Generally speaking, I avoid all books written by a celebrity. I'm sure there are some really nice ones out there, but it kind of irks me that celebrities seem to have so much, yet they "invade" a profession that anybody can get into, maybe taking away an opportunity from someone. I know that's a very narrow-minded way of looking at things, but I can't help it. Children's books written by a celebrity are my ultimate pet-peeve!
With that said, this week's Book Nook is The Kind Diet, written by Alicia Silverstone. That makes a lot of sense, huh! Well, I stumbled upon this book at my local big-chain bookstore & I had heard that Alicia Silverstone was into raw foods, so I picked it up. And read the preface by Paul McCartney. And flipped through & saw lots of great-sounding recipes & saw lots of great photos of said recipes. So I made an exception to my no-celebrity-books-rule, and I'm glad I did. This one is really good!
The first half of this book is really a discussion of the foods we eat on the standard American diet & why so many of them are harmful to our health & our environment. Then, the author breaks down her approach to what is essentially going vegan by breaking down the level of commitment into 3 categories: flirting (which is basically just trying some of the vegan-convenience foods out there & trying some of the recipes); vegan (which, as you know, is giving up all meat & dairy products); and superhero (which sounds like the macrobiotic diet).
There are lots of great recipes in the 2nd half of the book. I've tried 2 of them so far: the quick date-apple-cinnamon oatmeal (page 196) and the quinoa with basil and pine nuts (page 224). Both are great! Everyone here at the our house loves the oatmeal, and it's really fast & healthy. The quinoa was really yummy, too - I added grape tomatoes straight from our garden, which was a nice addition. I have about 100 post-it-notes on all the other recipes I want to try too! I love the idea of reducing our dependence on milk & eggs in cooking/baking & eating fresh whole foods. There are so many great options here!
I really enjoyed the author's tone of writing, too. She comes across as very friendly & down-to-earth. She gives lots of factual information about meat & the meat industry, dairy, sugar, etc. & all the studies & books she cites are listed in the endnotes. So sceptics can just quiet down, because the proof is there that food we take for granted as being good for us is actually detrimental to our health. I also like her references to other cookbooks, other books on the topic & just the chit-chat about her life & eating healthy in general.
I only have a couple of very small complaints: first, towards the end of the first half of the book, after we've read about how bad the meat & dairy industries are & how healthy it is to go vegan, she has a section called "temptation" in which she admits to sometimes eating fish at sushi restaurants. I'm sure an editor somewhere suggested she put this in, but it doesn't fit with anything we've read in the last 120 pages - and for some reason, it just bugs me that it's there. I think the point is to let the reader know it's ok if you slip up & not beat yourself up about it, but I wish she would have just written those words instead of telling us that she eats fish sometimes, after trying to convince us to do otherwise. Same idea for the "superhero items for the road" section, which says that some maple-syrup sweetened instant oatmeals are ok. I really beg to differ with this, and again, it sort of contradicts everything the author has written up to that point in the book: are you really recommending we eat that processed, sugar-laden, preservative-full stuff? And under the "superhero" diet, no less? It just doesn't make sense & I wish that one little bit were just omitted from the book all together. OK, rant complete!
Other than those 2 little gripes of mine, the book is really great. It has inspired me to read more about the macrobiotic diet & I'm currently reading one of the books she mentions. No matter what you eat, whether it be the standard American diet, vegan, macrobiotic, etc., I think if you get more whole foods into your body & cut down on processed foods & sweets, your health will be all the greater. And reading books like this & incorporating some of the great recipes into your life will make that step much easier - because the more knowledge you have about food, the easier it is to make the right choices.