Chickpea Flour Does It All: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegetarian Recipes for Every Taste and Season Review

Chickpea Flour Does It All: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegetarian Recipes for Every Taste and Season by Lindsey S. Love (The Experiment, April 5, 2016)

Throughout her childhood, Lindsey Love (food stylist, photographer, and the creator of the food blog Dolly and Oatmeal) suffered from stomach pain, indigestion and mood swings.  When these symptoms developed into anxiety and depression, she consulted medical and homeopathic doctors.  Eventually a nutritionist recommended a plant-based, gluten-free, dairy-free diet that included foods with a low glycemic index.  Soon Love was “feeling light, energized, and, most important, happy” (2). Along the way, Love discovered a flatbread made with chickpea flour with “a warm and crunchy exterior with a smooth and velvety center” (2) and learned that chickpea flour is incredibly versatile and nutritious.  This “power flour,” also known as garbanzo bean, besan, or gram flour, is high in protein (23 grams in one cup!) and contains unsaturated fat, fiber, vitamins, iron and magnesium.

The 96 recipes in Chickpea Flour Does It All are gluten and dairy-free, as well as vegetarian (49 are vegan), and are organized by month so the seasonal produce will inspire readers to experiment.  The winter months include Sautéed Pear and Sage Pancakes with Almonds, and Ginger-Shiitake Miso Broth with Chickpea Tofu; spring highlights Spring Onion and Lemongrass Stew with Cauliflower and Yams, and Vanilla Bean Lavender Cupcakes; Summer is celebrated with Savory Zucchini, Shiso, and Black Quinoa Muffins, and Ratatouille Tartlets; Fall embraces Savory Crepes with Beet Pate, and Spaghetti Squash Fritters.

With her richly satisfying and highly nutritious recipes that embrace every season, and every time of day, Lindsey Love proves that Chickpea Flour truly Does It All.

Thank you to Shelf Awareness for helping me find this book!

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Adventurous Vegetarian Review

The Adventurous Vegetarian: Around the World in 30 Meals by Jane Hughes (New Internationalist; October 2013)


The Adventurous Vegetarian: Around the World in 30 Meals showcases how vegetarianism is gaining momentum globally. Jane Hughes, editor of The Vegetarian magazine and tutor at the Cordon Vert, hopes to “make it possible for vegetarians, wherever they may be, to sit down to a meal similar to that which might be on the table in a vegetarian household on the other side of the world.” To accomplish this goal, she found willing contributors from 30 different countries to offer a panoply of appetizers, entrees, and desserts which translate the shared principles of vegetarianism into a cornucopia of global recipes.

The use of “adventurous” in the title is apt — many ingredients are not found in a Western diet and even experienced chefs will find challenging recipes in this survey of the world’s cuisine.  While remaining true to the spirit of each recipe, Hughes occasionally replaces prohibitive techniques or ingredients.  For example, in Togo the making of fufu is traditionally a communal task with the strongest members of the community taking turns pounding starchy vegetables with a large stick (Hughes substitutes polenta).

However, beginners will find success with many of the simpler offerings (for example, Chinese ABC soup only contains six ingredients and 30 minutes).  From personal experience, the asparagus, feta, hazelnut recipe that represents Australia is “fool proof” — nearly everyone I’ve made this for has requested the recipe to make themselves.

Hughes believes this cookbook is more about “letting the world come to you” and less about travel — but the brief history of each country’s cuisine, helpful websites, and advice for finding vegetarian fare would be beneficial to vegetarian explorers as well. Even carnivorous foodies will enjoy experiencing this survey of vegetarianism.

Thank you to Shelf Awareness for bringing this book to my attention!

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Disease-Proof Review

Disease-Proof: The Remarkable Truth About What Makes Us Well by David Katz M.D. and Stacey Colino (Hudson Street Press, September 26, 2013)
disease proof

David Katz is trying to change America’s culture–one body at a time. As an expert in chronic disease prevention and weight management, Katz (The Way to Eat et al.) knows preventive medicine begins by changing our habits. Disease-Proof focuses on guiding readers through concrete, attainable changes in diet and exercise: “lifestyle as medicine… no prescription required!” Katz also debunks the idea that our destiny is determined by our genes, believing they only indicate a possibility of risk that can be reduced through healthy habits by as much as 80 percent.

However, instead of emphasizing willpower, Katz believes we need more skill-power. He and his colleagues at Yale’s Prevention Research Center have developed a “pressure system model” of behavior management that takes people’s motivation and resistance to change into account. “If you want to change your habits, one approach is to try really, really hard,” Katz writes. “The other is to follow the rules until that external discipline becomes internal discipline,” transforming the healthy actions into “part of your personal skillset.”

Each chapter begins with a challenge–such as not recognizing what healthy eating is–and describes the “right response” (learning to love foods that love us back), and “relevant skills” (portion control), after which Katz provides a to-do list focused on making the right choice easy. Even health-conscious readers would benefit from the fresh perspective on diet and exercise provided in Disease-Proof.

Thank you to Shelf Awareness for bringing this book to my attention!

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The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Review

The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify by Francine Jay (Chronicle Books, April 26, 2016)

Francine Jay ( begins her latest foray into organizational bliss with a strong proclamation: “What if I told you that having less stuff could make you a happier person?” (6).  Debunking the belief that we can buy happiness, Jay believes our “stuff” is “slowly sucking the money out of our pockets, the magic out of our relationships, and the joy out of our lives” (6).  Instead, minimalism allows “…space to think, play, create, and have fun with our families…” (7).  To accomplish this, Jay begins by cultivating a minimalist mindset, transforming how we decide what to keep, embracing living with just what we need to meet our needs — and benefiting the world.

She recommends we categorize stuff as useful, beautiful, and emotional and then ruthlessly weed out everything else. “Aspirational” stuff, meant to impress others or our fantasy selves, is culled to make room for authentic happiness. Jay uses the STREAMLINE method (Start over; Trash, treasure, or transfer; Reason for every item; Everything in its place; All surfaces clear; Modules; Limits; If one comes in, one goes out; Narrow it down; Everyday maintenance) to achieve and maintain an uncluttered life.  By the end, every item in our lives should contribute to our happiness.  To help readers achieve this goal, Jay addresses every room in the house, including closets, realizing that each space has unique challenges, and provides tips for engaging family members in the process.  She believes the more space we create, the more happiness we can welcome.

Thank you to Shelf Awareness for helping me find this book!

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Sunday’s on the Phone to Monday Review

Sunday’s on the Phone to Monday  by Christine Reilly (Touchstone, April 5, 2016) 336 pages

First Line: Mathilde’s father, James Spicer, had been the last person she’d known to use a shoehorn and a handkerchief, archaic tools gone the way of arrowheads and telegrams.

Review: The great strength of Christine Reilly’s debut novel is on luminous display right from the start:

Mathilde sparkled, her spectacular mouth making punctuation: a parenthesis, a befuddled backslash. When she drank water, her lips became ellipses. And how did Claudio’s mouth look to her, he conjectured, making all sorts of hideous shapes? Without a doubt like a the qualm of a question mark in discordance with the assured crudity of an exclamation point.

Claudio set the rules for himself: — her mouth reminds me when to stop. — A smile meant continue: they were on the same page. A frown meant the same: he had to justify himself, explain, maybe allow her to retort. A period, lips closed and ineffable, meant she was interested anymore.

Reilly’s love of language is palpable — she embraces words, challenges conventions, and creates authentic characters out of letters.  And New York City is the perfect setting for this tale of searing pain and immeasurable beauty: solipsistic, gritty, relentless, yet captivating.

However, my greatest challenge with Sunday’s on the Phone to Monday is reflected in the very last line:

…life is finally beginning to leave us alone.

This was the perfect ending to a novel that was so beautifully written, yet whose characters I struggled to embrace and who truly seemed to want to be left alone by life — often figuratively, but sometimes literally.

However, based on Reilly’s writing alone, a recommendation is easy, especially for readers who revel in angst and embrace a “New York state of mind.”


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