Category Archives: Books

HAPPY HERBIVORE ABROAD – WINNER!!!

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The winner of the Happy Herbivore Abroad giveaway is…

ammauceri

If you are “ammauceri,” please e-mail your mailing address to gretchen (at) veggiegrettie (dot) com and I will have the publisher send the book to you ASAP.

Happy New Year and a big thank you to all who entered.

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My 80/10/10 Trial Update

I thought I would have a harder time following the 80/10/10 Diet for the week, however it really wasn’t difficult for me at all.  That being said, I did not follow Dr. Graham’s diet 100% since I did allow myself to eat fat-free cocoa powder, cinnamon, corn, yams and sweet potatoes.

My big take-away from the diet trial was that my body really thrived without grains.  Prior to this 80/10/10 Diet trial I had been experiencing some intestinal bloating and discomfort for a while and I have to say that I had NONE during the 80/10/10 trial.  I have to conclude that my body does not like grains.

I recently became quite attached to my stevia packets and decaf coffee and was looking forward to the trial to see if I could curtail those cravings.  I am happy to report that the diet trial accomplished just that.  While I have had coffee since then, It is now down to about once a week as a treat and my stevia consumption is way down as well.  While I do not think there is anything wrong with stevia per se, I don’t think it is good to have too much of a good thing either.

An observation I made during the trial was that my athletic performance did increase.  While I tend to be pretty strong and adept at pilates plus, there are a few moves that have proven to be difficult for me and at the end of the 80/10/10 week I was able to do some of those moves…I was shocked!  I also went on a run (something I haven’t done for months) on day 7 of the diet trial, and it was easy…so easy that I went twice as far as I originally planned on going.

As for the numbers, at the end of the week I was down 2.5 pounds (something I wasn’t trying to achieve) and also down 1% body fat.

All in all I felt great while eating my modified version of the 80/10/10 Diet.  I plan on continuing to live grain-free, but will continue to consume corn (some people consider that a grain), yams, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and legumes.

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BOOK REVIEW – EAT & RUN

Me & Scott Jurek at Natural Products Expo West

When the publisher of Scott Jurek’s memoir, Eat & Run, contacted me about reviewing his book I jumped at the chance.  I am in awe of Scott’s athletic accomplishments and couldn’t wait to read what I thought was going to be a book detailing the HOWS of his athletic prowess as the book’s title suggests.

What I didn’t expect was how personal Scott’s writing was going to be in Eat & Run.  This is truly a memoir, not a training guide (though he does share details about his training regimen).

I COULDN’T PUT THIS BOOK DOWN…

Scott was a boy who grew-up on the wrong side of the tracks in rural Minnesota and at a young age became a caretaker for his mother after she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, which inspired him to become a physical therapist.

It warmed my heart to read Scott write about his relationship with his mother.  His early memories of cooking in the kitchen with his mom and being so little that she needed to help him stir the big wooden spoon made me think of how my children and I are creating the same memories.  His cooking skills came in to play as he grew older and needed to help his mom by doing the family cooking after her diagnosis (his father worked multiple jobs).

Scott’s difficult upbringing taught him to persevere.  A phrase that was drilled into Scott’s head by his no-nonsense father plays on repeat and seems to be his life’s motto, “Don’t ask why.  Sometimes you just do things.”

The book takes you through Scott’s development from a boy who really didn’t like running, but did so in order to “condition” for the cross country ski team, to one of the most celebrated ultramarathon champions fueled exclusively by plants (he started his career fueled by McDonalds!).

One of my favorite aspects of the book is that each chapter is capped off with one of Scott’s favorite vegan recipes accompanied by details about how the recipe came to be.

I wholeheartedly recommend Eat & Run.  In the midst of laughter and tears brought about by wonderful friendships, love, financial ruin, the loss of his mother, divorce, and new love, you will begin to think that you too could become an ultramarathoner.

Afterall, Scott Jurek, the boy who hated running did it!

Click HERE to learn where you can buy Eat & Run

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BOOK REVIEW – The 80/10/10 Diet

Recently the publisher of Dr. Douglass Graham’s book, The 80/10/10 Diet (80% Carbohydrate / 10% Protein / 10% Fat) sent me a copy with the request to review it.  For years I had heard rumblings of the plan and the wild popularity of 80/10/10 forums, but hadn’t had the chance to properly research it and learn the details of the plan.

I found the book very interesting.  It is Dr. Graham’s contention that it is not natural for humans to eat meat.

Put a child in a room with a lamb and a banana.  Note which one he plays with and which one he eats.

I am sure that many of you have been presented with the biological evidence that humans were not designed to eat meat (our teeth are not sharp enough, our digestive tract is too long, our tongues are not rough, etc.), so Dr. Graham’s inclusion of that information within the book was not news to me, however much of the 3 pages of Humans vs. Carnivore evidence was evidence I had not yet heard.

Dr. Graham’s analogy below makes sense intuitively:

“We do not salivate at the idea of crushing the life out of a rabbit with our bare hands and teeth, and the thought of eating one in a freshly killed state is repulsive.  We certainly do not enjoy chewing on bones, gristle, entrails, chunks of raw fat and flesh, and the hair and vermin that inevitably accompany them.  We cannot imagine slurping hot blood, getting it all over our faces, hands, and bodies.  These behaviors are alien to our natural disposition…”

Dr. Graham believes that humans were designed to eat food in its natural state, food that naturally appeals to humans.  When we smell a ripe mango or peach at the peak of freshness, our mouths water…the same does not hold true for the carcass of a freshly killed animal.

“How does one determine the correct food for any given creature?…The answer is relatively simple…[O]ffer the creature different types of food in their whole natural state.  That which it was designed for, it would eat.  It would likely ignore all the other items, not even considering them as food.”

This leads us to wonder just what humans would eat if they were to find it in nature.  According to the example above, it would be food that requires very little (if any) preparation.  Our bodies also require simple sugars to function optimally.  With all of that in mind, Dr. Graham makes the case that humans were designed to subsist primarily on fruit.

According to Dr. Graham we were not designed to eat grass, weeds, leaves, stalks, and stems because we do not secrete the proper enzymes needed to digest these foods.  We do however possess what it takes to digest tender leafs and greens.

Then comes the subject of starches; grains (grass seeds), roots and tubers, and legumes.  Reading Dr. Graham’s book, Grain Damage, has been (and still is) on my “To Do List,” so it was fortunate for me that Dr. Graham touches on his dislike of grains within The 80/10/10 Diet.

Harkening back to his assertion that we were designed to eat foods in their natural state, Dr. Graham contends that grains “grow in a form that we can neither chew nor digest.”

Starchy roots and tubers grow below ground.  Most humans do not salivate at the thought of dirt like animals that grub for tubers do.  Many roots and tubers can certainly be eaten raw and I am a fan of raw jicama, carrots, yams, and beets (the naturally sweet roots and tubers), I have a much harder time wanting to eat raw potatoes, parsnips, turnips, and rutabagas.

When discussing legumes Dr. Graham states that “legumes in their mature state are indigestible and/or toxic to most mammals.”  I was not aware that mature legumes were “toxic” and need to research his assertion further.  I do however know from experience that if I do not soak legumes prior to cooking them I experience painful bloating and gas.  Even after soaking legumes it is common to experience gas on some level…which makes me wonder if his theory is true.

In the book Dr. Graham continues on and discusses his views on other food sources such as fermented foods and dairy along with nuts, seeds, and other high fat plants.

I want to quickly mention that within the book Dr. Graham goes into detail about the fact that most raw foodists in his opinion rely on fat heavily in their diet.  I share his opinion that most raw food diets are HEAVY in natural plant fats and that aspect of their diet is not healthy and will in fact result in an increase in one’s body fat percentage which is generally undesirable…most people want to reduce their body fat, not increase it.

Ultimately it is Dr. Grahams opinion that humans are what he calls Frugivores and our optimal diet would consist primarily of fruit with the addition of tender leaves and greens which “[P]rovide minerals and other nutrients essential essential for optimum nutrition and health.”

Since reading The 80/10/10 Diet I have attempted to avoid grains and have been really happy with the results.  After eliminating grains for 2 weeks I had some rice with dinner and experienced painful bloating within 20-30 minutes.  I was shocked by how quickly my body reacted to eating brown rice.

Since I tend to see my body as an experiment of sorts and I am always trying to find the ultimate formula for it to run as efficiently as possible, I am interested in trying the 80/10/10 Diet.  My hesitation in doing so is that this diet is so different than that of my immediate family.  I enjoy “sharing” meals with them and fear that eating the 80/10/10 way would diverge from their meals so drastically.

While Dr. Graham suggests that people give the 80/10/10 diet a 1 year trial, I plan on starting by giving it a shorter trial when my children go to visit their Auntie.  I am interested in seeing the results.  If I like the results then I am confident I can follow the plan for breakfast and lunch (which I have been doing for the most part since reading the book) with some modifications to my dinner meal.

I will most definitely report back with the results.  I have read many accounts of the diet’s followers improving their athletic performance and recovery and I can’t wait to see if I share their experience athletically.  Dr. Graham is a specimen of athletic ability and he is not a kid anymore (he will be 60 in March 2013)!!!

Along the same lines this diet is purported to help lower body fat percentage while maintaining lean muscle mass.  Since eating the 80/10/10 diet for breakfast and lunch my personal body fat percentage has dropped 2%.  I will of course track my body fat percentage when I do the 80/10/10 Diet one week trial.

In theory Dr. Graham’s book makes sense to me.  I am excited to put the plan into practice…even if it is for only one week.  While Dr. Graham is a believer in raw foods, with my thyroid issues, any cruciferous vegetables that I eat will be cooked.

Here is the quick break-down of the diet –

  • 90-97% sweet and non-sweet fruits
  • 2-6% tender, leafy greens and celery
  • 0-8% from everything else (other vegetables like cabbage, and broccoli, plus fatty fruits, nuts, and seeds)

Have any of you attempted eating this way?   If it is a consideration for you, I recommend reading the book because it goes into great detail about the plan, provides sample meals, recipes, and other necessary resources.

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Click HERE to read Dr. Graham’s interview with Chic Vegan.

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BOOK REVIEW – SANCTUARY: Portraits of Rescued Farm Animals

Our family dog (a.k.a. my 14 year old first child) passed away a few weeks ago.  She was such a good dog; spunky, loving, and vocal.  Needless to say I have been absorbing any kind of animal love with extra zeal since then in a senseless attempt to fill the void.

A few days after her passing I was contacted by Sharon Lee Hart with a request for me to review her book, Sanctuary: Portraits of Rescued Farm Animals.  I jumped at the chance.  Sharon posted the book to me in the mail and I lapped it up upon receipt.

Flipping through the book it becomes abundantly clear that Sharon took the time to get to know the animals so that she would be able to capture their true essence in her photographs. Sharon writes in the introduction,

My process for taking these photographs was to sit and wait for the animals to approach me.  Once they did, I was greeted in a variety of ways.  Memorably, Amelia the turkey nuzzled my neck and gave me a ‘hug,’ and Dee Dee the donkey rubbed her face on my cheek and rested her head on my shoulder.” 

Looking at the pictures of the animals and reading their stories as told by those who rescued them and care for them on a daily basis has been healing for me.  I am encouraged to know that there is so much goodness surrounding these animals whose lives were once fraught with terror and sadness.  Goodness prevailed.

I highly recommend Sharon’s book for the gorgeous photography, stories, and essays written by Karen Davis (President and Founder of United Poultry Concerns), Kathy Stevens (Founder of the Catskill Animal Sanctuary), and Gene Bauer (Founder of Farm Sanctuary). .

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10% of the proceeds from books sold through www.farmanimalsanctuaryproject.com will be donated to the sanctuaries.

Click HERE to purchase.

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A limited number of prints are available for purchase in sizes ranging from 8 x 8″ up to 40 x 40″.  

Please contact Sharon via e-mail for a price list – sharonleehart@gmail.com  Click HERE to learn more about the project.

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Sydney (1998-2012)

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BOOK REVIEW – Naked Calories

I recommend the book “Naked Calories” to those of you who are interested in learning more about both micronutrients and macronutrients.  Mira and Jayson explain the importance of micro/macro nutrients in depth and go into the science of vitamins and minerals, etc.  I appreciate the fact that Mira and Jayson focus extensively on the quality of food consumed and how they believe that micronutrient deficiency is responsible for most of the ill-health experienced by people today.

In their words, “Our goal is the spread the message that processed, micronutrient-poor naked calories are detrimental for vegans, vegetarians, low fat, Mediterranean, and low-carbohydrate dieters alike.”  I completely agree that the root of our healthcare epidemic falls under the auspices of micronutrient deficiency.  Though we have access to it, the developed world quite simply does not eat high quality food and our bodies are suffering dramatically; our bodies are SCREAMING for us to change.

Where we differ is in their assessment that, “The Rich Food, Poor Food philosophy works no matter what type of diet you choose to follow.”  I simply do not agree.  I do not believe that high nutrient diets that include the consumption of animal protein (meat and dairy) at what is now considered “normal” levels is healthy.  The Caltons believe that animal protein which is grass fed and organic has its place in a healthy diet.  We are going to have to agree to disagree on that point.

I really appreciated the sections of their book that focused on common micronutrient depleters; many of which I don’t believe people are even aware of.  You can be eating wonderfully nutritious food and unknowingly be simultaneously depleting your body of the same valuable nutrients.  Their book shows you the hows and whys along with how to avoid these depleters.

While I do not agree with all of the information in “Naked Calories” (namely the information provided regarding animal protein) I do find that the book is overall very informative and a worthwhile read.

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BOOK REVIEW – Rawesomely Vegan

Rawesomely Vegan by Mike Snyder is a behemoth cook, er “un”cookbook. One looks at the table of contents tells you that it definitely covers all of the raw bases:

  • Stocking Your Raw Kitchen
  • Raw Kitchen Equipment
  • Strategies for Success
  • Juices
  • Smoothies
  • Breaking the Fast
  • Step Into Salads
  • Soups for All Seasons
  • Dressings, Sauces, and Condiments
  • Dips, Spreads, and Sides
  • Sandwiches, Wraps, and Rolls
  • Mix and Match for the Main Event
  • Crackers, Breads, and Other Snacks
  • Drinks and Dessert

I have to admit that when I first saw an entire chapter on juices I didn’t expect it to be worthwhile. Boy was I wrong! My mouth began watering just reading the recipes. Mike’s juice recipes are genius and simple. My favorite new juice is called “Drinking Dessert” and consists of apple, sweet potato, cinnamon and nutmeg. Why didn’t I ever think to juice sweet potatoes??? In addition to wonderful juice recipes, Mike prefaces each juice recipe with a quick explanation of the nutritional benefits of that particular juice.

With over 300 recipes in the book, I have flagged many to try, however seeing as I am not a fan of agave, I will need to make some substitutions since agave nectar is used prevalently in the book.  One other point to keep in mind when perusing raw cuisine is that the use of nuts and seeds (along with coconut oil) tends to be very high and this cookbook is no exception.  While those types of recipes are fine on occasion, I don’t believe nuts and seeds should make-up such a large percentage of one’s diet.

I am excited to try making Mike’s recipes for yogurt (either seed or coconut based) and his “Ginger-Spiked Raw-ldorf” salad is such a fresh take on the classic. Here are a few more that are calling me:

  • Fearsome Fiery Red Hot “Rooster” Sauce
  • Topaz Ginger Dressing
  • Bountiful Baba Ganoush
  • Cactus in the Raw (I want to learn how to use cactus)
  • You Won’t Believe How Simple Sauerkraut
  • Crunchy Cultured Dill Pickles
  • Spiked Citrus Curried Quinoa Salad
  • Sweet Honey Melon with Heat (Soup)
  • Secret Success Zucchini Hummus
  • Go-Go Granola Bars
  • Chewy Chocolate Nib Cookies
  • Orange and Almond Macaroons
  • Ooey-Gooey Chunky Chewy Raw Fudge

As I mentioned earlier, I did not expect to be as impressed with this raw recipe book as I am. If you or someone you love is a raw foodie or dabbles in it, this will be a wonderful addition to their library…I just wish there were more photographs!

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GUEST BLOG – SPORK SISTERS Spicy Corn Fritters with Lemongrass

I am so excited that the Spork Sisters are guest posting today!  I met Heather and Jenny at the Natural Products Expo West and they were as sweet as could be, but what really won me over was the amazing food they were serving.  In a land of sample aplenty, their food stood out and was wonderfully flavorful.

If this is your first introduction to the Spork Sisters, take note.  The ladies just released their first cookbook (Spork-Fed) and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.  For some time now the ladies have been teaching cooking classes in LA to rave reviews.  For those of you who can’t get to LA, they now have online cooking classes.

I highly recommend checking out their site and learning more about the awesome duo (click HERE).

The following recipe is from their cookbook, Spork-Fed with a foreword by fellow fans and sisters, Emily and Zooey Deschanel.

Spicy Corn Fritters with Lemongrass (gluten free)

INTRO: These lil’ fritters are special! They get a lot of their essence from lemongrass, one of the most important flavors of Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. Just the smell of these fritters cooking will attract attention from neighbors all around. When you make a Southeast Asian feast, be sure these are part of the menu.

Yields about 8 fritters

Ingredients
2/3 cup gluten-free cornmeal, plus 1⁄2 cup for coating
3 tablespoons rice flour
2 teaspoons non-aluminum baking powder
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon neutral tasting high-heat oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon tamari (wheat-free)
1 tablespoon chili paste (chili garlic paste or sweet chili paste)
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
1 ear corn, kernels sliced from cob, or 1/3 cup frozen corn kernels
1⁄2 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
1⁄4 cup water, more or less, as needed
2 tablespoons neutral tasting high-heat oil, for cooking

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine 2/3 cup cornmeal, rice flour and baking powder. Whisk until uniform.

Add maple syrup, oil, lime juice, tamari, chili paste, ginger and sea salt, and whisk.

Add corn, lemongrass and water to mixture. Amount of water needed will vary, depending on which brand of rice flour is used. Consistency should be fairly firm and mixture should hold together when scooped. Form mixture into 2-inch round patties.

Add additional cornmeal to a bowl and coat patties. Tap patties gently to remove excess cornmeal.

Heat a large sauté pan and add high-heat oil. Place patties in pan and cook over low-medium heat for about 3-5 minutes on each side, until golden.

Note: You can double the recipe when serving more than four.  For a printable version of this recipe click here.

The Sporkie Scoop

FOR YOUR SMARTS Lemongrass is native to Southeast Asia and has been consumed and used as medicine for thousands of years! Lemongrass is a general term for about 55 species of grasses. Some types are used in perfumes and cosmetics because of the clean, fresh smell.

FOR YOUR PARTS Lime juice contains a compound called limonene, which is a major cancer fighter! It can also boost your white blood cell activity. That’s some powerful citrus!

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Filed under Appetizers, Books, Gluten Free, Guest Blog, Kid Friendly, Main Dish, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

BOOK REVIEW – The Lean

People often ask me if there are any plant based weight loss books that I recommend and while I definitely refer them to excellent books written by the likes of Drs McDougall, Fuhrman, Barnard, and my other favorite plant-based authors…I am adding another favorite to the list.

The Lean by Kathy Freston lays out a plan for transitioning (or rather “leaning”) into plant-based living that is so gentle and reasonable. Frequently people try to transition to plant-based eating too quickly and when they mis-step they trend back to their old ways. Kathy’s writes in such a non-judgmental and wonderfully guiding voice that the reader realizes they need to be gentle with themselves during the transition.

The Lean is a plan that is more about what is ADDED to your diet than what is taken out (though the animals products are eventually removed). When people focus on adding good quality food into their daily food plan, they naturally crowd out the undesirable food.

The concept of the book is that the reader will tackle one issue per day (each outlined in a chapter of the book). Kathy’s philosophy is that if it takes you longer than a day to add the new habit, then give yourself longer than a day before moving on to the next chapter.

Some of the easy nutritional modifications within The Lean are:

Day 7: Put a Little Flax On It
Day 14: Eat a Superfood
Day 16: Toss up a big bowl of Love, a.k.a. Salad
Day 25: Juice It!
Day 28: Do Something Purposeful

What I appreciate most about The Lean is its practicality.  If you live your life according to the principles found within The Lean, health will follow.

To purchase The Lean, click HERE.

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BOOK REVIEW – Chloe’s Kitchen

I was really excited when the publisher of Chloe’s Kitchen contacted me offering a review copy of Chloe Coscarelli’s first cookbook. I received the cookbook prior to it’s official release (March 6, 2012) and am embarrassed to say that I am only now getting around to posting my review. Trust me when I say the delay in posting is in no way a statement about Chloe’s cookbook…it is amazing and does not disappoint.

Life has been busy, but not too busy to find the time to interview Chloe for Chic Vegan (so fun!!!). Click HERE to read the interview. What most impressed me about Chloe is the fact that she went from a college kid at UC Berkley who didn’t really know her way around the kitchen to becoming the first vegan winner of a major network cooking show (Cupcake Wars) in a matter of a few short years.

One might assume that Chloe’s Kitchen is a dessert recipe cookbook if their only knowledge of Chloe is rooted in Cupcake Wars, however nothing could be further than the truth. Having attended culinary school at the Natural Gourmet Institute after completing college, Chloe’s food experience is vast. After completing culinary school, Chloe honed her skills at celebrated restaurants such as the famed Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco, Counter Organic Vegetarian Bistro in New York City, and Herbivore Restaurant in Berkeley.

Chloe’s cheerful voice is ever present in Chloe’s Kitchen and her dishes are inspired. During my first flip-through of the book (I have since read it cover to cover) I flagged so many recipes to try that it looked like a Post-It tree was growing out of the book.  The hearty main meals I quickly flagged to try were:

  • Curried Lentil, Squash, and Apple Stew
  • Chloe’s Award Winning Mango Masala Panini
  • Double Drive-Thru Burgers
  • Avocado Pesto Pasta
  • Drunken Noodles in Cashew-Shiitake Broth
  • And on, and on, and on

I am a huge sucker for food pics and her cookbook is chalk full of them. I want to SEE the meals a cookbook is offering me and have to admit that it is oftentimes uninspiring to me when cookbooks don’t provide gorgeous food photography. Thankfully, the reader gets to see photographs of most of the 125 recipes Chloe’s Kitchen cooks-up.

Slam dunk Chloe. When can we expect your next cookbook? …

Maybe we should let her enjoy the fruits of this one first, but I will definitely be in the front of the line for whatever she cooks-up next.

Images courtesy of Chloe Coscarelli

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