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.

Farmer’s Market Cookbook by Julia Shanks

farmers market cookbookFarmers markets and CSAs are among the best places to find high-quality, diverse, and exciting vegetables and fruits. But the rich array of unusual varieties can be confusing and overwhelming.

From detailed produce descriptions to storage tips, preparation techniques, and over 200 flavorful recipes, The Farmers Market Cookbook has the answer to every prospective locavore’s perennial question, “What do I do with this?” Featuring a range of traditional favorites alongside innovative creations showcasing the stunning flavors of heirloom fruits and vegetables, this guide to seasonal eating will help you engage your powers of creativity, learning, and experimentation.

Eating locally cultivates appreciation for those who grow our food. Full of practical insights from field to fork, The Farmers Market Cookbook celebrates the small farmer’s labor of love with recipes that showcase every crop at its best – essential reading for anyone who wants to appreciate fresh food at its best. (description from publisher)

Vegetable Butcher by Cara Mangini

vegetable butcherThe skills of butchery meet the world of fresh produce in The Vegetable Butcher, an essential, inspiring guide that demystifies the world of vegetables.

In step-by-step photographs, “vegetable butcher” Cara Mangini shows how to break down a butternut squash, cut a cauliflower into steaks, peel a tomato properly, chiffonade kale, turn carrots into coins and parsnips into matchsticks, and find the meaty heart of an artichoke.

Additionally, more than 150 original, simple recipes put vegetables front and center, from a Kohlrabi Carpaccio to Zucchini, Sweet Corn, and Basil Penne, to a Parsnip-Ginger Layer Cake to sweeten a winter meal. It’s everything you need to know to get the best out of modern, sexy, and extraordinarily delicious vegetables. (description from publisher)

Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

plenty moreYotam Ottolenghi is one of the world’s most beloved culinary talents. In this follow-up to his bestselling Plenty, he continues to explore the diverse realm of vegetarian food with a wholly original approach. Organized by cooking method, more than 150 dazzling recipes emphasize spices, seasonality, and bold flavors.

From inspired salads to hearty main dishes and luscious desserts, Plenty More is a must-have for vegetarians and omnivores alike. This visually stunning collection will change the way you cook and eat vegetables. (description from publisher)

Spring is Here!

After the winter we’ve had – are still having! – it’s hard to believe that it’s actually, finally spring but as of yesterday, it’s true. And spring means it’s time to start planning your garden and flower beds – it’ll be green again before you know it. Really! Here are some of our latest books to inspire you.

plantifulPlantiful: start small, grow big with 150 plants that spread, self-sow and overwinter by Kristin Green –  Plantiful shows you how to have an easy, gorgeous garden packed with plants by simply making the right choices. Kristen Green highlights plants that help a garden quickly grow by self-sowing and spreading and teaches you how to expand the garden and extend the life of a plant by overwintering. Discover the perfect the art of editing, share the wealth, and learn for yourself that gardeners don’t have to dig deep to grow a lively, plentiful, and colorful garden year-round.

grow more with lessGrow More with Less by Vincent Simeone – Put your best foot forward in creating an efficient, sustainable home landscape. From composting and mulching to planting trees, author Vincent Simeone covers all the eco-friendly essentials in one straightforward handbook. Simeone makes the what, how, and why of sustainable gardening unmistakably clear: why we should plant for the long-term, how to make the best plant selections possible, how to manage invasive species, how to make the most of your lawn (regardless of its size), the importance of IPM (integrated pest management) in fighting insects and pests, how to conserve water with proper irrigation, installing rain barrels and cisterns, and more.

wildlife friendlyThe Wildlife Friendly Vegetable Gardener  by Tammi Hartung – This one-of-a-kind book shows you how to create a peaceful co-existence between your vegetable garden and the wildlife who consider it part of their habitat. By understanding and working with the surrounding environment – instead of continually fighting it – you’ll reap a larger harvest with much less stress and effort. Tammi Hartung explains how to start with a hardy and healthy garden, create beneficial relationships through smart planting, attract helpful insects and pollinators, intentionally create habitats for wildlife, and much more.

attracting beneficial bugsAttracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden by Jessica Walliser – It may seem counterintuitive to want bugs in a garden, but insects are indeed valuable garden companions. Especially those species known for eating the bugs that eat plants. Assassin bugs, damsel bugs, and predatory stink bugs are all carnivores that devour the bugs that dine on a garden. This complete, hands-on guide is for anyone looking for a new, natural, and sustainable way to control pests.

Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison

vegetable literacyFor over three decades, Deborah Madison has been at the vanguard of the vegetarian cooking movement, authoring classic books on the subject and emboldening millions of readers to cook simple, elegant, plant-based food.

This groundbreaking new cookbook is Madison’s crowning achievement: a celebration of the diversity of the plant kingdom, and an exploration of the fascinating relationships between vegetables, edible flowers, herbs, and familiar wild plants within the same botanical families.

Destined to become the new standard reference for cooking vegetables, Vegetable Literacy shows cooks that, because of their shared characteristics, vegetables within the same family can be used interchangeably in cooking. It presents an entirely new way of looking at vegetables, drawing on Madison’s deep knowledge of cooking, gardening, and botany. For example, knowing that dill, chervil, cumin, parsley, coriander, anise, lovage, and caraway come from the umbellifer family makes it clear why they’re such good matches for carrots, also a member of that family. With more than 300 classic and exquisitely simple recipes, Madison brings this wealth of information together in dishes that highlight a world of complementary flavors.

Inspiring improvisation in the kitchen and curiosity in the garden, Vegetable Literacy—an unparalleled look at culinary vegetables and plants—will forever change the way we eat and cook. (description from publisher)

A Rich Spot of Earth by Peter Hatch

Were Thomas Jefferson to walk the grounds of Monticello today, he would no doubt feel fully at home in the 1,000-foot terraced vegetable garden where the very vegetables and herbs he favored are thriving.

Extensively and painstakingly restored, Jefferson’s unique vegetable garden now boasts the same medley of plants he enthusiastically cultivated in the early nineteenth century. The garden is a living expression of Jefferson’s genius and his distinctly American attitudes. Its impact on the culinary, garden, and landscape history of the United States continues to the present day.

Graced with nearly 200 full-color illustrations, A Rich Spot of Earth is the first book devoted to all aspects of the Monticello vegetable garden. Hatch guides us from the asparagus and artichokes first planted in 1770 through the horticultural experiments of Jefferson’s retirement years (1809-1826). The author explores topics ranging from labor in the garden, garden pests of the time, and seed saving practices to contemporary African American gardens. He also discusses Jefferson’s favorite vegetables and the hundreds of varieties he grew, the half-Virginian half-French cuisine he developed, and the gardening traditions he adapted from many other countries. (description from publisher)

The Gardener and the Grill by Karen Adler

From garden to grill to fork, nothing tastes better than freshly harvested vegetables grilled to perfection alongside savory meats and plump grilled fruits. The Gardener and the Grill by Karen Adler is the grilling guide for gardeners, seasonal eaters, and “flexitarians” everywhere, and anyone enamored of the powers of the grill.

Keep the grill hot long after summer’s finished with Planked Butternut Squash with Sage and Brie; Grilled Gazpacho; a Blackened Fish Po’Boy with Grilled Green Onion Mayonnaise; Pizza Primavera; Wood-Grilled Shrimp and Yellow Peppers; Tandoori Turkey Burgers: and Grill-Baked Apples with Cinnamon Nut Stuffing. With seasonal recipes, tips on grilling for preserving, a burgeoning “griller’s pantry” of rubs and versatile sauces, and more than 100 vegetarian recipes, this is the must-have resource for eager and experienced grillers and gardeners alike. (description from publisher)

Ripe by Cheryl Rule

Eat fruits and vegetables not because you’re told you should, but because you want them in every sense of the word. Because they are beautiful. And satisfying. And you want their freshness, flavor, and simplicity. That’s why Ripe is arranged by color, not season.

Author and food writer Cheryl Sternman Rule and award-winning food photographer Paulette Phlipot, have teamed up to bring inspiration to hungry home cooks. Their goal is not to deliver another lecture on eating for the sake of nutrition or environmental stewardship (though they affirm that both are important), but to tempt others to “embrace the vegetable, behold the fruit” because these foods are versatile, gorgeous, and taste terrific. Starting with red and progressing towards a calmer white, Ripe is arranged by color to showcase the lush, natural beauty of fruits and vegetables. Each is accompanied by a lighthearted essay, breathtaking photography, and one showcase recipe, along with three “quick-hit” recipe ideas. With 150 photos and 75 recipes, this unique cookbook will quicken your pulse and leave you very, very hungry. (description from publisher)

Spring Is Here!

Time to brush off those shovels and start thinking about sprucing up your yard and planting your vegetable garden. Here are some recent titles to inspire you.

The Beginners Guide to Growing Heirloom Vegetables by Marie Iannotti – Are heirloom vegetables more difficult to grow than conventional hybrids? This book debunks this myth by highlighting the 100 heirloom vegetables that are the easiest to grow and the tastiest to eat.

Decoding Garden Advice: the Science Behind the 100 Most Common Recommendations by Jeff Gillman – Assess gardening recommendations related to soil, water, pests, diseases, weed control, mulch, annuals, perennials, bulbs, trees and shrubs, vegetables and fruit, and lawn care.

Landscaping for Privacy by Marty Wingate  shows homeowners how to landscape their yards, balconies, and rooftops to enhance privacy by creating buffers to noise, pollution, sun, wind, kids, and dogs with berms or groups of small trees; barriers that deter invasion like living and permanent fences; and screens that will block unwanted sights using hedges

Container Garden Idea Book from Taunton Press – Containers are wonderful accents anywhere in the landscape; this book is an amazing visual clip file with more than 300 photos, plant recipes, and eye-catching designs for container gardens of all shapes and sizes.

Sugar Snaps and Strawberries: Simple Solutions for Creating Your Own Small-Space Edible Gardenby Andrea Bellamy gives you the dirt on growing gorgeous organic food with very little square footage. Simple, straightforward, design and growing advice can help you transform just a snippet of space into a stylish and edible oasis.

Complete Idiot’s Guide to Seed Saving and Starting by Sheri Ann Richerson – Covers all of the essential techniques- harvesting, drying, disease and pest control, testing and germinating, and sowing