Book Challenges- Week 13

Popsugar Challenge


Unknown-2A book about a problem facing society: Fast Food Genocide, by Joel Fuhrman, MD, with Robert B. Phillips– Since 2010, I’ve increasingly stuck to a vegetarian diet and become more and more invested in how I can improve my health through diet. I’ve tried to follow Dr. Fuhrman’s teachings and his nutritarian diet for the past few years, and I’ve seen positive health changes. In 2010, I had gallstones, and doctors wanted to remove my gallbladder. Because I didn’t want that, I consulted with a naturopath and changed to a vegetarian diet (and not even a particularly healthy vegetarian diet, I now realize). My gallbladder issues completely disappeared.

If you’re looking to make positive changes in your health, but don’t know where to start, any of Fuhrman’s books are good. I especially like this one, though, because it includes the historical context of how fast food and processed foods became ubiquitous in our lives. All of Dr. Fuhrman’s claims about how processed foods damage our health, and what we can do about it, are backed up by well-designed studies. He also talks about how some studies saying certain foods are okay are actually flawed in design or conclusion.



A book you meant to get to in 2017 and didn’t: Turtles All The Way Down, by John Green (YA)- I’ve already talked about this one earlier today in my A to Z blog (A is for Books About Anxiety), so I won’t go into it other than to say that I loved it.







A book about or involving a sport: Bleachers, by John Grisham (Contemporary)- I enjoyed this book well enough while I was reading it, but it’s not going to be a favorite or anything. It’s a story about members of a high school football team who go back to their hometown to hold a vigil for a coach that they both loved and hated. It was a fast and enjoyable read.

While I Was Reading Challenge

(4/12) No progress this week

The Unread Shelf

Running Total: 3

5 Classic Books

(0/5) No progress

Miscellaneous Reading

None this week


None this week.

2018 Running Total: 34


Have you made any progress on your TBR or book challenges?

K is for Kitchen

A garden bounty Photo Credit: Doree Weller

A garden bounty
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I have a love-hate relationship with my kitchen.

The women in my family don’t cook. It’s not that we can’t; it’s just that we’re not really good at it. We’re bakers. My grandmother, mom, and I can bake anything, but we’re less consistent with meals. I’ve heard stories of my grandmother’s awful cooking. Fortunately, my dad mostly cooked, so I didn’t have to deal with my mom’s cooking often. As for me, I could make food, and it was usually edible. When my husband and I got married, we shared some of the cooking responsibility, but mostly we ate out a lot.

Flash forward many years, and because of some health issues, I decided that I needed to transition to a more vegetarian diet. That made it harder to eat out, and eating out kind of defeated the idea of eating healthier anyway. I expected to be an unimaginative cook when I first started cooking more, and I was. It wasn’t long before I got bored.

Thank goodness for Allrecipes, Chocolate Covered Katie, and Pinterest. Through them, I was able to broaden my repertoire of foods. Things got even better for me once I applied the same principles of baking to my cooking. It drives the husband crazy because I can seldom make anything the exact same way twice. I’m not much for exact measurements, and I almost always forget to follow recipes exactly. But they turn out well, so he can’t complain. Much.

Since I’ve learned to adapt what I make, I also love Pioneer Woman’s recipes. She’s a meat-eater, but with a little creativity, I can modify many of her recipes to suit my needs.

My gas cooking range, once intimidating, is now something I wouldn’t want to do without. These days, I’m actually known as a really good cook! Even meat-eaters like what I make.

Cooking still isn’t my favorite thing to do, but I don’t hate it anymore. These days, my kitchen and I get along just fine.

Vegetarian Bait and Switch?

DSCN1974About a month ago, people were freaking out that Chipotle had an ad that is sorta anti-meat but not really.  They’re calling it a “vegetarian bait and switch.”

Watch the commercial and judge for yourself.  Can I see how that interpretation might make sense?  Sure.  They’re condemning factory farms and implying that meat free living is better than eating meat.  While still offering meat options.

I didn’t go vegetarian for a long time, even though I wanted to, because I thought I had to be all or nothing.  These days, I’m all about harm reduction.  I mostly don’t eat meat.  But when I do, I try to get it from responsible, humane sources.  If I don’t though, I try not to stress myself out over it.  Three years ago, I ate meat regularly; now I eat it about 6 times a year.  By any math, I’m moving in the direction I want to.

Back to Chipotle.  They use a lot of locally sourced, antibiotic and hormone free stuff.  They’re stuff is easily (and deliciously) made vegetarian.  Meat eaters and veggies have plenty of options.  Maybe they’re not perfect, but they’re at least a more responsible option than a lot of fast food places.  Let’s face it.  We all don’t have time to cook every day.  So having better options available is better than not having options available.

I liked the commercial.  To all you oversensitive vegetarians out there: calm down.  It’s just a commercial.

Vegetarianism, Rules, and Me

IMG_1295Two years ago, I decided to do a lifestyle change. I was having a lot of problems with my stomach, and I was opposed to medication that would mask, but not fix my problem. My doctor told me to read The Spectrum, by Dean Ornish, and I learned that I have a lot of unhealthy attitudes toward food.

I’ve been overweight as long as I can remember. I have a picture of me on my 7th birthday, standing beside my slim and neat best friend. I’m pudgy and pigtailed. I knew what the word “diet” was before I knew what calories were, and I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life.
There’s probably a mix of genetic and lifestyle reasons for my weight struggles. As much as I struggled with my weight as a teenager, on a perpetual “diet,” I look back at pictures and realize I was gorgeous. As much as I’m “obese” now, I realize that how I look isn’t as bad as I sometimes think. I have good days and bad days with that.

I ate the way I was taught, and thought it was the way you were “supposed to.” I never really liked meat, not as an every day thing. But I ate it, along with my potato or rice and my vegetable, because that’s how you’re “supposed to” eat. I was so programmed, and never thought to explore different ways. I was never into fad diets, but if I worked at dieting, I was always hungry. I never “went vegetarian” because I didn’t think I could stick to it forever and ever, never eating meat again.

After I read The Spectrum, I realized the rules I thought I knew were all just BS, and they weren’t right for me. I never liked meat, but I ate it because I wasn’t “a vegetarian.”

These days, I primarily try to avoid processed foods. I eat fish once or twice a month. I’ve eaten other types of meat 3 times in the past year. Twice, I had literally two bites of something to try it. I ate a steak on my birthday. The vegetarian police didnt come to get me. I haven’t lost any weight, but my stomach problems went away, and I have more energy.

I may have to resign myself to the fact that unless I want to be hungry all the time or spend a half hour a day in the gym, I’m going to be way overweight. I have more energy than most of my average weight friends and I never stop moving. I eat healthier than anyone else I know. I’ve (mostly) stopped using weight as a yardstick of health. It’s hard sometimes. I want to have flat abs and thighs that don’t jiggle, but I don’t think it’s ever going to happen. And I’m trying to be okay with that.

I Confess My Newest Addiction

I confess… I’ve become a cookbook addict.

I never liked cookbooks.  Well, it’s only fair, since I never liked cooking.  I have several dessert cookbooks, but as for regular cookbooks, I couldn’t be bothered.

I started my cookbook addiction when I first went vegetarian.  Like most people, before I knew better, I assumed that vegetarian meant that I would be eating an endless variety of salads.  So, when I decided I was really going to do this, I started buying cookbooks and opened my eyes to whole other worlds.

Like anything else, I got into a rut with my cooking, making increasingly more boring foods that even I didn’t want to eat.  Even though I wasn’t eating meat, I had fallen back into a lot of my less healthy habits because they were easier.

I was re-inspired on my mission to better health when my husband and I recently went to a hibachi restaurant.  I could go on with raptures about how good the fried rice and hibachi vegetables were.  As I watched the chef, I thought, “That’s not so hard.  I can do that!”  So, I did, with a few modifications so that it was brown rice instead of white and I skipped the butter.  And the results were delish.

After that experiment, I realized that I’ve grown bored with my current collection of cookbooks, so I went to Amazon and pulled up Japanese, Mexican, and Thai vegetarian cookbooks.  I’m very excited to explore new flavors.  I even bought a Raw Foods “cookbook” that’s highly rated.  My goal is to add lots more variety to my diet and actually enjoy what I’m eating.  Because healthy eating doesn’t have to mean boring or eating just one type of thing.

After only a few days of going back to eating mostly fruits, veggies, and whole grains/ beans, and skipping so many of the processed stuff (oh tortilla chips… how I love you… pita chips… I miss you!), I already have more energy and feel better.  I get hungry and full faster.  Yes, it’s a pain to eat 6-7 times a day because the high fiber stuff fills me up so fast, but I’m eating far less calories.

So, once I get my cookbooks, I will review them for you.  Currently my favorite cookbooks are:

The Happy Herbivore by Lindsay S. Nixon- It’s a vegan cookbook with a lot of great “starter” recipes.  I tend to like vegan cookbooks because they’re naturally lower in fat, but if you’re creative, the recipes can be modified.  The macaroni and “cheese” recipe is out of this world.

The Vegan Dad Cookbook- This is one of my favorite cookbooks.  It’s got tons of kid friendly foods and through vegan dad, I finally learned how to make “sausage,” which is great with breakfast.  It’s currently unavailable on Amazon, but all his recipes are available on his blog.

Chocolate Covered Katie- Okay, this isn’t a cookbook, but her website has tons of great recipes, both dessert-wise and meal/ snack-wise.  It’s definitely worth checking out, if for nothing other than her healthy milkshakes!  And the cookie dough!  And… I could go on and on… Just click here!

Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How industrial food is making us sicker, fatter, and poorer- and what you can do about it, by Participant Media and Karl Weber – While this isn’t actually a cookbook, I am taking the time to recommend it, as it gives a lot of reasons why vegetarian eating is good for you and the environment, even if you only do it one day a week!  The veggie police won’t come and get you if you only try it once in awhile.  I promise.  If you’re not interested in the book or the movie, but want to learn more, you can check out their website.

Do you use cookbooks?  If so, what’s your favorite cookbook (veggie or omni)?