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!


*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.


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!


♡ Ashley

changing the world on a Sunday night…

It seems nothing ignites my natural, whole food, plant based (hippy, granola. tree hugging, chia seeds loving) side more than a good Industry Bashing documentary, so when I found out that Fed Up was (finally!!) available to stream on Netflix, I literally halted life, crawled onto my bed (too much clean laundry to fold to crawl in it) and pressed play.   Onepointfive hours later and I can’t do anything (laundry, shower, sleep…) besides BLOG about it.

If you remember, another documentary – Vegucated – was my initial muse for The Veg Voyage. I’ll admit, I have a serious fall-hard-and-fast-lust/love-affair thing going on with food documentaries. Like, it’s a problem. But really,  I might need to get some help…  AMERICA needs to seriously get some help.

So, aside from hanging on to every word Katie Couric and cast spoke during Fed Up (except when I paused to check how many grams of sugar are in the tomato sauce, ketchup and salad dressing* that I buy…), I couldn’t help but make some alarming comparisons to the book I just finished, French Kids Eat Everything.

As I was reading this book, I was thinking about blogging some of the highlights. However, now that I’ve seen Fed Up, I believe a full-blown blog-series is in order; comparing habits (of both the eating and the marketing of food in the two countries) and the government vs. parent  responsibility for children not only to eat well but to learn to eat well.

I wish I could jump into my opinions now but, it’s Sunday. I have work tomorrow and there is still a giant pile of laundry that needs to be put away. So, instead, I’ll leave you with my real-life motto:

Vegetables can change the world.

Be sure to come back to The Veg Voyage and let me prove it to you! (Also, please try to read that motto in your least corny voice…;)

*I used to make my own salad dressing but then, one day, on a whim, I bought Newman’s Own at Whole Foods and, let’s just say, my life has never been the same. Luckily, this obsession/love/addiction dressing doesn’t have an absurd amount of sugar in it sooo I’ll be able to sleep tonight.