Food and Lifestyle Book Reviews

Last year, I read some really good books that inspired me. Read on for the titles, authors, and quick synopsis.

No Impact Man by Colin Beavan – This book was left in my office by a co-worker I never met and was going to be thrown out before I swooped it up. It sat on my shelf for a couple months before I finally started reading about Colin’s chronicles of living a life with little to no impact, in Manhattan of all places. I found this book to be eye-opening and inspiring. It really makes you think about how much we all consume on a daily basis. There is also the No Impact Man documentary which I watched after reading the book. Highly recommended!

French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon – I’ve mentioned this book on the blog before and will likely continue to do so. Mike’s sister, Wendy, was reading it last year when we were in Australia for Christmas and she was expecting her first child. Wendy summarized the book as she read (and as we traveled the coast of  Australia) and I couldn’t get enough. I ordered a copy for myself right when we got home and devoured it. I’m not a mother but found this book insightful and very interesting. The author moves from Vancouver to France, where her husband is from, with her two young daughters and spends a year learning the “ways” of the French and their non-picky little eaters, very different from (most) kids here. The book describes cultural differences between how food is viewed, prepared, and eaten in North America vs. in France, along with antidotes and a few recipes for readers to try at home.

A Year of No Sugar by Eve O. Schaub – This book was another winner and really helped me solidify my gripes against sugar. (I realize that sounds snobby but I don’t apologize because sugar is the worst and everyone should know it’s truths. …Not to be dramatic or anything.) Eve and her family* spend a year with a very limited sugar intake. I absolutely loved this book. For some unexplained reason, it made me feel nostalgic for a life I’ve never lived. Eve’s way of describing her hometown in Vermont (in my mind, seemingly perfectly simple… think: Gilmore Girl’s Stars Hallow); paired with her relentless quest for more knowledge about sugar; and her  detailed accounts of her findings, feelings, failings, as well as successes, made for a delightful and educational read!

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*I just realized a commonality in these 3 books are the author’s families and how they are kind of whisked (“forced” sounded too harsh…) into participating in these major lifestyle changes because the mom or dad decided to. As a writer myself this reminds me that we have little to write about besides our own lives, journeys, and stories. Which, for the record, is exactly how I like things to be.

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In the past years I have dabbled in quite a few other books about eating and living a compassionate, healthy, informed and educated lifestyle. Below is a list of those books and a sentence or two about each of them. In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn’t make it completely through all of the following books and, for the ones I did read entirely, it has been years since I’ve finished them, so these descriptions are quick and unrefined.

Food Rules by Michael Pollan – This book is an obvious one. This is basically a staple in any “health conscious” person’s kitchen/home and though, as my grandpa pointed out, Mr. Pollan doesn’t have any credentials in nutrition (he graduated with a degree in Journalism), his thoughts and “rules” resonate with me (and many others!).

Eat only foods that will eventually rot …that’s just good sense. (Although I would respectably add a timeline in there because we all know there’s that smart ass ready to tell us that  McDonald’s goes bad too. Eventually.)

Naturally Thin by Bethenny Frankel – Bat shit cray or not, Bethenny has some good advice to give about letting go and just living, urging you to realize food should not be the devil or your best friend; like her rule You Can Have It All, Just Not All At Once – what a relief and a perspective shift! This book helped me let go of some serious stipulations I was putting on my diet and is recommend as a refreshing take on telling you how to eat. (Which everyone is doing, including myself! Ha.)

The Skinnygirl Dish by Bethenny Frankel – Bethenny lists tools and provides recipes in this book for healthy, non-stress noshing.

Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin – I first read this book in college and still remember the authors advise to Trust No One (not even them). I love this advice to this day because it’s so true! In the end, you know your body better than anyone. With conflicting information from experts telling us Paleo Is The Only Way To Live in one article and then Veganism being The Cure For Cancer in the next, it is especially important to do your own research and come up with your own guidelines. (Expect please know, you can trust me and The Veg Voyage when I say vegetables are, in fact, the key;)

The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone – This book is all about being a Vegan with a capital V and living well… kindly. Surface level, I felt kind of …judged while reading this book (which is certainly not a kind feeling!). Alicia outlines the steps for me to become a vegan and then a “superhero” vegan (someone who, if my memory serves me right, eats only nuts, seeds, and maybe a few leafy greens, like on their birthday, for a treat). But, if you can leave your ego out of it, this book is a good one with a meaningful message. It includes pretty pictures and recipes to start A New Vegan Lifestyle. Yeah!

Overall, I give Alicia props for putting it out there and bringing attention to the matter. You do you, girl – regurgitating your food for your babe and everything.

The Honest Life by Jessica Alba – Okay, I don’t know what the deal is with celebrities writing lifestyle books now (what happened to fragrances!? jLo wants to know!) but I’m completely on board with it. (Yes, I already pre ordered Balancing on Heels by Kristin Cavallari…) Like the next girl (who has dreams of having two kids and looking like Jessica Alba after; if she can do it, I can do it, RIGHT!?) I am a fan of J. Alba and …didn’t regret buying her book. Overall I didn’t LOVE the book – and was more interested in an inside glimpse of her life – but I highlighted a few tips and tricks here and there and I dig her message so, it’s all good. Money well spent.

The Body Book by Cameron Diaz – I should probably give this book a second chance because I could barely get through the first chapter… I like Cameron Diaz well enough but I distinctly remember feeling like I was reading an unedited letter while perusing this book. To me, her thoughts sounded scrambled and sporadic… like she didn’t really have an end goal… but the book seems to align with what I’m interested in so I’ll make an effort to try again and let you know how it goes.

Let me know your thoughts on any of the above books or recommendations you have!

#VegOut

♡ Ashley

Week Two

My Teatox + sugar “detox” is over, y’all!

While I was trying to rid my body of the poison that is sugar, I was reading Year Of No Sugar by Eve Schaub. This book really hit home about how terrible sugar actually is. I haven’t been over to Eve’s blog yet but highly recommend her book. I found one of the most interesting chapters to be when Eve and her family travel to Italy for vacation and realized, simultaneously, how hard and how easy it is to avoid sugar there.

Hard because, hello, gelato! Easy because, sugar simply isn’t in EVERYTHING like it is in North America. If you have dessert in Italy, there’s probably is sugar in it (duh). However do you have to worry about your salad dressings and pasta sauces (two typically savory things, I’ll point out…) having sugar in them? No.

This challenge has spotlighted how much food has added sugar in it (WHY?!) and I’m happy I did it to become more aware. Having said that, I can’t live a life that involves passing on pizza with friends. You feel me!?

Below you will find what I ate during my second week of this challenge. You’ll notice a few more …slip ups that the week before. I think next time I try this, I’ll only do it for one week. I found 2 weeks to be too long to be constantly thinking about your diet.


Note: Food eaten out in a restaurant is italicized 

Monday

  • Breakfast – SUPERFOOD GRAINS with 3 apricots and morning boost tea
  • Snack – ½ cherry Lara bar
  • Lunch – Sandwich on sourdough roll with spinach, lettuce, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto and artichokes + ½ bag chips
  • Dinner – Zucchini crust margarita pizza
  • Dessert/snack – Honey bush iced tea

Tuesday

  • Breakfast – 1 white nectarine + morning boost tea and ½ cherry Lara bar
  • Snack – Leftover Zucchini crust with chopped tomatoes, cheese and ½ avocado
  • Lunch – Spinach salad with soybeans, mangoes and cucumbers + iced coffee
  • Dinner – Sautéed red and yellow peppers with shrimp and green beans + 2 garlic rosemary  bread sticks and a few olives
  • Snack – An all fruit Popsicle

Wednesday

  • Breakfast – Scottish oats with strawberries, cinnamon, cardamom, and cashew milk + morning boost tea
  • Snack – Peanut Butter “Cookie” Lara bar
  • Lunch – ½ avocado, 2 hard boiled eggs + sliced cucumbers and side of corn
  • Snack – White nectarine
  • Dinner- Caprese sandwich with green beans
  • Snack – Movie theater pop corn and M&Ms*

*Oops.

Thursday

  • Breakfast – One piece sourdough toast with strawberries and morning boost tea
  • Snack – Handful of cashews
  • Lunch –  1 can tuna with (sugar free) mayo, red onions and mustard on crackers w/side of peas  + iced coffee
  • Dinner – Veggie burritos with homemade salsa and spinach salad
  • Snack – White nectarine + chocolate*

*Oops again.

Friday

  • Breakfast – Banana, pineapple and blueberry smoothie with chia seeds
  • Snack – Handful of cashews
  • Lunch – Veggie burrito with avocado
  • Dinner – 1 fish taco + 1 steak taco and a side of pinto beans + 1 Modelo

Saturday

  • Breakfast – Strawberries + a mango, an iced coffee and a ‘morning cookie’*
  • Lunch – Panera ½ Greek salad with a kids portion of buttered noodles**
  • Snack – Mozzarella sticks + 1 Sierra Nevada
  • Dinner – Chicken sausage with sauerkraut on sourdough with side of soybeans and another Sierra Nevada

*I made these cookies (and froze them) before my detox so they did have sugar in them but it wasn’t much and we barely had any food in the house so… what are you going to do?

**Pretty much the only things on the menu without sugar 😦

Sunday

  • Breakfast – Strawberries with Eggs Benedict with an iced coffee
  • Lunch – Veggie spring roll with soy sauce and tiny bit of fried rice + beef and broccoli
  • Snack – One SUGAR FREE cookie*
  • Dinner – HUGE salad with grilled shrimp and a bread stick and a sazerac

*I found sugar free cookies at Whole Foods on Sunday and FREAKED OUT!


Again, I didn’t have the teas on the weekend (or on Friday) because WHAT IS A WEEKEND WITHOUT COFFEE?!

Also, does beer have sugar in it?

Some pictures: 

Before

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After 

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Okay, so, the pictures aren’t drastically different but I think it is worth mentioning that the after picture was taken at the end of the day (when all but dinner had been eaten) and my before picture was taken on an empty stomach.

Overall, aside from a few treats here and there (I know, I know, I wasn’t supposed to have any treats!), the sugar detox wasn’t that hard. Moving forward, I won’t be eliminating sugar from my diet but I also won’t be wasting the small amount I will have on crappy sugar! (Read: grocery store sheet cakes, most name brand cookies and crackers, low quality candies, etc.)

I want the sugar I do consume to be top notch; royalty of all the sugars! Worth the splurge, without regret!

And WHAT ABOUT THE TEATOX?!

I personally thought the sugar detox was more beneficial than the teatox but, hey, paying $30 for 21 teabags meant I was invested.

♡ Ashley