Let Food Be Your Medicine by Don Colbert

Let Food Be Your Medicine: Dietary Changes Proven to Prevent or Reverse Disease

Physician-turned-journalist Don Colbert, MD offers intriguing and practical advice for optimum nutrition and wellness in Let Food Be Your Medicine: Dietary Changes Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease. Early on, Colbert shares the deceptively simple insight that we catch colds but we develop chronic diseases like Type II Diabetes or Cardiovascular disease. That is not a coincidence, either. In Latin, “Dis” refers to being “apart”, disjointed, or having a negative or “reversing force.” Ease refers “freedom from pain” or being in a tranquil or peaceful state. In essence, disease signifies a breaking away from a peaceful or tranquil state. The process of developing and solidifying disease, however,  is complex and involves lifestyle & environmental factors, as well as the interplay of all systems of mind, body, and spirit.

I tend to gobble up books about food, nutrition, and wellness and am naturally obsessed with how the gut or the “microbiome”, i.e. the ecosystem living in the core of your body, is more powerful and influential over our general health & well-being than we once imagined. A discussion about the microbiome is another conversation entirely and is far beyond my scope of knowledge; but Colbert does not overlook discussing current research about the delicate ecosystem living between our brain and bowel. How curious that we may even begin to view our food cravings as tiny demands from the bacteria in our guts who have lives of their own? In essence, we are feeding them. You better believe they don’t always have your best interests in mind, either. The little “voices in your head” (or, gut, in this case) take on a whole new meaning. Read this book to dig in a little deeper as to how and why our microbiome is so influential and critical to our overall health.

Colbert mixes testimonial with current medical evidence to present a compelling argument for being mindful and deliberative when it comes to what we put into our bodies. Learn about his struggle with autoimmune disorders and how his quest to heal himself resulted in weeding nightshade foods (peppers, eggplants, tomatoes) out of his diet. Not all food is equal in its ability to nourish, heal, or harm, either, as you may know. We often take for granted that we do not innately know what foods are harmful or helpful. Many of us grew up in homes in which our parent(s) worked and perhaps did not have the time to prepare and cook whole, nourishing meals all week long. In short, eating “healthy” is not common sense. Failure to meet your daily nutrient requirements or to altogether make harmful dietary choices is not therefore some testament to your lack of willpower. Quite simply, many of us have to learn how to make better food choices, and that starts with education. If you have any curiosity whatsoever in how you can better yourself simply by changing what you put into your body, read this book.

This book is not a fix-all for all that ails you, nor does it substitute for the relationship you have with your primary care physicians or doctors. Part of what is working about healthcare is that we acknowledge that wellness involves the alignment of mind, body, and spirit or the non-physical part of a human being. Grey’s Anatomy sums up the dilemma well in one episode in which Dr. Preston Burke, esteemed neurosurgeon, argues with Dr. Cristina Yang that nurturing a  patient’s spiritual state is equally as important as the medical intervention being performed, for the reason that human beings are not merely physical bodies. The non-physical parts of us require care and respect, too. Though Colbert’s book does not discuss the role of spirituality in health in great depth, he no-doubt weaves his own faith into the book (but it is not oft-putting for non-Christians). I can most certainly recall a time in my lifespan of thirty-six years when the words “soul”, “spirituality” and “Ayurveda” would have never made an appearance in a discussion about disease, illness, or health & wellbeing. But today? We are becoming more interdisciplinary & holistic in how we not only view but “treat” illness — and how we care for whole human beings (not just symptoms).

If you are even the slightest bit curious about how food can harm or heal, read this book. If you would be amazed by the prospect of eating a diet that custom made to fight diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, cancer, auto-immune disorders — read this book. Believe it or not, one of the most powerful statements that Colbert makes in this book is this: cancer, depending upon the type and staging, can and  very well does constitute a chronic disease that can actually be managed like other chronic diseases not unlike COPD, heart disease, and diabetes. I don’t know about you, but aside from a cure that’s the very best next thing!  Bear in mind, Colbert is not claiming to have a cure for cancer; but he lays out, in one case, a diet plan that is tailored not only to the cancer patient but to the specific stage of cancer in order to increase the chances of putting the cancer into remission…and we can do this with vegetables, micronutrients, plants–with the plentitude of healing, delicious foods that are available to us should we be inclined.

Burnt

Burntburnt is a comedy drama telling the story of Adam Jones, a chef in Paris who lost everything because of drugs and alcohol. Adam was a two-star Michelin chef at a restaurant in Paris, known as an incredible chef who spent his days working on creating recipes that exploded with flavor in your mouth. He strove to NOT be consistent and to be different every time he cooked.

After a disastrous blowout at his restaurant and an abrupt disappearance from Paris, Adam puts himself on a self-imposed three year exile in New Orleans. Once he feels he has paid his a-million-oyster-shucking penance, he moves to London, looking up old friends from when he worked in Paris and hustling to get a job as a head chef in a fine-dining restaurant.

Adam desperately wants to get that elusive third Michelin star. In order to do so, he must find a restaurant willing to hand over the reigns to him. Working to make his dream come true, Adam scours London looking for the best chefs and restaurant people to have at his side as he works on recipes and designs a menu to his standards. The people Adam meets force him to confront issues from his past, as well as force him out of his cooking comfort zone. This movie is full of second chances and redemption as Adam works to overcome his reputation and reach for that third Michelin star.

I’ll Have What Phil’s Having

what phil's havingI enjoy a good travel documentary, but what really hooks me in are the ones that focus on the local food that can be found and enjoyed when you are on vacation. I’ll Have What Phil’s Having is what I would call a food travel documentary and definitely fulfilled my wish for more of a focus on food than the sites that you would see in a traditional travel documentary.

I’ll Have What Phil’s Having follows Emmy Award-winner Phil Rosenthal, the creator of the hit show Everybody Loves Raymond, as he travels around the world looking for fantastic food in various countries and cities. Phil visits six sites: Tokyo, Italy, Paris, Hong Kong, Barcelona, and his hometown, Los Angeles. At each place, he seeks out what he thinks to be the world’s best food, looking for chefs, ground-breaking style-setters, and leaders in the culinary world to expand his palate and find places where both locals and tourists go to find the best food.

What I loved about this documentary is that Phil was looking for restaurants and chefs that both kept the food traditions of their communities alive and also were working to create new foods, ideas, and restaurants. He acknowledges that he looks for places that both tourists go to, but that going off the beaten path and looking for places that the locals know of will sometimes lead you on a new adventure.

This documentary caught and held my interest because of the wide variety of food he tested, the places he visited, and because of his hilarious commentary and facial expressions as he experienced anything new for the first time. He also gives tours of the famous and historical sites around as enticement for visiting the places that he is at as well. Highly recommended.

Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

food a love storyI, for one, love to eat and my friends know it. Our discussions usually go: “What are you eating?” “Where did you get that? I want one…” “You went WHERE to eat without me?!” The typical food-fest. Imagine my joy when I stumbled upon Food: A Love Story by comedian Jim Gaffigan. I had listened to Gaffigan’s standup before and discovered that he LOVES to eat, comes from a very large family, and was raised in the Midwest. I knew I must read it and was not disappointed.

In this book, Gaffigan draws upon his family history, his deep love of ALMOST anything food, and how sometimes you just have to hide your food from others to completely enjoy it and that there is nothing wrong with doing so. Pictures of Gaffigan, his family, and HIS food break up discussions about vegetarians, how he mistakenly overanalyzed and did not realize the worthiness of steak growing up, “adult” junk food, how he decided to eat healthy, and his description of the perceived differences between hot dogs and sausages(and how you must know the correct way to order them in different cities). Make sure to have food nearby as you devour this book and discover the importance difference between many cheeses and it’s okay not to like seafood or fruit.

If you are looking for more Gaffigan, you’re in luck! Food: A Love Story is a follow-up to Gaffigan’s other book, Dad is Fat, which is also available through the Davenport Public Library.

Delicious by Ruth Reichl

deliciousIn Ruth Reichl’s first novel Delicious!, Billie Breslin has traveled far from her home in California to take a job at Delicious!, New York’s most iconic food magazine. Away from her family, particularly her older sister, Genie, Billie feels like a fish out of water – until she is welcomed by the magazine’s colorful staff. She is also seduced by the vibrant downtown food scene, especially by Fontanari’s, the famous Italian food shop where she works on weekends.

Then Delicious! is abruptly shut down, but Billie agrees to stay on in the empty office, maintaining the hotline for reader complaints in order to pay her bills. To Billie’s surprise, the lonely job becomes the portal to a miraculous discovery. In a hidden room in the magazine’s library, Billie finds a cache of letters written during World War II by Lulu Swan, a plucky twelve-year-old, to the legendary chef James Beard. Lulu’s letters provide Billie with a richer understanding of history, and a feeling of deep connection to the young writer whose courage in the face of hardship inspires Billie to comes to terms with her fears, her big sister and her ability to open her heart to love. (description from publisher)

Delicious  is also available for check out as a free ebook through the RiverShare Digital Library.

From blog to book

Lifestyle blogs are the ‘thing’ right now.  Young House Love, Perfectly Imperfect, Smitten Kitchen, and Pioneer Woman are all written by bloggers who are getting famous simply for letting readers into their homes  (I like to think of them as still life reality stars.)  The best bloggers combine a sharp wit, unique voice, beautiful photos, a glimpse at the personal, and easy to follow how-tos.  Many of these bloggers have published books that you can check out from the Davenport Public Library, so stop by and check them out!

Young House Love by Sherry & John Petersik
Apartment Therapy Presents by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan
The Sprouted Kitchen by Sara Forte
Joy the Baker Cookbook by Joy Wilson
The Perfectly Imperfect Home by Deborah Needleman
The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
Design Sponge at Home by Grace Bonney

Cooking with Celebrities

With the purchase of his newest CD, B.O.A.T.S II, #metime, southern rapper 2 Chainz is releasing a digital Instagram cookbook with some of his favorite recipes called #mealtime.  While 2 Chainz is not the first celebrity to offer up a cookbook, he might very well be the first to include a digital cookbook with a CD (I’m going to bet that he is.) You may not be able to borrow #mealtime from the library, but we would love it if you checked out one of these celebrity cookbooks:

kinddiet

The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet by Cher Horowitz Alicia Silverstone
Silverstone is best known for playing Cher Horowitz in Clueless, but also made a name for herself in recent years for demonstrating mouth-to-mouth feeding of children to many for the first time.  This book helps vegetarians and vegans ensure that they’re getting all of the nutrition needed, while still making tasty food.

tucci cookbookThe Tucci Cookbook by Stanley Tucci
Tucci has been in a number of fantastic films, including The Devil Wears Prada, Julie and Julia, Easy A, and of course, The Hunger Games.  As the grandson of Italian immigrants, Tucci has spent his life around food.  In this cookbook he shares a mixture of family recipes and stories.

ifitmakesyou healthyIf it Makes You Healthy by Sheryl Crow
Crow’s cookbook is comprised of healthy recipes created by her personal chef, Chuck White.  As breast cancer survivor, Crow is more concerned with the health benefits of certain foods and focusing on local and organic than with calorie counts.  The title is a pun on Crow’s hit, “If it Makes You Happy” off of her 1996 eponymous album.

cookinwithcoolioCookin’ With Coolio: 5 Star Meals at a 1 Star Price by Coolio
So, apparently Coolio had a “Cookin’ with Coolio” webseries (that no one told me about!) and as a result, he had a cookbook published. The “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Fantastic Voyage” rapper (and “Rollin’ with My Homies” featured in the aforementioned Clueless) mixes tongue-in-cheek humor, slang, vulgarity, and a plethora of drug references with simple recipes in this R-rated cookbook.

georgia cooking         tangytart         evaskitchen          my father's daughter

You can also find cookbooks from Gwyneth Paltrow, Trisha Yearwood, Padma Lakshmi, and Eva Longoria at the library!

 

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

relishLucy Knisley is an illustrator who loves food.  Raised by foodies before they would have been called foodies, Knisley writes and draws about her life through the lens of the meals that she ate.  Foie Gras, Kraft Mac and Cheese, apricot jam filled croissants, sushi, fresh tamales, and cherry tomatoes right off the vine all bring back significant memories in Knisley’s life and pepper Relish: My Life in the Kitchen with funny stories and delicious recollections.

I had read Knisley’s previous foray into food themed graphic novel memoirs French Milk, about her trip to Paris with her mother following her graduation from college, and I wasn’t particularly impressed.  But after reading positive reviews of Relish, I decided to give Knisley another chance.  I am so glad that I did.  She seems to have found her voice (and a better editor) for this book, and has included delightful illustrated recipes at the end of each chapter.  It left me wishing that she would write a full graphic novel cookbook.  Each of these recipes calls back to a specific memory in Knisley’s life, from childhood to the present, shaping the person she has become.  Knisley’s passion is infectious, and this would be a great read for anyone with a lost young adult in their life.

Harvest by Richard Horan

harvestNovelist and nature writer Richard Horan embarks on an adventure across America to reveal that farming is still the vibrant beating heart of our nation in Harvest.

Horan went from coast to coast, visiting organic family farms and working the harvests of more than a dozen essential or unusual food crops–from Kansas wheat and Michigan wild rice to Maine potatoes, California walnuts, and Cape Cod cranberries–in search of connections with the farmers, the soil, the seasons, and the lifeblood of America.

Sparkling with lively prose and a winning blend of profound seriousness and delightful humor, Harvest carries the reader on an eyeopening and transformational journey across the length and breadth of this remarkable land, offering a powerful national portrait of challenge and diligence, and an inspiring message of hope. (description from publisher)

 

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

Deb Perelman is one of my favorite nonfiction writers. Her blog, smittenkitchen.com, is one of the most beautiful and well-cultivated on the web. She writes with good grammar, common sense, and maturity: all too rare in the world of blogging. Her photos are sumptuous; her voice is authentic and charming; her advice is encouraging but never preachy. Her recipes range from moderate ease (mixed bean salad) to incredible ambition (Moules à la Marinière) . Most importantly, her lifestyle (which is what any blogger on any topic is ultimately selling) seems attainable, realistic, homey, and good. Now, she has “arrived,” so to speak, by getting herself published in “real life,” aka, a glossy hardcover book published by Knopf.

And what a hardcover it is! I have it checked out now, but I know I’ll be returning to it too often not to make a home on my own bookshelf for it. Most of the recipes are new, which is to say they have never appeared on the website. The design is crisp, the photos delectable, the writing full of warmth. I have no reservations whatsoever about recommending this book to anyone who has a kitchen!