Monday, January 3, 2011

2 great food reads for the New Year

Lots of people make resolutions surrounding health and wellness in the New Year, including myself. I'm just attempting to stick with a lifestyle change I recently made, as well as drink more water. Simple resolutions, really. A couple of months ago, after a lot of thinking (and a few documentaries), I made the decision to stop eating meat and drinking milk. I'm not a vegetarian (I'm still eating fish) and I'm not a vegan (I'm still eating cheese/ice cream/etc), but I definitely have been making, what I have deemed as healthier choices for myself, for animals, and for the planet. 

In December, I read two books focusing on food and wellness of a sort and enjoyed both of them quite a bit, but for very different reasons.

The first, The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone is part testimony to becoming a vegan and part cookbook. Lots of recipes, most are pretty easy to create, but a lot of the ingredients aren't easily accessible (to me at least). I'm looking forward to making some of the dishes, like Ginger Pasta with Zucchini and Alicia's Favorite Cupcakes, but I definitely got more out of the memoir/teaching portion of the book, rather than the recipe portion. 

Alicia tells us her decision making process of becoming a vegan and why she thinks this should be a lifestyle for everyone. I appreciated her frankness, but I also think that was what put me off at times too. She has no problem telling her readers that meat and dairy are "nasty" and that "sugar is crack" and often comes off as slightly condescending in tone. She encourages her readers to "flirt" with eating only a plant-based diet, but definitely places the other choice in a very negative light. I did, however, learn a lot about good proteins, natural sweeteners, and the benefits to the earth. 

Overall, I probably wouldn't hand this to someone teetering on becoming a vegan or not, though I would give it to someone sure of their decision or new to the lifestyle. I have no plans to become a full-on vegan, but took away good tips for the lifestyle that I am choosing to lead. 

The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet
Alicia Silverstone
320 pages
Adult Non-Fiction
Rodale Books
October 2009
Book borrowed from my library

My second foodie read of December was The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove by Cathy Erway and I loved it! Part life memoir, part recipe book, I really took away a lot of great tips from Erway's journey, as well as some awesome recipes. 

Living in NYC, Erway decided to attempt an experiment and blog about it, like so many people do, but she had a really unique and inspiring idea. She was going to refrain from eating out in any restaurant in NYC and did so for two whole years. I would have failed pretty much immediately. 

Throughout these two years, we watch as Erway learns how to cook all the great food she would be normally spending large sums of money on at eateries around the city and makes a lot of new friends and helping to save the planet while doing so. We also get little tidbits of Erway's life, her job, her relationship with a guy, etc. throughout the pages and they're very nice additions to the book. 

As in most foodie memoirs, I wish there was the addition of photographs, but that's just a personal issue. I love pictures! The recipes all appear fairly easy, though some of the ingredients will be pricey (compared to their restaurant counterparts though, quite inexpensive). 

I won't be giving up restaurant eating anytime soon, especially while I'm living in such an awesome place for eating! I will, however, make more conscious choices regarding where and when we eat out. A lot of times we'll find ourselves out somewhere and hungry and rather than research a restaurant for good reviews, we just pick what's closest and end up with a mediocre meal. Or for convenience sake we'll order in from the closest Thai restaurant and only sort of enjoy our meal, rather than make the drive 20 minutes to the excellent place we know we love. Stuff like that needs to change!

The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove
Cathy Erway
336 pages
Adult Non-Fiction
February 2010
Book borrowed from my library


Lisa said...

I really want to read that Eating in one, we're on a very strict budget these days and I need to hear how great eating in is compared to eating out, cause I miss eating out.

Beth S. said...

I had not heard of The Art of Eating In. I definitely want to read that one. I'm a big proponent of cooking meals at home instead of going out or getting take-out/fast food all the time.

I agree that Silverstone came off as condescending in The Kind Diet and that the ingredients she puts in the book are not easily accessible. I think celebrities forget that there are lots of people in America who can't just run to the gourmet market to get these hard to find ingredients.

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

I also hadn't heard of Eating In...great idea. Now if only I could learn to love cooking. Will have to check it out since my family loves to eat out. Maybe I'll find the inspiration.