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Books and Videos

Why I Love The Vegetarian Flavor Bible

Posted by on Oct 1st, 2015 in Books, Things I Love and Recommend | 0 comments

Why I Love The Vegetarian Flavor Bible

First of all, a big Thank You to the Meatless Monday Campaigns for sending me a free copy of The Vegetarian Flavor Bible by Karen Page, and inviting me to review it on my blog. I might have mentioned just a few times that I love cookbooks, and I own quite a few – some might even say too many! One thing I have very few of however, are cooking “reference books”. What’s a cooking reference book, you might be thinking? It’s a resource that helps you to be a better cook, so you can rely on cookbooks less, and on your creative instincts more – and that’s exactly what The Vegetarian Flavor Bible is. Have you ever wanted to try a new plant food, herb or even cheese but didn’t know what to do with it? How about tofu? Do you have the fear? Mung beans? Kabocha squash? Matcha powder? We’ve all seen them in the store, and quickly passed by on to more familiar carrots and broccoli, or Italian seasoning mix out of fear of the unknown – but this book will answer all of your questions, quell your fears, and have you pairing, cooking and tasting all kinds of fun new vegetarian foods.     Sorry if I’m starting to sound like an infomercial, but honestly, there is so much helpful information in this book, I just have to share. The heart of The Vegetarian Flavor Bible features an A to Z listing of every non-meat food and seasoning you can think of. The author describes what it tastes like, it’s nutritional profile, cooking techniques to maximize flavor, what other foods and seasonings to pair it with, how to serve it, and even what to substitute if you’re out. Wow! This is kind of like the iPhone of cooking resources – A book I never knew I needed, and now can’t live without.   My favorite tips I’ve discovered so far: Polenta (AKA corn meal) – a grain that I never think to use: gluten-free. Cook it and pour in into a sheet pan to cool. Cut it into slices and then grill and serve with tomato sauce and marinated vegetables. Holy Moses! Genius! Fontina cheese – kind of bland, and I never know what to do with it: the book recommends pairing it with arugula, red onions, and sun dried tomatoes on a sandwich. Hello. Yes. Grapefruit – it’s not just for breakfast anymore: Plays nice with avocado, endive, fennel and watercress. I feel a fresh winter salad recipe coming on… Eating a plant-based diet is so much more than just salads and skipping the meat on your pasta sauce. There’s a whole wide world of vegetarian options out there, and I highly recommend checking out this wonderful resource to help you meet some of them. Keep your eyes open for some new recipes that I’ll be making, and were inspired by this book.   This post contains an affiliate link. If you click the link and buy an item from Amazon, they will pay me a small commission, which I used to maintain this blog. Thanks for supporting Craving Something Healthy! Eat well!...

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Skip the Diet. Get Slim By Design Instead

Posted by on Mar 19th, 2015 in Books, Nutrition Tips and Topics, Things I Love and Recommend, Weight Management | 4 comments

Skip the Diet.  Get Slim By Design Instead

I was invited to review Slim By Design by the publisher, and I received a free copy of the book. I was not compensated for my time, but this post does include an affiliate link, and I will receive a small commission if you purchase the book through Amazon.  As always, all opinions are my own.   Brian Wansink PhD, is the Director of Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab, and he has the coolest job in the world. Wansink and his team of researchers get to travel the world and go into peoples’ homes, workplaces, and basically anywhere food is served, and they watch what, when, and where and how people eat. They analyze what they see, how much people spend at restaurants, what’s in their grocery carts, and then, they make suggestions to change the eating environment to help individuals make better choices. I love that, because as a registered dietitian nutritionist, we focus a lot on why people eat, and what they eat, and sometimes usually that’s a challenge. Most people have a really hard time tackling the whys-  too touchy-feely and emotional. And let’s not even start on the Eat-This –Not-That part of nutrition. I guess that’s why RDs have the Food Police reputation. Instead, Wansink approaches the overeating, mindless eating, less than healthy eating problem in a completely different way. He’s found out from his research, that there are changes we can all make in our food environment (like the layout, design and lighting of our kitchens, the place we choose to sit in a restaurant, the way we navigate the grocery store, and the layout of our workplace cafeterias and break rooms), that can actually have a huge impact on our diets. His advice is to take the emphasis off of ourselves, and let our environments do some of the work. Genius! In his new book Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life, he shares some of his research, and gives completely, mind-blowingly simple suggestions for proven ways to become slim by design.   Here are a few of my favorites: When you’re at a restaurant: Sit by the window, or near the front of the restaurant but not near a television. Window sitters order healthier foods. TV watchers order more fried foods. People who sit in the farthest from the front door eat the fewest salads.   In your own kitchen: When you drink anything except for water, use tall, skinny glasses (even if they hold the same amount as short, fat ones) and you’ll drink fewer calories. Use smaller plates and especially bowls, and you’ll serve yourself less and feel fuller faster. Serve food from the counter and you’ll likely eat 19% less than those who serve themselves right off the table.  He also provides great graphics for anyone interested in a little DIY kitchen makeover:     At work: Take a tray in the cafeteria line, and you’ll be more likely to grab a salad. Ask your employer to  place a fruit bowl at the beginning of the line. When his researchers gave people a free piece of fruit first, they made healthier lunch choices. To encourage employees to pack a lunch, give the interrogation break room a makeover with happy colors, good lighting, plants, and clean counters and...

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How to Fix Your Broken Metabolism: The MD Factor Diet

Posted by on Jan 16th, 2015 in Books, Things I Love and Recommend, Weight Management | 6 comments

How to Fix Your Broken Metabolism: The MD Factor Diet

I was asked to review The MD Factor Diet by the publisher, and I received a free copy of the book. I was not compensated for my time, but this post does include an affiliate link, which means that I will receive a small commission if you purchase the book through Amazon.  As always, all opinions are my own. If you read my blog, you probably know, or can guess I’m not a big fan of “diets”. They just don’t work. I’ve worked with clients for long enough to know that the ones who come in with “Just tell me what to eat and I’ll do it”, are the first ones to not show up for their follow up appointments – and that’s not because they don’t need my services any longer. It’s the people who listen and learn, ask great questions, set their own goals, and create their own plan that are successful in making changes in their diet and their health.   So when I was asked to review The MD Factor Diet, a recently published book about how to correct your metabolism and lose weight, by Dr. Caroline Cederquist, let’s just say I was skeptical. And a bit worried about what I would say when it came time to hit the publish button on my review. Happily, I found that even though this sounds like a diet book – AKA “Tell me what to eat, and when”, it’s not. I work with many people, especially women, who never had a weight or blood sugar problem in their life until they hit menopause, and now they have belly fat, high blood pressure and they’re told they have prediabetes. Most have older family members in the same boat. While I’m sure they do their share of eating out, birthday celebrations and holiday feasting – who doesn’t, I really don’t think most eat that much, yet they can’t lose weight, or even just lose that belly fat. It’s frustrating to have to count every morsel that you eat, and to have to always say no to certain foods. The MD Factor Diet does a great job of explaining why so many people are in the I-never-eat-but-I-can’t-lose-weight-so-I’m-just-gonna-have-this-ice cream boat. It’s because your metabolism is dysfunctional. Symptoms are real – I have many myself, and according to Dr. Cedarquist, they include sugar cravings – check; having energy dips throughout the day – check; and just feeling tired and hungry all of the time. Hello. And let’s not forget that growing muffin-top. Where did THAT come from? Blame it on menopause, or a too sedentary job, or the holidays, but chances are, your metabolism is probably at least a little bit dysfunctional.     The dysfunction is caused by age, hormonal changes, and just a little bit of belly weight that sets the entire process in motion until it snowballs out of control if you let it. Dr. Cederquist provides lots of easy to understand information about the science behind what she calls MD or Metabolism Dysfunction, and the best ways to reverse it. She also provides diet guidelines, recipes, and even meal plans if you want them. But take my advice – if you see yourself in any of the examples, and if you have tried diets and even lots of...

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Canning and Preserving 101

Posted by on Aug 28th, 2014 in Books, Healthy Eating, Kitchen Tools, Nutrition Tips and Topics | 4 comments

Canning and Preserving 101

Are you a canner? Someone who knows how to prepare and store the summer’s freshest produce, so that you can savor its flavor no matter how cold the weather, or deep the snow? Or are you more like me – a bit intimidated by the secret world of canning, pressure cookers and sterilization techniques, and extremely terrified of giving the homemade gift of botulism? Call me crazy or just really boring, but learning how to can fresh produce is actually on my bucket list. I think there’s nothing better than a jar of homemade salsa, preserves, or pickled anything. Proper canning of fruits and vegetables prevents the growth of microbes, including botulism, and helps ensure freshness, but the secret is to follow the rules and directions, which have been tested to ensure that the end product is safe to eat. Luckily, for those of us not quite ready to jump in the water bath, there are a variety of methods for preserving summer’s bounty, and lots of helpful resources available.   Freezing For anyone who wants a simple and basic method for preserving produce, look no further than your freezer. Most vegetables and fruits can easily be stored for an average of 8-12 months in your freezer, with minor preparation. The only equipment needed are freezer-safe containers, freezer bags, or my personal favorite – the Food Saver – to freeze and store your produce in.     Fruits should be washed and sorted to remove any that are bruised or overly ripe. The National Center for Home Preservation (NCHFP) recommends stemming, pitting and slicing fruit as desired, and treating any fruits like apples or peaches, that are subject to browning, with ascorbic acid.  Fruits can be frozen unsweetened, but some may have a better texture when stored in sugar or syrup.     Vegetables should be at their peak of freshness, and blanched and chilled quickly to stop the action of enzymes that cause loss of flavor, color and texture. With the exception of leafy vegetables, cucumbers, radishes, and celery, which become limp and discolored when frozen, most others freeze very well.   Refrigerator Pickling A personal favorite of mine, refrigerator pickling takes just a little bit more work, but I love that you can be a bit more creative with recipes and flavors. The only requirements are fresh fruits, vegetables and any desired herbs, a large saucepan to boil the brine, and jars to store your picked creations in the refrigerator for up to a few weeks. Don’t limit your pickling to cucumbers, try carrots, onions, radishes, jicama, peppers, grapes, or even melon.   Our family favorites include Pickled Vegetables Mexican Style, which is perfect with tacos, and Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Relish — so tasty on burgers or sandwiches. I also love this basic brine recipe from The Kitchn:   Basic Pickling Brine – The Kitchn.com For every pound of vegetable: 1-cup vinegar (any kind except balsamic) 1 cup water 1/2 cup sugar 1 Tablespoon kosher salt Extras: fresh herbs, red pepper flakes, mustard or cumin seed, peppercorns, garlic cloves, fennel.   Bring all the brine ingredients to a boil in a small pan and then pour the brine over the vegetables. Put the lids on the containers, cool them to room temperature, and then refrigerate for at...

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A Few of My Favorite Things

Posted by on Dec 13th, 2013 in Books, Kitchen Tools, Things I Love and Recommend | 0 comments

A Few of My Favorite Things

Is it just me, or do November and December fly by so fast you can’t even remember them, and then time just stops every year from January until March?  Or until the end of April here in the Northeast.  They say that time speeds up as you get older, so I must be about 200 this year.  This year flew by at rapid pace fast for me.  I’m coming up on the one year anniversary of this blog (hooray!) and maybe blog time just moves faster… I feel like I was just writing about summer fruits and tomatoes, and here it is just about Christmas.   Hopefully you are nearing the end of your Christmas shopping, but just in case, I have some ideas for anyone who is a cook – or for you if you’ve been good this year.  I’ve compiled a list of my favorite kitchen tools, and the things that make cooking so much more fun, and I’m in a sharing mood for the holidays! As always, most of these are available through my Amazon links.  You can certainly find them in other places, but if you’re super busy and want the UPS man to do the work, just hit click.  When you order anything through my Amazon links, I do receive a small payment from Amazon which helps to monetize this blog.  THANK YOU for supporting me! 🙂     Thermo Whip Cream Whipper – Because there’s nothing like real, pure, flavored anyway you like (yup, chocolate, mint, rum, orange, you name it) fresh homemade whipped cream.  Even the healthiest eaters need a little treat sometimes.  Don’t forget to order the chargers! A pretty cheese board – this chalkboard version is from Provisions at Food 52.  Love that you can write the names of the cheese right on it! A good set of kitchen knives (or even just one really good 6-inch chef’s knife Immersion Blender -INDISPENSABLE.  I would die without it. Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer– First of all, you need a good digital thermometer.  Second, this one got top ratings from Cooks Illustrated, and there’s no arguing with them. A year’s subscription to Cook’s Illustrated Magazine.  The BEST investment anyone could make if they want to learn how to be a better cook or baker. Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor – Another thing I would die without.  I use it at least twice per week, and it’s a workhorse.  Worth every penny.   I got my original one as a wedding gift twenty five years ago, and I decided to spring for a bigger one as an anniversary gift to myself :).  I donated the old one because it probably has another 25 years of life left. America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook – I love all of their cookbooks, but I find myself turning to this one all the time for family favorite type recipes. Vitamix Blender –  OK- I actually don’t have one of these, but I would kill for one.  Hint, hint, anyone… Bountiful– the newest cookbook by the authors of White on Rice Couple blog.  Such beautiful photos you’ll want to eat them.  A must for anyone who loves seasonal, garden fresh food. I pinned this cupcake stand from Anthropologie, because I just think it’s so pretty. Microplane, cheese grater, rasp, whatever you call it, every kitchen...

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Need a Cookbook for Thanksgiving?

Posted by on Nov 22nd, 2013 in Books, Things I Love and Recommend | 0 comments

Need a Cookbook for Thanksgiving?

Hello dear reader! Just a quick note today.  I posted this link on my Facebook page the other day, but just in case you didn’t see it, iTunes has the Williams-Somona Thanksgiving cookbook available for a free download this week .    It’s a great modern classic if you don’t have it, or if need a good last minute recipe or menu ideas.  It’s also full of great tips in it for anyone who is new to cooking Thanksgiving Dinner (which can be very scary!) and lots of mouthwatering photos.  I try to post helpful tips, recipes and giveaways from other bloggers and foodie and nutrition sites I follow, to my Facebook page, so it you’re interested, please Like it! Eat well!...

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Best Books on Health and Nutrition

Posted by on Sep 26th, 2013 in Books, Things I Love and Recommend | 0 comments

Best Books on Health and Nutrition

  I was searching for a nutrition book on Amazon the other day, and I came to my attention that there are A LOT of books out there on how to get healthy and eat better.  I guess I’m guilty of getting my information from research and professional journals, so I’m a bit out of touch.  As I browsed through the (FIFTY-NINE !) pages of books on nutrition, I realized why so many people are so confused about what to eat, and how to care for themselves.  So thank you Amazon.com, for inspiring this blog post – a compilation of my favorite books on health and nutrition. When I look at books on health and nutrition, there are three things I look for (and I encourage you to do the same) Who is the author?  It should be an MD for anything health related and ideally, an RD for anything nutrition related, but I’m OK with a nutrition book written by an MD or MS/MPH (Master of Science or Public Health) with a strong research background in nutrition.  All are experts in their field, and are specially trained to understand the latest research and make recommendations. Are there references at the end of the book or each chapter?  References to research studies tell me that the book is based on information that has been studied and researched, and not on some wacky idea or product that someone is trying to sell.   Also look for reviews by members of major medical groups such as American Journal of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, or top research and teaching hospitals like Mass General,  Mayo or Cleveland Clinic.  I also look to see if the author is affiliated with any research hospital or University, which adds additional credibility. Does it sound too good to be true?  If yes, put it down, step away and remind yourself that there are no magic bullets.  Look for books that are based on research and practical advice, with tips that you can understand and follow. So, in no particular order, these are some of my favorite how to books when it comes to health and nutrition:   The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is based on extensive research by the National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute, has been shown to reduce blood pressure significantly AND help with weight loss.  The DASH Diet for Weight Loss is one of the proven leading diets out there, and one I always recommend for healthy eating and weight loss.     Written by a Registered Dietitian, The DASH Diet Action Plan provides tools and tips to help incorporate the DASH diet into your own life – it’s easier than you think!     Call it Insulin Resistance, Pre-diabetes,  Impaired, or Metabolic Syndrome.  If you have slightly elevated glucose levels, excess weight around the mid-section, high blood pressure, and probably a lower than desirable HDL (good cholesterol), you are probably insulin resistant.  The Insulin Resistance Diet offers a good explanation of what’s going on inside your body and how to correct it with diet and exercise.     Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book is the bible for any woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.  So much helpful information.     Our Bodies, Ourselves has long been an excellent, all...

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Salt, Sugar and Fat – Why We Can’t Stop Eating It

Posted by on Apr 4th, 2013 in Books, Things I Love and Recommend | 0 comments

Salt, Sugar and Fat – Why We Can’t Stop Eating It

In case you don’t have enough things to wonder and worry about, here’s something new to ponder:  Why are there always so many new products at the grocery store, which seem specifically designed to sabotage our plans to eat better?  If you’ve ever walked through any snack food, cereal, juice or soda aisle, you know exactly what I mean. Usually when I go to the grocery store, I’m on autopilot. I know what I need, try to stick to my list, and just grab and get out.  Recently though, I’ve been updating some handouts for work, checking product names, salt, sugar content, etc, so I’ve been browsing more than buying, and I can understand why consumers are so confused, and tempted by vast array of mostly unhealthy products out there. I recently read Michael Moss’s new book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.  In it, he analyzes the history of America’s love affair with salt, sugar and fat, and describes the many ways that major food manufacturers manipulate the formulation of new products, to get us to buy and eat more of these unhealthy ingredients.  If you’ve ever had a hard time saying NO to the Blazin’ Buffalo & Ranch Doritos, or eating just one Lay’s Potato Chip, or you swear you’re addicted to Triple Double Chocolate Oreos, I highly recommend this book, as it will explain why it’s so hard to kick the habit. Moss reveals through interviews with food industry insiders, how the major food manufacturers manipulate the chemistry of their products, so that consumers actually get “addicted” and keep coming back for more.  Their food scientists use cutting edge technology to determine the “bliss point” of sugary drinks and high fat, salty snacks. If you’re what they refer to as a “heavy user” of their products, they know how to create foods that will keep you hooked, despite your best efforts to eat healthier. Salt Sugar Fat won’t necessarily curb your cravings, but it will open your eyes to exactly what is on those grocery store shelves.  Hopefully you’ll be angry enough to just say no!     Eat...

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America’s Test Kitchen Cookbooks

Posted by on Mar 11th, 2013 in Books, Things I Love and Recommend | 2 comments

America’s Test Kitchen Cookbooks

I collect cookbooks and must have accumulated hundreds over the years. I pick them up when I travel, as a reminder of the place I visited, and I usually can’t resist a new cookbook when I’m browsing a bookstore.  Periodically, I review my collection, purge, donate, or pass on those that I don’t use as much.  My collection has grown to include quite a few books from America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Illustrated, and these I never give up. Anyone who likes to cook knows that creating the perfect recipe involves a good deal of trial and error.  Sometimes you hit it right, and other times, not so much.  I discovered America’s Test Kitchen  many years ago, when a friend introduced me to Cook’s Illustrated magazine. America’s Test Kitchen is an actual mega-test kitchen based outside of Boston.  They test and retest thousands of recipes each year, until they get each one just right – and they publish the best of every recipe in their Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, Cook’s Illustrated Cookbooks, and America’s Test Kitchen Cookbooks.  Their books and magazines also include incredibly helpful product and ingredient reviews, as well as recommendations for the best cooking tools.  In case you can’t get enough of the books, they also produce a television series, which airs on PBS stations. I have never, ever been disappointed with one of their recipes, and I have learned so much about cooking (why things work, and why they don’t) from their publications.  I highly recommend these cookbooks!     Eat well!...

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New England Soup Factory Cookbook

Posted by on Feb 10th, 2013 in Books, Things I Love and Recommend | 0 comments

New England Soup Factory Cookbook

Several years ago, I took a series of cooking classes at an adult education center, which featured local chefs from the Boston area.  One of my favorite classes was taught by Marjorie Druker, chef and owner of the New England Soup Factory, not only because I loved the soups she made, but also because of her wonderful personality, and all of the fabulous cooking tips she shared with us.  When I stumbled upon the New England Soup Factory Cookbook at a bookstore a few years later, I knew it would be a staple in my kitchen. I’ve tried many of the recipes in this book and  have yet to be disappointed!  If you love soup, you should have this book.  Also includes a few recipes for sandwiches and salads which go well with the...

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