Everyone has heard the quote by Michael Pollan from In Defense of Food. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.” This may be the most over-quoted line in cookbooks today—but, hey, it’s sage advice. Over the past year or so, I started learning more about food production in the United States. Last July, I attended a reading by Megan Kimble at Word Bookstore in Jersey City. She read from her debut book Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food. In it, Megan uncovers what we mean by “processed”—discovering just how many foods require a surprising amount of energy and resources to get on the table. Living in the city of Tucson on a graduate-student budget, Megan ground her own wheat, joined a CSA, and witnessed the realities of meat production up close, even helping to slaughter a sheep. Some of her experiences were eye-opening (visiting a dairy farm), some changes were tedious (all that work for some chocolate?), other changes were easier to make once she learned how (making oat milk). Each chapter ends with an “Unprocess Yourself” box that will help get you started if you want to try to eat more sustainably. Unprocessed is a great starting point for anyone really, but especially for those who say they don’t have the time or money to eat more healthy, whole foods.
Here are a few other books that are required reading for newbie foodies.
- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I read an excerpt from this book in college, but I didn’t read the whole thing until recently. Kingsolver takes readers along as she and her family move from Arizona to a farmhouse in the Appalachian Mountains where they grow their own food. With boxed text about the food industry and commentary and recipes from Kingsolver’s college-age daughter, this book is an insightful look at a family sustaining themselves on the land, season by season.
- In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan. Michael Pollan is considered an expert on food production and the American diet for a reason. This book is extremely readable. If you’re confused as you try to reconcile the food pyramid you learned in high school with what you find in the supermarket, this book gives straightforward guidelines on what to eat.
- The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food by Dan Barber. The chef behind New York City’s Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns examines the farm-to-table movement. From the farmer who considers the nutrients in his carrots to the chef creating a menu based on locally available food sources—Barber recognize the need for a paradigm shift in America’s food culture and system.
What are your favorite books on food sustainability?
Well, folks, it’s official. I cut myself while cleaning Blade A yesterday. For those of you who spiralize, you know that Blade A makes ribbon-like veggie noodles. Besides cutting myself, my busy day ended with the Deconstructed Zucchini Manicotti from the Inspiralized cookbook. Late last year I received an ARC (Advance Reader’s Copy) of Inspiralized. In January I reviewed Ali Maffucci’s cookbook on the blog and even interviewed her (read the post here!) . When the cookbook debuted last week, I knew my black and white ARC wouldn’t cut it. And I’m so glad I purchased the published book! There are additional recipes that weren’t in the ARC and the full-color photos are stunning. Here I am, enjoying the weather last weekend with my very own copy of Inspiralized. Check out all that Ali has going on at Inspiralized.com including the release of her very own branded Inspiralizer!
Read my interview with Ali and post about Inspiralized –> here!
When I first moved to New York City, I was feeling slow and sluggish. Although the city itself was energizing and living in Greenwich Village provided me with new things to explore daily, I was exhausted from the previous months of commuting. While commuting I would trudge through the hell that is Port Authority, board a crowded, smelly bus, and then drive home to my parents’ house where I would scarf down dinner and plant myself on the couch or in bed only to wake up and do it all over again. When I moved, I had the freedom of a shorter commute and more time after work. My friend introduced to me the NYC-studio of Dasha Libin Anderson and her class Kettlebell Kickboxing. The first class I was so scared I would pass out or puke. But I didn’t. Anderson’s class combines martial arts and kettlebells with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). I was hooked after the first class for two reasons: 1. Kettlebells are so versatile. 2. I felt energized and empowered. The way that Anderson’s body looks–sculpted and strong–was something I was looking for and wasn’t finding on the treadmill or elliptical. I started seeing a lot of progress not only in the tone of my muscles but also in my pant size and on the scale. But more importantly, I wanted to train harder to improve myself physically and mentally. I had fallen in love with kettlebells and the way training with them made me feel. Moving to Jersey City, I wasn’t able to attend classes every week at Anderson’s studio, but I purchased her DVD set (Kettlebell Kickboxing The Body Series 11 DVD Set & Nutrition Guide) to work out with kettlebells at home. The DVDs are just as engaging because Anderson mixes up every move to engage multiple muscle groups and challenge your flexibility, mobility, strength, and endurance. The moment I heard that Anderson was writing a book, I had to get my hands on it. The 325-page book is your definitive guide to kettlebells, but more than that Anderson encourages you “to be confident to take action and opportunities because our strong, agile, healthy, and fit bodies can move and bend and lift and push and pull and live.” If you’re looking for a fitness program that shows you the moves to sculpt your body, gives you exercises to do and a plan to follow, and provides empowering advice to maximize your results–this is it.
I also recently received a book by Lauren Brooks called Kettlebells for Women. Although I don’t know Brooks, have never trained with her, or viewed her DVDs, I wanted to give this book a chance too. Kettlebells really are the perfect tool for women to use because the kettlebell swing engages the posterior chain (your booty) rather than your arms. You won’t bulk up from using kettlebells, but you will tone a variety of muscle groups depending on the moves you do. And even as you become more advanced there are a myriad of moves to conquer. And you’ll always have the kettlebell swing as a foundational move that produces results. I guarantee you, with proper training you’ll master moves you never thought possible like the Turkish get-up and a deck squat. Both books acknowledge the history behind kettlebell training especially their use in Russia and Europe. Both books provide a program for weight-loss, strength, and conditioning. The moves are shown through step-by-step photographs with descriptions, tips, and important information about proper form and safety. Below I’m going to list 5 Reasons to Read for each book, because I think they are both great resources for your kettlebell training. Keep Reading…
Cover photo courtesy Sunrise River Press
With the start of a new year it is easy to get bogged down with unrealistic fitness and diet resolutions. Holli Thompson encourages seasonal and local eating that is unique to your health and lifestyle needs. Her educational and inventive book provides all the tools you need to listen to your body and feed it the healthy, plant-based diet it deserves.
5 reasons to read:
1. Thompson, a former fashion exec, ditched the unhealthy and inflammatory foods and transformed her life–she is a success story herself.
2. This book answers all your health questions: What does it mean to do a cleanse? What foods should be avoided? How can I eat seasonally? What is a chia seed? The health newbie and expert alike will learn a lot from Thompson’s well-researched book.
3. With glossy pictures and a colorful design, this book is pretty enough to be a coffee table book, plus you’ll want to refer to it often so it won’t stay on the shelf for long.
4. The abundance of tables takes the guessing out of your nutritional style, seasonal eating, foods to avoid, foods to embrace, and food shopping.
5. Real-life case studies will help you apply Thompson’s advice to your own experience in a way that isn’t overwhelming. Keep Reading…