, straightforward activity, many runners unearth layers of nuance in their chosen sport. Such running aficionados may find interest in two books from Simon and Schuster’s Touchstone imprint.

Hardcore runner Chris Cooper acknowledges that there are a lot of running books out there. But Cooper wrote Long May You Run: All Things Running because he wanted a volume “that would help me fill in the gaps in my running career, challenge me and also make me chuckle once in a while.” And with dozens of short, easy-reading chapters organized into five parts, it’s hard to see what Cooper, and the 19 world-class runners who contributed material, could have overlooked. Topics include training tips, race strategies, helpful gear, goal-setting and favorite locations—everything a serious runner could ask for.

Running for Women: From First Steps to Marathons provides the same comprehensive approach tailored to the concerns of its intended audience. The aim of Kara Goucher, a medal-winning marathoner, is to “help you gain a lifelong passion for running” by drawing on her own experiences. In the book’s 10 chapters, Goucher covers the topics you would expect—training, racing, injury prevention, nutrition—plus some you wouldn’t, such as building a social support network and how to balance running with the rest of your life. The book also includes a chapter on how new moms and moms-to-be can keep running without putting themselves or their infants at risk. —Lisa James

STOP BEING ANXIOUS

The Chemistry of Calm

By Henry Emmons, MD

FIRESIDE (www.simonandschuster.com), 304 PAGES, $15.00

Anyone who has endured the pervasive worry and fear fueled by anxiety knows how this disorder can affect every aspect of life: health, work, relationships. “The physical and emotional conditions of stress and anxiety have become the scourges of modern life and they create a huge amount of suffering,” says psychiatrist Henry Emmons, MD. In response Emmons has created the Resilience Training Program, as outlined in The Chemistry of Calm: A Powerful Drug-Free Plan to Quiet Your Fears and Overcome Your Anxiety.

In the book’s first part, Emmons discusses how to balance brain chemistry through a diet focused on whole, organic foods and how to overcome neurotransmitter imbalances through the use of supplements and herbs. Because anxiety can lead to cycles of over-activity and fatigue, Emmons shows how to manage your energy levels and live in alignment with nature’s rhythms. That includes the need to slow down; “allowing for a period in which we lie fallow and restore ourselves is good for us,” he says.

In part two, Emmons explains how to use mindfulness techniques to quiet the mind and stay in the present moment. Anxious people often try to push away their emotions; one chapter explains how to calmly confront emotions before letting them wash away. Anxiety has a way of shattering self-confidence; Emmons discusses how to cultivate acceptance and compassion for oneself and others. In the third and final part, Emmons talks about the “science of hope,” saying that healing is possible even if you’ve suffered from anxiety for years.

“When you awaken to who you really are, you will calmly experience how good it is to be in this world,” Emmons says. The Chemistry of Calm provides a framework in which this transformation can take place. —Lisa James

VEGGIE POWER

The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook

By Kim O’Donnel

DA CAPO (www.dacapopress.com), 238 PAGES, $18.95

 

Rose Elliot’s New Complete Vegetarian

By Rose Elliot

STERLING (www.sterlingpublishing.com), 310 PAGES, $30.00

 

Vicki’s Vegan Kitchen

By Vicki Chelf

SQUARE ONE (www.squareonepublishers.com), 310 PAGES, $17.95

The word “vegetarian” takes in a lot of territory, from so-called “flexitarians” who avoid meat some of the time to vegans who steer clear of not only meat but all animal byproducts. This broad range is demonstrated by three recently published cookbooks, each of which features a different approach to plant-based cuisine.

Obviously, The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes Carnivores Will Devour is not for the hardcore vegan. Instead, veteran food blogger Kim O’Donnel is writing for people such as “Mr. Sausage,” who needed to change his dietary ways after suffering a serious heart attack. “Most of us meat lovers know we could stand to lower our cholesterol and drop a few pounds. Our problem isn’t believing the data, it’s the fear of change and the threat to our very personal relationship with food,” she says. O’Donnel reduces the threat level by providing 12 meatless menus for each of the four seasons, along with four anytime menus. Recipes range from carnivore comfort zone, such as True-Blue Baked Beans, to fairly adventurous, such as Penne with Tempeh, Caramelized Shallots and Goat Cheese. Special-feature recipes—those without gluten, for example—are marked for easy reference.

British writer Rose Elliot has produced more than 60 vegetable-based cookbooks over the past 40 years. Rose Elliot’s New Complete Vegetarian is the latest version of what she calls her “big book”—a fitting term for any volume that contains hundreds of recipes, many of which include one or more variations. The recipes are divided among 14 chapters; one covers cheese and eggs, and three are dedicated to vegetarian bakery. This is the kind of substantial reference work that any serious vegetarian cook will return to again and again.

If anything animal is off your menu, Vicki’s Vegan Kitchen: Eating with Sanity, Compassion and Taste is more your style. If you’re new to veganism, however, chef and cooking instructor Vicki Chelf understands your concern. “I know that vegan foods may not have the reputation of being fine cuisine, but once you taste dishes made with fresh local ingredients that are properly prepared, you are going to find them surprisingly delicious—and the healthiest that this planet has to offer,” she says. Besides explaining the benefits of an all-plant diet, Chelf helps out vegan newbies by providing information on ingredients, pantry setup and bread baking before presenting more than 375 recipes.

These three books prove that no matter how serious you are about making vegetables a mainstay of your diet, there is a cookbook to suit your needs. —Lisa James

 

VEGGIE POWER

The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook

By Kim O’Donnel

DA CAPO (www.dacapopress.com), 238 PAGES, $18.95

 

Rose Elliot’s New Complete Vegetarian

By Rose Elliot

STERLING (www.sterlingpublishing.com), 310 PAGES, $30.00

 

Vicki’s Vegan Kitchen

By Vicki Chelf

SQUARE ONE (www.squareonepublishers.com), 310 PAGES, $17.95

The word “vegetarian” takes in a lot of territory, from so-called “flexitarians” who avoid meat some of the time to vegans who steer clear of not only meat but all animal byproducts. This broad range is demonstrated by three recently published cookbooks, each of which features a different approach to plant-based cuisine.

Obviously, The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes Carnivores Will Devour is not for the hardcore vegan. Instead, veteran food blogger Kim O’Donnel is writing for people such as “Mr. Sausage,” who needed to change his dietary ways after suffering a serious heart attack. “Most of us meat lovers know we could stand to lower our cholesterol and drop a few pounds. Our problem isn’t believing the data, it’s the fear of change and the threat to our very personal relationship with food,” she says. O’Donnel reduces the threat level by providing 12 meatless menus for each of the four seasons, along with four anytime menus. Recipes range from carnivore comfort zone, such as True-Blue Baked Beans, to fairly adventurous, such as Penne with Tempeh, Caramelized Shallots and Goat Cheese. Special-feature recipes—those without gluten, for example—are marked for easy reference.

British writer Rose Elliot has produced more than 60 vegetable-based cookbooks over the past 40 years. Rose Elliot’s New Complete Vegetarian is the latest version of what she calls her “big book”—a fitting term for any volume that contains hundreds of recipes, many of which include one or more variations. The recipes are divided among 14 chapters; one covers cheese and eggs, and three are dedicated to vegetarian bakery. This is the kind of substantial reference work that any serious vegetarian cook will return to again and again.

If anything animal is off your menu, Vicki’s Vegan Kitchen: Eating with Sanity, Compassion and Taste is more your style. If you’re new to veganism, however, chef and cooking instructor Vicki Chelf understands your concern. “I know that vegan foods may not have the reputation of being fine cuisine, but once you taste dishes made with fresh local ingredients that are properly prepared, you are going to find them surprisingly delicious—and the healthiest that this planet has to offer,” she says. Besides explaining the benefits of an all-plant diet, Chelf helps out vegan newbies by providing information on ingredients, pantry setup and bread baking before presenting more than 375 recipes.

These three books prove that no matter how serious you are about making vegetables a mainstay of your diet, there is a cookbook to suit your needs. —Lisa James

GUT FEELINGS

Dropping Acid

By Jamie Koufman, MD and Jordan Stern, MD with Marc Bauer

THE REFLUX COOKBOOKS (www.refluxcookbook.com), 200 PAGES, $19.77

acid

 

The Healthy Gut Workbook

By Victor Sierpina, MD

NEW HARBINGER (www.newharbinger.com), 208 PAGES, $21.95

gut

Watch an evening’s worth of television advertising and you can be forgiven for thinking that nearly everyone must have digestive difficulties: excess acidity, cranky bowels, plain old indigestion. While some people might dismiss such complaints as low-level nuisances, the fact is that millions of people suffer from poor gastrointestinal function—and the remedies advertised on TV merely ease symptoms without addressing the underlying causes. The best way to address such disorders is through dietary changes, as recommended in two recently published books.

Persistent heartburn is one sign of acid reflux, in which stomach acid backs up into the esophagus and throat. But it isn’t the only one. “Your family doctor or even a specialist might have told you it’s asthma, sinusitis or allergy, when in fact you had reflux,” say the authors of Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure. Doctors Jaime Koufman, director of the Voice Institute of New York, and Jordan Stern, a head and neck surgeon, claim that the problem is the acid in your food, not in your stomach. “Prepared foods have been increasingly acidified to prevent bacterial growth and add shelf life,” they say, adding that this excess food acid over-activates pepsin, a digestive enzyme that breaks down protein—including that found in the esophagus’ tender lining.

In addition to presenting the science behind the acid-pepsin connection, Dropping Acid provides a program designed to relieve reflux by cutting dietary acids. It starts with a two-week intake phase on a strict no-acid diet followed by a maintenance phase based on charts showing “good” (low acid) and “bad” (high acid) foods. Koufman and Stern’s collaborator, French master chef Marc Bauer, has used the good foods to create recipes designed to let a reflux patient heal without feeling deprived.

Of course, acid reflux isn’t the only source of digestive misery. As its subtitle indicates,The Healthy Gut Workbook: Whole-Body Healing for Heartburn, Ulcers, Constipation IBS, Diverticulosis & More offers a comprehensive look at gastrointestinal disorders and natural ways to combat them. What’s more, “the gut is a conduit of good health and poor health. If misused, it can contribute to many illnesses far removed from the abdominal cavity,” says author Victor Sierpina, a professor of family and integrative medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

The Healthy Gut Workbook is divided into two parts. The first part explains how the gastrointestinal tract works, how the immune system and a person’s emotions interact with the gut and what foods help keep the digestive system healthy while reducing illness-inducing inflammation. The second provides an overview of common digestive complaints and appropriate holistic treatment regimens, along with a look at high-fiber diets and detoxification protocols. The workbook format encourages the reader to create a self-care plan tailored to his or her own needs.

“Gastrointestinal problems affect all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time,” says Sierpina. The Healthy Gut Workbook and Dropping Acid can help people with life-hampering digestive issues find welcome relief. —Lisa James

 

AILING KIDNEY SUPPORT

What You Must Know About Kidney Disease

By Rich Snyder, DO

SQUARE ONE (www.squareonepublishers.com), 186 PAGES, $17.95

Compared with heart disease and cancer, kidney disease receives little attention—but it affects 26 million Americans, with more than 87,000 succumbing to the effects of kidney failure every year, according to the National Kidney Foundation. What makes this disorder especially dangerous is its stealthy nature; by the time symptoms such as urination changes or swelling occur the kidneys may have already suffered significant damage. Rich Snyder, a board-certified nephrologist, has written What You Must Know About Kidney Disease: A Practical Guide to Using Conventional and Complementary Treatments to help guide patients and their loved ones through the complete range of treatment options.

The book is divided into three parts. In the first, Snyder explains what kidney disease is and how it is diagnosed and staged, including an explanation of the blood tests used to determine the extent of the damage. This part also includes a valuable chapter on dealing with professionals, letting you form a healthcare team to implement treatment. In the second part, Snyder discusses the causes of kidney disease—diabetes and high blood pressure being the most common—along with imaging studies that may be needed, potential complications and standard treatments. In the third part, Snyder covers lifestyle changes, including dietary options and the need to lower sodium intake, along with potentially useful vitamins, herbs and complementary treatments. This part also includes a chapter on the spiritual and emotional aspects of healing, an often-overlooked component in dealing with any serious illness.

Being told you have kidney disease can be frightening. But “you are far from helpless,” Snyder writes. “In fact, an arsenal of health-promoting weapons is at your disposal.” Explaining these weapons in layman’s terms makes What You Must Know About Kidney Disease valuable for the newly diagnosed kidney patient. —Lisa James

 

The Illustrated Cook’s Book
of Ingredients

DK Publishing, (http://us.dk.com/), 544 pages, $35

ingredients1

 

The Illustrated Step-by-Step Cook

DK Publishing, (http://us.dk.com/), 544 pages, $35

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Many cookbooks try to stake a claim as the first and last words on cooking. Together, DK’s The Illustrated Cook’s Book of Ingredients and The Illustrated Step-by-Step Cook come pretty close. With both books, you will be taking a tour around the globe. Ingredients, for example, highlights 2,500 culinary items, from the recognizable to the exotic—good old sole resides with sea cucumber and whelk sea snails in the fish section, while salad staple beefsteak tomatoes and the more exotic breadfruit from Asia share four pages of tomato varieties. Among international dishes gracing The Illustrated Step-by-Step Cook, meanwhile, are Greek-style vegetables; an herbed aioli platter from France; Swiss chard crepes; tempura; and a “Buddha’s delight” of Chinese mushrooms, dried tiger lily buds, cellophane noodles and other Asian ingredients.  

Both books cover meat pretty thoroughly but there is plenty here to please vegetarians and vegans. Nearly 100 pages of The Illustrated Step-by-Step Cook are devoted to salads and meat-free dishes (pumpkin stew, baked polenta with wild mushrooms and vegetable couscous, to name a few), while ample sections on breads and desserts will also satisfy the tastes of the meat-averse. The book includes more than 300 updated recipes from DK’s Look & Cook series.

Both volumes feature clearly numbered, outlined, easy-to-understand directions (Ingredients features recipes, too). The Illustrated Step-by-Step Cook provides exact timings for every stage and features photographs of cooks in action for many of the steps: Images of hands cleaving and trimming, spooning and peeling, stirring sauces and snapping stalks are welcome confidence boosters for relative beginners.

And that is precisely where these cookbooks shine: in the beautiful, eye-popping color photography for which DK is known. In Ingredients, bright orange murcotts (sometimes called honey tangerines), juicy kumquats and the red flesh of pomelos seem to jump off the pages of the citrus section. In Nuts and Seeds, every almond and walnut’s wrinkle is laid bare. Beware the strong breeze that might blow the small piles of ground cinnamon and safflowers from the Spices pages. Indeed, The Illustrated Cook’s Book of Ingredients and The Illustrated Step-by-Step Cook work very well as eye candy but you’ll quickly be tempted to try a new dish and put them to use in the kitchen.—Allan Richter

ILLNESS AND ITS

EMOTIONAL FALLOUT

Finding Your Way Through Cancer

By Andrew Kneier, PhD

CELESTIAL ARTS (www.tenspeed.com), 166 PAGES, $14.00

The biology of cancer—how it starts, how it spreads, how its genetic and environmental components intersect—is breathtakingly complex. But the profound mental and spiritual consequences of a cancer diagnosis are no less intricate than this disease’s physical effects. The illusion of certainty we all share, the idea that life will always go on as it has, is gone. Now what?

Andrew Kneier has spent the past 20 years helping more than 7,500 cancer patients answer that question. In Finding Your Way Through Cancer: An Expert Cancer Psychologist Helps Patients and Survivors Face the Challenges of Illness, Kneier uses his extensive experience to help you cope with “the suffering that cancer causes.” Nine of the book’s 10 chapters cover topics such as how cancer fits into your life story, dealing with your family’s fears and concerns, overcoming anxiety and coming to terms with the possibility of dying. The last chapter, “My Interrupted Life,” shows how these issues resonate with Jenny, a 42-year-old wife and mother diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer. Kneier’s message throughout is that neither “cancer as disaster” nor “cancer as gift”—two common viewpoints—captures the nuance of feeling that most people undergo as they follow the arc of diagnosis, treatment and aftermath.

“People with cancer have shown me the phenomenal internal resources that reside in our nature for coping, resilience and finding meaning,” he says. If others have made sense of life after cancer, so can you. Finding Your Way Through Cancer can help you live that life fully in the face of uncertainty. —Lisa James

FEEDING BABY THE RIGHT WAY

Best Food for Your Baby & Toddler

By Jeannette Bessinger, CHHC with Tracee Yablon-Brenner, RD, CHHC

STERLING (www.sterlingpub.com), 374 PAGES, $14.95

To an adult’s eyes, infancy can seem like a blissful period of life filled with cooing, sleeping and playing. But a lot of hard work is going on just under the surface, with the baby’s brain and body undergoing significant development as he or she grows into toddlerhood.

Fueling such rapid growth requires high-quality nutrition, which also plays a key role in assuring a child’s well-being over the long term. “You, as a parent of a newborn, have the opportunity right now to prevent your child from falling into the trap of lifelong overweight and obesity,” say Jeannette Bessinger and Tracee Yablon-Brenner in Best Food for Your Baby & Toddler: From First Foods to Meals Your Child Will Love. The authors, health counselors and mothers themselves, believe that whole, natural foods provide the best fuel for children to grow on—and that kids can be taught to love what’s good for them.

Part I of Best Food provides an overview of child health and nutrition, including chapters on the perils of obesity, the benefits of “real food,” nutrient needs and maintaining dietary balance, and raising a vegetarian child (not a problem, Bessinger and Yablon-Brenner say, as long as you make sure the youngster eats a well-rounded diet). Part II presents detailed information on feeding in stages from birth through age 3. The topics include an extensive discussion of breastfeeding, including what mom should be eating to produce the best milk; introducing an infant to solid food; ways to reduce the risk of food allergy; portion guides and meal planning; and weaning off the breast. Bessinger and Yablon-Brenner advocate introducing children to foods with different textures and flavors in a calm, unemotional manner, along with establishing mealtime routines, to move kids past food fussiness and into becoming natural eaters. Part III covers food preparation, including how to make baby food at home, and recipes appropriate to each age group.

“By the time your toddler reaches his third birthday, much of the foundation for his future tastes and eating habits has been set,” say Bessinger and Yablon-Brenner. Best Food for Your Baby & Toddler can help make that foundation as strong as possible. —Lisa James

 

LEARNING TO LIVE WITH MS

Managing Multiple Sclerosis Naturally

By Judy Graham

HEALING ARTS PRESS (www.healingartspress.com), 372 PAGES, $19.95

Blurry vision, weakened muscles, decreased coordination: These are among the first signs of multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease in which myelin, the fatty substance that coats nerves, is destroyed and replaced by scar tissue. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, MS affects about 400,000 Americans, with 200 more diagnosed every week. What follows for many is a lifelong odyssey of hope and doubt as they learn to live with a chronic illness that offers more questions than answers.

Judy Graham understands. “I was diagnosed with MS in 1974 at age 26, and I am writing this in 2010,” she says in Managing Multiple Sclerosis Naturally: A Self-Help Guide to Living with MS. “Back then I didn’t think I would last this long, let alone still be walking and working hard.” It’s true that she can’t wear high heels and has to use a scooter at the mall. However, she points out that after 36 years, “many people with MS would be quite happy to be as mildly disabled as I remain.”

Managing Multiple Sclerosis Naturally is a testament to Graham’s belief that MS can be controlled through an “all-embracing” natural approach to self-care. The book is divided into four parts. The first, “Understanding MS,” looks at what we currently know about this often-puzzling disorder and what may cause it. Part Two, “Nutrition for MS,” contains chapters on food sensitivities; a “best bet” diet heavy on fish, nuts, extra virgin olive oil and produce, with no gluten, dairy, legumes or refined sugar; foods that feed the brain; and nutritional supplements to help boost immunity and energy while decreasing inflammation and free radicals. In Part Three, “Physical and Complementary Therapies,” Graham covers exercise, physical therapy and other helpful modes of healing. Part Four, “Living a Healthy Life,” provides advice on topics such as addressing specific symptoms, detoxification and avoiding negativity.

Fear of what’s to come is a normal response to being told you have a condition that you’ll be living with the rest of your life. But the message of Managing Multiple Sclerosis Naturally is positive. “The good news is that MS can be controlled,” says Graham. “Far from all doom and gloom, the future can be joyous and productive.” —Lisa James

 

SELF-SUFFICIENCY, UPDATED

Natural Living

By Liz Wright

GAIA, 320 PAGES, $29.99

This year’s fashion statement is green—as in going green. It seems that everyone is jumping on the environmental bandwagon, especially companies eager to tell you about their latest eco-friendly products. But what does “going green” mean, really, and how do you go about it?

For Liz Wright, going green has meant living the natural life on a small farm in Cambridgeshire, an experience she has shared with British readers for the past 23 years as editor of the magazine Smallholder. Now Wright’s expertise is available to American readers in her book Natural Living: the 21st Century Guide to a Self-Sufficient Lifestyle. “It is almost impossible to separate self-sufficiency from good green living principles,” she says—an ethic that shuns the rampant wastefulness of modern living.

Natural Living is divided into seven sections. The first is an overview of self-sufficient living; the second, a guide to getting started. The third section, “Growing Your Own,” provides all the knowledge a beginning gardener could need, from preparing and improving the soil to planting and caring for crops. The fourth section, “Raising Your Own,” provides the same basic, step-by-step information for small-scale animal husbandry. After a section on finding food in the wild, “From Crop to Kitchen” shows how to preserve and prepare foods (including a chapter on home brewing), while the last section, “Self-Sufficiency in the Home,” covers topics including energy generation, natural cleaning and such traditional crafts as spinning, weaving and tanning.

You may never keep your own goats or churn your own butter. But in a world where “going green” is as much a marketing catchphrase as anything else, Natural Living is the real deal—a valuable resource on a vital topic. (This title is available through www.amazon.com.) —Lisa James

 

THE TOTAL TEA EXPERIENCE

The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook

By Mary Lou Heiss and Robert J. Heiss

TEN SPEED PRESS (www.tenspeed.com), 200 PAGES, $16.99

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The World in Your Teacup

By Lisa Boalt Richardson

HARVEST HOUSE PUBLISHERS
(www.harvesthousepublishers.com), 72 PAGES, $24.99

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Culinary Tea

By Cynthia Gold and Lisë Stern

RUNNING PRESS (www.runningpresscooks.com), 288 PAGES, $22.95

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“If a man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty,” says a Japanese proverb. Most tea drinkers wouldn’t go quite that far, but they couldn’t imagine a day without the beverage that is second only to water as the world’s favorite. Even in coffee-crazy America, tea—and the culture that surrounds it—has found an appreciative audience, which explains the continued outpouring of books on this subject from almost every possible angle.

If you want to learn more about the brew itself, The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook: A Guide to Enjoying the World’s Best Teas is a good place to start. Written by Mary Lou and Robert Heiss, long-time tea retailers and travelers in tea-producing areas of the world, this book provides an introduction to teas in six classes—green, yellow, white, oolong, black and pu-erh, a fermented type—along with helpful information on buying, storing and brewing tea. The Heisses believe that “learning as much as possible about tea and the process of artisan tea manufacture will heighten your enjoyment of each cup you steep.”

Part of the enjoyment tea brings lies in the different rituals that have grown up around teatime in various parts of the world. In The World in Your Teacup: Celebrating Tea Traditions Near and Far, certified tea specialist Lisa Boalt Richardson takes the reader on a tour of tea traditions in eight countries: China, England, Kenya, Russia, Iran, France, Morocco and the US. Each section gives an overview of how tea culture developed in that country down to the present day. For instance, the section on England describes the difference between “low” and “high” tea; the first was an afternoon amusement for people seated on low, comfy chairs, the second a workingman’s substantial dinner served at high dining room tables. Richardson also provides recipes in each section for favorite teatime dishes, such as noodle babka in Russia and a basil and goat cheese-accented burger as an accompaniment to iced tea in the United States.

From foods served with tea to foods made with tea: Culinary Tea provides more than 100 recipes in which tea stars as a main ingredient. “There are myriad ways in which tea can enhance a dish, and a variety of techniques that bring out the best flavor in both the tea and the complementary ingredients,” say Cynthia Gold, a chef, and Lisë Stern, a food writer. Their book begins with a guide to not only the different types of tea but also to their flavor profiles and which foods each complements: a strong black Assam with dark chocolate and sharp cheeses, a delicate green sencha with seafood, eggs and lightly cooked vegetables. Gold and Stern then show how to meld those flavors into specific recipes: Green Tea-Poached Chicken Salad, Lapsang Souchong Scallops Cerviche, Asian-Spiced Tea, Honey and Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream.

In the introduction to The World in Your Teacup, Richardson tells of how she talked tea with two nurses, one from Kenya and the other from Malawi, in her son’s hospital room after an operation. “It then dawned on me that here are three women, all from different countries, who have been united because of their love of tea,” she writes. “We might not have had anything else in common, but we experienced a bond by sharing our thoughts on that single beverage.” By helping you select, cook with and create rituals around tea, these three books give you the background you need to widen your own circle of tea-loving friends. —Lisa James

 

ADAPTING TO STRESS THROUGH CHINESE MEDICINE

Power of the Five Elements

By Charles Moss, MD

NORTH ATLANTIC BOOKS (www.northatlanticbooks.com),
298 PAGES, $18.95

One of stress’s most disturbing effects is a sense of being out of balance, that staggering, blown-sideways-through-life sensation which can lead to such unhealthy behaviors as eating too much and exercising too little. The best way to control stress is by gracefully adapting to the curveballs life throws at you. But how do you do that?

One answer comes from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), in which bringing the body’s energy patterns into balance is a key aspect of well-being. The key to this balance, according to integrative medicine practitioner Charles Moss, is learning healthy ways of adapting to stress. “Premature aging and most illnesses are the result of failed adaptation, which lead to elevated levels of the main stress hormone, cortisol,” Moss says in Power of the Five Elements. The elements in question—Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water—represent cycles of energy movement in both nature and the body. Moss says that once you know which element matches your adaptation type you can be at home in your own skin no matter what’s going on in your life.

For instance, you might be a Wood person. According to Moss, this means you are organized and self-assertive when adapted but inflexible and hostile when you’re not. Maladaption among Wood types is often associated with headaches, fatigue and vision issues. To overcome these problems, Moss offers 10 adaptation keys that include practicing forgiveness, learning patience and taking a big-picture view of life instead of obsessing over minor details. He also supplies a chart of acupressure points for self-treatment and a set of action steps, such as “when you have a cynical or hostile thought, mindfully observe it and let it go.” The book presents similar overviews of the other four elements.

Moss quotes the ancient Chinese philosopher Sengstan: “When the deep meaning of things is not understood the mind’s essential peace is disturbed to no avail.” Power of the Five Elements provides a unique way of finding that essential peace for the sake of both mind and body. –Lisa James

FAILURE-PROOFING YOUR LIFE

The Winner’s Brain: Eight Strategies Great Minds Use to Achieve Success

By Jeff Brown & Mark Fenske

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 226 PAGES, $25.00

 

“If only I was as smart as my sister.” “If only I didn’t have to drop out of school to support my family.” “If only I had gotten that job I really wanted.” “If only….”

Jeff Brown and Mark Fenske have heard all the reasons why people don’t get what they want out of life—and they’re not buying any of it. “Contrary to popular belief, high personal achievement has very little to do with your IQ, your life circumstances, your financial resources, knowing the right people or even luck,” they say in The Winner’s Brain. Instead, Brown, a psychologist, and Fenske, a neuroscientist, believe that anyone can make a conscious effort to improve their lives through eight inter-related factors: self-awareness, motivation, focus, emotional balance, memory, resilience, adaptability and proper brain care. In The Winner’s Brain Brown and Fenske present the latest research on behavior and brain physiology; they then explain how you can use that knowledge to turn obstacles into springboards for accomplishment. Interspersed throughout the book are “Brainstorms,” boxed items that offer tips on specific tasks, such as setting short-term goals and purging your brain of useless information.

“Success is attained by using your brain’s faculties to respond to the circumstances and challenges you face in life,” say Brown and Fenske. If success is your desired destination, The Winner’s Brain provides a useful road map. —Lisa James

 

 

THE HOLISTIC WOMB

The Uterine Health Companion

By Eve Agee, PhD

CELESTIAL ARTS (www.tenspeed.com), 248 PAGES, $16.99

Just as many women have love/hate relationships with their bodies in terms of their weight or shape, many also hold contradictory feelings about the uterus: The womb that nurtures new life is subject to a long list of ailments, some debilitating. And unlike breasts, which draw attention both from the opposite sex and in terms of cancer prevention advocacy, the uterus is something that’s not spoken of in polite company—or in most any company, for that matter.

“Forgotten, cursed or ignored, our uteruses are considered by most of us to be either problematic or insignificant—except on the occasions we focus our attention on becoming pregnant,” says Eve Agee, a medical anthropologist trained in various alternative healing arts. Her book, The Uterine Health Companion, is designed to help women relate to this often-misunderstood organ in a way that promotes uterine well-being from puberty to menopause.

The book’s first part provides what Agee calls a road map to the uterus, which, as she explains, is more than just temporary housing for a child. “The uterus is important hormonally, protecting our heart health,” Agee says. “It plays an essential role in our anatomical structure and posture.” Part One introduces Agee’s “cornerstones” of uterine health: stress reduction, whole foods, proper sleep, adequate exercise, detoxification, limited hormone use and effective practitioner-patient communication. Agee expands on these concepts in the book’s second part, which provides an “optimal uterine health plan” that includes such topics as breathwork, proper eating and strengthening the body. The third part covers specific aspects of uterine health, including normal occurrences—menstruation, pregnancy and childbirth, menopause—and the disorders endometriosis and fibroids, along with a chapter on hysterectomy. In each chapter Agee presents both biomedical and holistic options for maintaining healthy uterine functioning.

“Early humans were so in awe of the transformative and creative power of the uterus that they painted it on cave walls,” says Agee. “Along with incorporating nutrition, exercise and stress reduction into your life, develop beliefs that affirm your right to be healthy and happy.” The Uterine Health Companion offers valuable insights on how to achieve that goal. —Lisa James

 

 

It’s not too late to put your green thumb to work, and there’s a new crop of gardening books to get you started. Whether you are cultivating herbs in a small starter garden or tackling a large organic farm, Energy Times has selected a few highly practical books to help you nurture this healthy pastime. So slide your hands into the rich brown earth and follow through to the tableside family get-together. Enjoy the harvest.

The Kitchen Garden

A Complete Practical Guide to Planting, Cultivating,
and Harvesting Fruits and Vegetables

BY ALAN BUCKINGHAM

DK (WWW.DK.COM)

352 pages, $22.95

DK is known for its library of easily readable, practical and beautifully illustrated books. The Kitchen Garden fits that bill. The Kitchen Garden gives the reader his or her money’s worth because it explores gardening not just in springtime but as a year-round endeavor. A month-by-month calendar of tips includes pruning apple or pear trees in January to building raised beds in October to storing crops for the winter in November and December. A special “crop planner” section details ideas on tending an array of specific crops, from root and stem vegetables to onions and fruit, while a troubleshooting guide helps you diagnose problems, identify plant diseases and deal with common pests and parasites.  For anyone wishing to follow the mantra “fresh, seasonal, local,” author Buckingham’s The Kitchen Garden is a healthy place to start.

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The Beginner’s Guide to Edible Herbs

26 Herbs Everyone Should Grow & Enjoy

BY CHARLES W.G. SMITH

STOREY PUBLISHING (WWW.STOREY.COM)

145 pages, $12.95

Good things come in small packages, as in the relatively small containers you might use to grow the herbs detailed in this little gem of a book. Many of the stars of the herb family show up here, like dill, mint, chives and oregano, but Smith also puts the spotlight on borage and calendula. In each of the 26 sections, advice on growing, harvesting, using and preserving accompanies recipes, for teas, juices, desserts, even ketchup. The aforementioned calendula is less-expensive saffron that Smith says not only has medicinal uses but would be a nice addition to lemon cheesecake. Like some of the herbs cited here, The Beginner’s Guide to Edible Herbs is short but sweet.

 

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Starter Vegetable Gardens

24 No-Fail Plans for Small Organic Gardens

BY BARBARA PLEASANT

STOREY PUBLISHING (WWW.STOREY.COM)

180 pages, $19.95 paper, $29.95 hardcover

Starter Vegetable Gardens includes lovely soft-colored illustrations of garden plans in grids that can help budding gardeners live up to the “no-fail” part of this book’s subtitle. Pleasant wants you to embrace gardening for the long haul; she opens Starter Vegetable Gardens by showing how these plans should evolve over three years. A suitable garden for first timers, for example, is the 8-ft x 8-ft. “Marinara Medley” plan, with room for tomatoes, Italian parsley, Greek oregano, basil, bulb onions and peppers. Pleasant doesn’t set you out on your own and leave you abandoned—she offers advice for different stages throughout the growing season. In the last section of Starter Vegetable Gardens, Pleasant lists her top choices for garden-worthy varieties, including beans, peppers and pumpkins, and her 10 “must-have” herbs, chives and dill among them.

 

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The New Healing Herbs

The Essential Guide to More Than 125 of Nature’s Most Potent Herbal Remedies

BY MICHAEL CASTLEMAN

RODALE BOOKS (WWW.RODALESTORE.COM)

562 pages, $23.99

The New Healing Herbs offers some growing tips but is far more valuable for profiling up-and-coming herbs, including boswellia, hibiscus, maitake mushrooms and rhodiola, and shedding light on new discoveries about the therapeutic benefits of popular herbs such as gingko and St. John’s wort. With healing histories and therapeutic uses of the vast array of herbs it covers, The New Healing Herbs can certainly be embraced as a gardener’s companion, but best put to use either in deciding what you want to plant or once your herbs are cultivated.

 

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Raw Food

A Complete Guide for Every Meal of the Day

BY ERICA PALMCRANTZ AND IRMELA LILJA

SKYHORSE PUBLISHING (WWW.SKYHORSEPUBLISHING.COM)

174 pages, $14.95

With stunning photographs and easy-to-follow recipes, Raw Food is a boon in any gardener’s kitchen. From detoxing to jumpstarting your morning with an energy-boosting breakfast, Raw Food is a mouth-watering guide to the many incarnations of fruits, berries, vegetables, seeds, nuts, algae, sprouts, legumes, honey, cold-pressed oil that can be brought to the table and liven up even the most traditional of dishes. Consider the unique spin on a Waldorf salad; authors Palmcrantz and Lilja add arame and clover sprouts to their version to bring out the taste of the other ingredients. After the harvest, here’s what to do with your raw food bounty. 

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The Organic Farming Manual

A Comprehensive Guide to Starting and Running a Certified Organic Farm

BY ANN LARKIN HANSEN

STOREY PUBLISHING (WWW.STOREY.COM)

437 pages, $29.95

What this manual lacks in color and illustration, it more than makes up for in depth and breadth of useful guidance. This manual is not for the faint-hearted or the seasonal kitchen tiller: It’s for dedicated souls who want to get started raising poultry, livestock, produce, crops and dairy—and do it all organically. Getting certified and marketing your goods are also addressed. Particularly useful in helping you not feel like your charting new territory here are the profiles of successful farmers seeded throughout the book. Whether you take the big leap or not, the more folks that follow through on what this book offers, the more we all benefit.

 

CARING FOR THE EARTH,
ONE STEP AT A TIME

The Circumference of Home:
One Man’s Yearlong Quest for a Radically Local Life

By Kurt Hoelting

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 282 PAGES, $25.00

It is interesting to note how the environmental movement has evolved since the first Earth Day. The idea in 1970 was a simple one—saving the earth from ecological havoc. And while that was a necessary start, we have spent the past four decades refining that message into a series of interrelated concepts, from climate change to species preservation. One of the latest ideas is that of the carbon footprint, or the amount of carbon-spewing resources each of us consumes as we live our technologically sophisticated lives.

Kurt Hoelting, a fisherman, wilderness guide and meditation teacher, thought he was leading a fairly low-carbon lifestyle in Washington state; he drove a hybrid car and otherwise limited his personal energy usage. So Hoelting was shocked when he took an online carbon footprint survey and learned that, thanks to a penchant for jet travel, his footprint was more than twice the national average. “For someone who prides himself on living low on the energy food chain, this was not something I could take sitting down,” Hoelting says. He meant that literally: Hoelting decided to spend a year traveling “exclusively by foot, bicycle, kayak and public transportation” inside a 100-kilometer (62 mile) circle around his Whidbey Island home.

The Circumference of Home chronicles Hoelting’s year of traveling lightly. His trips include a four-mile hike to the ferry, a three-day paddle around the island and a 200-mile bicycle ride with his collage-age son, Alex. Hoelting notes the physical discipline of travel by muscle power: “I study the weariness in my body with…fascination, almost like meeting an old friend again,” he says. But just as important as his travels by foot, pedal and oar is the inner journey that takes Hoelting back to his environmental principles. “If there is any integrity in what I have done, I will not stop here,” he says in the book’s epilogue. “This year was simply my own first step toward a more enduring practice of place.”

You might not be ready to give up your car, no matter what the environmental or health benefits might be. But if you’ve been wondering what practices could bring you closer to an earth-friendly lifestyle, reading The Circumference of Home would be a good place to start. —Lisa James

 

TOXIN SOUP

Our Chemical Lives and the Hijacking of Our DNA

By Catherine J. Frompovich

www.catherinejfrompovich.com, 394 PAGES, $20.99

Most of us are aware—on some level, at least—of the number and variety of man-made chemicals in which we and our environment are drenched. The powers that be tell us not to worry, that they are working to protect us, that we are safe. But how safe are we, exactly?

Not very, according to Catherine Frompovich. “Whether we are aware of it or not, toxic residues accumulate moment to moment, day by day, and with every interaction consumers have with most commodities because of the ubiquitous presence of untold toxic chemicals in food, water, consumer products and the air we breathe. It’s truly disturbing,” writes Frompovich in the introduction to Our Chemical Lives. She then uses the next 26 chapters to make her case: Powerful chemicals in food, cosmetics and other products sicken countless people by causing mutations in DNA, the molecule that contains our genetic code—while the government agencies charged with protecting us act as a “paper tiger without teeth.”

Frompovich not only has a knack for making the heavy science involved in Our Chemical Lives comprehensible to the average reader but also lightens what could be a depressing read with a basically optimistic outlook. “I believe a transformation can take place if we want it to,” she says.

“The first step begins with educating ourselves about the possibilities of what can happen if we don’t change our chemical lives.” (You can obtain the book and sign the Consumers Toxin-free Bill of Rights by visiting Frompovich’s website; see above.) —Lisa James

 

LOSE ANGER, GAIN PEACE

Radical Forgiveness

By Colin Tipping

SOUNDS TRUE (www.soundstrue.com), 364 PAGES, $16.95

Anger over wrongs, real or perceived, is a universal human condition—we have all felt betrayed at one time or another. And while the old adage “to err is human, to forgive divine” may be true no one will claim it’s easy, even though research indicates that being able to forgive and move on can promote emotional and physical well-being.

Colin Tipping, who has been giving forgiveness workshops for nearly 20 years, knows something about that vast sea of pain. “I have heard enough horror stories,” he writes in Radical Forgiveness, “to convince me that there is not a human being on the planet who has not been seriously victimized at least once, and in minor ways more times than they could count.” Founder of the Institute for Radical Forgiveness Therapy and Coaching in Atlanta (www.radicalforgiveness.com), Tipping has created a program based on telling the story of your life—and then telling it anew after being transformed by what he calls “spiritual intelligence.”

Radical Forgiveness opens with a chapter showing Tipping’s plan in action. This case study, in which Tipping helps his sister resolve a marital crisis, gives the reader an immediate sense of how radical forgiveness works. The next two parts of the book explain this concept in detail; basically Tipping says that we are spiritual beings who have been sent to a classroom—the world around us—to learn how to return to the unity from which we all came. This point of view sees suffering as a necessary step. “At the soul level, we get precisely what we need in our lives for our spiritual growth,” Tipping writes. Part of this process involves attracting other people into our lives, through the Law of Resonance, who help us work through our issues without anyone being conscious of that fact. For example, if you fear abandonment, you’ll tend to attract people who leave you.

In the last part of the book, Tipping explains how to put Radical Forgiveness into action. First you tell your story (“My father abandoned me, and now my husband is threatening to leave me”) to someone who honors it compassionately. Then you allow yourself to feel the feelings that story generates (“I feel scared and lonely when someone I love leaves”). You then collapse your story by re-examining the beliefs it created (“My father abandoned me, so all men will abandon me”); and reframe it by shifting your perceptions (“I don’t have to keep being a victim”). Finally, you integrate your new knowledge into the old story (“I can forgive my husband whether he leaves or not”). Worksheets are provided to help you work through the process yourself.

Tipping calls radical forgiveness “a way for each of us, both individually and collectively, to make a significant difference in the world.” But before we can change the world we must change ourselves. Radical Forgiveness provides a blueprint for that often painful, but crucial, transformation. —Lisa James

 

 

HEALTHY DECADENCE
The Healing Powers of Chocolate

By Cal Orey

KENSINGTON (www.kensingtonbooks.com), 302 PAGES, $14.00

In mid-February, a young (or not-so-young) girl’s thoughts turn to…chocolate. Running neck-and-neck with a rose bouquet as the most popular Valentine’s Day gift ever, this seductive sweet is a well-known ladies’ favorite. (That explains the presence of refrigerator magnets which proclaim, “Promise me anything but give me chocolate.”) The reports that first surfaced several years ago of chocolate actually being good for you (in reasonable amounts, of course) was a female dream come true.

And the news regarding chocolate and health keeps getting better. That’s the premise of The Healing Powers of Chocolate, a compendium of just about everything you would want to know on the subject. Along with remedies, recipes and resources, author Cal Orey provides an overview of the substances that give chocolate—specifically, the dark variety—its antioxidant, heart-healthy and immune-supporting properties. When used as part of an overall healthy diet, dark chocolate can aid in keeping a diet on track as well as helping to control blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It can also help protect the hearts of people who have diabetes; chocolate’s flavonols “seem to make the arteries expand—and this will help lessen the risk of heart disease that often comes with type 2 diabetes,” Orey says. Other chapters in the book cover topics such as chocolate’s history, its use in beauty regimens and a rundown of chocolate types and terms, along with discussions of other healthy foods, such as nuts, that work well with chocolate.

“I’ll show you, page by page, how this ancient ‘food of the gods’ can be your best friend,” Orey writes in the preface to The Healing Powers of Chocolate. The rest of the book lives up to that claim—and should claim a place on every chocoholic’s bookshelf. —Lisa James

 

 

FROM HELPLESSNESS TO HOPE

Watchful Eyes: A Caregiver’s Companion

By Sheila Singleton


iUNIVERSE (www.iuniverse.com/Bookstore), 120 PAGES

eyes

In study after study, caregivers—people who, with no medical training, help loved ones deal with serious health issues—often suffer physical and emotional harm themselves. Feelings of loss and depression, grinding fatigue, social withdrawal, poor dietary habits and work difficulties have all been recognized as signs of caregiver burnout.

A number of books have been written to guide caregivers through the perils they face. One of the most down-to-earth, yet heart-wrenching, examples of this growing genre is Watchful Eyes. “My fifteen-year-old sister tried to commit suicide by attempting to jump off a tenth-floor terrace after our mother died in 1974,” writes Sheila Singleton in the book’s first sentence. Singleton became a caregiver early when, at age 25, she took Nancy, her mentally ill sister, into her home to live with Singleton’s family of two children and a husband who “wanted nothing to do with [Nancy’s] ‘crazy problems.’”

Watchful Eyes shows how Singleton rose to the challenge of caring for Nancy, who was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia. Each chapter concludes with one or more insights, bits of wisdom that Singleton has gleaned from her experiences. One example: “When caring for a sick person, you must take an objective look into yourself. Make sure you are ready to take on the task of caregiving in a nonthreatening and positive way.” The last chapter is aimed squarely at caregivers who neglect their own health. “It is not so easy to focus on your wellness while you’re busy caring for a sick relative,” Singleton writes, “but it is important for you to be attentive to the warning signals your body sends.” Appendices and a bibliography provide additional information.

Caring for Nancy led Singleton to a new calling as a licensed social worker. You may not go that far in your efforts to help someone you love. But Watchful Eyes provides the kind of thoughtful, I’ve-been-there advice that can help you be a good caregiver without burning out. (To order this book, go to the website above and type “Watchful Eyes” into the search engine, top right.) —Lisa James

 

Books for Healthy Eating

The new year no doubt will see the release of troves of diet and health books, but there are plenty that have come out in 2009 and earlier that are worth another look--or a first look if you missed them the first time around. We've identified a few that will help you take care of yourself and those you care about.

gourmet

Gourmet Today:

More than 1000 All-New Recipes for the
Contemporary Kitchen
 

Edited by Ruth Reichl  (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt),
1,024 pages, $40.

These recipes from Gourmet magazine editor in chief Ruth Reichl consider new healthy and conscientious consumer thinking. The book takes into account the rapidly accelerating farmers’ market movement. And though the book also aims to demystify cooking beef, a whole chapter is devoted to vegetarian main dishes like Roast Pumpkin with Cheese Fondue, Bean Burritos and Zucchini Curry. Reichl offers recipes and tips to expand your fish repertoire healthfully and sustainably. As Reichl notes, “Conspicuous consumption has become an embarrassment rather than a point of pride.”

allergen

The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook:

How to Bake Without Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts and Sesame

By Cybele Pascal
Celestial Arts (www.randomhouse.com/crown/tenspeed),
190 pages, $25.00

It seems that more people nowadays are allergic to one or more common foods. And all of them want to enjoy what they’re eating instead of simply enduring a bland, no-taste diet. If you or someone you love falls into this category, The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook will let you create muffins, cookies, cakes and other baked goods that are both tasty and good for you. Author Cybele Pascal—a food writer whose son suffers from food allergies—supports her 100 vegan recipes with chapters on stocking, and baking with, an allergen-free pantry. The book also includes a resource list for hard-to-find specialty items.

 

know how

I Know How to Cook

By Ginette Mathiot (Phaidon Press) 976 pages, $45

Considered the bible of French cooking, this volume was first published in 1932 and is just now available in English. Considering the early era in which her book was first published, Mathiot was remarkably forward-thinking in considering the deeper values that go into cooking and consuming food. “In modern times,” she writes, “as the science behind food becomes better known—sometimes to the exclusion of simple pleasures—our diet is too often left to habit and prejudice, or depends on chance or whim. But knowing how to provide food for yourself is a science thst cannot be neglected without harming your health and your family budget.” Again, it’s a general and thorough cookbook, with loads of meat and poultry recipes, but you’ll relish Mathiot’s many delicious sauces, vegetables and salads.

how to cook

How to Cook Everything

(Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition),
2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food

By Mark Bittman (Wiley) 1,056 pages, $35.

 

how to cook

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian:

Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food

By Mark Bittman (Wiley) 1,024 pages, $35.

 

how to cook

Food Matters:

A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes

By Mark Bittman (Simon & Schuster) 336 pages, $25.

An avid home cook for more than 40 years, New York Times food writer Mark Bittman has gained popularity for his book How to Cook Everything, published in 1998, and other works. Keeping up with the times and the increasingly popular trend to eat for health and sustainably, Bittman followed up with How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food in 2007 and Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes in late 2008. With the thorough, recipe-rich How to… books, in particular, you’ll be hard-pressed to feel the need to pick up another cookbook, and the original is available in a revised 10th anniversary edition whose graphics make it more user-friendly. There are plenty of healthy dishes in that first volume, too.

 

 

JOYFUL BY DESIGN
Emotional Wisdom:
Daily Tools for Transforming Anger, Depression and Fear

By Mantak Chia and Dena Saxer

NEW WORLD LIBRARY (www.newworldlibrary.com), 224 PAGES, $14.95

Anger. Depression. Fear. Most of us try as hard as we can to keep these dark feelings at bay. At the very least, we tolerate them as necessary evils. But what if instead of turning away from negative emotions we tuned into them, listening carefully to the life-changing messages they might contain?

Turning joy-sapping lemons into wellness lemonade is the approach recommended by the authors of Emotional Wisdom. Drawing on the Tao, the ancient philosophy that supports Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Mantak Chia and Dena Saxer believe that these feelings “tell us that something is out of balance and needs to be changed.” According to Chia and Saxer, no emotion is “good” or “bad” in and of itself. Each is simply a form of the energy that permeates all creation, and as such can be put to use in helping both body and mind achieve harmony and well-being.

The heart of Emotional Wisdom is the second part; in it each chapter deals with a different set of emotions, explaining the messages these feelings signal and how they affect the TCM organ system before giving advice on how to resolve them. In the chapter on sadness and depression, for example, Chia and Saxer address the different sources of these emotions—the death of a loved one, the loss of a business or a relationship, the loneliness that permeates modern life. They suggest grieving setbacks deeply and sincerely but to not linger in them; as the authors put it, “Since life is finite, we’d best concentrate on what is truly important to us.” Chia and Saxer then show how sadness and depression affect the body by settling into the lungs and large intestine, where they can produce ailments that include frequent respiratory infections and constipation. Food is the first line of defense in TCM, so Chia and Saxer recommend foods that can promote healing. For example, “fall is the season when our lungs and large intestine are working the hardest,” they write. “Fruits that ripen primarily in the fall, such as grapes, persimmons, apples and pears, are excellent for these organs.” In addition to food, chapters in this part discuss such paths to healing as color therapy and specific exercises. Other parts of the book provide an overview of the Tao, instructions on how to use healing sounds and an emotional picker-upper Chia and Saxer call “the Inner Smile,” and ways to release resistant emotions.

According to the authors, Emotional Wisdom provides “concise, accessible formulas for releasing the toxins of anger, sadness, fear or anxiety.” If you have been dogged by these powerful—but potentially transformative—emotions, you may find this book helpful.—Lisa James

 

 

THE SKINNY ON BODY FAT
The Brown Fat Revolution:
Trigger Your Body’s Good Fat to Lose Weight and Be Healthier

By James R. Lyons, MD

St. Martin’s Press (www.stmartins.com), 276 PAGES, $24.99

Fat has undergone quite an evolution over the past two decades. At first it was always bad, bad in the body and bad on the plate. Then we learned that some kinds of dietary fat, most notably the omega-3 fatty acids, were actually good for you. Now we are learning that body fat isn’t always a bad thing, either. Scientists have recently discovered a difference between yellow fat, the stuff that pads middles and hangs from arms, and brown fat—a type that burns excess calories instead of storing them.

In a world in which every dietary discovery winds up in the bookstores, it’s no surprise that someone has seized upon the brown-fat phenomenon as the basis of a new diet. In this case it is James Lyons, MD, Connecticut plastic surgeon and author of The Brown Fat Revolution, who says that fat composition is associated with age. “Brown fat is typical of youthful curves and excellent nutrition and health,” he writes. “Yellow fat is typical of age and poor nutrition; it creates the characteristic face and body shapes that we associate with aging.” Taking its color from a rich supply of blood vessels, brown fat is compact and firmly bound to surrounding bodily structures. In contrast, the yellow type is loosely bound by overstretched connective tissue, which gives it a blobby look and texture.

In the first part of his book Lyons lays out the science behind brown fat, showing how the changeover from brown fat to yellow accounts for such outward signs of age as facial wrinkles and flabby thighs. He also explains how these changes stem from the effect brown/yellow fat balances has on hormonal levels, especially the hormonal changes women go through as the pass through their thirties and forties into their fifties.

The second and third parts of Brown Fat Revolution provide eating and exercise plans, respectively, designed to raise your metabolism so that the yellow fat is burned off, leaving only the brown variety behind. Lyons believes in eating six times a day to “keep your metabolism on an even keel,” especially before and after workouts. However, the most distinctive diet recommendation in this book is that you eat carbohydrates and proteins on alternative days. As a result “insulin will be evenly secreted in your body,” according to Lyons, which he says will translate into more fat being metabolized—with fewer cases of the raging munchies. To make things easier for the reader, specific meal plans are provided. Lyons’ exercise program focuses on core strength developed through use of bungee cords and hand weights; again, detailed, day-by-day plans make the program easier to follow.

“Good brown fat is transformative,” says Lyons. If such a transformation interests you, you should check out The Brown Fat Revolution.—Lisa James

 

ESCAPING THE SELF-DOUBT TRAP

Think Confident, Be Confident:

A Four-Step Program to Eliminate Doubt and Achieve Lifelong Self-Esteem

By Leslie Sokol, PhD and Marci G. Fox, PhD

PERIGEE (www.perigeebooks.com), 240 PAGES, $14.95

A life without self-confidence is a life filled with “should’ve, could’ve, would’ve”: jobs not taken, relationships not pursued, dreams not fulfilled. The good news, according to the authors of Think Confident, Be Confident, is that such self-assurance isn’t just an inborn gift. “Doubt is a needless barrier to success,” say psychologists Leslie Sokol and Marci Fox. They have based their book on cognitive therapy, the idea that you can change your emotions (and the behaviors they trigger) by changing your thinking patterns.

As the subtitle indicates, the authors’ program is divided into four steps. The first, “Label It,” helps the reader determine where doubt comes from and how it influences one’s self-image. In “Question It,” the reader learns how to check doubt against reality—“It’s time to put that logical part of your brain back in the driver’s seat and stop accepting doubt as irrefutable evidence,” according to the authors—and how to let go of the distortions in perception that doubt produces. “Rethink It” contains advice on how to form healthier thinking patterns and live without self-doubt. The final part, “Take Action,” shows the reader how to put the lessons learned in previous sections to use in the real world. Throughout the book Sokol and Fox use bulleted lists, quizzes and self-analytical tools to keep the reader moving smartly through the program.

If doubt and a lack of self-confidence have kept you from living the life you’ve always wanted, take heart. Think Confident, Be Confident can help turn frustration into fruition. —Lisa James

 

 

FIGHTING CANCER WITH A FORK
The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen:
Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery

By Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson

CELESTIAL ARTS (www.tenspeed.com), 222 PAGES, $32.50

While cancer continues to strike millions of Americans each year, it is important to remember the progress we’ve made in what was once called “the war on cancer.” For one thing, we know more than we ever did of how malignancies start, develop and spread. We also know that cancer isn’t just a random calamity born of faulty genetics—that a healthy lifestyle can do a great deal to help reduce one’s cancer risk.

However, perhaps the biggest sign of progress is the fact that there are millions of Americans who are surviving encounters with what was once thought of as an invariably fatal disease. It is to those people that The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen is addressed. Working with what she calls “the power of yum,” author Rebecca Katz (www.rebeccakatz.com)—nutrition educator at Commonweal's Cancer Help Program in Bolinas, California—believes that food can be both therapeutic and tasty. To that end she tells the reader which of the book’s 150 recipes are best suited for which therapy side effects, such as fatigue or nausea, and gives advice on menu planning for chemotherapy.

(Many people experience a metallic taste in their mouths when undergoing treatment; this troublesome side effect rates its own section in the chapter.) In addition to providing nutrition information for each recipe, Katz also gives prep/cook times and storage tips, a thoughtful touch for people whose energy levels can fluctuate throughout treatment. The recipes themselves lean heavily on fresh produce and spices, making them healthy for both cancer patients and their families—and making the book a valuable resource for anyone looking to reduce their risk of either recurrent or first-time cancer.

“Think of this book as a toolbox, full of great ideas that can entice you to eat with a minimum of stress in the kitchen,” writes Katz. If you or someone you love is battling this tough, tenacious illness, you’ll want to use every tool The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen provides.—Lisa James


Creamy Millet

2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup water
1 cup millet*, rinsed well
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp allspice
3/4 cup almond milk (can substitute soy or rice milk)
1/4 tsp orange zest
1 tbsp unrefined virgin coconut oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
*Millet is a nutritious, small-seeded grain popular in arid parts of Africa, China and India.

Topping
Blueberry Compote (see below)
2 tbsp toasted slivered almonds

  1. Bring the orange juice and water to a boil in a small saucepan, then stir in the millet, salt and spices. Once it returns to a gentle boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
  2. Pour in the almond milk and stir until incorporated, breaking up any clumps of millet (which should be soft and have the consistency of oatmeal). Stir in the orange zest, coconut oil and maple syrup. Serve topped with the compote and almonds.

Serves 4. Analysis per serving: 355 calories, 8g protein, 8.4g fat (3.5g saturated), 7g fiber,
64g carbohydrates, 330 mg sodium

Reprinted with permission from The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery. Copyright © 2009 by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, Celestial Arts, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA. Photo Credit: Leo Gong

 

Blueberry Compote

1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
1 tsp freshly squeezed orange or lemon juice
1 tsp orange or lemon zest
1 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp ground ginger

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture bubbles, pulls away from the side of the pan and becomes syrupy.

Makes 1 1/4 cups. Analysis per serving: 30 calories, 0g protein, 0.4g fat (0g saturated), 2g fiber, 8g carbohydrates, 0 mg sodium

Reprinted with permission from The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen

 

JOYFUL TALES OF CHANGE
The Secret Pleasures of
Menopause Playbook


By Christiane Northrup, MD

HAY HOUSE, 222 PAGES, $15.95

When you were 15, your mother was hopelessly out of touch.

Secretly, perhaps, you admired her. You might have even wanted to be like her someday. But when you were 15, you were certain that your mother was the most un-hip person in the world.
When you were 15, 45 seemed so old.

Don’t you wish you could tell your former 15-year-old self a thing or two? By now, you’ve conquered 45 and beyond; you are seasoned and more experienced, and life is good. But it’s always informative to see how other women have learned to embrace midlife. That’s the subject of The Secret Pleasures of Menopause Playbook by Christiane Northrup, MD, a recognized authority on women’s health.

Northrup, whose books include Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause, says she has been surprised and pleased at the number of personal stories readers have sent her. These stories have been “touching and creative,” she says, “from women who definitely saw midlife as the start of the absolute best years of their lives.” She adds, “Their stories prove that the pursuit of pleasure is hardly an indulgence; it’s a life-affirming necessity!”

To live passionate and joyful lives, Northrup claims, women should learn to bring more nitric oxide into their lives. Not to be confused with nitrous oxide, the stuff your dentist uses, nitric oxide is a natural molecule that Northrup believes helps your body to stay healthy and thus, happy. “It literally resets your power grid,” she says.

According to Northrup, there are six ways to maximize nitric oxide: Associate yourself with positive people; eat well, exercise and watch your weight; take pride in yourself; move forward, not backward; realize that you are what you believe you are; and know that sex and health go hand-in-hand.

Search “nitric oxide” online and you might be a little skeptical about the idea of maximizing this substance by doing good things for yourself. But what Northrup herself writes isn’t where the real joy in this book lies; the best parts are the stories that she includes.

The Secret Pleasures of Menopause Playbook is filled with short testimonies from women in their forties, fifties, sixties and beyond who embrace the six tenets that Northrup advocates. Following each chapter are lined pages for you to add your own thoughts, the challenges you want to overcome and the commitments you will make for your future.

The tales in this book are told by women who have survived, thrived and learned to embrace this time of their lives. They’ve “found” exercise, stopped dying their hair, practiced gratitude, gone back to school, discovered a passionate side, become comfortable with their bodies and learned to let go of anger. They’ve found joy and peace in midlife. What’s not to love about that?

If you’re feeling blue, feeling old or think menopause means a fast-forward to misery, read The Secret Pleasures of Menopause Playbook. It’s not your mother’s change-of-life tome.
—Terri Schlichenmeyer

 

 

HOMESPUN VEGETARIAN
The Healing Patch Cookbook:
A Gentle Transition from
Cooked to Raw Foods


By Julie Cara Hoffenberg and Sarah Woodward

HEALING PATCH PUBLISHING, 134 PAGES, $20.00

Sometimes the most difficult part of adopting a new way of eating is getting started. You want to cut down on your sugar intake, or eat more fresh food instead of packaged, or keep an eye on your calorie count…but taking that first step can be a little intimidating. One of the biggest dietary jumps of all is when a standard omnivore/carnivore tries to go vegetarian. And the stakes are even higher when the target diet is not only vegan—no food of any kind from animal sources—but raw as well.

The authors of The Healing Patch Cookbook, who operate an online seed store and blog of the same name (www.rawhealingpatch.com), understand those concerns. They’ve made that difficult transition themselves, coming from totally different directions. Julie Hoffenberg got hooked on the raw vegetarian lifestyle after working seven years in the natural health field. Sarah Woodward’s switch in diet was made under more dire circumstances: She has survived a bout of ovarian cancer.

The Healing Patch Cookbook holds up the “cookbook” part of its title with a number of tasty-sounding recipes, all thoughtfully labeled “cooked vegetarian,” “raw vegetarian” or “raw vegan.” And the authors provide lists of kitchen staples and recommended readings, along with a ton of useful tips.

But this playful, deeply personal book also serves as a reflection of Hoffenberg and Woodward’s belief that “[t]here is no one, specific way to be a vegetarian.” They encourage you to find your path to healthy raw vegetarian eating by becoming aware of how and why you eat the way you do. “Food relationships are important to analyze,” the authors write. “They help us decipher why we have cravings and addictions.” You might not become a raw vegan. But if The Healing Patch Cookbook helps you understand and change your dietary patterns, it will have been worth your while.
—Lisa James

 

Touch Not That Tuna Sandwich

Tuna: Love, Death and Mercury

By Richard Ellis

VINTAGE, 346 PAGES, $16.00

Tuna: For most Americans, the word conjures up images of tins filled with the stuff of lunch-hour sandwiches. But behind those little cans lies a world in which big business, deep ecology and dietary preferences meet—and often clash.

Marine artist and author Richard Ellis explores this world in Tuna: Love, Death and Mercury. He says that bluefin, one of the largest and most desirable tuna species, went from being scorned as trash fish at the turn of the previous century to being a commercial and sport-fishing favorite at the turn of this one. Thanks to commercial practices such as long-lining, in which 100-mile lines support thousands of hooks, along with modern transportation and refrigeration capacities, bluefin is now prized in Japan for use in sashimi; individual specimens command hundreds of dollars a pound at auction in Tokyo’s fish markets. And tuna’s impressive protein and omega-3 levels have put it on the plates of health-minded diners the world over.

There lies the rub. Among bluefins, “North Atlantic breeding populations are estimated to have gone down about 90%,” says Ellis. Equally disturbing is the problem of mercury contamination. As large predators, tuna accumulate concentrations of this metal within their flesh and Ellis tells the story of several individuals who suffered from mercury poisoning after eating tuna-heavy diets. Complicating matters has been the growth of the tuna industry—and the lobbying groups designed to protect that industry’s interests, which, as Ellis shows, don’t always coincide with the interests of either the tuna or fish-eating humans.

“I have concluded that there really is no ‘safe’ level of mercury, and I’m going to stop eating tuna,” says Ellis in the book’s epilogue. Tuna: Love, Death and Mercury may not get you to forgo tuna, but it will give you something to think about as you reach for another little can on the supermarket shelf.

 

The Inexpressible Under a Microscope

The Blissful Brain:
Neuroscience and Proof of the Power of Meditation

By Shanida Nataraja, PhD

GAIA, 238 PAGES, $12.99


Beauty and the Soul:

The Extraordinary Power of Everyday Beauty to Heal Your Life

By Piero Ferrucci

TARCHER, 304 PAGES, $22.95


Once upon a time, there was no division between “conventional” and “holistic” medicine—if you were sick you sought healing without wondering if the difficulty emanated from your body or your mind.

Then science arose as a way to explain the world, and through its prism human beings were split into three wavelengths: physical, mental and spiritual. The physical dimension, amenable to graphs and charts, came to dominate the discussion. But even as scientific medicine became ever more skilled at repairing the body’s many ills, the human heart still craved wholeness and healing that went beyond what the laboratory could offer.

Today the same scientific method that downplayed mind and spirit has finally developed technology sensitive enough to track the invisible world within. In The Blissful Brain, British medical writer Shanida Nataraja, who combines a neurophysiology background with a personal yoga practice, explores this connection between internal mystic experience and external logic.

Nataraja explains how meditation, a practice designed to promote a more profound level of understanding, leaves measurable changes in the brain. Working from brain-wave studies and other types of research, she presents evidence of differences in the ways meditators and non-meditators process information, coming to the conclusion that we are all “hard-wir[ed]…to experience both higher states of consciousness and an all-pervading unity that can be equated to God.” What’s more, Nataraja argues that mediation further fosters well-being by dampening the stress response, reducing the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, counteracting addictions and allowing for a healthier emotional life.

If there’s something ultimately indescribable about the inner experience of meditation, at least there are ways to quantify its results. Pining down the effects of beauty—a concept that’s even more subjective—would seem nearly impossible. But in Beauty and the Soul, Italian psychotherapist Piero Ferrucci claims that beauty goes far beyond that which is aesthetically pleasing. “At its highest, beauty…shakes us, confronts us, transforms us,” he says. “Our obsolete beliefs vanish…[o]ur old self dies, the new one comes to light.” Ferrucci goes on to explain the underpinnings of what we mean by beauty: The effects of social pressure, the importance of spontaneity, the passion of creativity. He then discusses ways that the reader can access beauty as a path to both deep happiness and—like meditation—a transcendent connection to ultimate reality.—Lisa James

 

The Heart of the Matter

The 10 Best Questions for Recovering from a Heart Attack:
T
he Script You Need to Take Control of Your Health

By Dede Bonner, PhD

FIRESIDE BOOKS, 288 PAGES, $15.00


It happens twice every single minute of the day: Someone in the US suffers a heart attack. For some victims, it is the first and final sign that something is—was—terribly amiss. But thanks to advances in emergency response and treatment, more and more Americans are surviving their heart attacks. Question is, what happens after the crisis is over?


Finding an answer requires asking more questions, according to Dede Bonner, PhD, the author of The 10 Best Questions for Recovering from a Heart Attack. “The most important questions are often the ones you didn’t know to ask,” says Bonner, an Australian management consultant who specializes in coming up with insightful questions for her corporate clients, at the book’s beginning. She then brings her inquiry expertise to bear in four crucial areas: Talking to the practitioner, choosing treatments, making lifestyle changes and thinking about the future.


The 10 Best Questions is a slight misnomer. Each area actually gets its own section of chapters, with each chapter containing 10 questions apiece plus a “Magic Question,” which Bonner describes as the “one great question that even smart people rarely think to ask.” Some of the queries seem almost simplistic—the first one is “Did I have a heart attack? How do you know for sure?”—until you realize that heart attacks come in many varieties other than the stereotypical crushing-chest-pain model. Other questions—such as “What is my ejection fraction?”—give Bonner an opportunity to explain medical concepts in a straightforward, this-is-why-it’s-important manner. The chapters cover an impressive range of topics, including cardiac rehab, alternative treatments, healthy eating, the financial ramifications of chronic illness and communicating with one’s partner about the relationship issues that heart disease often brings to light. (The sensitive subject of post-attack sexual relations rates 10 questions of its own.) Each chapter includes a resource list.


Getting past the immediate crisis is just the first step to recovery. The 10 Best Questions for Recovering from a Heart Attack is designed to help cardiac patients go from surviving to thriving.—Lisa James

 

Life’s Gentle Beginnings

Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering:
A Doctor’s Guide to Natural Childbirth and Gentle Early Parenting Choices

By Sarah J. Buckley, MD

CELESTIAL ARTS, 348 PAGES, $16.95

Helping Baby Sleep:
The Science and Practice of Gentle Bedtime Parenting

By Anni Gethin, PhD and Beth Macgregor

CELESTIAL ARTS, 224 PAGES, $15.95

In today’s increasingly interconnected world, new parents have plenty of Internet resources on accelerating their baby’s development in terms of motor skills, intelligence and sociability; as one website tagline puts it, “Stimulate the little genius in your arms!” But if there truly is a season for everything, then it certainly seems that infancy should be as much about quietude and tenderness as it is about sound and motion.

That’s the premise of two books from Celestial Arts. Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering is by Sarah J. Buckley, MD, an Australian family physician who has written extensively on pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. In the book’s first part, “Gentle Birth,” Buckley says the emphasis on childbirth as medical procedure needs to be balanced against “the personal impact of birth for mothers, babies, fathers and families.” She expands on that statement through chapters that discuss such matters as proper pre-birth tests and whether to use epidurals during labor, interspersed with descriptions of home-birthing her four children. Buckley’s main message: Listen to your doctor, but don’t discount your own instincts.

In the book’s second part, “Gentle Mothering,” Buckley focuses on the infant’s need for the kind of warm emotional attachment that fosters not only optimal brain development but also a child’s ability to form secure relationships in the future. She is a strong proponent of breastfeeding as a source of physical nourishment for baby and emotional nourishment for both child and mother; again she writes of her own breastfeeding experiences. Buckley also dedicates a chapter to “cosleeping,” any arrangement in which a child and caregiver sleep close enough together so that the baby’s needs can be easily met, that includes 10 safe-cosleeping tips.

Promoting proper slumber for little ones is the subject of Helping Baby Sleep by Anni Gethin PhD, a health social scientist with special interests in early childhood development, and Beth Macgregor, a psychologist who trains health and welfare workers in infant mental health. Mothers themselves, Gethin and Macgregor believe that sleep training—which involves teaching independence at bedtime by letting kids cry themselves to sleep—can be a source of lasting stress and anxiety for a young child. In Helping Baby Sleep, the authors build a case for “responsive parenting” by explaining why babies wake in the night (and why they need their parents nearby) and providing ways to develop a “baby-friendly” bedtime routine. Gethin and Macgregor also present a chapter on why parents need to take care of their own needs so that they can more fully attend to the needs of their children. (This book is scheduled for release in August; to place an early order, contact Random House customer service at csorders@randomhouse.com or 800-793-2665).—Lisa James

 

Second Spring:
Dr. Mao’s Hundreds of Natural Secrets for Women to
Revitalize and Regenerate at Any Age

By Dr. Maoshing Ni

Free Press, 349 pages, $17.99

To the Chinese, middle age and menopause are graced with optimism. The latter part of a woman’s life is a new season to be relished and is filled with potential. Eased out of the responsibilities of birthing and raising a child, women are free to come into their own. The Chinese refer to this midlife transition as a second spring.

That also happens to be the title of an insightful new book on aging by Maoshing Ni, PhD, DOM, Lac, a 38th generation doctor of traditional Chinese medicine who teaches and practices in the Los Angeles area and counts Sheryl Crow, Debbie Allen and Arianna Huffington among his clients.

For Dr. Mao, as he is well known, the natural healing methods of Chinese culture are deeply personal. An almost deadly accident as a child introduced him to tai chi and qigong to help him rehabilitate, paving the road to his pursuit of a life in healing. His mother’s transformation in the second half of her life inspired “Second Spring.”

In “Second Spring” (Free Press), the occasional health tip that you’ve heard before rears its head. Parking a few blocks from work or taking the stairs to fit some exercise into a busy day is one such recognizable tip. But for each tip that has the familiar ring of common sense, many more are practical, fresh distillations of traditional Chinese practices that have been millennia in the making.

Among these are healing self-massage techniques, visualization meditations and simple qi gong exercises to help relieve pain. To help prevent wrinkles and provide a non-surgical face lift, Dr. Mao, a board certified anti-aging specialist with the American Board of Anti-Aging Health Practitioners, offers instruction on facial gymnastics.

“Second Spring” mirrors the format of Dr. Mao’s “Secrets of Longevity”—quick, page-long tips that are easily digestible. A reference in the back of “Second Spring” details specific ailments and points to pages that cite their remedies. Chinese club moss can help fight memory loss, chasteberry supplements can help control hot flashes and “Second Spring” just may be what the doctor ordered for easing you into that next glorious phase of your life.—Allan Richter

 

Food Books That
Explore Beyond the Table

Almost Meatless
By Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond
Ten Speed Press, 208 pages, $22.50

Simple Food for Busy Families: The Whole Life Nutrition Approach
By Jeanette Bessinger, CHHC, and Tracee Yablon-Brenner, RD, CHHC
Celestial Arts, 244 pages, $19.95

Edible: An Illustrated Guide to the World’s Food Plants
National Geographic Books, 360 pages, $40.00

Gillian McKeith’s Food Bible: How to Use Food to Cure What Ails You
By Gillian McKeith
Plume, 397 pages, $20.00

Food doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is associated with culture, celebration, social status, lifestyle and more—and several new food books are gateways to some of these larger issues. Two volumes, for instance, concern themselves primarily with creating a healthy table but also serve as lifestyle guides during tough economic times. After all, physical health and fiscal well-being are often related: Cutting back on meat, particularly the red variety, has been a tenet of both heart-healthy diets and cost-conscious consumers for years.

Some people prefer to omit meat from their diets entirely. Anyone who finds the adjustment to a vegetarian lifestyle too abrupt, however, will probably find comfort in the recipes in Almost Meatless (Ten Speed Press) by former vegan Joy Manning and unabashed meat eater Tara Matarazza Desmond. Its recipes sacrifice neither flavor nor protein while minimizing pressure on the wallet.

Relishing the “palette of possibilities” beyond meat, Desmond writes that “night after night of the traditional American dinner—with a big piece of meat at the center of the plate—seems a waste of the terrific potential of so many other foods.” The authors make that case in one recipe after another.

In Manning and Desmond’s recipe for gourmet-style pizza with chicken, arugula pesto and sun-dried tomatoes, meat is more seasoning than centerpiece. Likewise for a barley pilaf stuffed squash that calls for a mere 4 ounces of sweet Italian sausage—this in a dish that serves four. In a burger recipe, ground beef is just a passenger along for the ride with black beans and bulgur. And in a dish incorporating the Italian sauce puttanesca, sliced eggplants and chicken breasts are equal partners.

To help lighten the grocery bill, Manning and Desmond identify less expensive cuts of meat. Pork shoulder, for example, doesn’t tug at the purse strings the way other cuts can; at the same time, it is tender and easily broken down into healthier, smaller portions.

Families tend to find themselves cocooning during recessions, and Simple Food for Busy Families: The Whole Life Nutrition Approach (Celestial Arts) is a practical guide for finding peace and health spending more time at home. As its subtitle suggests, Simple Food… is about how we nourish our minds as well as our bodies. To wit, authors Jeanette Bessinger, CHHC, and Tracee Yablon-Brenner, RD, CHHC, offer tips on spending quality family nights together—game and healthy pizza nights, for instance—with less computer and TV time.

Like Almost Meatless, Simple Food… encourages measured rather than drastic lifestyle changes. Gradually replace white foods like refined-wheat breads and pastas with higher quality sweet carbohydrates like quinoa and sprouted grain breads, for example. Introduce one new grain or bean item at a time, adding it to different meals throughout the week. If portions are too big, reduce them by 5% to 10% each week. And, if you must eat ground meat and cold cuts, trim fat and choose nitrate-free options.

These are remedies to what Bessinger and Yablon-Brenner call the Standard American Diet (SAD) Lifestyle, which they take to task throughout Simple Food… They make a strong case for consuming locally grown, seasonal foods and they simplify nutrition with explanations that make the subject digestible and relevant.

But what ultimately makes the tips and recipes in Simple Food… so accessible is the underlying idea that its approaches (like eating seasonal foods) are, in the words of the authors, attuned to “the natural rhythms of life.”

Simple Food… does a good job of concisely demystifying herbs, spices, leafy greens and various grains, but it’s tough to be as exhaustive as National Geographic’s Edible: An Illustrated Guide to the World’s Food Plants. Taking a multidimensional approach, Edible serves as food reference, history book and travel guide via the world’s vineyards and fields all in one volume.

True to National Geographic form, Edible is illustrated with rich color photographs—reds pop off a two-page spread of cherries, strawberries and cranberries—and historic illustrations and renderings. A photo of a French tapestry depicting a West Indian carrying a tropical fruit basket illustrates the confluence of European explorers with the New World, for example.

Such historical cultural mixes, often violent, are reminders of how various fusions of foods evolved over the centuries, culminating in the modern cuisine we know today. Edible also explores food storage and processing over the ages—at one point waxes were poured over roots to keep moisture in. Yet, through it all, the top three staples of the ancient world—wheat, rice and maize—have not only survived but retained their dominance in today’s diet.

An eight-chapter directory of some 250 edible food plants make up the bulk of the book, complete with historical origins (bay leaves were once strewn around the floor to enhance a home’s overall fragrance). But Edible’s most practical material comes buried near the end, in 11 pages of tables grading each plant for its nutritional value and detailing antioxidant levels and even a glycemic index. These tables alone may very well be worth Edible’s coffee-table book price, with its encyclopedic and colorful plant history as a bonus.

Rather than categorize healthful foods by type, Gillian McKeith’s Food Bible: How to Use Food to Cure What Ails You (Plume) takes the natural pharmacy approach. McKeith, a holistic nutritionist and host of the British television series “You Are What You Eat” (also on the BBC American network here), has laid out this handy reference guide by ailment.

The first half of Food Bible offers more of a food and health overview, with a particularly valuable chapter on how to nurture and nourish the body and mind at various stages of life. But McKeith shines in her pragmatic action plans and recommendations of herbs and supplements to tackle afflictions from abscesses to worms, while highlighting foods to avoid. Lung-strengthening herbs like astragalus, mucus expectorants such as mullein tea and anti-inflammatory vitamin C are recommended (among other remedies) for asthma, for example. Along with this counsel are fun bonus tips, like taking up singing to help improve lung capacity and oxygen flow “without conscious effort.”

Whether meal or snack, these books illustrate how food is much more than the sum of its ingredients.

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