Review: “Eat Feel Fresh” by Sahara Rose Ketabi

I love food. I enjoy gorgeous photography. I practice yoga. And I feel that every day can be a good day when you learn a new thing or two. So, I was quite happy to snatch up a copy of “Eat Feel Fresh” for review. First of all, it is simply the most beautifully illustrated book I’ve had the pleasure to read this year. The colors explode off the pages and bring a smile to your face, which can only be a good thing. Secondly, it is chock-full of new spins on recipes but as always, let’s stick to the advice of the Red Queen and start at the beginning.

One thing you will likely notice right away is that Deepak Chopra is literally plastered all over this book, cover to cover and anywhere in between, having written the foreword and being quoted once or twice, as well. If you’re not a fan of Dr. Chopra’s, you won’t enjoy the close relationship he and Ms. Ketabi clearly have. Another point that didn’t take long to irritate me was the reference to an ‘alkaline diet.’ There is no evidence whatever that you can change the pH value of your body chemistry through diet, nor should you. Various parts of your body have different pH values, so what would you even be aiming at? Also, the term ‘detox’ is used, and saying something that silly even once costs you points in a review. Detoxing is done by your organs all the time, every minute of every day, and it is simply incorrect to claim that you need to change your diet to accomplish this. More correctly, you can assist your organs in their admittedly life-supporting function by avoiding to indiscriminately stuff yourself with items of questionable nutritional value. If we can agree on this, then let’s move on to the good stuff, and there is certainly plenty.

I had never heard of Ms. Ketabi before, but apparently, she is an expert in the field of ayurveda, the ancient Indian ‘science of life,’ a system of medicine that encompasses far more than simply treating symptoms of illness. “Eat Feel Fresh” gives you a semi-thorough introduction into ayurveda and the three doshas, or elements, that form a person’s body type and personality, frequently in a unique combination. The way you eat can help balance the doshas, leading to increased wellness. I find Ms. Ketabi’s writing personality quite accessible.  “Eat Feel Fresh” aims to bring a new, modern approach to ayurvedic principles so that they can be more easily integrated into the Western lifestyle. There is a spiritual component to this approach, as ayurveda is a holistic system. Some may find this esoteric, others refreshing and insightful.

Once you have determined your dosha, head right into the recipe part of the book which offers tridoshic meals, meaning there is a base recipe with variations, according to what you have learned in part one. All recipes are gluten-free and plant-based, and the number of recipes containing what some might consider exotic ingredients is very, very small. We love experimenting with food and frequently cook Indian dishes, so our kitchen is well stocked in that regard. If you are only starting to branch out into international cooking, the initial investment could possibly seem daunting, but you will use most spices and staples over and over.

There is good basic information about stocking your pantry, meal planning and prepping, what to do with leftovers, and how to prepare basic staples, like grains and legumes. The recipe section ecompasses everything, from breakfasts, bowls, dinners, snacks and sides, to desserts and potions (which actually means teas, mylks, and juices). You won’t be eating endless varieties of curry, either: there are colorful soups, burgers, pizza, shepherd’s pie, tacos, grain-free chapatis and naan, creative variations on hummus, delicious Indian sweets like kheer, and intriguing twists on American favorites, like Raw Rose and Pistachio Cheesecake, Chickpea Chocolate Crunch Bark, and several versions of brownies.

As is common these days, there is no nutritional information given for any of the dishes. Would I get a copy for myself? Likely. I am intrigued by the idea of maximizing my personal health and wellness, based on ayurvedic ideas, and most certainly fascinated by a lot of the recipes (I’ve bookmarked a couple to try but have not had the chance yet). I did find some of the information on balancing your doshas a bit confusing, though, and on days when I’m more skeptical than spiritual, the ‘esoteric babble’ would likely bug me to a point.

“Eat Feel Fresh” will be published by DK, a publisher with a huge catalog of informational and educational titles. I received a free copy via Netgalley in exchange for a review. It should be fairly obvious that all opinions are my own.

eat feel fresh

 

Review: “The Ultimate Vegan Breakfast Book” by Nadine Horn and Jörg Mayer

Another review already! I must be on a roll… or maybe I’m just trying to knock out the remaining titles on the review list before I start my new job in August. Could be, could be. Anyway, this translates into more reading fun for you, dear readers. Incidentally, you could add some reading fun for me by leaving a comment below. Tell me if you found a review helpful, if your opinion differs from mine and why, or if you have any books you’d like me to take a look at. You know, that kind of thing. Variety is the spice of life.

Which brings me to today’s book, which, as the title reveals, is a cookbook with recipes for vegan breakfasts. Astute readers will have noticed that the authors are German; in fact, Nadine Horn and Jörg Mayer run an enormously successful food blog, Eat This! and have co-authored several books, two of which (including this one) have been translated into English.

I love breakfast. I am also notoriously unawake in the morning, so I greatly appreciate people writing down instructions to make tasty dishes with, so that I don’t have to crank up the still woozy brain cells too early just to come up with new smoothie ideas myself. Apart from the fact that any cover photo featuring a huge stack of syrup-drizzled pancakes is extremely appealing to me, I also quickly discovered several intriguing recipe ideas inside the book. Of course, that is not how things begin, because it never is, is it.

There is a lovely table of contents all the way up front to help you get your snoozy self geared up for your first meal of the day. Also helpful is the plethora of gorgeous photographs, and there are plenty. ‘A Perfect Start to the Day’ offers some ideas how to make the best of your morning, followed by some foods that will help you with that (no recipes yet). Next up are two excursions into everyone’s favorite brekkie drinks, coffee and tea. You’ll learn how to choose great tea (or coffee), how to store it, prepare it, and generally get the most bang for your buck. Personally, I disagree with Jörg on cold brew; I find it overrated and overpriced, be it store-bought or home-made. But I used the term ‘personally’ on purpose; you may love your cold brew for a variety of reasons. It is said to be easier on the stomach. The coffee and tea sections are the only ones that mention kitchen tools, and that’s a bit sad, because it requires me to place the usual caveat here: be sure to read all recipes and instructions before beginning. Some require a blender and/or a juicer, and unfortunately, no allowance is made for those who do not own either (but fear not, I do have a couple of tips for you… read on). Before moving on to the recipe section, you’ll find a page on Tips and Tricks, which is not particularly abundant, but does explain in a side bar why Nadine and Jörg have opted to leave out nutritional information.

The recipe section starts with easy smoothies, juices, and other refreshing drinks. We have tried the ‘Tropical Energy with Grapefruit and Coconut’, the ‘Super Antioxidant Shake with Blueberries and Goji Berries”, the ‘Pear Oat Shake’, and the ‘Strawberry Chia Smoothie’. The juice was a tad on that tart side for my better half, be sure to adjust the sweetener to your personal taste and to not use a very large lemon. I don’t have a juicer, so I used a simple hand juicer/fruit squeezer and mixed everything together afterwards. If you like pulp, leave it in! If you don’t, strain through a sieve or some cheesecloth or a nutmilk bag. For the blueberry shake, I tossed all the ingredients in the blender because I find the taste of goji berries somewhat unfortunate otherwise. I did the same for chia smoothie since I hate waiting for breakfast. The method worked well for both. The pear oat shake was sadly overpowered by the ground cardamom. One entire teaspoon is a bit much, so tone it down a bit, unless you’re a cardamom freak. If like me you enjoy beets, the ‘Beets and Berries’ smoothie is tasty and easy.

Next up are ideas for breakfast to go, containing mostly sandwiches, muffins, and similar handhelds, but also an interesting recipe for two varieties of ‘Wake-Up Popsicles’ which I might test before the review copy goes bye-bye. We did try the ‘Overnight Buckwheat Porridge’ and enjoyed it. You’ll also find an ‘”Egg-Salad” Sandwich’ and a ‘Swedish Bagel’ among the wonderfully unusual ideas, most of which would also make great additions to a lunchbox.

From here, we wander into bowl territory. Whether you prefer a sweet or a savory breakfast, you are sure to find something here. The ‘Quinoa Porridge’ was delicious, even if it didn’t exactly look like the photo. The ‘Miso Oatmeal’ sounds intriguing, but I usually lean towards the fruitier side early in the morning, so I dig the variations of porridge and smoothie bowls, especially. There is even a chocolate porridge for those soul food emergencies.

Following this, we finally arrive at the delicious ‘Poppy Seed Pancakes’ from the cover. You prefer omelets? Waffles? Crepes? A good scramble? This section has you covered! If your morning doesn’t get off the ground without a lot of coffee and something sticky-sweet, you’ll enjoy the treats from ‘The Sweeter Side of Mornings’, like donuts, cupcakes, or carrot cake (yes, please!). For those leisurely weekend brunches, check out ‘Weekend Brunch’ where you can find delicacies like ‘Earl Gray’s Poached Pears’ next to brunch staples like frittata and a full English breakfast.

Closing this merry collection of recipes are hot drinks. I am especially intrigued by the Kamilli Vanilli, which is based on chamomile tea. This will have to make an appearance of a morning soon, I think! For you cold brew fans, there are instructions on how to get your cold brew base on, as well.

My special appreciation, however, must go to the very last section, pantry staples. Many German ex-pats bemoan the fact that our American brethren are hopelessly lost when it comes to good (or even decent) bread. If you’ve ever wondered what all the moaning is about, you get the chance to make German-style bread and rolls at home now! Rounding out the pantry section are some sweet and savory spreads, a quick granola, a couple of plant-based milks, and some ideas for plant-based breakfast ‘meats.’

Most recipes make two servings, unless otherwise indicated. These servings are smaller (read: more reasonable) than some other cookbooks’ offerings, so either plan in a snack for later in the morning or opt not to share. Every single recipe comes with a glorious, mouthwatering photograph. I must strongly reiterate the fact that you should read the recipe you’re planning to make ahead of time, because a few require more time than others. Obviously, it will take longer to make a cake than a scramble or be quicker to fix a smoothie bowl than a full English brekkie.

Would I get this? Erm, yes! In yesterday’s review, the author advised us to personalize as needed, and even in my extensive collection there are only a tiny handful of cookbooks I trust to deliver 100% every time, no matter what I opt to make. I love the variety offered in the “Ultimate Vegan Breakfast Book” and can see myself going back to it frequently.

“The Ultimate Vegan Breakfast Book” is published by The Experiment, which is funny because I did not realize that until I had posted yesterday’s post. I received a free copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own, unless otherwise stated.

breakfast

Review: “Clean Enough” by Katzie Guy-Hamilton

Let’s go back to what I love doing best: dissecting cookbooks. I chose this particular one because I found both the title and the cover photo appealing, and because ‘katzie’ in German is a pet name for a cat (sympathy points!). The beautiful photography continues inside the book and really gets you revved up for cooking… unless you’re a beginner. One recurring problem with cookbooks authored by professional chefs is that they love to be very specific with ingredients and, unlike most normal people, think nothing of a twenty-five-ingredient spice list. Ok, I slightly exaggerated that number, but you get my drift.

But let us start at the beginning: Ms. Guy-Hamilton’s introduction to “Clean Enough”, alongside her story, pretty much makes it clear that this book is yours to customize, which is a very important point to bear in mind later. I like her holistic approach to food and life, and her relaxed attitude about occasional indulgences. After all, eating clean enough should be good enough, and sweets can play a stress-free part in one’s diet, as well. Please note that when I say ‘diet,’ I use the word in its original meaning of ‘way of eating,’ not in the sense of ‘trying your darndest to make your body comply to shed those x number of pounds you keep trying to lose whenever you come back from vacation.’

The reader receives an invitation to examine his or her own lifestyle to maximize wellness with some helpful pointers, then it’s on to the recipe section…

…and we’ve circled back to the beginning where now some people will start crying at terms like “oat flaker,” “Sicilian pistachios,” “pine pollen,” and “raw licorice powder” (I did at that last one, primarily because I find licorice disgusting and would never want to ruin a perfectly good breakfast with it). Ignore all those terms and skip straight to the various recipe notes that tell you that you can SUBSTITUTE whatever you have on hand or simply leave things out that you don’t have/don’t want to use. Phew. Ok, deep breath and on with it…

I’m not sure if anyone really needs a recipe for hot lemon water, which contains, gasp!, hot water and lemon. Or instructions to cook a runny, five-minute egg (cook egg for five minutes, plus some extraneous stuff that’s not really necessary). But if you’ve never made eggs before and feel a bit lost, there is a section on preparing eggs in a variety of ways that will assist you in becoming more kitchen confident. You may have guessed from my lingering on this particular part of the book that this is a vegetarian cookbook. Ms. Guy-Hamilton enjoys eggs and cheeses, and that is one reason why I personally would not get a copy but still recommend it to anyone wishing to go meat-free more often or looking for new spins on cooking for their veggie lifestyle.

I notice that, as most other hip chefs these days, Ms. Guy-Hamilton is a huge proponent of Himalayan Pink salt, to which I will repeat my remark from an earlier review: salt mining is not environmentally friendly, nor is salt a sustainable resource, and nobody should go digging around in sensitive areas like the Himalayas just so people can use pink salt that nobody will be able to see in the finished dish later, anyway. As a second concern, unless you eat a lot of seafood or sea vegetables, reliance on “raw” salts will leave you with low levels of iodine. This is why regular table salt has iodine added to it, and as much as it is en vogue to poo-poo anything labeled ‘processed’, you need iodine in your diet. Eat it, hipster!

In the second recipe section, Enough, you are immediately reminded that the author is a trained pastry chef. If your mind wasn’t boggled before, it will be now as you peruse the rather extensive list of recommended equipment. A bit less scary and possibly more useful are the explanations of various preparation techniques. The treats themselves are as simple or extravagant as you choose, from cookie varieties to tortes, tarts, cakes, pies, and an assortment of small baked goods like muffins, scones, brioche, and even hot cross buns. Merengue lovers will find a fine selection here, but the good old chocolate pudding makes an appearance, as well, as do custards, sorbets, and ice creams. A selection of sweet pantry staples rounds out the book.

Please note that it is absolutely essential to read every recipe through before you spontaneously discover that it will take fourteen days to prepare certain parts in advance and that your pantry is lacking a key ingredient, because I make fun of people like you who leave angry ranting reviews like that. I repeat, some recipes do require you to make parts of it in advance, then assemble the whole later, like the Israeli breakfast.

In short, if you can get over your fear of long lists and feel comfortable enough to make substitutions to accommodate your cooking style, this is a lovely book to add to your shelf.

“Clean Enough” is published by The Experiment, whom I love for their variety of titles. I received a free copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

clean enough

Review: “The Poisoned City” by Anna Clark

One of my pet peeves is lazy journalism, the kind that “quotes” studies without naming them, the type that simply copies someone else’s article without fact checking, the brand that presents conclusions as facts without providing the manner in which it arrived there. Luckily, Anna Clark is not a lazy journalist. The preparation for her non-fiction book “The Poisoned City” about the Flint water crisis obviously involved a lot of painstaking research supported by extensive footnotes, and her own conclusions, presented in the epilogue, are nothing if not comprehensible. Ms Clark presents a lot of facts and figures but managed to do it in an engaging manner and without resorting to playing on heartstrings too frequently (although I personally would have left out the quote by the lady whose dogs died from lead poisoning, only because someone who is smart enough to not let her family use suspicious water but thinks nothing of letting her dogs drink it is not really a sympathetic character).

“The Poisoned City” is a book about politics, chemistry, medicine, about financial (mis-)management, environmental protection, and why it is important for a community to band together when the cause requires it, because we are indeed stronger together than when we stand alone. The story of the Flint water crisis is important because its underlying problems affect all of us living in the United States today, and simply sticking your head in the sand and hoping for favorable winds isn’t going to help. It teaches lessons that we should at least be aware of, because in the end, we are all equally responsible for ensuring that our vision of democracy is put into practice in an inclusionary manner.

I very highly recommend this book to anyone, whether you’re interested in the topics mentioned above, enjoy a good fact-based thriller, or are simply a fan of great writing.

“The Poisoned City” is published by Henry Holt & Company. I received a free copy in exchange for a review via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

poisoned city

Review: “Ohio” by Stephen Markley

“Do you ever review fiction?” my husband asked the other day. As a matter of fact, I do (and have, here, here, here, and here). It just seems to be an easier task to get hold of good non-fiction. There must be a LOT of reviewers vying for the approval lists for fiction titles. Sometimes, I get lucky. And sometimes, I get very lucky. “Ohio” is one of those latter instances of a lot of luck. I may be having a bear of a time finding employment, but at least the reading list stays interesting.

“Ohio” is the debut novel of author Stephen Markley, a man so mysterious that his biography contains less factual content than the first two sentences of this post. I would love to know why he decided to set his story in the fictional midwestern town of New Canaan (for fact lovers: there is a Canaan, Ohio, although I cannot say how much or if at all it has influenced the description of the setting in the book). I live only one state over, however, and many of the problems of the area more or less affectionately named “the Rust Belt”, like dying industry and shrinking agriculture, apply across the swath of the upper Midwest.

The novel drops us into a memorial parade for a young soldier, a son of New Canaan, killed in action only a handful of years after high school graduation. Ah, you think to yourself, this is about the dead kid! It could have been, but it isn’t. The next chapters introduce us to people from Rick’s circle, both close and not so close. As each character has his or her story told, the voice changes accordingly. If you are easily confused by storytelling techniques such as this, you’ve been warned. Aha!, you might exclaim, it’s about something that connects all these kids! Definitely warmer. There is indeed a common thread here, at first barely perceptible, but naggingly present, even if its true meaning is not revealed until much later.

There is also a character study here, although it’s not of people, it’s of a town. Sure, you nod, there are lots of points to New Canaan that I recognize. And you will, as I did, but again, don’t take things at face value here. This is not about The Town Next Door, so to speak, but goes much deeper. New Canaan is a place that breeds its own kind of horror and tragedy, and what will hook you in and make you stay with the narrative until its breathtaking conclusion is the realization that, perhaps, nobody who has spent any real time in this town gets away unscathed – not even minor characters.

Adjectives like “breathtaking,” “heartstopping,” and the ever-overused “stunning” give me goosebumps, and not for a good reason, but where “Ohio” is concerned, they are not only applicable but true. When I finished the book, I felt as if someone had clonked me in the head with a shovel: I was unable to do anything but sit there and breathe, until I had collected myself. That is why “Ohio” is hands down THE best novel I have read this year, and why you should not miss it when it comes out in August!

“Ohio” is published by Simon & Schuster. I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

ohio

Review: “Stuffed!” by Marlena Kur

Maybe you’re one of those people who loves the idea of stuffing fillings into vegetables, but you’re running out of ideas. Maybe you enjoy surprising your guests (or yourself) with amazing-looking, easy-to-make dishes. Maybe you collect gorgeous cookbooks. If you recognize yourself in any of these statements, “Stuffed!” is for you.

Marlena Kur, the author of this book and the website Zest My Lemon, has a passion for beautiful food that is also good for you. Presenting fruits and veggies as ‘boats’ loaded with yummy stuffings is how she expresses it here. Most people are familiar with stuffed tomatoes of some sort, stuffed peppers, and probably zucchini, but have you tried stuffed mushrooms, eggplant, sweet potato, or even fruit? There are hot and cold stuffings, some including meats, some seafood, some simply veggies, with or without grains and/or cheese, and no repeats. All ingredients should be easily available at the supermarket, although some may be seasonal, depending on where you live. Although not every single recipe comes with one, the included photos are appetizing and attractively arranged. This is definitely not a diet book and thus does not include nutritional information for the recipes. If this is an important consideration for you, now you know.

Because it is not suitable to my own dietary lifestyle, I wouldn’t get this book for myself, but I can see myself getting a copy for my stepmother who is an enthusiastic cook and for whom presentation is nearly as important as the dish itself.

“Stuffed!” is published by Race Point Publishing, a subsidiary of the Quarto Publishing Group. I have reviewed a few titles from them on this blog and can honestly say that a lot of care goes into their books. I received a preview copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

stuffed.png

Review: “Plant-Powered Beauty” by Amy Galper and Christina Daigneault

You’d almost think I was on a DIY trip, the way I’m reviewing two beauty guides in a row! This is actually rather serendipitous; I’d requested both, just in case I didn’t get approved for one, and ended up with both. As it turns out, they complement each other rather well. So let’s not dilly-dally any further and get on with the post!

“Plant-Powered Beauty” is an amazing, in-depth resource for anyone wishing to learn the behind-the-scenes science of creating not only your own beauty products, but your very own recipes. Ms Galper and Ms Daigneault, certified aromatherapists, spend the better half of the three hundred-odd pages of this book giving you all the tools you will ever need to do exactly that. As you would expect, you begin by examining the skin. What is it, what does it do, and how does it do it? You’ll learn all about components of skin care, how to combine them in which format to arrive at a desired result, and you will find out how to prepare and store your recipes to get the most out of them. When I said ‘the better part,’ I was not kidding. Part 1 of the book ends roughly in the middle of it, but all throughout this first, as well as the remaining, half you’ll see info boxes and whole pages with additional information inserted. You are in good hands here! One little quibble I have is with the section “Nice to have equipment”: in a setting where hygiene is of the utmost important, bottle brushes are not a pleasant afterthought but essential. They are dirt cheap, too, so there is no reason at all not to add them to your at-home beauty laboratory.

Part 2 begins on page 153. This is where you can begin making products with some 50 recipes, from face cream and body butter to hair treatments (including pomade, although fans of a certain film are left in the dark how this compares to Dapper Dan), deodorant, mouthwash, bug spray, pain relief gel, and massage oil. There is quite a variety! I particularly love the final recipe section, Mind-Body Care, which includes aromatherapy bath tea bags, various salves, roll-ons, and even inhalers for those moments when you’re desperate for some serenity. Please note that some recipes call for honey or beeswax, although there is a discussion on how to substitute different plant-derived waxes, at least. One thing I found a bit odd was the fact that the introductory notes to the recipes come after the list of equipment and ingredients needed. I prefer the actual recipe body to be as uncluttered as possible, but I realize not everyone cares.

Finally, there is a fairly extensive resources list, lots of notes referred to in the text, a glossary, an index, and a separate recipe index (super helpful!). If you want to develop your own body care recipes, this is definitely the guide for you. Do realize, though, that because you’ll possibly be making your own herbal infusions and other vital parts of your recipes,  you will need to plan ahead, possibly even months ahead. If you’re just looking for some quick ideas you can whip up for an impromptu spa day, you would be better off with the book from my previous review.

“Plant-Powered Beauty” is published by BenBella Books. I received a free copy via Netgalley in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

plant powered.png

 

Review: “Pure Skin Care” by Stephanie L. Tourles

Whaaat, another review already? What is going on here? Yes, I do seem rather prolific this week, but I’m eager to get through some of the excellent non-fiction titles so that I can give you a few awesome fiction titles to meet!

My interest in natural skin care first arose in my teen years. Like so many of my peers, I was plagued with acne and sought both to alleviate the ugly, red pimples and reduce the appearance of my pores. Because I had better things to spend my allowance on than expensive creams and tinctures (hello! Books and music, of course!), and because I’ve always enjoyed stirring things together, I experimented with making my own products. Over the years, I’ve bought, read, and discarded a number of instruction manuals on the subject, but this is one I would actually get for myself.

“Pure Skin Care” is divided into two major parts. In part one, you learn what skin is made of and what it does for you, how to determine your skin type, and how best to pamper it. From the get-go, you’ll find the chapters augmented by info boxes to deepen your understanding on the given subject. You’ll also find out how to choose your tools and containers to store your products safely, and there is an introduction to basic techniques to make the magic happen.

As you might have guessed, part two is all about recipes. The remaining four chapters provide a plethora of easy-to-make products that will have you glowing from face to feet. Notice that haircare is not covered in this book; after all, hair is not skin. Every recipe notes which skin type the product is recommended for and comes with easy instructions on making, storing, and using it. The vast majority is vegan-friendly, although some recipes include honey, yoghurt, or buttermilk. I love that a good number already reside in my fridge and pantry: the best for your skin without having to empty your wallet or spend loads of time searching for exotic items. Friends of short ingredient lists will love this book: some recipes require only one or two items, and most can be made with a small handful.

If you’re unsure where to source your oils, etc., you will find a handy resource guide after the glossary (look here to learn the difference between base oils and essential oils, what to look for when buying essential oils, and everything you need to know about using herbs) and the ingredient dictionary. At the very end is also a recommended reading list, if you would like to delve deeper.

The book has a layout that is easy on the eye and is illustrated with luscious photos that will get you in the mood for a spa day right away.

“Pure Skin Care” is published by Storey Publishing. I received a free copy via Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own. Publishing date is September 18, 2018.

pure skin

Review: “Go Dairy Free” by Alisa Fleming

There are many reasons to forgo dairy products: you may suffer from an intolerance or a full-blown allergy, you may have other health concerns or ethical reservations, or you’re simply not interested (some of us aren’t). Alisa Fleming was born with a severe milk allergy which she never outgrew. Ten years ago, when the first edition of “Go Dairy Free” was released, there were far fewer non-dairy food options than there are today, and of course research has advanced, as well, so now seemed like a good time for an updated version.

Sure enough, whether you actually want or have to skip out on dairy, or whether you’re merely curious, this book is filled to the margins with interesting information. In part one, you’ll learn the difference between an intolerance and an allergy, what the latest medical findings are, what dairy really is and which bits the body needs for what, how you may substitute these important bits, and much more. In part two, you will find more than 250 recipes to accommodate the dairy-free lifestyle, from simple staples like non-dairy mylks and butter replacements to breakfast favorites like muffins, breads, and even French toast sticks, soups, entrees, and desserts, and again: MUCH more. All recipes are vegan-friendly, as well, listing modifications where required to replace eggs (which are not in fact dairy products, no matter how cuddly they get with milk at the grocery store).

I found the information presented interesting and written in a very accessible format. The recipes span a huge variety. For people wanting even more, Ms Fleming also operates a webzine called Go Dairy Free, in which you could easily get lost for days.

There are two caveats I noticed: one, Ms Fleming mentions borage oil in the section of butter replacements. In recent years, experts have warned people away from the frequent use of borage (the plant) because it contains parts that act as carcinogens. I do not know if this also applies to the oil, but do exercise caution, if you can even find borage oil for a price that will not send you to the poor house. Secondly, red palm oil is gaining in popularity, but I for one am not buying into the claims made by virtually every company on the planet these days that their palm oil is sourced sustainably. The two biggest palm oil producing countries still destroy swaths of precious wildlife habitat every single day to accommodate the market. The trees from which red palm oil is made naturally grow in Africa, so if you can find oil sourced from there vs. Latin America or Southeast Asia, you’re better off using that. And then, of course, the debate is ongoing whether the saturated fats in palm oil are any better than those found in animal-derived products. You can do your own research on that.

“Go Dairy Free” is published by BenBella Books. I received a free copy via Netgalley in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

dairy free

Review: “The Warehouse Industry” by William Macbeth

Perhaps it is an odd life goal to not draw attention to oneself, but that is exactly the place in which the narrator of “The Warehouse Industry” finds himself. Socially awkward and insecure, he does his best to blend in, yet still manages to stand out far more than he’s comfortable with. In order to fit in, he often finds himself going along with things he actually finds disagreeable. Slowly, over the course of twenty years, he reveals his story, told through flashbacks from his elder brother’s stag night, his own sketchy employment history, up to his brother’s second wedding. It is this wedding which turns out to be a pivotal, indeed cataclysmic, point in his life.

The narrator seems oddly disengaged, but the book draws the reader in, nonetheless. For those disinclined to read lenghty tomes, fear not: I found this book well-paced to the point where I was somewhat surprised to suddenly find myself deposited at its conclusion.

Mr. Macbeth employs repetition as one of the narrator’s distinguishing features; after all, he has problems holding on to facts. What could make events and people more real than searing their details into one’s brain? The reader may find this way of storytelling somewhat irritating to begin with, but I ask you to persevere. “The Warehouse Industry” has a few unexpected twists in store that will definitely do anything but not draw your attention.

“The Warehouse Industry” is published by Thistle Publishing. I received a free copy for review. All opinions are my own.

warehouse