Dozens of books have inspired me, made me think, changed habits, create new ones and led me to shift my diet, my thinking and my life. Hopefully one of these ignites a spark in you too.
These books I have personally devoured (I know, I read a lot)
Plant – Based / Vegan Diets
Skinny Bitch was one of the first books I read introducing me to a vegan diet. If you can handle a potty mouth and appreciate a direct, no beating around the bush tone, then this book is for you. The book’s title might lead you to believe this book is fluff. This is not true; it is well researched and presents evidence in clear, plain language, and contains eye-opening facts about the dairy and farming industries.
The Thrive Diet was introduced to me by my triathlete massage therapist at the time. Authored by Brendan Brazier, an ironman triathlete who was looking for an edge on his competition. That edge was a quicker recovery fueled by a plant-based diet. Brendan is the creator of the Vega line, a complete plant-based performance system. If you are an athlete, or a weekend warrior, this is a must-read, he provides recipes and reasoning behind what to eat before, during and after training or working out.
The China Study is probably the most comprehensive books on the market supporting plant-based nutrition. The title of the book suggests the book is about a single study, the ‘China Study’ is a portion of the book, there are many, many studies included in this informational read. Authored by T. Colin Campbell, an American biochemist who specializes in the effects of nutrition on long-term health.
The Crazy Sexy Diet both is, and isn’t what it seems. At first glance it seems like it may be a fad diet. Authored by Kris Carr, wellness warrior. In 2003, Crazy Sexy Kris was diagnosed with a very rare, incurable, stage 4 cancer. She adopted a high-raw, plant-based diet, took up meditation many other wellness practices and made herself healthy inside and out. Her cancer has not grown. This book is written in easy to read language, and she does not mess around talking about your bowels, and other things some people dance around. The book includes a 21-day adventure cleanse. Which I tried out myself and experienced a plethora of benefits.
Whitewash:The Disturbing Truth about Cow’s Milk and your Health was a book I picked up after I had given up dairy and it put my mind at ease when I was constantly asking myself ‘am I doing the right thing’? This book presents surprising health reasons why ditching the moo is not only a good idea, but essential to your health. Joseph Keon also shares little-known knowledge about the politics behind the dairy industry. Got milk? No thanks.
Green for Life focuses not on what we shouldn’t eat, but on why our bodies were meant to eat mostly leafy greens, and her arguments and case studies make a compelling case. After reading this book I bumped up the volume of greens in my smoothie and drink at least one (sometimes two a day), doing this will change your life. This book also includes some great recipes for when you get tired of your same old kale and banana routine.
Thoughts on Food
The Omnivore’s Dilemma was the first book I read on the topic of what we put on our plates. Michael Pollan examines the American food supply, and what a mess! When you go to the grocery store, how much corn is sold there? Did you immediately think about corn on the cob and canned corn? Corn is in more than you think – 75 percent of the grocery store to be exact, from cereals, sweeteners,convenience foods, and in the feed that was given to the animals that people eat. A very interesting read which opened my eyes to the food supply of our country. This book started my journey into caring about the food that I feed my family.
In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto lets us in on a little secret, we are not actually eating food, we are eating ‘edible food-like substances’, the product of science…yum. Michael Pollan talks about how as a society we are more and more consumed with nutrition but getting fatter and unhealthier. Moral of this story ‘eat food, not a lot, mostly plants’.
Eating Animals is about the quest a new father goes on to find out where the food comes from that he will feed his new son. This is a very well-thought out and thoroughly researched book that explores ‘farming’, and it is probably not the farming you are thinking of. Over 99 percent of farms in the US are factory farms, with no actual farmers. “Oh, but I eat ‘organic’, ‘cage-free’ and ‘ free-range’ meat, that is much better right?” Think again. This is one of the most important books you will read on where our meat supply comes from.
Gluten Free Diets
Wheat Belly. I was a skeptic. I heard more and more about gluten-free diets, and saw more and more gluten-free products on the shelf, and at a premium price, I thought it was a lot of hype, and some of it very well may be. After reading this book, I learned why there is a rise in gluten sensitivities and allergies. The book recommends removing all wheat from your diet for a few weeks to see how you feel. I removed it and lost five pounds (unintentionally) in a week and felt amazing. I attempted to eat wheat again as a test after removing it for a while and it definitely did not agree with me. I have never looked back. This does not mean fill your shopping cart with all those ‘gluten-free’ products you see in stores – this is considered junk food too, which is to be eaten rarely – fill up on real food; fruits, vegetables, plants, legumes and seeds.
Eat Raw, Eat Well is a huge resource for everything you could possibly imagine raw. Doug McNish, an executive vegan chef says ‘good food isn’t cheap, and cheap food isn’t good’. This book will take you from basic, easy to make raw recipes to more intricate ones. Carrot and zucchini ‘noodles’ are part of the rotation in my kitchen. I met Doug and saw him demonstrate some recipes last year at Rawstock Niagara and he is not only a great chef, but a great educator and raw food advocate.
The 4-Hour Chef deserves it’s own page for a review, for the sheer size of this book alone and for what is packed into here. This book is not just a cookbook, it will teach you accelerated learning techniques, how to learn languages quickly, how to start a fire and how to gut a kill (I skipped this chapter). This is the third book I have read from Tim Ferriss, which I devoured in less than a week, I just could not put it down. This book is easy to read, even though it is the size of a computer programmers textbook (I know this because I am married to a programmer). There are tons of pictures and super simple how to’s. This book may be the only book you know to master how to chop an onion to serving up haute cuisine and inventive recipes in your own home. If you love food, you will be obsessed with food after reading this book and look at food in a whole new light.
Crazy Sexy Kitchen is a great companion to the Crazy Sexy Diet (see above). If you are bored with your run-of-the-mill, plant-based dishes, this book will give you tons of new and creative ideas that will please vegans and omnivores alike. The Crazy Sexy Diet book includes a few great recipes, this book expands on those. Beautifully presented with loads of great pictures to drool over and also a very fun read.
The Happy Herbivore was one of the first plant-based cookbooks I picked up. Author Lindsay Nixon follows a low-fat and plant-based diet. This book contains tons of go-to recipes and veganized versions of family favorites. I highly recommend this book if you are thinking about a plant-based diet but are apprehensive of ‘weird’ or new ingredients.
Everyday Happy Herbivore is Lindsay Nixon’s second book. This cookbook focuses on meals that are on the table in less than 30 minutes. There are some great recipes for indian dishes in here. Lindsay wrote this cookbook while living in St. Maarten, so you can imagine the grocery store there would not be as well-stocked as your typical grocery store. She proves you can cook a low-fat, plant-based diet pretty much anywhere in the world with the most basic of ingredients.
Happy Herbivore Abroad is Lindsay’s third cookbook where she also tells her story of her journey into a plant-based diet. This book has super simple, fun recipes that will take your taste buds around the world. Check out my interview with Lindsay Nixon in Interview with the Happy Herbivore and a book giveaway of HH Abroad!
Thrive Foods, by Brendan Brazier, ironman triathlete, and also the author of the Thrive Diet, this book contains a huge volume of raw, and dairy, wheat, corn and soy-free recipes to fuel your inner athlete. A follow up to the Thrive Diet, this book contains some theory and is an excellent companion if you enjoyed that book but want more ideas for meals.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide: Gluten-Free Vegan Cooking was the first cookbook I picked up after reading Wheat Belly and wondered what the heck I was going to eat after removing meat and dairy, and now gluten from my diet? There are some great recipes in here that cover all the bases. My favorite multi-grain bread recipe is in this book and it blows all the gluten-free breads on the market out of the water.
Peas and Thank you is a fun cookbook. Written by funny lady Sarah Matheny, attorney turned stay-at-home-mom serves up family favorites, plant-based style; lasagna, spaghetti and lentil meatballs, and some great kid-friendly snack and dessert ideas. Mama Pea’s refreshing sense of humor and realistic portrayal of what being a mom is like will speak to mom’s everywhere.
Eat, Drink & Be Vegan is the very first vegan cookbook I picked up. It is splatted with garlicky hummus and chocolate chip cookie dough. Dreena Burton has been vegan since 1995 – way before I even knew what ‘vegan’ or even ‘kale’ for that matter was. Her recipes are well thought out and omnivore friendly. She has four cookbooks under her belt and three kids at home, so she is very knowledgeable about feeding kids a healthy plant-powered diet.
The Vegan Table is a gorgeous cookbook with tons of great pictures. The book is organized into seasons and also includes menus for all kinds of occasions. The fare includes some luxurious ingredients that you may have to make a trip to your local Whole Foods or other specialty food store for, but it is well worth the trip.
Color me Vegan is another beautiful cookbook from Coleen Patrick-Goudreau, the compassionate cook. This book is organized by color so you can easily eat the rainbow. The colors of the food in this book are vibrant and the food pictures are mouthwatering. Colleen also champions the 30-Day Vegan Challenge, an easy to follow way to lean into a vegan diet gently.
Skinny Bitch: Home, Beauty & Style: A No-Nonsense Guide to Cutting the Crap Out of Your Life for a Better Body and a Kinder World: If you liked Skinny Bitch you will enjoy this book. Written by Kim Barnouin, one of the Skinny Bitches, details all the healthy things you can do in your home from bedding and flooring, to cleaners and body care. Feminine care is included in here too, and is a section you must read ladies!
Full disclosure: if you buy any of these books using the links provided I will get a small fee from Amazon.