reviews

OILS OF HEALTH

Stephanie Tourles’s Essential Oils: A Beginner’s Guide

By Stephanie Tourles

STOREY (storey.com), 240 PAGES, $16.95

 

Essential Oils for Mindfulness and Meditation

By Heather Dawn Godfrey, PGCE, BSc

160 PAGES, $16.99

 

Holistic Reflexology

By Ewald Kliegel

HEALING ARTS (healingartspress.com), 182 PAGES, $19.99

In our September/October story “The Essential Guide to Essential Oils,” we learned that these plant-based essences can be misused, with unfortunate results, by people who aren’t aware of their remarkable power. (You can read that story here: http://www.energytimes.com/pages/features/0918/oils.html) Employing essential oils properly is the subject of three recently published books.

As its title indicates, Stephanie Tourles’s Essential Oils: A Beginner’s Guide is aimed squarely at the oils amateur. The opening chapters offer a crucial overview of how oils are distilled, advice on quality, safety and storage, and dilution guidelines. The bulk of the book is taken up with information on 25 common oils: For each, Tourles, a certified aromatherapist, provides potential benefits, safety data and recipes, such as Lavender Lover’s Serenity Mist (designed to help “you feel relaxed, tranquil, and serene”) and Open Sinus! (which combines oils of eucalyptus, rosemary, peppermint and thyme). The idea, Tourles says, is to “understand essential oils as a lifestyle and utilize their power in a way that supports you.”

The beguiling aromas of essential oils give them “the ability to anchor us in our experience of the moment,” writes holistic therapist Heather Dawn Godfrey in Essential Oils for Mindfulness and Meditation. “Companions of the meditative process and remedies in their own right, essential oils play an invaluable complementary role.” In the book, she explains the science behind the linkage between scent and contemplation before providing instructions on the use of oils in roll-on bottles, diffusers and other application methods. A section on complementary therapies, such as yoga and various types of massage, allows the reader to incorporate mediation and essential oil usage into a lifestyle of overall balance and well-being.

As ancient as the art of healing through scent is, experienced practitioners can find new ways of putting essential oils to creative use. In Holistic Reflexology: Essential Oils and Crystal Massage in Reflex Zone Therapy, German holistic healer Ewald Kliegel expands reflexology beyond a simple foot or hand massage technique by applying its fundamental principles—that manipulating specific spots on the body’s surface can affect its inner workings—to maps that encompass the entire body. For example, he says that massaging certain spots on the shins can help with constipation; such massages “may be complemented with the use of diluted essential oil or crystal wands.” The book provides detailed color images of these maps along with ways to employ this knowledge “that takes into account all parts of the human being—physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.” —Lisa James

 

REVIEWS ARCHIVES

Aging

Cracking the Aging Code

Longevity Code, The

Mindful Aging

 

Alternative Medicine

Chinese Medicine In Your Daily Life

Essential Ayurvedic Cookbook, The

Handbook of Chinese Medicine & Ayurveda

Holistic Health for Adolescents

Light Therapies

Magnificent Magnesium

Principles of Chinese Herbal Medicine

Tibetan Yoga for Health & Well-Being

Tui Na Manual

Tuning the Human Biofield

Wheel of Healing with Ayurveda, The
Whole Health

Wild Medicine Solution, The


Baking

Baking by Hand

Bread Revolution

 

Beauty & Skincare

Best Natural Homemade Soaps, The

Compassionate Chick's Guide to DIY Beauty

Japanese Holistic Facial Massage

Natural Beauty

Radical Beauty

Vital Face

 

Brain, Emotional & Mental Health

Anxiety Journal

Brain Fog Fix, The

Complete Brain Exercise Book, The

From Anxiety to Love

Guided Imagery Work for Kids

Healing the Western Soul

Herbs for Stress & Anxiety

Living a Life of Gratitude

Mindful Way Workbook, The

Moodtopia

Playing Hurt

Reboot Your Brain

Recover! (addiction)

Remapping Your Mind

Road to Calm Workbook, The

Start Here  

Thanksgiving Commentary

What You Must Know About Memory Loss

Whole Brain

Yoga for Emotional Trauma

Alzheimer’s Prevention and Treatment Diet, The

Herbs and Nutrients for Neurologic Disorders

Memory Diet, The

Moodtopia

 

Cancer

Loving, Supporting and Caring for the Cancer Patient

Radical Remission

 

Childhood & Pregnancy

Allergy-Free Cooking for Kids

Crazy-Stressed

Eat Like a Champion

Mama Natural Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth

Minimize Injury, Maximize Performance
Owner's Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain, The

Simple Food for Busy Families

You Are Your Child's First Teacher

 

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Autoimmune Fix, The

Autoimmune Wellness Handbook, The

Blood Pressure Down

Complete Guide to Beating Sugar Addiction, The

Education4Knees

Fibro Fix, The

Heal Your Hips

Immune System Recovery Plan, The

Living with Crohn's & Colitis Cookbook

Natural Treatments for Lyme Coinfections

Paleo Diabetes Diet Solution, The

ph Balance GERD, IBS & IBD

What You Must Know About Allergies


Environmental Issues

Breach, The

Overpowered

Raising Elijah

Zero-Waste Lifestyle, The

 

Essential Oils

Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook, The

Essential Oils for Mindfulness and Meditation

Holistic Reflexology

Stephanie Tourles’s Essential Oils


 

Fitness

Burst! Workout, The

I’m Not a Size Zero 

No Sweat

Paleo Fitness

Step Up Your Game

Vegan Athlete, The

 

Food-Related, General

A Taste of Pesach

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Chips

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Cooking Wild

Eat Clean, Live Well

Low-GI Slow Cooker, The

Mediterranean Cooking

Nutrition for Intuition

Part-Time Paleo

The Top 100

Wanderlust Find Your True Fork

 

Food & Overall Health

Complete Prebiotic & Probiotic Guide, The

Dr. Viassara's AGE-Less Diet

Eat to Live

Fast Food, Good Food

Honestly Healthy for Life

Longevity Kitchen

Soupelina's Soup Cleanse

 

Food, Regional Cuisines

An: To Eat

Food, Family and Tradition: Hungarian Kosher

Family Recipes and Remembrances

Jerusalem: A Cookbook

Lebanese Kitchen, The

Sicily

Spiritual Cooking with Yael: Recipes & Bible

Meditations from the Holy Land

Summerland: Recipes for Celebrating with

Southern Hospitality

The Petite Gourmand: Sharing Morocco


Food, Specific Ingredients

Eat-A-Bug Cookbook, The

Fifty Shades of Kale

Fish Market

Kale

Lust for Leaf

Superfood Nuts

Super Seeds

 

General Interest

Gaining Ground

Good Luck Cat, The

Happily Ever After

Happiness Effect, The

Invisible Worlds

Life After the Diagnosis

Natural Posture

Soul Smart Wisdom

Unexpected Recoveries

Your Blood Never Lies

 

Genetics and Health

Deep Nutrition, Unzip Your Genes

 

Herbs

Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism

Herbal Antivirals

Herbal Goddess

New Healing Herbs

 

Pain

Heal Your Pain Now

Mystery of Pain, The

No Grain, No Pain

Overcoming Acute and Chronic Pain

Your Body’s Brilliant Design  

 

Raw Food

Choosing Raw

Raw Challenge

 

Self-Help

Abundance Project

Anatomy of a Calling

A Short Path to Change

Bouncing Back

Bringing Your Shadow Out of the Dark

Clearing Emotional Clutter

Close Your Eyes, Get Free

Creating Luminous Spaces

Emotional Detox

Energies of Love, The

Expectation Hangover

Finding the Blue Sky

First Intelligence

Freedom Is an Inside Job

Gift of Maybe, The

Grateful Life, The

In Search of Wisdom

Intuition Pumps & Other Tools for Thinking

It Didn't Start With You

Life Organizer, The

Living an Examined Life

Luminous Life

Making Life Easy

Organize Tomorrow Today

Perfection Detox

Power of Forgiveness, The

Reclaiming Your Body   

Relationship Handbook, The

Secrets of Your Cells

77 Questions for Skillful Living

Slow Down Diet, The

Start Right Where You Are

Super Mind

The Vital Signs

Total Life Cleanse

Turbo Metabolism

Well Life, The

Well Nourished

Whole

Wired to Create

Your Inner GPS

Your Inner Will

 

Vegetarian/Vegan

Cheesy Vegan, The

Isa Does It

Seagan Eating

30 Minute Vegan Soup's On, The

Vegan Chocolate

Vegetarian Under Pressure

Vicki's Vegan Kitchen

Weight Loss

Food Freedom Forever

Science of Skinny

10-Day Belly Slimdown

Wheat Belly Total Health

 

Women’s Health

Happy Women Live Better

Vegan for Her

 

Yoga

Anodea Judith's Chakra Yoga

Big Gal Yoga

Energy Medicine Yoga

Harvard Medical School Guide to Yoga

Meditations on Intention and Being

Pick Your Yoga Practice

Restorative Yoga Therapy

Rodney Yee's Complete Yoga for Beginner

Strala Yoga

Yoga and Body Image

Yoga Beyond the Mat

Yoga Lifestyle, The

Yoga Therapy for Stress & Anxiety

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARCHIVE

 

FINDING FREEDOM WITHIN

Close Your Eyes, Get Free

By Grace Smith

DA CAPO (dacapopress.com), 276 PAGES, $15.99

Freedom Is an Inside Job

By Zainab Salbi

184 PAGES, $23.95

Bringing Your Shadow Out of the Dark

By Robert Augustus Masters, PhD

248 PAGES, $17.95

In Search of Wisdom

By Matthieu Ricard, Christophe André and Alexandre Jollien

SOUNDS TRUE (soundstrue.com), 322 PAGES, $18.95

A poet once wrote, “The only journey is the one within.” Four recently published books touch on how that inner voyage can help you push past self-made boundaries.

Professional hypnotherapists have helped clients with everything from smoking cessation to weight loss. But according to Grace Smith, a practitioner and certification instructor in the field, “All hypnosis is self-hypnosis.” In Close Your Eyes, Get Free: Use Self-Hypnosis to Reduce Stress, Quit Bad Habits, and Achieve Greater Relaxation and Focus, Smith presents this technique as a powerful light that can be directed at one’s thoughts and beliefs—the first step in, as she puts it, “reprogram[ming] your subconscious mind.”

The book explores how we fall early into the mental ruts that keep us trapped in unproductive thoughts—“most of our worldview is formed before the age of seven,” Smith writes—and presents bullet-point instructions in self-hypnosis to help the reader see him- or herself in a more positive light. Smith’s long experience in the field yields a number of case studies that underscore her concepts.

That need for inner healing can touch even lives that are outwardly not only successful, but meaningful. Take Zainab Salbi, for instance; her life’s work involves helping women living in countries ravaged by war. But despite the real good she has done in the world, Salbi found that she still needed to do hard work within, a story she relates in Freedom Is an Inside Job: Owning Our Darkness and Our Light to Heal Ourselves and the World.

Salbi’s journey took her far, from an Iraqi childhood shadowed by Saddam Hussein to America, where she experienced an early, harsh marriage before a sweeter, but ultimately unsustainable, one. Along the way, she learned an important lesson: “Whether we live our life fully or fail to live it is our responsibility alone.” Salbi also learned about what Carl Jung first termed “the shadow self,” the darker parts of our personalities that we tend to push away and deny. As she writes, “If I wanted women to be happy and free to express themselves fully, then I needed to be happy and free to express my heart’s desires.” The rest of Freedom Is an Inside Job explores how this process played out for her.

That need to honestly face those veiled, rejected parts of ourselves is the central topic of Bringing Your Shadow Out of the Dark: Breaking Free from the Hidden Forces That Drive You. As spiritual counselor Robert Augustus Masters puts it, “Everyone has a shadow, but not everyone knows their shadow.” But, no matter how messy a chore it becomes, Masters says we need to come to terms with the shadow unless we want it to rule our lives.

Masters dedicates a chapter to each of the issues that lurks within the shadow, from fear to shame to our capacity for self-sabotage. He then details ways to work with the shadow in order to resolve unexamined concerns in our lives. For example, in denying the inner critic that says, “You’re never good enough” its life-crippling power, Masters says “we remove ourselves from its sway; we’re no longer a child submissively responding to a difficult parent.” The ultimate goal: To go “into the place where our pain no longer pains us.”

Moving through pain is one thing; finding positive insight is another. It’s this more expansive view of our capacity to be fully human that concerns the three authors of In Search of Wisdom: A Monk, a Philosopher, and a Psychiatrist on What Matters Most. True to the title, the book reflects wide-ranging discussions among Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard, psychiatrist Christophe André and philosopher Alexandre Jollien. They don’t think small; some of the chapter headings include What Are Our Deepest Aspirations?, The Origins of Suffering and True Freedom: What Can I Liberate Myself From? Each author offers his own interpretation on a particular subject in a conversational, back-and-forth style.

For example, in the chapter on suffering, Ricard discusses how Buddhism views suffering as “manifest[ing] on several levels,” including those forms associated with change and with “the vague, intuitive feeling that nothing is ever satisfying.” He also remarks that suffering does have the benefit of forcing people to look at happiness in a deeper, more profound way, to which André responds, “Just as pain is a warning signal that pushes us to quickly alter our behavior or our environment…suffering informs us that we are on a path that leads away from what could provide balance or harmony.” A final chapter offers advice for employing In Search of Wisdom’s big-picture awareness on a daily basis. —Lisa James

 

DIFFERENT DETOXES

Emotional Detox

By Sherianna Boyle, MED, CAGS

ADAMS MEDIA (www.simonandschusterpublishing.com),
240 PAGES, $22.99

The Perfection Detox

By Petra Kolber

DA CAPO (www.dacapopress.com), 230 PAGES, $17.99

Say the word “detox” and most people think of a body-coddling spa visit or a DIY project with special diets and fiber supplements. But over time, that word has been adopted as a catchall moniker for anything designed to help clear the crud out of your life on any level. Two recently published books exemplify this change.

Energy practitioner Sherianna Boyle offers to help clean up emotional messes through a program she calls C.L.E.A.N.S.E.: Clear, Look inward, Emit, Activate joy, Nourish, Surrender, Ease. She describes this process in Emotional Detox: 7 Steps to Release Toxicity and Energize Joy.

What is an emotional detox? Boyle says it is “an introspective process that helps you rewrite the negative stories, thoughts, and beliefs attached to your emotions.” After describing signs that you need a detox (feeling overwhelmed or zoned-out, for example), she presents the seven steps of her plan in short, absorbable chapters with clearly defined actions, such as learning ways to breathe that help you access difficult feelings. The ultimate goal is to find happiness by processing emotions properly instead of letting them fester. As Boyle puts it, “Our most natural state is joy.”

Joy is the ultimate goal of another book: The Perfection Detox: Tame Your Inner Critic, Live Bravely, and Unleash Your Joy.

According to workout specialist Petra Kolber, people often struggle to achieve their goals because they can’t live up to their own lofty expectations. She writes, “The key to reaching the highest level of success is a certain willingness to take risks, which perfectionists viscerally try to avoid for fear of making a mistake.”

To help readers overcome that tendency, Kolber first explores what it means to tame one’s inner critic: For example, she urges the reader to review situations when something didn’t go quite right and try to learn from the experience. The idea is to get past FEAR—False Expectations Appearing Real—and to finally get of your own way. The second half of The Perfection Detox offers ways to do that, such as writing about moments you were actually proud of yourself and learning to compliment others instead of criticizing them. In the end, Kolber says, “Never ever forget that the world would rather have your imperfect voice, than your perfect silence.” —Lisa James

EASTERN HEALING TRADITIONS

The Tui Na Manual

By Maria Mercati

HEALING ARTS (www.healingartspress.com), 160 PAGES, $19.99

Tibetan Yoga for Health & Well-Being

By Alejandro Chaoul, PhD

HAY HOUSE (www.hayhouse.com), 98 PAGES, $17.99

Handbook of Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda

By Bridgette Shea, LAc, MAcOM

HEALING ARTS (www.healingartspress.com), 372 PAGES, $29.99

Beyond acupuncture: This needle-based technique may be the most widely used form of Eastern medicine in the US, but it isn’t the only one. Several different healing traditions are becoming increasingly popular here, which explains why there is an ever-expanding array of books dedicated to these therapies.

In The Tui Na Manual: Chinese Massage to Awaken Body and Mind, teacher Maria Mercati writes that she came to this form of Chinese massage while looking for relief from her own pain. Chinese medicine’s guiding principles are fairly complex, and Mercati does a good job of explaining this system in the book’s first section. She then describes the soft-tissue and joint manipulation techniques, such as kneads and stretches, used in tui na before presenting a whole-body routine “designed to increase energy and vitality, and promote health and well-being.” Clear, clean graphics throughout The Tui Na Manual help considerably.

China’s neighbor, Tibet, has its own healing tradition. Part of it based on yoga, which, like the Buddhism practiced there, has its roots in India. Alejandro Chaoul has studied Tibetan Buddhism for more than two decades, and in Tibetan Yoga for Health & Well-Being: The Science and Practice of Healing Your Body, Energy, and Mind, he writes that in this healing system, “the harmony of the body, breath-energy, and mind system is most important.” Chaoul then explain how to foster this harmony by guiding one’s breath through energetic channels within the body through a variety motions, such as those that imitate shooting an arrow or swimming freestyle. The idea is not to simply feel better physically, but to “connect more deeply to yourself.”

Like China and Tibet, India has its own traditional medicine, Ayurveda, that has been used for thousands of years. Like Chinese medicine, Ayurveda has arrived in the US under the “alternative medicine” umbrella, so it probably isn’t surprising that an American practitioner of both traditions, Bridgette Shea, has combined them in Handbook of Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda: An Integrated Practice of Ancient Healing Traditions. Although written with enough detail for practitioner use, this book offers much to the interested layperson, starting with the foundations of both disciplines before going on to ways they can be used together in real-life situations. For example, when dealing with upper respiratory infections, Shea will use one of two Chinese medicine formulations—depending on exactly which symptoms the patient has—plus teas made with ginger and tulsi (holy basil), an important remedy in Ayurvedic herbalism. —Lisa James

 

PROTECTING YOUNG ATHLETES

 

Minimize Injury, Maximize Performance

By Dr. Tommy John (with Myatt Murphy)

DA CAPO (www.dacapopress.com), 286 PAGES, $18.99

The days when kids were routinely shooed out of the house in the summer to frolic until it got dark are long gone.

Today, most children are exposed to sports through formal league play, whether through school or as part of outside organizations such as youth soccer leagues. And while organized athletics offers uniforms and structured training, the sheer numbers of youngsters involved (30 million, by one estimate) has led to an increase in kids getting hurt. According to the CDC, more than 3.5 million children are treated for sports injuries each year, with overuse responsible for almost half of all injuries to middle- and high-school students.

Dr. Tommy John knows something about sports injuries. His dad, for whom he was named, underwent the first elbow ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction—now known as Tommy John surgery—which enabled the senior John to ultimately spend 26 years as a big-league pitcher. After a shoulder problem caused the son to give up his own promising baseball career, he became a chiropractor and training specialist.

The younger John sees more and more youth athletes undergoing advanced procedures, and finds that fact alarming. As he notes in Minimize Injury, Maximize Performance: A Sports Parent’s Survival Guide, 57% of elbow ligament reconstructions are being done on patients between the ages of 15 and 19. “The truth is, Tommy John surgery is a procedure that shouldn’t be happening in anybody under 19 years of age,” he writes.

To help stem the tide, John offers parents what he calls the “Tommy John Solution”—Rethink, Replenish, Rebuild and Recover—based on a test (seeing how long a child can hold a push-up, a standing leg raise, and seven other movements) to pinpoint specific dysfunctions.

Among John’s recommendations are limiting tech time, which he says is harmful to performance; looking for subtle signs of injury, such as a child constantly rubbing a joint; and limiting a pre-high school child’s participation in a specific sport to six months a year. The book addresses a number of other crucial factors, including proper nutrition, bringing the body back into balance through step-by-step exercise routines and ways to accelerate the healing process.

While the rough-and-tumble nature of sports will always produce mishaps, no parent wants a young athlete to wind up in the doctor’s office with an avoidable injury. Minimize Injury, Maximize Performance offers a way to possibly avoid that scenario. —Lisa James

 

 

EASING ANXIETY

The Anxiety Journal

By Corinne Sweet

RODALE (www.penguinrandomhouse.com), 224 PAGES, $21.99

Moodtopia

By Sara-Chana Silverstein, RH (AHC), IBCLC

DA CAPO (www.dacapopress.com), 256 PAGES, $17.99

From Anxiety to Love

By Corinne Zupko

NEW WORLD (www.newworldlibrary.com), 188 PAGES, $15.95

As common as depression is among Americans, it isn’t the most widespread mental illness. That dubious prize goes to anxiety, believed to affect nearly a fifth of the US adult population. Three recently published books address this pervasive problem.

The idea behind The Anxiety Journal is fairly straightforward. By pinning down exactly how you feel, you can “identify symptoms of anxiety,” writes psychologist Corinne Sweet; the book is designed to help you discover not only what triggers your fearfulness, but what deeper issues that fear may represent. Sweet then provides simple exercises that can help you cope, such as learning how to avoid anxiety’s dark, downward spiral by visualizing that you are catching a rope thrown from above, moving upwards and “finding a new sense of yourself and your inner strength.” The book is structured as a series of short topics, which makes the material easy to grasp.

Anxiety and depression may be sensed through the emotions, but their underlying causes are often rooted in the physical body. In Moodtopia, herbalist Sara-Chana Silverstein offers plant-based remedies designed to ease stress, soothe moods and support the liver, which, as the body’s main detox organ, helps clear out noxious substances that can affect mental balance.

The section on each herb comes with a description of its effects (and there are subtle differences between them), along with anecdotes on how one of Silverstein’s patients was able to successfully use the herb in question. For instance, one woman was becoming frazzled trying to juggle a demanding job and a crying baby; Silverstein suggested the women try eleuthero, recommended “for women feeling burned out, agitated, angry, low libido, and exhaustion.” The book also provides information on how to improve your mood by brightening your surroundings.

For Corinne Zupko, author of From Anxiety to Love, the idea isn’t just to alleviate one’s fears—and her “anxiety journey was one of the worst, most terrifying experiences of my life”—but to use it to “help you awaken to the peace that is already in you” by using the Inner Therapist “to heal our minds of the layers of fear that muffle the presence of Love” through journal prompts, mantras and other tools. Those words may seem far-fetched for many anxiety sufferers. However, the fact that Zupko has traveled this hard road herself gives the voice of authenticity to her advice. —Lisa James

 

 

LIGHT AND LIFE

Creating Luminous Spaces

By Maureen K. Calamia

CONARI (www.redwheelweiser.com), 236 PAGES, $16.95

Light Therapies

By Anadi Martel

HEALING ARTS (www.healingartspress.com), 368 PAGES, $24.99

Luminous Life

By Jacob Israel Liberman, OD, PhD

NEW WORLD LIBRARY (www.newworldlibrary.com), 218 PAGES, $15.95

“Let there be light: and there was light,” says the Bible. “Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth,” says the Koran. “One who kindles the light of awareness within gets true light,” says the Rig Veda.

The fact that light features so prominently in the world’s sacred texts tells you something about the role it plays in the human imagination, from the intimate glow of candlelight to the streaming glory of a sunrise. We have always been attracted to light, making it the fitting subject of several recently published books.

A luminous space “is a place that emits a light from within,” writes feng shui consultant Maureen Calamia in Creating Luminous Spaces: Use the Five Elements for Balance and Harmony in Your Home and in Your Life (Conari). As the subtitle suggests, Calamia uses elements central to Chinese healing—Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water—to help the reader create a living space that fosters peace and balance. She also keys on bringing nature into built environments, a concept known as biophilic design, “to ground ourselves, ignite our passions, and connect with our authentic selves.” The tenth chapter of Creating Luminous Spaces, which consists of questions that allow the reader to personalize all the information presented in the first nine chapters, is particularly helpful.

Light can do more than make our homes more home-like; it also has the power to enhance our health. That’s the central topic of Light Therapies: A Complete Guide to the Healing Power of Light. Physicist and electronics designer Anadi Martel has spent more than three decades researching the therapeutic properties of light; in the book, he explains how light can both heal, such as the use of lightboxes to combat seasonal depression, and harm, such as the effect of artificial lighting on the body’s internal clock. Martel also discusses chromotherapy, or the use of color in healing, and, in the final chapter, explores the connection between light and consciousness. “We all have an innate sense of the divine, which we may have the privilege of touching in special moments,” he writes. “And it is always in these moments that light will accompany us.”

It is in this larger sense of how light edifies our lives that Luminous Life: How the Science of Light Unlocks the Art of Living is written. Jacob Israel Liberman, OD, PhD, who has long worked in the fields of vision enhancement and light therapy, sees light as a guide to experiencing life on a deeper level. “When the light within us merges with the light illuminating our awareness,” he writes, “we are effortlessly moved toward our source.” Liberman believes this source holds the key to not only our physical well-being but also our ability to transcend the limitations of ego and self to find lasting joy. —Lisa James

 

PEOPLE WITH PLANS

Whether you’re trying to lose 15 pounds or find your life’s purpose, there’s no
end of authors who want to help you attain these goals. Here are some recently
published books that offer advice.

The 10-Day Belly Slimdown

By Kellyann Petrucci, MS, ND

HARMONY (www.penguinrandomhouse.com), 294 PAGES, $27.00

Weight loss is probably the single biggest category of health-related self-help books, and the latest from Kellyann Petrucci, author of the bestselling Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Diet, hits all the checkmarks. Celebrity doctor/author with a high-powered clientele? Check. Subtitle that tells you exactly what to expect (“Lose Your Belly, Heal Your Gut, Enjoy a Lighter, Younger You”)? Check. Timeline stated up front? Check. Cute acronym, in this case SLIM (safe, loved, important, motivated)? Check. Anecdotes from people who have used the diet to lose weight? Check.

None of this invalidates the book’s basic premise, based on solid research, which is that abdominal fat is really, really bad for you because of its inflammatory effects. Petrucci’s plan calls for moving meals closer together, so that you get more of the benefits of intermittent fasting (without having to actually go on a fast); adding the power of (what else?) bone broth (which Petrucci calls “liquid gold”) to your diet; and eating foods that provide “fat-melting, age-defying collagen” along with other good stuff. (Advice on exercise and stress relief round out the book.) If you’re a dieter who feels more comfortable following a written plan, you may find The 10-Day Belly Slimdown helpful.

 

Turbo Metabolism

By Pankaj Vij, MD, FACP

NEW WORLD LIBRARY (www.newworldlibrary.com), 288 PAGES, $16.95

Running a close second in the health-related self-help category are books in which weight loss is only one of a whole host of benefits. In the case of Turbo Metabolism, those benefits (as stated in the subtitle) include “preventing and reversing diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and other metabolic diseases by treating the causes.”

As in Petrucci’s book, the main enemy in Turbo Metabolism—written by Pankaj Vij, who practices internal medicine in northern California—is that evil, metabolism-scrambling belly fat, especially the way it messes around with blood sugar (a phenomenon known as “diabesity”).

Vij’s approach takes more than just the body into account; at one point he labels the idea of a purely physical fix as “fallacy,” noting, “Mind and body are intimately connected at every level.” To this end, in addition to advice on nutrition and supplementation, Vij delves into stress control and the need for quality sleep. What’s more, he advises, “Focus on putting forward your best self every moment of every day so that you can overcome the fear, inhibitions, and obstacles that are in the way of…the achievement of the purpose of your existence.”

 

Total Life Cleanse

By Jonathan Glass, MAc, CAT

HEALING ARTS (www.healingartspress.com), 434 PAGES, $24.95

Detoxification is another popular health-related subject. What sets Total Life Cleanse apart from other examples of the genre is its emphasis on more than just a clean bowel and a happy liver; in the words of the subhead, it is “a 28-day program to detoxify and nourish the body, mind, and soul.”

Jonathan Glass’s background in several healing disciplines, including Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, stands him in good stead as the author of Total Life Cleanse, which draws on these and other therapeutic arts. After discussing why we can all use a good cleansing, Glass starts with diet but goes far beyond it, ranging across subjects such as non-exercise ways of working up a good, detoxing sweat (think saunas and something called the Amethyst BioMat), the need to avoid junk media just as we need to avoid junk food, and visualization techniques (including how to karate-chop yourself away from other people’s negative energy). The idea, Glass says, is to “regain the potential for mental clarity, peace of mind, and physical vitality.”

 

The Abundance Project

By Derek Rydall

BEYOND WORDS/ATRIA (www.simonandschuster.com), 256 PAGES, $24.00

A focus on more than just the physical aspects of well-being is also the calling card of life coach and consultant Derek Rydall, author of The Abundance Project: 40 Days to More Wealth, Health, Love, and Happiness. The book is based on what Rydall calls the Awakened Abundance Principle, or as he writes, “Imagine…abundance being available no matter where you’ve come from, what you’ve been through, or what circumstance you find yourself in.”

The Abundance Project is another book that takes the unlock-the-universe-within approach to achieving one’s goals, whether related to health or finances or relationships or what-have-you. In this case, what Rydall offers is a set timeline (40 days) and a series of exercises to help move you through the process. For example, in the first exercise you are asked to “look at an area where you’ve made someone or something your outside Source,” such as a spouse or a job, examine how you feel when you think about your relationship to that Source, and then “ask yourself: What is this relationship costing me?” Rydall says that more than just a wish machine, the Awakened Abundance Principle is “a way of life based on the universal principles of abundance that have always existed and always will.”

 

Living an Examined Life

By James Hollis, PhD

SOUNDS TRUE (www.soundstrue.com), 144 PAGES, $15.95

Losing weight, feeling great and having more money in your pocket are all laudable goals. But for many people, meeting such needs isn’t all there is to life, especially when they realize there are more miles in the rearview mirror than on the road ahead. It is to those midlife-and-beyond seekers that Living an Examined Life: Wisdom for the Second Half of the Journey is addressed.

Unlike the concerns addressed by our other authors, the sorts of big-picture questions that Jungian analyst James Hollis gently guides the reader into asking aren’t prone to being answered on a set timeline. Instead, Living an Examined Life is laid out as a series of 21 steps, all of which are designed, as Hollis writes, in the spirit of “looking at [your] life and taking responsibility for it.” Examples include freeing yourself from undue parental influence (no matter how old you are), discovering “what gift you have been withholding from the world,” learning to love your more unloveable parts and developing a mature spirituality. These are important inquiries that require thoughtful self-reflection; Hollis hopes they will “help you make different choices in the thousand forking paths you traverse every day.”

 

USING THE GUT TO
HEAL THE BRAIN

The Whole Grain

By Raphael Kellman, MD

DA CAPO (www.dacapopress.com), 310 PAGES, $27.00

Our brains are under attack. Anxiety afflicts more than 40 million Americans, depression is a leading cause of disability among younger people and the number of individuals living with cognitive impairment, an early dementia warning sign, is equal to twice the population of New York City.

The explanations given for this onslaught are many and intertwined: harried lifestyles, toxic environments, media overload. But researchers have found that the gut—particularly the microbes, or microbiome, found within the digestive tract—is a major factor in brain health.

In fact, “the microbiome’s condition plays a role in whether or not you may develop anxiety, depression and brain fog,” writes Raphael Kellman, MD in The Whole Brain Diet: The Microbiome Solution to Heal Depression, Anxiety, and Mental Fog Without Prescription Drugs.

Kellman (author of The Microbiome Diet) argues that the brain, gut and microbiome form an interrelated system he calls the “Whole Brain, powered by your thyroid.” Problems with thyroid output, or with gut or microbiome dysfunction, results in feeling as though “your mind is deteriorating and your emotions are out of control.” To counteract these concerns, Kellman presents a brain-health program based on old standbys—diet and supplementation—along with checking for “hidden thyroid issues” incomplete thyroid testing might miss. He also believes healing requires “activiat[ing] your will” by connecting to a higher sense of purpose.

Many people suffer silently with symptoms caused by broken brains. The Whole Brain Diet presents a way that may help make the brain whole. —Lisa James

 

Books to Give for the Holidays

 

The Jewish Lives Series

YALE UNIVERSITY (https://www.jewishlives.org)

The Jewish Lives series of biographies makes a great Hanukkah gift, but reading every title in the series over the course of the eight-day holiday might take something of a miracle: you’d have to average more than four books a day. But that’s good news for lovers of biography, and Jewish biography in particular. The titles in this marvelous series illuminate a broad swath of Jewish life, including Biblical figures such as Moses and Solomon, Rabbinic sages, science giants Freud and Einstein, modern figures of entertainment such as Steven Spielberg and Barbara Streisand, and more.

The books in the prizewinning series have been called interpretive biographies for the way their writers, carefully chosen to match their subjects, explore the impact of their subjects on society. The series, a partnership between Yale University Press and the Leon D. Black Foundation, makes for some lively book club discussion, and the publisher provides reading guides with timelines of the subjects and discussion questions.

Among the latest in the series is Warner Bros, which follows the rise of the Warner Brothers film studios. It was started by “unschooled Jewish immigrants” whose cultural impact was so profound, author David Thomson writes, it became “one of the enterprises that helped us see there might be an American dream out there.”

The Healthy Jewish Kitchen

By Paula Shoyer

STERLING EPICURE (http://www.sterlingpublishing.com),
168 PAGES, $24.95

Scan recipes in Jewish cookbooks and you’ll likely see a trend: they will often lack whole grains and be laden with too much salt, fat, sugar and processed foods. Paula Shoyer’s The Healthy Jewish Kitchen (Sterling Epicure) does an about face by featuring nutrient-dense recipes with natural ingredients and largely avoids frying, margarine (often a staple in kosher recipes since mixing meat and dairy is not allowed) and most jarred sauces.

Shoyer, who holds a pastry degree from the Ritz Escoffier in Paris, doesn’t just offer recipes with substitutions, but puts a gourmet spin on them: Sourdough Challah, Potato and Scallion Latkes, and Schnitzel with Almond Crust, to name a few. Her recipes get an international flavor, too, as in Feijoada, or Brazilian Cholent with Collard Greens and Farofa, a take on a Jewish stew. This particular dish is also made kosher by incorporating beef and veal; Feijoada is typically made with pork.

Shoyer goes to admirable lengths to ensure that a recipe is kosher. Case in point: She couldn’t find a gochujang paste with a kosher certification for her Korean Bibimbap with Tofu dish, so she created one from scratch using kosher ingredients.

 

Real Life Kosher Cooking

By Miriam Pascal

MESORAH (http://www.artscroll.com), 304 PAGES, $34.99

The subtitle to this lovely cookbook indicates that the recipes are “family friendly” and “for every day and special occasions.” Healthy fare doesn’t always overlap with those two criteria, but Pascal, the founder of the kosher cooking site OvertimeCook.com, offers plenty for the health-conscious. Her Mixed Grill Caesar Salad, despite the inclusion of steak and sliced pastrami, also features grilled chicken, loads of mixed greens and plenty of cherry or grape tomatoes. Pascal’s Honey Roasted Garlic Dip is sure to be a heart healthy way to snack. And there are a handful of salad dressing recipes, Asian Peanut Dressing and Citrus Shallot Dressing, among them, to keep you from reaching for store-bought dressings with processed ingredients. A scan of the dozen or so soup recipes she features show olive oil and vegetable broth, rather than lard, as ingredients, a testament to how kosher fare can be healthful. Real Life Kosher Cooking instructions are clear, and Pascal, in a “Plan Ahead” footnote for each recipe, lets you know how well the dish holds up after time in the freezer. The beautiful photos of Pascal’s recipes leap off the page.

 

 

The Heart of Torah: Essays on the Weekly Torah Portion, Vols. 1 & 2

By Rabbi Shai Held

JEWISH PUBLICATION SOCIETY/NEBRASKA UNIVERSITY PRESS
(https://jps.org), 928 PAGES, $80.00

The Torah is the one book central to Judaism, and in this two-volume guide, Rabbi Shai Held offers not one but two essays per weekly parsha, or portion. The Heart of Torah, Volume 1 is devoted to Genesis and Exodus, while Volume II covers Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. With this set Rabbi Held, a renowned lecturer and educator, illuminates the Torah with a multi-disciplinary approach. The JPS says Rabbi Held brings “creative theological exploration, penetrating psychological observation, keen attentiveness to literary detail, deep learning in Jewish philosophy and theology, and compassionate attention to the stirrings of the human heart.” Among his source material: the Talmud, great writers of world literature, and even “astute commentators” of other religious backgrounds. Students of these volumes, the JPS adds, come away with the knowledge of “what it truly means to be a religious person in the modern world” and of “God’s summoning of each of us—with all our limitations—into the dignity of covenantal relationship.”

 


The Vegan Holiday Cookbook

By Marie Laforêt


ROBERT ROSE (http://www.robertrose.ca),
144 PAGES, $19.95

If you think the words “vegan” and “festive” don’t belong in the same sentence, Marie Laforêt would like to change your mind. In The Vegan Holiday Cookbook: From Elegant Appetizers to Festive Mains and Delicious Sweets, the Parisian cookbook author and food blogger (100-vegetal.com, in French but the photography is gorgeous in any language) provides refined options for the vegan chef who wants to go far beyond simply avoiding animal products at the holiday table.

The 60 recipes, ranging from Foie Gras-Style Terrine as a starter course to Chestnut Crème Brulee for dessert, will please the most sophisticated of palates; some recipes are entirely gluten-free, while others are easy to adapt for those who need to avoid gluten. This is a section on both cocktails and homemade goodies that would make charming gifts. Laforêt also offers section of themed menus, a real help at a time of year when time is at a premium.

 


Christmas Cookie Contest in a Box

By Gina Hyams

ANDREWS MCMEEL (http://publishing.andrewsmcmeel.com),
88 PAGES (handbook), $14.99

Are you and other bakers in your family always engaging in playful one-upmanship regarding who makes the best cookies? If so, you can take your love of a good challenge to a whole new level with Christmas Cookie Contest in a Box: Everything You Need to Host a Christmas Cookie Contest.

The kit includes all the accoutrements of a proper contest: badges and scorecards for the judges, numbered place cards and prize ribbons, plus a handbook that shows you how to set up everything. The book also supplies recipes to help you get the party started—there’s even a recipe for Vegan Orange Ginger Cookies that sounds both healthy and scrumptious. Of course, winning isn’t the only thing; as author Gina Hyams puts it, a contest like this is really all about “forging relationships and a sense of community.”

 

Making Winter

By Emma Mitchell

LARK (www.sterlingpublishing.com), 128 PAGES, $24.95

You can extend your creativity beyond the kitchen with Making Winter: A Hygge-Inspired Guide to Surviving the Winter Months, hygge being a Danish concept that embraces the idea of cozy times at home spent with loved ones. The recipes and crafts in this book, illustrated with lovely photos in warm earthy colors, are perfect for getting through the cold and dark of winter with cheer and good humor.

British designer and naturalist Emma Mitchell provides craft ideas that cover a broad range of interests including ways to preserve late-autumn leaves and berries, crochet lace necklaces, and create elegant botanical watercolor paintings. The recipes, such as the Lemon, Thyme and Ginger Bars, sound like the kinds of treats you would love to share before a roaring fire with a dear friend. All projects include clear, easy-to-follow directions; the idea, as Mitchell says, is to “embrace the drab days and fill them with wrist warmers and baked goodness.”

 

The Wisdom of the Universe

By Neale Donald Walsch

TARCHER PERIGEE (www.penguin.com), 314 PAGES, $18.00

The holidays are about more than just feasting and good cheer. For many people, this time of the year brings up deeper questions about existence and their place in the universe, even if they don’t follow a particular faith. Those questions are central to The Wisdom of the Universe: Essential Truths from the Beloved Conversations with God Trilogy.

Actually, there are nine books in the Conversations with God series, seven of them making the New York Times Best Seller list. In all of them, spirituality writer Neale Donald Walsch asks questions, and the answers then come to him when he connects, in his words to “the divine presence.” The Wisdom of the Universe contains a selection of these questions and answers. The first question, for example, “How do I know God is communicating with me?” receives a short answer, “God is communicating with us all the time,” fleshed out with an essay on the subject. The nature photos that accompany the essays have been taken by Australian photographer Sherr Robertson. In a season of sometimes excessive busyness and material consumption, this book provides a grounding counterpoint.

 

 

 

GROWING OLDER

Cracking the Aging Code

By Josh Mitteldorf and Dorion Sagan

FLATIRON (www.flatironbooks.com), 326 PAGES, $16.99

 

The Longevity Code

By Kris Verburgh, MD

THE EXPERIMENT (www.theexperimentpublishing.com),
320 PAGES, $25.95

 

Mindful Aging

By Andrea Brandt, PhD, MFT

PESI (www.pesipublishing.com), 230 PAGES, $16.99

“Old age ain’t no place for sissies” is a quote often attributed to Bette Davis, who, before she died at age 81, would come to an intimate understanding of just how challenging growing old can be.

Actually, why we age at all? Theoretical biologist Josh Mitteldorf, PhD, and writer Dorion Sagan tackle that question, and the further queries that arise from it, in Cracking the Aging Code: The New Science of Growing Old—And What It Means for Staying Young (Flatiron).

“Doctors today are trying to help a body that does not want to be helped,” write Mitteldorf and Sagan; essentially, they say, self-destruction is programmed into our bodies as a way to keep the human population in balance with its available resources. That leads the authors to describe aging as the “dues owed by an individual for participating in a stable ecosystem.”

“All well and good,” you may think, “but I’d like to cheat the reaper for as long as possible.”

The good news in Cracking the Aging Code is that there are ways to induce an adaptive response called hormesis. Commonly known as “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” this reaction depends on undergoing some amount of hardship in order to keep your body in disease-fighting trim.

The authors come to at least one surprising conclusion: that the diabetes drug metformin, long out of patent and with an extensive track record, has been shown to promote longevity by reducing insulin resistance, a way to get the benefits of calorie restriction (a hormetic adaptation) without the deprivation. Other conclusions aren’t so surprising. “Fish oil and turmeric are natural anti-inflammatories that have been associated with protection from heart disease, stroke and dementia,” the authors write; vitamin D supplementation, exercise and being “happy, passionate about [your] work, and engaged with friends and family” also get high marks.

Another book that sees coded information in the whys and wherefores of growing older is The Longevity Code: The New Science of Aging (The Experiment).

Like Mitteldorf and Sagan, The Longevity Code’s author, Belgian aging researcher Kris Verburgh, MD, explores why nature preprograms our bodies to self-destruct. He thinks the process inefficient, noting, “Mother Nature is the greatest squanderer that exists: After building a very complex body, she…lets it age and die.”

Verburgh looks at what exactly goes awry with the body as it ages, such as the protein clustering seen in Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases or how the shortening of telomeres—little “caps” at the ends of DNA strands—lead to declining cell function. He then leads the reader up what he calls “the longevity staircase”: avoiding micronutrient deficiencies, stimulating hormesis through such means as high-intensity interval training, reducing growth stimulation by lowering carbohydrate and animal protein intake, and reversing the aging process through such leading-edge techniques as mitochondria repair. The summaries at the end of sections are quite helpful.

Another interpretation of aging entails a broader outlook, such as taken by psychotherapist Andrea Brandt in Mindful Aging: Embracing Your Life After 50 to Find Fulfillment, Purpose, and Joy (PESI Publishing).

“Research supports the notion that older age does not have to be a period of withdrawal, deterioration, and decline,” Brandt writes. Instead, “we can continue to improve and ‘become’ who we authentically are and want to be. Knowing this is the key to how we age.”

The path to this promised land lies in what Brandt calls “realistic positivity.” As an example, she relates the story of Melinda, an avid traveler diagnosed with breast cancer who, even in the midst of chemo, surgery and radiation, made detailed travel plans to occupy her mind during the long months of treatment, eventually having a blast in Barcelona. As Brandt puts it, Melinda “disempowered her fears and empowered her dreams.”

Each of the chapters in Mindful Aging—covering topics such as letting go of old junk, finding new goals and developing a spiritual life—is filled with steps, tips and exercises to distill what can be amorphous subjects into practical advice. (For instance, one exercise uses a small act, such as rearranging a room, as a way to free one’s creative juices.) In the final chapter, Brandt reminds the reader that this work isn’t supposed to be for oneself alone. She writes, “Our greatest meaning, fulfillment, and happiness come when we live with others’ well-being in our intentions, when we dedicate our energy and life to making their lives better as well.” —Lisa James

 

 

ONE MAN’S STORY

Playing Hurt

By John Saunders

DA CAPO (www.dacapopress.com), 294 PAGES, $27.00

For 30 years, John Saunders, who died suddenly of heart problems last year at age 61, was a respected voice in the world of big-time athletics, involved in broadcasts of all four major US sports and hosting ESPN's “The Sports Reporters.”

But for all his success, Saunders had a secret: He struggled with depression.

Like many men who suffer from what has traditionally been seen as a “woman’s” illness, Saunders learned to hide what he felt within—hence the title of his memoir, Playing Hurt. Finished in draft form shortly before he passed away, the book (completed by coauthor John Bacon with help from the Saunders family) was written so Saunders could “end the pain and heartache that comes with leading a double life” and to help others, “especially men,” who harbor the same hidden anguish.

On the surface of Playing Hurt is a rags-to-riches story of a man rising from poverty to a fruitful career, loving marriage, happy fatherhood and financial success. But that story is only incidental to the one Saunders sets out to tell, the darker tale of someone trying to escape forces that would eventually lead him to the edge of a bridge, contemplating suicide.

Surface, that notion of an ideal family, was something Saunders tried to cling to during a difficult childhood spent moving between Toronto and Montreal. But his father, a gifted athlete, pushed Saunders and his brother, Bernard, ruthlessly in their athletic pursuits, and the mouthy John was often the subject of his father’s violent rages. “Long after the bumps and bruises faded,” he writes, “what stayed with me was a deep, unshakeable feeling of worthlessness.”

Despite his father’s relentless goading, sports—particularly hockey because “my father knew nothing about it”—became Saunders’s refuge (along with drugs, for a time ) from the scarcity and pain of his home life. Playing hockey offered an escape to college via a scholarship; after a post-collegiate shoulder injury cut his career short, Saunders eventually found his way into sports broadcasting, first in Canada and then the US. In 1986 he signed on with ESPN just as the then-fledgling network was starting to take off; the next year he married.

It was Saunders’ initial ambivalence about becoming a dad—“I didn’t want to repeat my father’s mistakes”—that led his wife, Wanda, to urge that he seek professional help. But Saunders wasn’t forced to confront his problems in earnest until after November 2011, when an off-air blackout on the ESPN set resulted in a fall; Saunders’s head struck the floor.

He wound up at Manhattan’s Mount Sinai Hospital with a swollen brain and inconclusive test results. The weeks dragged on; one night, after listening to his roommate’s disconsolate sobbing for an absent mother’s presence, Saunders came to a crisis point.

He remembered the first time he was in the hospital, waiting for a father who never came. “My roommate’s cries exhumed my feelings of being abandoned, unworthy, unloved, even unlovable,” he writes. “I’ve been depressed before, but I always had other things going on to distract me…but this time there was nothing to stop all these horrible feelings from rushing up to me and weighing me down. That night was devastating.”

The next 80 pages of Playing Hurt describes how Saunders came to terms with not only his brain injury but also the depression that had plagued him for so long. He then writes about the heart problems, linked to his decades-long struggle with diabetes, that would eventually take his life; an Afterword explains what happened.

Near the end, Saunders writes, “For someone like me who suffers from depression, life is never as simple as ‘happily ever after.’…[the] disease is rarely far away, and it can always resurface.” But John Saunders eventually found a place of balance, and Playing Hurt offers his story as a lifeline to others for whom depression is a daily challenge. —Lisa James

 

HEALING PRACTICES OLD AND NEW


The New Healing Herbs

By Michael Castleman

RODALE (www.rodalebooks.com), 564 PAGES, $23.99

Your Body’s Brilliant Design

By Karen M. Gabler

SKYHORSE (www.skyhorsepublishing.com), 172 PAGES, $17.99

From the everything-old-is-new-again department: Herbal remedies, now thought of as “alternative” medicine, has been around pretty much since humans first discovered that ingesting specific plants made them feel better. For thousands of years, plant-based healing wasn’t thought of an alternative to anything—it was simply known as “medicine.”

That isn’t to say, however, that there aren’t parts of alternative medicine that don’t represent a new approach to healing. Two recently published books illustrate this difference.

Michael Castleman’s career as a writer on health and other topics goes back to the 1970s, and one of his biggest sellers has been The New Healing Herbs: The Essential Guide to More Than 135 of Nature’s Most Potent Herbal Remedies. Now available in a revised and updated fourth edition, it is a fine go-to resource for anyone interested in advanced self-care.

Like many books of this type, The New Healing Herbs is divided into two parts. The first, and largest, section provides detailed writeups on each herb, including history, usage recommendations, safety and gardening information. For example, Castleman notes in support of hawthorn’s traditional usage for congestive heart failure that it “opens the coronary arteries, improving the heart’s blood supply and allowing it to pump blood more efficiently” before citing relevant research. If you’d like to make your own hawthorn infusion, he recommends using “two teaspoons of crushed leaves or fruits per cup of boiling water.” In the book’s second part listing herbs for various disorders, hawthorn is cited under CHF along with more than a half-dozen other plants. It’s this sort of detailed information that gives The New Healing Herbs its value.

Some books in the alternative health field offer a new tactic for dealing with a common problem. That’s the case with Your Body's Brilliant Design: A Revolutionary Approach to Relieving Chronic Pain.

The main thesis of Karen Gabler, a trained massage therapist and bodyworker, is that chronic pain arises from damage to the fascia, “the body’s seamless web of connective tissue that weaves in and throughout muscles, bones, organs and cells” organized around what she calls the body’s “vertical core.” That body-wide connection explains why the triggering event may not have originated in the area that currently hurts. As Gabler puts it, “That shoulder pain you are experiencing could be the result of fascia pulled out of alignment when you injured your foot twenty years ago.”

To counteract such damage, Your Body's Brilliant Design offers a program based on breath and movement, especially exercises on a foam roller. The idea is to improve awareness of what’s going on within the body while activating the vertical core and “reconnect[ing] to the body’s brilliant design.”

As Gabler states right up front, “This book presents a point of view,” not a universally accepted point of fact. But for chronic pain that has persisted despite repeated attempts to fix the problem, Your Body's Brilliant Design may provide a promising treatment option. —Lisa James

 

YOGA FOR US ALL

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Yoga

By Marilynn Wei, MD, JD, and James E. Groves, MD

DA CAPO (www.dacapopress.com), 318 PAGES, $19.99

 

Big Gal Yoga

By Valerie Sagun

SEAL (www.sealpress.com), 202 PAGES, $18.99

Yoga—or at least the practice of its physical poses, known as asana, as well as its mindfulness aspects—is now fully embedded in mainstream American consciousness. A sign of these times is that one of the country’s most respected medical institutions has taken notice.

Psychiatrists Marilynn Wei and James Groves, authors of The Harvard Medical School Guide to Yoga: 8 Weeks to Strength, Awareness, and Flexibility, are Harvard alums; Groves teaches at the school. Their book is aimed at the newcomer to yoga, which the authors practice themselves and also use clinically.

As Wei and Groves point out, “Over 90% of all current research on yoga has found that yoga has a positive impact on health.” The Harvard Medical School Guide to Yoga rests on this knowledge base, covering not only the poses but also yogic breathing techniques and meditation before presenting an eight-week program designed to ease a beginner into a regular practice. The reference list in the front makes it easy for the reader to find a specific pose or breathing exercise, and the simple line illustrations with callouts help him or her maintain proper body alignment during poses (“what do I do with my hands in Staff pose again?”).

Two myths that persist in some circles is that American yoga practitioners are all A) thin and B) white. Valerie Sagun cheerfully explodes both myths in Big Gal Yoga: Poses and Practices to Celebrate Your Body and Empower Your Life.

An outgrowth of her Instagram feed of the same name, Big Gal Yoga reflects Sagun’s attempt to redefine “what a yogi looks like.” The heart of her book is “The 30-Day Big Gal Yoga Challenge,” which introduces a different pose each day before showing the new yogini how to put poses together into sequences. Each is illustrated with pictures of Sagun herself; she invites readers to share their own pictures on their Instagram or Facebook accounts and tag her “so I can follow along on your journey.” —Lisa James

 

 

FOOD READS


Superfood Nuts

By Connie Diekman, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD, FAND, and Vicki Chelf

STERLING (www.sterlingpublishing.com), 150 PAGES, $14.95

Wanderlust Find Your True Fork

By Jeff Krasno with Maria Zizka and Grace Edquist

RODALE (www.rodalebooks.com), 226 PAGES, $25.99

Well Nourished

By Andrea Lieberstein, MPH, RDN

FAIR WINDS (www.quartoknows.com), 208 PAGES, $19.99

If there’s one topic of enduring interest in the healthy lifestyle publishing world, it’s food—everybody needs to eat. These three books give the food-minded reader something to chew on.

The most straightforward of the set is Superfood Nuts: A Guide to Cooking with Power-Packed Walnuts, Almonds, Pecans, and More. In addition to dozens of recipes for creations such as Hazelnut Rosemary Skillet Bread and Walnut-Topped Braised Mushrooms and Market Vegetables, this book is packed with kitchen lore, such as how to make your own almond milk and tips for making yeast-based breads. Superfood Nuts also presents plenty of data on nut nutrients, befitting a book written by a university nutritionist and a chef/author.

There is an abundance of recipes in Wanderlust Find Your True Fork, too. But as its subtitle, Journeys in Healthy, Delicious, and Ethical Eating, suggests, this book takes a philosophical approach to eating. “There is no diet or approach to food that is right for everyone,” writes Jeff Krasno, the cofounder of a series of arts-and-wellness events collectively known as Wanderlust. “The premise of this book is to create a guide for healthy and mindful food choices that can help you feel your best.” The chefs who contributed to Wanderlust Find Your True Fork have emphasized plant-based foods in their natural state, eaten in season and with knowledge of how they were raised and brought to market; meat should be treated “as a delicacy to be consumed in moderation.” So in addition to recipes you’d expect to find in a book like this, such as Matcha Orange-Cardamom Latte and Lemongrass-Coriander Sauerkraut, you’ll also find Brussel Sprouts and Smoked Salmon Salad along with (pasture-raised) Pork Tenderloin with Sautéed Apples.

One’s body isn’t the only thing that needs to be fed. “Being ‘well-nourished’ goes beyond food,” writes dietician, yoga instructor and mindfulness expert Andrea Lieberstein in Well Nourished: Mindful Practices to Heal Your Relationship with Food, Feed Your Whole Self, and End Overeating. “By discerning what you are truly hungry for, you can feed the other parts of yourself as needed and be supported in making choices that best nurture your total well-being—mind, body, heart, and spirit.” Well Nourished takes you through this process by concentrating on mindfulness, the sense of present awareness that helps bring tranquility to all aspects of being. It’s a book meant to be written in, with worksheets and prompts (“Do I eat predominantly to procrastinate, soothe away uncomfortable feelings, ease stress or tension, or because food is there?”) that help you uncover the real reasons you wrestle with food cravings and other health-harming behaviors. —Lisa James

 

 

EMERGING STRONGER

Reclaiming Your Body

By Suzanne Scurlock-Durana

NEW WORLD (www.newworldlibrary.com), 202 PAGES, $16.95

Start Here

By Eric Langshur and Nate Klemp, PhD

NORTH STAR (www.simonandschuster.com), 320 PAGES, $16.00

Many of us treat our bodies as simply the (admittedly elaborate) bags we carry our minds and personalities around in. That benign neglect works, most of the time for most people, until we hit the wall of trauma. Traumatic experiences force us to confront our bodies in a whole new way and to ask, “Is there any meaning in what I’ve gone through?”

Suzanne Scurlock-Durana has been there. Being nearly choked to death by a drugged-out companion during her teenage years “jolted her awake,” as she relates in Reclaiming Your Body: Healing from Trauma and Awakening to Your Body’s Wisdom. “My work for the last three decades has been about reclaiming all of who we are to restore our natural balance and our innate healing potential.”

Scurlock-Durana explains that many people think of their bodies as being obstinate and willful. To the contrary, she says, “Our bodies are naturally well-calibrated navigational systems once we learn how to listen to them and respect their assessments in any given moment.” Learning how to tap into this inner wisdom can help unlock such vexing problems as chronic pain.

Reclaiming Your Body presents three “explorations,” as Scurlock-Durana calls them, designed to make you aware of your inner world and create linkages in the places you feel disconnected. (The book presents a transcript of these exercises, which are available as downloadable audio files.) Six areas of body that play key roles in this process—the heart, gut, pelvis, legs and feet, bones and brain—receive their own chapters and a final chapter offers a month’s worth of action steps. It’s important not to overthink things; as Scurlock-Durana writes, “Remember, this work is about experiencing life.”

Being aware and present is also the foundation for Start Here: A Groundbreaking, Science-Based Program for Emotional Fitness.

Written by entrepreneur Eric Langshur and former philosophy professor Nate Klemp, PhD, Start Here presents a system the pair call Life Cross Training, or as the book often terms it, LIFE XT. Born out of both men’s searches for happiness and fulfillment, the pair say it marries ancient wisdom with modern neuroscience that turns well-being into a teachable skill based on directing one’s attention to the ordinary moments of everyday life, which “offer the ultimate training ground for this practice.”

As presented in the book, Life Cross Training involves three stages: train, be and do. In turn, Stage 1, which occupies its own section, consists of three practices: meditation, which teaches “the mind to enhance focus and awareness”; movement, which enhances “physical and emotional health through daily exercise”; and inquiry, which questions “the stressful thoughts that arise from judgement, attachment and resistance.” The other two stages, telescoped into one section in the book, show how these practices can be put to work in such areas as compassion and relationships. Two remaining sections help the reader put LIFE XT into daily practice.

Langshur and Klemp write that no matter how polished anyone may look from the outside, “everyone experiences a level of pain, fear and dissatisfaction.” The program presented in Start Here is designed to help people “experience the sense of joy and aliveness that springs from mastering the lifelong habit of well-being.” —Lisa James

 

KIDS OF ALL SIZES

The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth

By Genevieve Howland

NORTH STAR WAY (www.simonandschuster.com), 504 PAGES, $18.99

Crazy-Stressed

By Dr. Michael J. Bradley

AMACOM (www.amacombooks.org), 256 PAGES, $17.95

The more scientists examine the links between childhood experiences and adult health, the more it becomes clear that dealing with issues sooner than later can save people a lot of misery. Case in point: A Penn Medicine study found that women who had traumatic childhoods, including adolescence, were significantly more likely to suffer from depression during the period leading up to menopause, according to results published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

That makes a well-adjusted childhood crucial for well-being long past graduation day. Ideally you want to start early, really early…which is the focus of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth.

Written by Genevieve Howland, founder of the website mamanatural.com, Mama Natural Week-by-Week covers standard pregnancy topics, such as prenatal nutrition (Howland notes that healthy eating is not only good for the fetus but can also “improve your chances for an easy, low-key pregnancy”), natural morning sickness remedies and prepping for prenatal checks. In addition, it expounds on ever-popular subjects such as sex during pregnancy (generally not a problem). But Howland also addresses issues unique to our age, both whimsical—“It’s true that babies don’t exactly need a Pinterest-worthy nursery”—and more substantial, such as the questions you should ask when touring birth centers.

“Know that motherhood was never intended to be a solo act,” Howland writes. “You’ll need help along the way, so don’t be shy about asking for it.” The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth is a helpful resource, especially for first-time moms.

Even the most diligent of parents can’t protect their children from the pressures of a demanding age. Teaching kids how to roll with life’s punches is the point of Crazy-Stressed: Saving Today’s Overwhelmed Teens with Love, Laughter, and the Science of Resilience.

Family counselor and teen behavior specialist Michael Bradley reminds parents that today’s youngsters are facing challenges unheard of years ago, such as the need to “monitor and strategically respond to endless electronic postings about her every aspect among many more peers.” He says such a world leads teenagers to have problems with focus, screen addiction and other serious struggles.

In response, Crazy-Stressed presents ways parents can help build resilience, such as learning to “discipline smart” by staying calm no matter what the provocation, learning how to communicate with teenagers’ brains, in which “thought capacities far outrun their ability to vocalize them,” and, even more importantly, learning how to listen. Issues in four common areas of concern—behavior, school, sex and dating, and social interactions—receive their own chapters.

Becoming the parent of a teenager is often a sometimes-scary, sometimes-exhilarating experience. Crazy-Stressed can provide a useful map to this uncharted territory. —Lisa James

 

GENETIC HACKS

Unzip Your Genes

By Dr. Jennifer Stagg

SAVIO REPUBLIC (posthillpress.com), 232 PAGES, $26.00

Deep Nutrition

By Catherine Shanahan, MD

FLATIRON (flatironbooks.com), 488 PAGES, $27.99

Ever since the human genome—the complete blueprint for building and maintaining a human being, as encoded in our DNA—was successfully sequenced in 2003, doctors have looked to genetics as a key pathway to treatment breakthroughs. But your genetic inheritance is only one side of the equation; the other is how your genes interact with your environment and lifestyle, a science known as epigenetics. This delicate interplay is the subject of two recently published books.

As a physician, Jennifer Stagg believes genetic profiling can empower patients to make necessary lifestyle changes. “You might be inclined to think that if you found out you were genetically programmed for obesity you would probably just give up. In fact, the opposite is true,” she writes in Unzip Your Genes: 5 Choices to Reveal a Radically Radiant You.

“Research shows that when patients find out they have the genes for obesity, they actually are more likely to make healthier lifestyle choices than if they had not received genetic counseling.”

Stagg shows how genes and lifestyle interrelate in five key areas: behavior, specifically the psychology of eating; exercise; diet; how the body responds to vitamins; and how genetics affects the healthful bacteria within the intestines, known as the gut microbiome. She then provides a “precision health program” that covers mind, body and spirit. For example, under the heading of “positive mental attitude” in the mind chapter, Stagg lists practices that support gratitude, an approach to life that has been linked to greater well-being, as well as the necessity for time spent in nature and for self-care (“I see so many people in my life and clinical practice who treat themselves in ways they would never treat any of their loved ones,” Stagg laments).

As a major contributor to health, diet receives extensive coverage in Unzip Your Genes. In another book, Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food, diet is front and center.

Catherine Shanahan, MD, started researching diets from around the world in an effort to deal with her own medical issues, and wrote Deep Nutrition based on her findings. “Sickness isn’t random,” she says in the introduction. “We get sick when our genes don’t get something they expect, one too many times.”

Shanahan’s book clocks in at nearly 500 pages, but her basic message is simple. First, you must eliminate vegetable oils and sugars from your diet; “they’re toxic to every living thing,” she says. Instead, you should eat what she calls the Human Diet, based on fresh foods, fermented and sprouted foods, meat cooked on the bone and organ meats. Shanahan says her eating plan “will optimize the function of every organ and tissue in your body—no matter your age.” If this task seems daunting, the chapter on how to put the Human Diet into action is packed with useful information.

Using genetics to design cutting-edge therapies for life-threatening diseases is a promising idea. But as Unzip Your Genes and Deep Nutrition show, using genetics to prevent these diseases from happening in the first place is an even better idea. —Lisa James

 

FACING BAD NEWS WITH HOPE

Life After the Diagnosis

By Steven Z. Pantilat, MD

DA CAPO (www.dacapopress.com), 352 PAGES, $16.99

Unexpected Recoveries

By Tom Monte

SQUARE ONE (www.squareonepublishers.com), 242 PAGES, $17.95

Sometimes it’s cancer. Sometimes it’s dementia, or heart failure, or ALS, or any of another dozen serious, life-scrambling illnesses. But now that your worst fears have been confirmed, where do you go from here?

Steven Pantilat, MD, a professor at UC San Francisco and an expert in palliative care, has been contacted by all sorts of people having the worst days of their lives. To extend the reach of his counsel, he has written Life After the Diagnosis: Expert Advice on Living Well with Serious Illness for Patients and Caregivers.

Pantilat’s first message is the most essential—don’t get stuck. “When you get bad news, moving forward is never easy,” he says, “but it’s crucial and definitely possible.” Just because you shouldn’t get stuck doesn’t mean you can’t be deeply scared; Pantilat has seen any number of responses, from panic to stoicism, and says they are all legitimate. The idea is to move through fear instead of being stonewalled by it.

Life After the Diagnosis offers a wealth of valuable guidance on how to deal with the medical system (don’t be afraid to ask questions and to keep asking until they’re answered to your satisfaction, advises Pantilat), control such common symptoms and treatment side effects as nausea and fatigue, and ride the “mood roller coaster” that illness brings. One chapter is dedicated to caregiving, including when to call in professional help. And the entire last part is dedicated to the endgame: putting your affairs in order, finding quality palliative and hospice care, and making difficult decisions. One of the most difficult is that which needs to be made by the patient’s family—coming to accept that a loved one is dying and not trying to over-stimulate or force-fed them out of what can’t be helped.

Pantilat’s case stories put a human face on his information: the man who wanted a scotch before dinner every night over his sons’ objections, the woman who was torn about whether or not to continue chemo.

As frightening as serious illness can be, it’s comforting to know that, as Pantilat puts it, “Dealing with bad news is the first step forward in reclaiming your life.”

Sometimes, despite the direst of diagnoses, people do step back from the brink. “Choose any illness that is now considered incurable,” writes natural healing teacher and author Tom Monte in Unexpected Recoveries: Seven Steps to Healing Body, Mind & Soul When Serious Illness Strikes, “and with a little effort you will find someone who has accomplished the unexpected feat of defeating that disease.”

Monte says that those who do recover from life-threatening illnesses tend to follow a seven-step process: getting past fear, taking back their power, adopting a mostly plant-based diet, establishing a strong support system, making a commitment to healing and to life, developing a strong faith and finding a life purpose. Each step gets a chapter in Unexpected Recoveries.

Like Pantilat, Monte uses stories to engage the reader and impart information. For example, a 38-year-old named Marlene wasn’t surprised at her melanoma diagnosis; “cysts and moles had been appearing on Marlene’s body rather frequently over the previous ten years.” Two years later, the disease had spread to her digestive system. But then her brother introduced Marlene to the vegetable-based macrobiotic diet and a doctor who specialized in it. “All she had to go on was an inner voice that told her to do it,” writes Monte, “and she did it with religious conviction.” She also took up walking and light weight work, found a team of willing helpers and forged a deeper connection with her Roman Catholic faith. Eventually, a scan showed Marlene to be cancer-free.

No one could, or should, guarantee that following the seven steps outlined in Unexpected Recoveries will cure any serious illness. But even if they simply help someone feel better physically and emotionally, it’s hard to argue with the idea of adopting these healing practices. —Lisa James

 

PUTTING THEORY INTO PRACTICE

Chinese Holistic Medicine in Your Daily Life

By Steven Cardoza, MS, LAc

LLWELLYN (www.llewellyn.com), 432 PAGES, $24.99

Like raindrops gathering to make a river that carves rock into a canyon, the cumulative effect of your everyday choices—grilled versus fried, stairs versus elevator—can make a crucial difference in your physical and mental well-being over time.

In a similar manner, Steven Cardoza argues, “Daily practice is required to make healing changes in your life.” The practice Cardoza refers to consists of the modalities offered by China’s traditional approach to health and his book, Chinese Holistic Medicine in Your Daily Life: Combine Acupressure, Herbal Remedies & Qigong for Integrated Natural Healing, is aimed at helping the average layperson put TCM’s therapeutic power to best use.

Cardoza, a Chinese medicine physician, realizes that many readers will immediately turn to Part 2, in which he presents therapeutic options such as acupressure, herbs and qigong as well as prescribed practices for such common complaints as arthritis, fatigue and insomnia.

However, he urges the reader to first delve into Part 1, which explains such underlying concepts as qi, or life energy, yin and yang, and the system of energy meridians that both acupuncture and acupressure operate on. “It provides the intellectual core necessary for understanding and accomplishment,” Cardoza explains, adding that such knowledge will offer “more freedom and flexibility when selecting practices that match your specific needs and health goals.”

The conceptual basis of Chinese medicine isn’t simple, but it has availed countless people over the course of centuries. If you want to employ TCM as a potent tool in your own health arsenal, Chinese Holistic Medicine in Your Daily Life can help. —Lisa James

 

FINDING RELIEF

Heal Your Pain Now

By Joe Tatta, DPT, CNS

DA CAPO (www.dacapopress.com), 304 PAGES, $16.99

No Grain, No Pain

By Dr. Peter Osborne

TOUCHSTONE (nograinnopainbook.com), 352 PAGES, $16.99

Overcoming Acute and Chronic Pain

By Marc S. Micozzi, MD, PhD, and Sebhia Marie Dibra

HEALING ARTS (www.healingartspress.com), 276 PAGES, $18.95

For far too many people, pain is an everyday fact of life. It is estimated that 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain—more than those with diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. Constant pain occurs when the signals meant to warn of bodily damage in the short term go horribly awry; according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, “Pain signals keep firing in the nervous system for weeks, months, even years.”

Given the prevalence of chronic pain, it’s not surprising that a number of books address this subject. Each of the three presented here approach pain relief from slightly different angles.
Most people with an interest in natural healing will be familiar with the rough outlines of the system presented in Heal Your Pain Now: The Revolutionary Program to Reset Your Brain and Body for a Pain-Free Life, based on the tried-and-true triad of diet, movement and mental approach.

As a doctor of physical therapy and a certified nutrition specialist, Joe Tatta has the deep background to turn this standard health blueprint into a plan of action that meets the pain patient’s specific needs. (For instance, Tatta says that vitamin E, “with its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic effects, has long been used to treat musculoskeletal pain.”) One interesting wrinkle is Tatta’s promotion of cycling to a ketogenic (fat-burning) diet for three weeks as a way to help those with “the most persistent pain…see the most dramatic improvements.”

Diet is the main focus of No Grain, No Pain: A 30-Day Diet for Eliminating the Root Cause of Chronic Pain.

Gluten is a chief culprit in this book; as author Peter Osborne writes, “There’s a clear connection between the inflammation caused by certain foods containing gluten (and similar substances) and the pain that manifests itself in our joints” and other body parts. But Osborne, clinical director of a Texas healthcare clinic, believes that eating any grains, whether they contain gluten or not, can lead to nutritional deficiencies and leaky gut, in which the lining of the digestive tract allows foreign substances access to the bloodstream.

As one would expect, Osborne’s plan banishes grains in favor of grass-fed/organic/free-range/wild-caught proteins in addition to produce, nuts and certain seeds, along with key supplements. In addition, he asks the reader to give up a number of other foods, including nightshade veggies such as eggplant (too inflammatory) and legumes (peas and beans). If it seems overwhelming, Osborne does provide meal plans and recipes. As he puts it, “Your good health is priceless and is dependent upon what you eat.”

As crucial as proper diet is when it comes to fighting pain, it isn’t the only factor. Scientists have also found strong links between a person’s emotional state and their pain levels, a subject addressed in Overcoming Acute and Chronic Pain: Keys to Treatment Based on Your Emotional Type.

The authors, a doctor and a retreat facilitator, noting that the overuse of pain medication is “now recognized as one of today’s major public safety and public health problems,” base their recommendations on such mind-body approaches as biofeedback and visualization; the body-based techniques of massage and bodywork, chiropractic, and acupuncture and qigong; and dietary supplements and aromatherapy. To find the treatment most likely to work in your unique case, there is a questionnaire that assesses your “personality boundary type,” which the authors say describes the way we all “process our feelings, emotions, and sensations.”

(Sample question: “Sometimes it’s too scary to get involved with another person.”) For someone with what is referred to as a “thin” boundary, for example, hypnosis or acupuncture might be suitable; for someone with a “thick” boundary, meditation and/or yoga might be the place to start.

If changing your dietary and exercise patterns has only lowered but not eliminated your pain, Overcoming Acute and Chronic Pain may help you find additional relief. —Lisa James

 

BEYOND THE BODY

Making Life Easy

By Christiane Northrup, MD

HAY HOUSE (www.hayhouse.com), 252 PAGES, $24.99

Millions of women have turned to Christiane Northrup for medical advice, propelling her previous books, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause, up the New York Times Best Seller List. In Making Life Easy: A Simple Guide to a Divinely Inspired Life, Northrup explains how attending to your spiritual needs can not only improve your health but help you get out of your own way. As she puts it, “When you align your personal will with Divine will, then you can move mountains.”

It’s not a board-certified MD kind of book (even though Northrup is that). She warns the reader early on that Making Life Easy is grounded in intuition, saying that although your reason always wants reasons, “life doesn’t work that way…clinging to logical, rational linear thinking is what keeps life hard.”

Instead, Northrup goes beyond the merely medical, urging the reader to push past fear and connect with what she calls “the Divine part of ourselves,” and through that to the universe beyond. This isn’t new territory; a number of best sellers have taken the same approach. But Northrup does merge her power-through-spirituality message to her long-standing concerns about women’s health (one chapter is entitled Eat Well and Tend Your Inner Garden). This helps the reader craft a way of life in which all of one’s needs—mental, emotional, spiritual and physical—are met.

At the end, Northrup writes, “Have the courage to make life easy and be part of the solution to the suffering of the world. Including your own.” Making Life Easy offers to hold the reader’s hand every step of the way through the process. —Lisa James

 

 

SMOOTHING YOUR PATH


Start Right Where You Are

By Sam Bennett

NEW WORLD LIBRARY (www.newworldlibrary.com),
239 PAGES, $15.95


Finding the Blue Sky

By Joseph Emet

TARCHER PERIGEE (www.tarcherperigee.com),
194 PAGES, $16.00


The Well Life

By Briana and Dr. Peter Borten

ADAMS MEDIA (www.adamsmedia.com), 288 PAGES, $15.99

Don’t you sometimes wish life came with an instruction book, or at least a map? But of course it doesn’t; the effect can be akin to bumping around in a dark, cluttered room armed only with a dim flashlight. Clearing the clutter (or getting a more powerful light) is the subject of three recently published books.

Procrastination and perfectionism, which can keep us in the dark, are habits that Sam Bennett says you can break—because she’s gone from a chaotically overscheduled hot mess to someone who’s productive and happy herself. “No matter what is happening, there is an infinity of life, and it is perfect, whole, and complete,” she promises in Start Right Where You Are: How Little Changes Can Make a Big Difference for Overwhelmed Procrastinators, Frustrated Overachievers, and Recovering Perfectionists.

In chapters with titles such as Six Ways to Take Control of Your Time, Quit Buying Groceries at the Quickie Mart and Cantsayno Syndrome, Bennett shows how to back away from the habits that can keep people who want to over-think everything on the hamster wheel; there just aren’t enough hours in the day for that approach. The chapters are short, which makes it easy to read one a day and start implementing the Action Step at the end.

Mindfulness, the ability to live in the moment without regret about the past or fear for the future, has been a powerful source of illumination for centuries. Joseph Emet grounds Finding the Blue Sky: A Mindful Approach to Choosing Happiness Here and Now in his deep-rooted Buddhism, but his advice can help people of any faith (or no faith at all).

Each chapter begins with a section called Time for a Story, followed by Time for Reflection and Time for Practice. For example, in the chapter Appreciate What You Have, Emet first relates a story in which the Dalai Lama was asked about the most important moment of his life and answers, “It is right now.” Emet then notes in the reflection section, “To enjoy what we have, we must be aware of what we have….Appreciate your wholeness this moment, for this moment is all you have.” In the practice section, Emet helps the reader accomplish this goal by providing a guided meditation meant to help him or her notice thoughts as they arise without becoming ensnared in them.

One way mindfulness encourages inner peace is by help people live more balanced lives. Finding such equilibrium is the subject of The Well Life: How to Use Structure, Sweetness, and Space to Create Balance, Happiness, and Peace.

Eastern medicine practitioners Briana and Dr. Peter Borten say that to feel sane and whole, all of us need to find that balance point between sweetness—the playfulness that gives life its joy—and structure—the discipline required for the accomplishment of goals—within space—the spiritual connection that allows for self-reflection and personal growth. That allows life to be lived in dynamic balance: “The more conscious you become of how you’re affected by diverse variables such as your thinking, your eating, and your climate, the more readily you can make adjustments in order to bring yourself back toward center.”

The authors ground their prescription for a life well-lived in such standard pillars of health as proper nutrition and sleep habits and the crucial assets of energy, confidence and community before moving onto life’s bigger questions, or as the title of Part 3 puts it, Who Are You and What Do You Want? For example, in a chapter on “choosing your prizes” the Bortens ask the reader to really think about his or her true desires: “What are you longing for most in life?

When you’re at the end of life, what do you want to have accomplished?...What do you want to explore more deeply?”

Such questions aren’t easy to answer. But the point of The Well Life—as it is of Start Right Where You Are and Finding the Blue Sky—is that your ability to find happiness and meaning in life depend on how you respond to them. —Lisa James

 

 

KEEPING TEENS HEALTHY

Holistic Health for Adolescents

By Nadia Milosavljevic, MD, JD

NORTON (www.wwnorton.com), 258 PAGES, $21.95

One stereotypical view of adolescent well-being sees it all as a matter of roiling hormones and facial breakouts. This attitude fails to thoughtfully address the serious health threats teenagers routinely face.

“Adolescents in the United States are stressed out, physically tired and diagnosed with various medical conditions in epidemic proportions,” writes Nadia Milosavljevic at the beginning of Holistic Health for Adolescents: How Yoga, Aromatherapy, Teas, and More Can Help You Get and Stay Well. She cites depression as an example, saying, “Rising rates of teen suicide are an alarming warning that depression is out of control and growing rapidly.”

Milosavljevic, who founded the Integrative Health Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, wrote Holistic Health for Adolescents as a primer for parents, counselors and practitioners on the use of integrative healing practices. Each chapter focuses on a problem common among teenagers—stress, fatigue, low mood, sleep disruptions, concentration concerns, headache and substance abuse—by providing background information on the problem at hand along with specific therapies that might help, such as the yoga postures Fish Pose, Legs Up Wall and Downward-Facing Dog for mood problems or pressing an acupressure point called HT7, located on the wrist, to encourage better sleep. Each chapter starts with a case history that gives the material which follows a human context.

Adolescents often find themselves grappling with the same kinds of medical difficulties adults must contend with. Holistic Health for Adolescents allows the reader to act as a trusted health resource for the teens in his or her life. —Lisa James

 

WEIGHT LOSS ADD-ONS

Wheat Belly Total Health

By William Davis, MD

RODALE (www.rodalewellness.com), 398 PAGES, $16.99

Food Freedom Forever

By Melissa Hartwig

HMH (www.hmhco.com), 250 PAGES, $27.00

As we go barreling into the holidays—otherwise known as the eating season—it helps to have a source of advice on how to avoid making January 1st a day of dietary regret. In the case of these two books, that means building on known brands in the world of weight control publishing.

In Wheat Belly, Milwaukee-based cardiologist William Davis, MD, claimed that modern, genetically manipulated wheat, which he called “"Frankenwheat,” represented a threat to well-being. As a result, eliminating wheat-based foods would help readers, as the book’s subtitle put it, “lose the wheat, lose the weight, and find [their] path back to health.”

Wheat Belly entered the New York Times Best Seller List within a month of its publication in 2011. Today it is the foundation of an entire Wheat Belly empire, including the Wheat Belly Lifestyle Institute and a line of books. In Davis’s latest volume, Wheat Belly Total Health: The Ultimate Grain-Free Health and Weight-Loss Life Plan, he elaborates on the advantages of a “grainless” lifestyle.

In chapters with such titles as “Your Bowels Have Been Fouled: Intestinal Indignities from Grains” and “Grains, Brains, and Chest Pains,” Davis widens his attack from wheat to all grains, saying that grain-based diets in general have been linked to not only excess weight but also everything from irritable bowel syndrome to thyroid problems to mental illness. He offers a three-step solution: “Eliminate grains, eat real, single-ingredient foods and manage carbohydrates.” Besides showing the reader how to accomplish these goals, Wheat Belly Total Health also discusses ways to recover from what Davis says are the effects of long-term grain consumption, including nutritional deficiencies and autoimmune reactions.

Like Davis, certified sports nutritionist Melissa Hartwig has her own dietary franchise. Its cornerstone is The Whole30, which asks participants to eschew all grain-based foods as well as sugar, alcohol, legumes, dairy and the food additives carrageenan, MSG and sulfites for 30 days, substituting a Paleo-like diet featuring foods such as grass-fed beef, wild-caught salmon, nuts, seeds and greens.

The Whole30 is enjoying its own run on the Times list and, like Wheat Belly, has spawned a growing shelf of books; the newest addition is Food Freedom Forever: Letting Go of Bad Habits, Guilt, and Anxiety Around Food. Hartwig’s latest volume provides a recap of the basic Whole30 idea before presenting “success strategies” to make Whole30 changes stick, such as establishing routines and using meditation to build resolve. Food Freedom Forever also covers relapse triggers such as vacations and nights when you’re prowling the house by yourself.

In fact, Hartwig uses Food Freedom Forever to remind readers that our dietary habits aren’t formed in a vacuum but are affected by the other people in our lives. That’s why the book’s final section focuses on how to enlist friends and family members in helping you stick to the Whole30 plan. The idea, says Hartwig, is that “surrounding your food freedom with other healthy habits makes it easier to maintain them all.” —Lisa James

 

BE SOMEONE THEY CAN LEAN ON

Loving, Supporting and Caring for the Cancer Patient

By Stan Goldberg

ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD (www.rowman.com), 200 PAGES, $35.00

“I have cancer.”

Those are the three words you don’t want to hear from anyone you care about. But there they are, floating in the air between you and a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a friend. What do you say now?

When Stan Goldberg heard those words from someone he cared about nearly two decades ago, he responded: “I’m so sorry.” Most people do. But, as he writes in Loving, Supporting and Caring for the Cancer Patient: A Guide to Communication, Compassion and Courage, “I always wished my response had been more useful.” The book, which Goldberg penned based on years of experience in the areas of cancer support and caregiving—and his own cancer diagnosis—is an attempt to give the reader a more useful response, too.

Goldberg asks the reader to understand that having cancer is like entering a new country, one with few signposts and road markers. “The presence of a life-altering disease affects people in more ways than cancer-free people may understand,” he says. “A unique perspective on life comes from living with a potentially terminal disease.”

The book consists of specific tips organized under several different topics. For example, in the chapter on revealing a diagnosis, Goldberg counsels, “Accept and support treatment decisions.” Under that heading, he tells the story of a man who went with radiation only instead of radiation and surgery for his late-stage esophageal cancer; the patient’s friend wondered why he wouldn’t also undergo the surgical procedure. Goldberg explains that the man wanted several months relatively free of symptoms so he would have time to try reconciling with his estranged daughter. Other topics, such as dealing with uncertainly, having potentially uncomfortable conversations and providing end-of-life support, receive the same sensitive, thoughtful treatment.

It’s almost inevitable that eventually, you will hear “I have cancer” from the lips of someone special in your life. Loving, Supporting and Caring for the Cancer Patient can help you provide a gracious, generous reply. —Lisa James

 

 

PALEO FOR BETTER BLOOD
SUGAR CONROL

The Paleo Diabetes Diet Solution

By Jill Hillhouse, CNP, with Lisa Cantkier, CHN

ROBERT ROSE (www.robertrose.ca), 288 PAGES, $24.95

Diabetes, in which the body cannot properly manage blood sugar (glucose), is one of the most common diseases in the US, affecting more than 29 million people. It’s also one of the most problematic, contributing to cardiovascular problems, kidney disease, blindness, limb loss and other serious complications. Because most cases are of the type 2 variety, which is related to diet and lifestyle, it’s no wonder that people dealing with this daunting disorder are always looking for new dietary means of keeping their blood sugar under control.

One of the newer approaches to eating for diabetes is paleo. Short for “Paleolithic,” or the Stone Age that began more than 2 million years ago, paleo stresses the sorts of unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods—such as game and fish, tubers, berries and seeds—that our early forebears would have consumed. The fact that humans have been farming for only 10,000 years “suggests we are not genetically suited to our processed, agriculture-based diet,” writes nutritionist Jill Hillhouse (with Lisa Cantkier) in The Paleo Diabetes Diet Solution: Manage Your Blood Sugar with 125 Recipes Plus a 30-Day Meal Plan.

In addition to grains and added sugars (and alcohol, which pummels the glucose-processing liver), The Paleo Diabetes Diet Solution no-no list consists of dairy (most people can’t digest it, says Hillhouse), legumes (too carby) and what Hillhouse calls “industrial seed oils” (canola, for example). So what’s left?

Quite a bit, actually. Hillhouse favors grass-fed or free-range meats (and game meats), fish and seafood, eggs, nonstarchy vegetables along with lesser amounts of fresh fruit, nuts and seeds, and fats such oils taken from avocado, coconut, flax seed and olive (extra virgin) along with animal-based fats such as beef and duck fat. The book’s recipes combine these ingredients in novel ways, such as Cauliflower Zucchini Hash Browns and Avocado Mint Sauce, while the 30 days of recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner give someone new to paleo a way to ease into the system.

“What’s for dinner?” becomes a question with serious implications if you have diabetes. The Paleo Diabetes Diet Solution provides a healthful, flavorful answer. —Lisa James

 

WHEN THE BODY ATTACKS ITSELF

 

The Autoimmune Fix

By Tom O’Bryan, DC, CCN, DACBN

322 PAGES, $26.99

The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook

By Mickey Trescott, NTP, and Angie Alt, NTC

304 PAGES, $25.99

RODALE (rodaleinc.com/products/rodale-books)

In multiple sclerosis it causes brain lesions that lead to numbness, weakness and walking problems. In rheumatoid arthritis it causes joint damage, which results in pain, swelling and stiffness. In lupus various organs can be attacked; the disease’s most characteristic symptom is a butterfly-shaped rash that may appear across the face.

What these ailments—and dozens of others—have in common is autoimmunity, in which the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues. It’s a condition addressed by the authors of two recently published books, both from Rodale.

Chiropractor and functional medicine specialist Tom O’Bryan was a trim marathoner who considered himself fairly healthy—until in-depth medical testing indicated he was primed for the development of autoimmune brain dysfunction. “My own health was suffering and I didn’t even know it,” he writes in The Autoimmune Fix: How to Stop the Hidden Autoimmune Damage That Keeps You Sick, Fat and Tired Before It Turns Into Disease. His experiences, along with those of his patients, led O’Bryan to develop the Transition Protocol—from an autoimmunity-fostering lifestyle to a healthier one—that forms the core of his book.

O’Bryan writes that chronic inflammation, in which the immune system runs rampant, can lead to someone finding themselves on what he calls “the autoimmune spectrum,” including such seemingly unrelated disorders as Alzheimer’s and psoriasis, depending on that person’s genetically determined weaknesses. The heart of O’Bryan’s defense against these threats lies in eliminating gluten, identified as a key nutritional hazard by many integrative medicine specialists, along with dairy and sugar. Instead, he advocates a diet based on not only fresh produce, nuts and seeds, but also grassfed, locally sourced animal protein when possible (organic if not) and fermented foods. He says The Autoimmune Fix doesn’t present just a diet but “a guiding principle for a lifetime.”

Like O’Bryan, nutritional therapists Mickey Trescott and Angie Alt came to write their book, The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook: A DIY Guide to Living Well with Chronic Illness, based on their own autoimmunity diseases (five between the two of them). They describe their approach as “patient-centered, guided by self-discovery, informed and proactive.”

Trescott and Alt’s plan includes informing yourself about your condition, collaborating with conventional and alternative practitioners, switching to more a nourishing diet and better exercise habits, getting effective rest and stress relief, and forming meaningful connections with others. The authors believe in letting your own needs guide your decisions; for example, they say you can adopt a new way of eating either “cold turkey” or “slow and steady”—and provide a short questionnaire to help you decide which would work best for you. Trescott and Alt also tackle questions that don’t often come up in books such as this, such as how to handle healthcare finances.

The greatest strength of The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook lies in its easygoing approach. “Let go of the need to do it all right straight out of the gate,” Trescott and Altwrite. “It’s not about doing everything perfectly; it’s about understanding that effort over time will produce change.” —Lisa James

 

 

REDEFINING “AGE”

Dr. Vlassara's AGE-Less Diet

By Helen Vlassara, MD, Sandra Woodruff and Gary E. Striker, MD

SQUARE ONE (www.squareonepublishers.com), 336 PAGES, $16.95

What does the word “age” mean to you? For some, it brings to mind an increase in wisdom and understanding. However, for far too many people, the concept of age is inexorably entwined with notions of disease and decline.

Helen Vlassara, MD, has spent years studying another type of age—as an acronym for advanced glycation end products. Best known as the compounds that foster diabetic complications, AGEs “are linked to the accelerated aging that is part of diabetes and other chronic diseases,” Vlassara says. What’s more, “most AGEs actually enter the body with our food—and that they have the potential to affect many more people than was previously believed.”

To combat this largely underappreciated threat, Vlassara has written Dr. Vlassara's AGE-Less Diet: How a Chemical in the Foods We Eat Promotes Disease, Obesity and Aging, and the Steps We Can Take to Stop It. In it, Vlassara—along with nutrition expert Sandra Woodruff, RD, and geriatrics researcher Gary Striker, MD—explains why AGEs are so harmful and how you can modify your diet to reduce your AGE intake.

The reason AGEs are most commonly associated with diabetes is that these substances result from glucose, or blood sugar, attaching itself to protein through a process called glycation. This reduces protein’s effectiveness and can even render it toxic. As a result, Vlassara says, joints stiffen and blood vessels become blocked, and, oxidation and inflammation—both of which accelerate the damage caused by aging—increase.

Vlassara and her coauthors explain that the foods which produce the most AGEs happen to be among those that people love the most, such as fried chicken and bacon. The idea is to eat foods that are lower in AGEs to start with—those with animal-based proteins and fats are among the worst offenders—and to use moist-heat cooking methods, such as poaching, steaming, stewing and braising, along with acid-based marinades and dressings (acids reduce AGE formation). The book provides recipes to help the reader get started.

“We believe that AGEs will come to be recognized as a leading cause of many degenerative diseases,” write the authors of Dr. Vlassara's AGE-Less Diet. “You have it within your power to take control of what you and your loved ones consume.” —Lisa James

 

 

 

SERIOUSLY BEAUTIFUL

Radical Beauty

By Deepak Chopra, MD, and Kimberly Snyder, CN

HARMONY (www.penguinrandomhouse.com), 340 PAGES, $26.99

 

The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty

By Sunny Subramanian and Chrystle Fiedler

ROBERT ROSE (www.robertrose.ca), 272 PAGES, $24.95

Some people tend to dismiss beauty as health’s more frivolous cousin, as in, “Yeah, it’s nice to look good, but what’s really important is how you feel.” Celebrated integrative doctor Deepak Chopra and media beauty expert Kimberly Snyder would beg to disagree. They believe that beauty is more than having the ideal body shape or facial features, arguing instead for a definition of beauty that includes “all parts of your inner and outer being” in Radical Beauty: How to Transform Yourself from the Inside Out. “It is something that exists universally and, at the same time, is completely unique to you.”

Chopra and Snyder base their Radical Beauty system on six basic principles. In addition to proper diet, sleep and movement, along with holistically based skincare, these principles include “primal beauty,” or learning how to align oneself with nature while avoiding environmental toxins, and “spiritual beauty,” which they define as avoiding chronic “anger, worry and fear” along with meditation.

Each principle gets its own section broken down into “shifts”; for example, the shifts in the section on sleep include “understand the sleep-beauty-wellness connection,” “tune in to your body’s natural rhythms” and “establish healthy sleep routines.” The authors conclude, “Life is a process of endless renewal, and you stand at the switch.”

Taking beauty seriously also involves caring about the origins of your skincare products, a subject tackled by the authors of The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty: 125 Recipes for Vegan, Gluten-Free, Cruelty-Free Makeup, Skin & Hair Products.

The goal of vegan beauty blogger Sunny Subramanian and natural health author Chrystle Fiedler is to help you not only protect your own well-being but also that of lab animals. “You’d think that animal testing would be a thing of the past in the progressive world we live in,” they write. “Sadly, it isn’t.”

In addition to such standard DIY beauty ingredients as coconut and jojoba oils, plant butters and vegetable waxes, the recipes employ fresh fruits and vegetables. Some, like a smoothie mask made with baby spinach, banana, agave syrup and hemp seed oil, sound good enough to eat. —Lisa James

 

CATCHING A RUNAWAY
IMMUNE SYSTEM

What You Must Know About Allergy Relief

By Earl Mindell, PhD, and Pamela Wartian Smith, MD

SQUARE ONE (www.squareonepublishers.com), 278 PAGES, $17.95

Ragweed season is in full swing, and if you’re wondering why you’re sneezing and rubbing your eyes when you’ve never had problems before, you’re not alone. Allergies—to pollen, various foods, animal dander and other substances—are on the rise, affecting as many as 30% of adults and 40% of children. Over-the-counter meds only suppress symptoms without addressing the root problem and you may not be ready for allergy shots just yet. So what do you do now?

You might want to start by reading What You Must Know About Allergy Relief: How to Overcome the Allergies You Have and Find the Hidden Allergies That Make You Sick. Authors Earl Mindell and Pamela Smith point out that the problem often goes beyond nasal discomfort, digestive woes and rashes, although they’re bad enough; allergic reactions may also promote chronic inflammation, which “can cause damage to healthy tissues and organs.”

Mindell and Smith provide advice for allergy-proofing your workplace and home, as well as suggestions for how to live with pets (“set up specific ‘no pet’ zones”) and travel safely (“bring a pillow protector to shield you from dust mites”). They also cover the “hot 60” anti-allergy and -asthma supplements, such as boswellia, digestive enzymes, quercetin and MSM, as well as an overview of conventional treatments.

Allergies aren’t just annoying—they are a sign of immune dysregulation. What You Must Know About Allergy Relief can help you do more than simply hold symptoms at bay. —Lisa James

 

YOGA PERSPECTIVES

Strala Yoga

By Tara Stiles

HAY HOUSE (www.hayhouse.com), 336 PAGES, $19.99

The Yoga Lifestyle

By Doron Hanoch

LLEWELLYN (www.llewellyn.com), 408 PAGES, $19.99

Yoga Beyond the Mat

By Alanna Kaivalya, PhD

LLEWELLYN, 264 PAGES, $16.99

Yoga, which promotes strength combined with flexibility, is just another fitness alternative like weight lifting or running for some people. For others, however, yoga is a lifestyle with ramifications that go well beyond attending a weekly class.

For example, Strala—a verbal mashup of “strength, balance, awareness”—“is all about ease and connecting with yourself,” writes the form’s founder, Tara Stiles, in Strala Yoga: Be Strong, Focused & Ridiculously Happy from the Inside Out. “It’s about letting tension and worry slide away to create space for creativity, passion, improvisation and joy.”

As in other forms of yoga, connection between body and breath is one of Strala’s core principles, along with “tapping into intuition through feeling” and “getting in the flow of natural movement,” concepts illustrated with practices that consist of standard poses. Stiles also provides sequences for focused purposes such as core work and energization, along with a seven-day jump-start and a 30-day “guide to ease.” The idea behind a Strala-based practice, according to Stiles, is that “our range of possibilities expands. And the results often come quicker and bigger than we can even imagine.”

One way of finding ease is to be flexible, not just on the mat but in one’s everyday choices. That attitude informs The Yoga Lifestyle: Using the Flexitarian Method to Ease Stress, Find Balance & Create a Healthy Life.

“The goal of the flexitarian is to be happy and content,” writes yoga instructor and holistic chef Doron Hanoch in The Yoga Lifestyle. “There cannot be any one diet, any one yoga style or one sequence that will suit us all the time.”

Hanoch bases his system on four main elements—the poses of physical yoga, yogic breathwork, nutrition and diet, and mind training—while rooting them in Ayurveda, India’s traditional medicine. He then combines all these elements together to help the reader construct his or her own yoga lifestyle, including such deceptively simple tools as creating a practice calendar and quick stress relief tips (“Do one thing at a time…take a deep breath”). In the end, Hanoch says, “Remember that staying happy is mostly about your attitude, so keep calm and yoga on!”

For some people, a yoga lifestyle includes a spiritual component as well. That’s the focus of Yoga Beyond the Mat: How to Make Yoga Your Spiritual Practice.

“Yoga is capable of connecting us to our bliss and providing the tools for a resilient, brilliant life path,” writes Alanna Kaivalya, PhD, who says Yoga Beyond the Mat is intended to “make this experience more accessible and practical for us as modern spiritual practitioners and to make it sustainable, so that the state of blissful connection is our new ‘normal.’”

Kaivalya believes a more profound pursuit of yoga fosters spiritual growth by helping the practitioner confront that which has been “repressed, ignored, [and] pushed aside” in his or her life. It involves awareness of the present, a consistent practice and the “infusion of our own soul” to enter a process of transformation, one in which the practitioner’s outer existence is connected to an inner wellspring of peace and purpose. Ultimately, “when the unconscious and conscious meet, miracles happen.”

Not everybody wants to dive this deeply into a yoga practice. For those who do seek greater depth, however, Yoga Beyond the Mat provides a map for the journey. —Lisa James

 

 

EMOTIONAL HEALTH ENHANCEMENT

Whole

By Melissa Moore

RODALE (www.rodaleinc.com), 256 PAGES, $25.99

 

Your Inner GPS

By Zen Cryar DeBrücke

NEW WORLD (www.newworldlibrary.com), 194 PAGES, $14.95

 

Super Mind

By Norman E. Rosenthal, MD

TARCHER (www.penguinrandomhouse.com), 272 PAGES, $27.00

Having the wherewithal to react in a healthy manner to one’s emotions is crucial to not only physical well-being but also success in relationships, in one’s work…at short, in life. Three books tackle this subject from three different vantage points.

Melissa Moore’s story is the most dramatic: Her father, Keith Jesperson, was convicted of murdering eight women in the early 1990s. “I am the daughter of a serial killer,” is how she begins Whole: How I Learned to Fill the Fragments of My Life with Forgiveness, Hope, Strength, and Creativity. In response, writes Moore, “I have spent so much [time] in self-deprecation: filling voids with food, numbing guilt with isolation, sacrificing good sleep to anxiety…”

Fortunately for Moore, she was able to turn away from the darkness of her past to the light of healing, an effort that resulted in Whole. Written with Michele Matrisciani and billed as a “guide to self-repair,” the book presents a five-part program based on facing emotions openly and reacting to them in a calm, meditative manner. “To fear our emotions and then anesthetize ourselves against them will destroy our internal compasses,” says Moore. Instead, the idea is to “define them, articulate them and then release them.” Ultimately, the idea is to not just drag ourselves through life but to flourish, “living at the optimum range of human functioning no matter what is happening to us.”

Learning to follow our “internal compasses,” as Moore puts it, is the central thesis of Your Inner GPS: Follow Your Internal Guidance to Optimal Health, Happiness, and Satisfaction.
Personal and business consultant Zen Cryar DeBrücke believes that we all possess a sense of intuition “designed just for you and your life purposes” located between the throat and the solar plexus (which helps explain the term “gut reaction”). Tuning into the physical sensations of opening or closing created by this “Internal Guidance System” requires quieting the mind through meditation, or what she calls “your listening practice.”

Emotions also play a role in Your Inner GPS; DeBrücke calls them the “gateway” to interpreting intuition’s guidance. “By following your IGS, you’ll find that it becomes easy to shift who you are and to change the way you see the world around you,” she says.
One way to shift one’s perspective is through Transcendental Meditation, a technique that first gained popularity in the US during the 1960s and 70s. This practice is the focus of Super Mind: How to Boost Performance and Live a Richer and Happier Life Through Transcendental Meditation.

Psychiatrist Norman Rosenthal says the Super Mind consists of “expanded states of consciousness that occur in tandem with reduced stress, better physical health and the emergence of life-enhancing personal qualities” and calls TM “the surest way to expand consciousness.” Rosenthal’s book is more research-based than the other two, as befits a medical school professor and mental health researcher. But that doesn’t make it dry; Super Mind contains enough personal stories to make it user-friendly and a Consciousness Integration Questionnaire to help the reader evaluate his or her progress after starting a TM practice. —Lisa James

 

MOVING PAST FIBROMYALGIA

The Fibro Fix

By Dr. David Brady

RODALE (https://fibrofix.com), 278 PAGES, $16.99

Fibromyalgia—marked by profound pain, severe fatigue and poor sleep—can be challenging to deal with. As we noted in our September 2015 story “Endless Ache” (http://www.energytimes.com/pages/departments/0915/malady0915.html), “No blood test or body scan can detect FM.” This can lead people to visit practitioner after practitioner, sometimes for years, before being properly diagnosed. What’s more, “each FM patient not only experiences the disorder differently but also responds to treatment differently,” which can make finding enduring relief elusive.

Naturopathic physician David Brady has been investigating FM for more than two decades. In The Fibro Fix: Get to the Root of Your Fibromyalgia and Start Reversing Your Chronic Pain and Fatigue in 21 Days, Brady presents a program designed to help people with this often-baffling condition “find that pain-free, vibrant and energetic person that you and your loved ones have been missing.”

Brady’s plan is based on a three-week eating plan, the need for gentle movement and relaxation, and what he calls “a toxin-lowering lifestyle.” The idea is to address factors that play into FM development all together so that the reader can start experiencing short-term pain reduction while addressing long-term issues. Throughout the book Brady presents case studies that illustrate various aspects of FM treatment, including the fact that some people who think they may suffer from fibromyalgia actually have other ailments that FM often mimics such as Lyme disease and thyroid dysfunction.

Being properly diagnosed with, and treated for, fibromyalgia can be a frustrating experience. The Fibro Fix may help you find the answers you’ve been looking for. —Lisa James

 

BRAIN DEFENSE


The Alzheimer’s Prevention & Treatment Diet

By Richard S. Isaacson, MD, and Christopher N. Ochner, PhD

SQUARE ONE (www.squareonepublishers.com), 304 PAGES, $17.95


The Memory Diet

By Judi and Shari Zucker

NEW PAGE (www.newpagebooks.com), 222 PAGES, $15.99


Herbs and Nutrients for Neurologic Disorders

By Sidney J. Kurn, MD, and Sheryl Shook, PhD

HEALING ARTS (www.healingartspress.com), 244 PAGES, $29.95

One reason that many people dread the possibility of developing Alzheimer’s is that no prescription medications currently available can address the illness’s underlying issues (although they may help slow progression). That makes prevention crucial. And while risk factors such as advancing age are not under anyone’s control, changes in lifestyle and diet may help forestall the development of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

According to the authors of The Alzheimer’s Prevention & Treatment Diet: Using Nutrition to Combat the Effects of Alzheimer’s Disease, many people don’t realize there is a link between eating habits and Alzheimer’s risk. “Despite the wealth of evidence supporting a role for diet in AD prevention and treatment, the benefits of nutrition are still not widely acknowledged,” write Richard Isaacson, MD, director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York Presbyterian, and clinical psychologist Christopher Ochner, PhD.

Isaacson and Ochner explore that evidence, looking at such possible factors as how diet interacts with genes, a concept known as nutrigenomics, and with the beneficial microbes within the intestines, known as the microbiome. But the heart of book lies in what the authors call the Alzheimer’s Prevention and Treatment (APT) Diet, which focuses on fish rich in omega-3 fats and skinless poultry instead of red meat on the protein side along with whole grains, berries and “dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables and other low-glycemic vegetables” (ones that don’t cause blood sugar spikes). The basic idea, according to Isaacson and Ochner, is that “your diet and your lifestyle are within your control, and we know that by making simple changes, you can protect and even enhance your cognitive health.”

While The Alzheimer’s Prevention & Treatment Diet provides a good general overview, The Memory Diet: More Than 150 Healthy Recipes for the Proper Care and Feeding of Your Brain gives the cognition-minded cook a book to keep on the kitchen counter.

Written by twins Judi and Shari Zucker, authors and lecturers on healthy living, The Memory Diet reflects the Zuckers’ concern with advanced glycation end products, or AGEs, “pathogenic compounds that have been linked to the induction and progression of many chronic diseases including Alzheimer’s disease.” Their favored approach is a plant-based eating plan called the MIND diet (Mediterranean Intervention Neurodegenerative Delay), appropriate for authors who became vegetarians at age 11. The recipes, such as Walnut Tacos with Romaine Wrap and Mango Sesame Noodle Salad, sound both healthy and appetizing.

Alzheimer’s is only one of many brain-related diseases. To tackle a wider range of conditions, there’s Herbs & Nutrients for Neurologic Disorders: Treatment Strategies for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Migraine and Seizures.

For each condition, authors Sidney Kurn, MD, a neurologist, and Sheryl Shook, PhD, a neuroscientist, examine the evidence regarding nutritional factors that may play a role in disease development. For example, they note that the body’s inability to properly utilize the B vitamin biotin has been linked with multiple sclerosis, in which the immune system attacks the protective sheaths around nerves, and cite a study in which high-dose biotin resulted in “improvement in optic nerve function and spinal cord function.” Each chapter ends with table of potentially useful supplements, including dosage, frequency and instructions for use.

Herbs & Nutrients for Neurologic Disorders, with its detailed biological explanations and extensive footnotes, is not a light read. But if you are dealing with one of these illnesses, it can be a valuable resource for you and your practitioner. —Lisa James

 

VEGAN VARIATIONS

Vegan Under Pressure

By Jill Nussinow, MS, RDN

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT (www.hmhco.com), 314 PAGES, $18.00

Seagan Eating

By Amy Cramer and Lisa McComsey

TARCHER (www.penguinrandomhouse.com), 272 PAGES, $15.00

Once upon a time, vegans—vegetarians who eschew all animal products, such as eggs and dairy—were seen by most people as part of a decidedly fringe dietary movement. And while their numbers still aren’t huge, vegans have started edging into the food culture mainstream.

Evidence of this development is supported by two books that no sizable publisher would have thought worth the effort of producing a few decades ago.

In Vegan Under Pressure, self-styled Veggie Queen Jill Nussinow combines a plant-only diet with that easy-meal magic carpet known as the pressure cooker. “Most people limit their vegan pressure cooking to artichokes or legumes,” she writes. “They are missing the full extent of what the pressure cooker can do.” After a section on technology basics, the bulk of Vegan Under Pressure supplies recipes in which all of the ingredients are prepared in the cooker, such as Spicy Brown Rice and Bean Soup, and those in which pressure-cooked foods are combined with other ingredients, such as Farro Salad with Tomatoes and Arugula. Nussinow even finds ways to make desserts in a pressure cooker, as in Peaches Poached in Red Wine.

A number of people consider themselves to be “flexitarians,” those who minimize the meat in their diets without eliminating it entirely. In a similar manner, once hardcore vegans Amy Cramer and Lisa McComsey, authors of Seagan Eating, added seafood to the menu when “we decided that the high-quality, essential omega-3 fatty acids you can only get from fish were a missing link—and it was time to take the plunge.”

Seagan Eating’s chapters on buying, preparing and stocking a pantry for seafood are useful to anyone who enjoys the fruits of sea. The recipes combine flavors in such a way to tempt even a non-vegan into the seagan lifestyle, such as a Brazilian Fish Stew redolent with ginger and saffron or a rich Smoked Sardine Dip. What’s more, the chapters on avoiding dodgy ingredients in restaurants, reading food labels and “vegan foods you should ditch” give both seasoned and newbie vegans the advantage of Cramer and McComsey’s vast knowledge in this area. —Lisa James

 

A WORLD OF FLAVORS

An: To Eat

By Helene An and Jacqueline An

RUNNING PRESS (www.runningpress.com), 296 PAGES, $35.00

Cooking Wild

By Chef John Ash and James O. Fraioli

RUNNING PRESS (www.runningpress.com), 328 PAGES, $35.00

We’re in the middle of a food frenzy in the US, with a whole TV channel dedicated to the subject and celebrity chefs in abundance selling everything from cookbooks to utensils. But while our obsession with edibles may have its lighter side, this country’s burgeoning foodie culture has had the salutary effect of introducing people to new tastes and cuisines. And it’s this more expansive, adventurous side of modern dining that is celebrated in two recent books from Running Press.

One factor in the broadening of the American palate has been the culinary contributions made by immigrants such as Helene An from Vietnam. Raised under French colonial rule, she had flee the Communists not once but twice, first in 1955 to Saigon and then two decades later to the US, where she settled in San Francisco and eventually came to preside over a five-restaurant empire—a fitting career for someone whose surname means “to eat.”

In An: To Eat—Recipes and Stories from a Vietnamese Family Kitchen, Helene and her daughter Jacqueline intertwine the older woman’s experiences with recipes that reflect both her native country’s standard cuisine—such as Lotus, Chicken and Shrimp Salad—and the mélange of influences that have shaped Vietnamese cooking in the US. For instance, in Turkey Stuffed with Sticky Rice, An “wanted to create a dish that would merge both our cultures and help us make new memories.” It is an example of the book’s purpose, as stated by Jacqueline An in the introduction, as both “a record of our family’s journey” and “an invitation to our family’s table.”

Alongside increased interest in foods from other lands has grown a movement towards diets that hark back to our roots as a hunting, foraging species, a concern reflected in Cooking Wild: More than 150 Recipes for Eating Close to Nature. Chef John Ash, who has been interested in the subject ever since his grandmother taught him how to “catch trout with my hands,” offers recipes that cover the whole range of wild-sourced food.

In Cooking Wild, the recipe categories represent various types of ingredients, from Wild Plants and Herbs to Fish, Shellfish and Aquatics. Some, such as the dandelions in Creamed Dandelion Greens, are probably already familiar to readers with an interest in natural cooking. Others, such as the boar in the Wild Boar Teriyaki Meatballs, are strangers to most American palates, prepared in comfortingly familiar ways. Ash’s introductions to each ingredient provide useful backgrounds to the recipes. —Lisa James

 

 

CHASING OUT THE SKELETONS


Clearing Emotional Clutter

By Donald Altman

NEW WORLD LIBRARY (www.newworldlibrary.com), 244 PAGES, $15.95


It Didn’t Start With You

By Mark Wolynn

Penguin (www.penguin.com), 240 PAGES, $28.00


“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” wrote Henry David Thoreau more than 160 years ago, and it’s as true today as it was then. A large factor in all this hidden angst is the sense many people have of not being able to get past the submerged psychological obstacles that keep them from being happy, free and fulfilled.

Pyschotherapist Donald Altman believes mindfulness, a state of deliberate attunement to the present, can unlock full human potential by helping people overcome their fears. Altman says he wrote Clearing Emotional Clutter: Mindfulness Practices for Letting Go of What’s Blocking Your Fulfillment and Transformation “to help you heal and move on from pains, insults, traumas, toxic stressors and emotional clutter from the past and the present—without blaming, shaming or punishing yourself.”

Each of the book’s chapters, which deal with topics that range from attentive listening to slowing down to finding hope, contains a Lifestyle Tool designed to help the reader put that chapter’s contents into practice. For example, the chapter on reducing distractions contains a time inventory, a chart in which one logs time spent on self-care, face-to-face conversation, technology use and other activity categories for a week; the questions that follow encourage the reader to ponder whether the charted results reflect time well-spent.

The whole idea of Clearing Emotional Clutter is to, as Altman puts it, use “the conditions that life has presented to you as your homework.”

Among the most common sources of what Altman calls “emotional clutter” are traumatizing early experiences; what science is now learning is that such sorrows can carry from generation to generation. This transgenerational distress is the focus of It Didn’t Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle.

Mark Wolynn, who conducts workshops around the country on the subject, presents research showing that epigenetic changes—alterations in gene function caused by life experiences—can be passed to one’s offspring. In other words, if your parent experienced trauma that stress can affect you, both genetically and in terms of how your mother or father interacted with you. In It Didn’t Start With You, Wolynn explains how to tease apart one’s tangled family roots by examining the language one uses to describe life themes that originate in childhood.

For example, one man, depressed over the results of his bad financial decision-making, realized that his life was echoing that of his father, who gambled away his own family’s savings; the older man was labeled a “loser” and banished from seeing his children. “Being so far removed from his father, Gavin couldn’t understand how their lives mirrored such a similar pattern,” Wolynn writes. “By not sharing a conscious connection with his father, Gavin had forged an unconscious one—he had unwittingly repeated his father’s failures.” It wasn’t until Gavin realized what had happened that he could attempt to mend the relationship with his father; this allowed Gavin to shed the “loser” label and mend his life.

“You now understand more about yourself and the unexplained feelings you’ve lived with,” says Wolynn at the end of It Didn’t Start With You. “The bigger secret is that a great love was just waiting to be excavated the whole time.” —Lisa James

 

 

HEALTH BY THE BOWLFUL

Bowl

By Lukas Volger

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT (www.hmhco.com), 256 PAGES, $25.00

 

Soupelina’s Soup Cleanse

By Elina Fuhrman

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 266 PAGES, $24.99

When it comes to the hip dining scene, plates are out and bowls—as in everything-in-a-single-dish meals—are in. According to one food industry consultant, bowls, which generally include lean proteins and healthy grains, have risen in popularity over five years by nearly 30%; part of that rise may be explained by the ease in which photos of such repasts may be shared on social media.

You may or may not consider yourself a hipster, but if you’re intrigued by the idea of food by the bowlful you can begin with Bowl: Vegetarian Recipes for Ramen, Pho, Bibimbap, Dumplings and Other One-Dish Meals. Food writer Lukas Volger says he likes the “built-in seasonal variety” of his selections; a Savory Oatmeal Bowl for a chilly late-season day, perhaps, or a light Zucchini “Noodle” Bowl for warm-weather eating. Volger uses a variety of grains and protein sources to keep the reader’s interest piqued all year round.

Soup is one of the original one-bowl meals, the kind moms have been serving to hungry families for generations. In addition to being counted among the comfort foods, soup has also had a reputation for being therapeutic.

“Soup guru” Elina Fuhrman takes that notion one step further with Soupelina's Soup Cleanse: Plant-Based Soups and Broths to Heal Your Body, Calm Your Mind, and Transform Your Life. A reporter who turned vegan chef after being diagnosed with breast cancer, Fuhrman says using soups as a cleanse “enables your body to go naturally into detox mode while replenishing [it] with essential minerals, increasing circulation and reducing inflammation.”

After explaining the basic concepts of soup cleansing and introducing her preferred ingredients, Fuhrman supplies more than 50 recipes with playful titles such as “And the Beet Goes On” and “You Say Tomato, I Say Yellow Tomato.” All of them are vegan-only and flavored with herbs, spices and Himalayan pink salt, which Fuhrman says is a source of additional minerals. —Lisa James

 

 

BUILDING YOUR INNER
DREAM TEAM

Step Up Your Game

By Naresh Rao

SPORTS PUBLISHING (www.sportspubbooks.com), 280 PAGES, $24.99

From teens trying out for JV to seniors running in marathons, a significant number of people take their athletic endeavors seriously. But while the image of a lone figure logging mile after mile in the predawn hours may readily come to mind, “the real secret behind every uber-successful athlete is their entourage,” writes primary sports care specialist Naresh Rao, DO, FAOASM. What’s more, these superstars realize they need to create “an individualized, comprehensive program that take into account every aspect of wellness optimization.”

No matter how dedicated you are to your sport, you probably don’t have a professional athlete’s resources in terms of money, time and team support. But in Step Up Your Game: The Revolutionary Program Elite Athletes Use to Increase Performance and Achieve Total Health, Rao suggests looking at your efforts in terms of the “nine roles of the elite athlete entourage”—physician, physical therapist, trainer, dietitian, coach, competitor, role model/hero, psychologist and spiritual leader. This advice includes, for example, a pre-competition stretching routine, eating for your exercise type and mental practices such as focused attention, all designed to give you a competitive edge—and to help you determine when it’s time to consult a professional.

You may never achieve the heights of sports greatness. But Step Up Your Game may help you wring every drop out of your own athletic abilities. —Lisa James

 

LETTING YOUR LIGHT SHINE

Wired to Create

By Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire

PERIGEE (www.penguin.com), 252 PAGES, $26.95

Nutrition for Intuition

By Doreen Virtue and Robert Reeves, ND

HAY HOUSE (www.hayhouse.com), 240 PAGES, $14.99

Many people see creativity and intuition as gifts of nature, bestowed on individuals by the whims of genetics. Others, though, believe that these products of our complex body-minds can be consciously nurtured, including the authors of two recently published books.

“We are all, in some way, wired to create,” write creativity researcher Scott Barry Kaufman and health journalist Carolyn Gregoire in the introduction to Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind. Each of their book’s chapters focuses a factor they believe promote creative thinking. For instance, the authors cite Frida Kahlo’s 1932 surrealist painting, Henry Ford Hospital, as an example of turning adversity into advantage, saying, “Kahlo channeled the experience of multiple miscarriages, childhood polio and a number of other misfortunes into her iconic self-portraits.” Other topics include how mindfulness can foster creativity by allowing a middle way between focus and daydreaming, and the neurological basis for the sensitivity that artists have long been noted for.

Kaufman and Gregoire’s main message is that the creative mind is a beautiful confusion of contradictory tendencies, saying, “Creative people not only cultivate a wide array of attributes but are also able to adapt—even flourish—by making the best of the wide range of traits and skills that they already possess.”

One of Wired to Create’s ten themes is the sole focus of Nutrition for Intuition. The title itself seems to be a contradiction in terms: What would food, with its connotations of earthy physicality, have to do with such a seemingly ineffable concept as intuition?

The authors, psychologist Doreen Virtue and naturopathic physician Robert Reeves, argue that, like creativity, intuition isn’t a will-o’-the-wisp but rather a trait that can be lovingly fed. “I firmly believe that intuition is an innate faculty anyone can develop,” writes Virtue, who says that her lifelong inner visions were dulled when she ate junk food, but came back after she adopted healthier eating habits; Reeves reports a similar incident.

As a result of their experiences, and supported by research, Virtue and Reeves suggest foods and beverages they say can support one’s intuitive abilities. The authors provide each food’s physical and energetic benefits. For example, in addition to listing the nutrients (including calcium, iron and vitamins A, C and K) found in kale, the authors say kale’s vibrant green color “eases the area around the heart on a physical level and resonates with the heart chakra, healing us emotionally, too.” As part of their recipe for a “mylk” made from sunflower seeds, they write, “The sunflower reminds you to shine your light. It comforts you with the reassurance that the worst is behind you, and now you only have positive things ahead.”

Another section provides advice on detoxification and “optimizing your nutrition-for-intuition lifestyle.”

Learning to rely on your inner guidance can help you navigate life’s trickier currents. Nutrition for Intuition may make that effort easier. —Lisa James

 

 

LOVING YOUR JOINTS


Education4Knees

By Gregory M. Martin, MD

STARGROUP INTERNATIONAL

(purchase through www.systems4knees.com), 110 PAGES, $24.95

 


Heal Your Hips

By Robert Klapper, MD, and Lynda Huey

TURNER (www.turnerpublishing.com), 332 PAGES, $32.95

The graying of the US population has brought an epidemic of arthritic joints, especially those of the lower body. According to the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons, “There may be a need for 500,000 hip replacements and 3,000,000 knee replacements each year by the year 2030.” Ouch!

But will all those new hips and knees really be needed? The authors of two books, one for each joint, believe their programs may be able to at least delay surgery while greatly reducing pain.

“Your knee may look small, but it’s one of the largest and most complex joints in your body,” writes orthopedic surgeon Gregory Martin, MD, author of Education4Knees: Everything You Need To Know for Happy, Healthy and Pain-Free Knees. Comparing the knee to the hinge on a car door, he adds, “like a car door hinge, it’s connected by an intricate system that’s easy to take for granted until it breaks.” While many things can go wrong with the knee—and Martin supplies a comprehensive list of potential problems—he says that achy knees generally respond to the same treatment no matter what’s causing the pain. That’s because most knee dysfunction eventually finds what Martin calls a “final common pathway…degeneration of the joint over time.”

In fact, says Martin, “If we live long enough almost all of our knees will wear out.”
Instead of advocating a rush to surgery, however, Education4Knees lays out a knee pain management plan that includes four components: education about what is happening within your knee; nutrition, which includes weight loss if needed plus an anti-inflammatory diet; fitness, including a daily 10-minute exercise program designed by physical therapist Bob Habib, RPT; and support, such as compression and bracing. The idea is to delay surgery if at all possible. If that’s not possible, Martin says the Education4Knees system can help make surgery more successful.

Like Martin, Robert Klapper, MD, coauthor of Heal Your Hips: How to Prevent Hip Surgery and What to Do If You Need It, is an orthopedic surgeon who would really rather not do surgery. In this case, the recommended alternative—as discussed by Klapper’s writing partner, aquatic therapist Lynda Huey—is to use water’s buoyancy and resistance to gently exercise aching hips before they need surgical repair.

This book was first published in 1999; the authors say a second edition was needed because of large-scale changes in the way hip problems are diagnosed and treated. As with Education4Knees, knowing about one’s condition is an important context in Heal Your Hips: “We want you to become a better patient.”

Exercise is so important to hip health that simple pool and land workouts, each 15 minutes long, are at the very beginning of the book, even before the chapter that explains what can go wrong with this large joint. Klapper explains that conditions such as arthritis and soft-tissue injuries can fall into what he calls a “negative spiral”: pain, leading to less movement, leading to joint constriction, leading to more pain, etcetera.

To counteract this spiral, Klapper says it’s first important to get a correct diagnosis. Once you know what you’re dealing with, aquatic therapy can provide balanced strength in paired muscles, unhampered by pain, along with greater flexibility, range of motion, balance and coordination; Huey supplies all the information you’ll need. Should surgery be required, Klapper discusses possible options as well as post-op rehab.

The basic message of Heal Your Hips is empowerment. As the authors put it, “Take charge of your hip; keep it strong and functioning smoothly so it can serve you for many years.” —Lisa James

 

 

The Road to Calm Workbook

Life-Changing Tools to Stop
Runaway Emotions

By Carolyn Daitch & Lissah Lorberbaum

W.W. NORTON (WWW.WWNORTON.COM/PSYCH)

224 PAGES, $24.95

 

Guided Imagery Work for Kids

Essential Practices to Help
Them Manage Stress, Reduce
Anxiety & Build Self-Esteem

By Mellisa Dormoy

W.W. NORTON (WWW.WWNORTON.COM/PSYCH)

204 PAGES, $23.95

We all endure wide ranges of emotions: happiness, sadness, excitability, anger, stress, anxiety and more. At times it can be overwhelming—flooding, if you will.  In The Road to Calm Workbook: Life-Changing Tools to Stop Runaway Emotions, Carolyn Daitch and Lissah Lorberbaum help you recognize your emotions, what triggers them, and how to identify and understand them. Excellent written exercises are included that can help you achieve balance by prompting you to acknowledge emotional issues, then address them by writing and working through a program.  The user-friendly Road to Calm Workbook is written so anyone reading it can understand it. It is written for the layman, but professional therapists can use the book with their clients. Goals don’t seem so out of reach when working with the book, which emphasizes that 28 days makes a habit. This is about you. Reclaim you. Love you. This book could help.

Unlike The Road to Calm Workbook, Guided Imagery Work with Kids, by Mellisa Dormoy, was written for professionals and is targeted to a niche demographic. Dormoy explains guided imagery—relaxation and mental visualization methods that help children with stress, low self-esteem, anxiety and other emotional stressors—and includes plenty of examples. Guided imagery can help bring a child to a place of safety, where they feel comfortable enough to open up and not be judged—and to know they matter.  These tools can also be effective when the child leaves the doctor and can take themselves mentally to that safe place no matter where they are. This is a great natural approach to use with children.

Children need to know that their thoughts and emotions and who they are as individuals matters. In the right professional hands, this book could help enable those healthy conditions, benefiting children as they get older because they have learned better coping skills.—Andrea Bernstein

 

 

TURNING A NEGATIVE
INTO A POSITIVE

The Happiness Effect

By Earl Mindell, PhD

SQUARE ONE (www.squareonepublishers.com),
94 PAGES, $14.95

Do you feel elated in the presence of fast-moving water? It isn’t just the soothing sounds that are responsible. “If you’ve ever been to a waterfall and taken a deep breath, that surreal alertness and sense of self-awareness is the abundance of negative ions at work,” writes Earl Mindell, PhD, the author of The Happiness Effect: The Positive Benefits of Negative Ions.

Mindell explains that when water molecules slam into each other with enough force—under a waterfall, at the beach—those molecules lose electrons. The freed electrons, which have a negative charge, then attach to oxygen molecules, turning them into negative ions. “The sheer number of negative ions in the air you breathe causes you to feel clear and revitalized almost immediately,” Mindell says.

The Happiness Effect enumerates health benefits Mindells says are attributable to negative ions, such as removal of allergens from the air and enhanced immunity, as well as ways to generate your own ions without having to spend all your time in natural settings (as appealing as that might be). This book provides a reader-friendly introduction to a little-known topic. —Lisa James

 

 

A FRESH START


A Short Path to Change

By Jenny Mannion

LLEWELLYN (www.llewellyn.com), 264 PAGES, $15.99


Organize Tomorrow Today

By Dr. Jason Selk and Tom Bartow with Matthew Rudy

DA CAPO (www.dacapopress.com), 212 PAGES, $21.99


Meditations on Intention and Being

By Rolf Gates

ANCHOR (www.anchorbooks.com), 344 PAGES, $16.95


The Power of Forgiveness

By Joan Gattuso

TARCHER (www.penguin.com), 224 PAGES, $15.95


There’s something about a new set of calendar squares that leads people to hit the reset button on their lives. (If you don’t think that’s so, try getting a treadmill at your local gym in January.) Sometimes a little well-considered advice, such as that offered by the authors of the following books, is just what you need to get the ball rolling.

If you’re the type of person who likes counsel served in discrete bites, A Short Path to Change: 30 Ways to Transform Your Life may fill the bill. “The purpose of this book is to help you discover your own inner power for healing aspects of your own life,” writes Jenny Mannion, who says she was able to eliminate a host of chronic ailments by taking matters into her own hands. Her exercises range from such standard advice as “pushing past fear and worry” by imagining more positive outcomes for potential problems to the imaginative “connecting to your intuition through the sixth ‘third eye’ chakra” (a spot between the eyebrows traditionally thought of as the seat of inner knowing). As Mannion writes in the conclusion, “When you get quiet and present and listen to yourself rather than numbing out with past patterns, you can clearly see the next step on your path.”

If you can’t get out of your own way, Organize Tomorrow Today—co-authored by a performance coach, a corporate trainer and a professional writer—may be more your speed. The subtitle, 8 Ways to Retrain Your Mind to Optimize Performance at Work and in Life, pretty much explains the idea. For example, in the chapter titled “Evaluate Creatively,” the reader learns to keep a “success log” of things one has done well in the last 24 hours and one possible improvement in the next 24. (Many people find that negative inner chatter blocks change. If you’re one of them, the sixth chapter, “Learn How to Talk to Yourself,” may be particularly helpful.) Each chapter ends with examples from the authors’ clients.

If you’re a yogi/yogini who wants to bring your practice into your life, Meditations on Intention and Being: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga, Mindfulness and Compassion may help. Long-time teacher and retreat leader Rolf Gates provides 365 mini-essays on issues that complicate yoga’s deceptively simple goals: nonviolence, mindfulness, loving-kindness. For example, in “Day 62: Free Will,” Gates writes, “We have to go through an actual injustice (such as a divorce or business setback) before we can stop keeping score and living free…we arrive at the conclusion that every moment we wait for justice…is a moment that we are giving our power away to a situation instead of living the life we choose.”

Finally, if you are someone whose forward motion is stalled by resentment and bitterness, you may want to read The Power of Forgiveness: Forgiving as a Path to Freedom. “Your unloving thoughts about any person or situation are keeping you in a hell of your own making,” writes Joan Gattuso in the first chapter. “It is forgiveness that lifts you out of your self-made hell and guides you into the light.” She then provides ways to accomplish this seemingly impossible task; her stories and anecdotes reinforce the lessons. But the most important step is willingness; as Gattuso puts it, “No matter to what degree you must do the work to be free, it is well worth it.” —Lisa James

 

 

SOMETHING MORE


Vital Signs

By Gregg Levoy

TARCHER/PENGUIN (www.tarcherbooks.com), 494 PAGES, $18.95

The Anatomy of a Calling

By Lissa Rankin, MD

RODALE (www.rodaleinc.com), 288 PAGES, $24.99

One thing the holiday season throws into high relief is the contradiction between our surface cravings, often for that which can be bought and gift-wrapped, and our deepest desires. The continuing appeal of A Christmas Carol lies in old Ebenezer’s stark transformation from a man of acquisition to a man of charity—and how he emerges from his self-imposed seclusion in the process.

But Dickens was writing 150 years ago, before the Industrial Age his work criticized eventually lead to the socially atomizing Digital Age and what is, for too many people, a toxic mix of profound insecurity and soul-deadening isolation. As the Irish poet Brendan Behan put it, “At the innermost core of all loneliness is a deep and powerful yearning for union with one’s lost self.” Where that self can be found is the topic addressed by two recently published volumes.

A common piece of advice for the aimless is “Find your passion.” At 466 pages of text plus a 16-page bibliography, Vital Signs: Discovering and Sustaining Your Passion for Life fills that bill, and then some. One of human potential lecturer and seminar leader Gregg Levoy’s key observations is that “passion is what disturbs and confounds the safe and settled in your life…No amount of [security] will ever adequately compensate you for giving up your passions or selling your soul.”

A reader willing to sign up for what Levoy calls “the Ride” will be rewarded by the counsel found in Vital Signs. For starters, Levoy says that passion isn’t just something that strikes from the blue but that it can be cultivated and nurtured. He encourages the reader to live with “eyes wide open” to wonder, to pursue the challenges that don’t make a living but rather make a life.

In so doing he presents dozens of examples, from Pat Henry, the first American woman to sail solo around the world, to Dan Rhodes, the pseudonym Levoy uses for a closeted gay professor at a conservative school who went on a yearlong quest for self-understanding after being forced out of his job. Eventually, Levoy says, by affirming “loyalty to ourselves, an argument in favor of our own integrity and potential” we make a stand “about the principle of the thing: better to die on one’s feet than to live on one’s knees.”

If Vital Signs takes an overview approach to the subject, that taken by The Anatomy of a Calling: A Doctor’s Journey from the Head to the Heart and a Prescription for Finding Your Life’s Purpose focuses on the search for passion in a single life—the author’s.

Lissa Rankin was a busy obstetrician and gynecologist when she became pregnant two weeks after getting married—and then learned that her father had been diagnosed with metastatic cancer. That set the stage for what she calls her Perfect Storm—his death a week after her daughter’s birth and her brother’s concurrent encounter with liver failure. After that, Rankin writes, “I was no longer able to feel comforted by the illusion of certainty that had been my lifetime companion.” And she came to a crucial conclusion: “Selling my soul for an artificial sense of security was no longer an option.”

In The Anatomy of a Calling, Rankin uses her own story to guide the reader “on what mythologist Joseph Campbell calls ‘a hero’s journey’…as the hero of your own journey, it can be helpful to view a map of what lies ahead as you wake up to your purpose.” Each chapter presents an issue in Rankin’s life and concludes with what she calls a Hero’s Guidepost and a Hero’s Practice. For example, in a chapter called “You Are Not Alone,” Rankin discusses how she eventually transitioned from conventional medicine to an integrative model that took the patient’s emotional and spiritual needs into account. The guidepost at the end is “You are not separate from other heroes on their journeys”; the practice involves learning how to meditate for compassion.

We live in a world that seems to actively fight our efforts to live deeply, freely, passionately. Vital Signs and The Anatomy of a Calling can help us fight back. —Lisa James

 

FEEDING YOUR WEE BEASTIES

The Complete Prebiotic & Probiotic Health Guide

By Dr. Maitreyi Raman, Angela Sirounis and Jennifer Shrubsole

ROBERT ROSE (www.robertrose.ca), 336 PAGES, $24.95

One of the hottest topics in the world of natural health is the cultivation of one’s microbiome, those billions of tiny organisms that live in and on the human body, particularly in the digestive tract. As we discovered in our March 2015 story “A Gut Feeling,” the microbiome, also known as the gut flora, can even affect mental and emotional well-being.

“Nutrition is crucial in maintaining the health of the gut microbiome,” write the authors of The Complete Prebiotic & Probiotic Health Guide: A Vegetarian Plan for Balancing Your Gut Flora. “The emerging research is reframing our knowledge of acute and chronic diseases, showcasing the critical role of diet and nutrition therapies in shaping a favorable microbiome to improve health and prevent disease.”

Written by a gastroenterologist and two clinical dietitians, this book provides everything you need to understand why the microbiome is important and how you can keep it in top shape. The authors discuss probiotics, which supply gut microbes in supplemental form, and how these microbes are nurtured by types of fiber that function as prebiotics. This information supports a program for microbiome health based on a fiber- and iron-rich vegetarian diet. There’s nothing clinical-sounding about the more than 175 recipes; examples include Caramelized Onion Dip, Artichoke Cheddar Squares, Baked Springtime Risotto and Spiced Banana Walnut Pudding.

Keeping your gut flora healthy is a major step in keeping you healthy. The Complete Prebiotic & Probiotic Health Guide can help. —Lisa James

 

 

TWO APPROACHES TO FOOD

Fast Food, Good Food

By Andrew Weil, MD

LITTLE, BROWN (www.littlebrown.com), 294 PAGES, $30.00

The Slow Down Diet

By Marc David

HEALING ARTS PRESS (www.healingartspress.com), 196 PAGES, $14.95

Many Americans can remember when most meals were prepared and eaten at home or brought to school or the workplace; eating out was a treat reserved for special occasions.

Nowadays most people eat out at least five times a week, according to one survey, and earlier this year, the US Department of Commerce reported that sales at restaurants and bars have surpassed those at grocery stories for the first time.

Certainly eating at home makes it easier for you to follow a diet, especially if you’re dealing with a medical condition that requires a specific eating plan. And while many people realize that fact, they’ll say they simply don’t have the time to cook.

What’s a healthy eater to do? Two recently published books tackle this question in two very different ways.

In a world where celebrity chefs are seen creating complex masterpieces every night on TV, some people are a little intimidated by the idea of cooking for themselves. Integrative medicine pioneer Andrew Weil, MD, takes a more light-hearted approach. “I love to cook, but I don’t care to knock myself out in the kitchen,” he writes in Fast Food, Good Food: More Than 150 Quick and Easy Ways to Put Healthy, Delicious Food on the Table. “Forget complicated recipes; cooking should be fun.” Weil’s book backs up those words with recipes designed to fight inflammation—a key factor in chronic disease—that you don’t have to be a chef to master. For example, the Zucchini Ribbons with Basil and Parmesan requires a simple vegetable peeler to create zucchini “pasta” (a mandolin or spiralizer would work just as well). And the Spiced Couscous with Slivered Almonds requires less than 15 minutes to prepare.

The Slow Down Diet: Eating for Pleasure, Energy & Weight Loss takes the opposite approach. “The dizzying pace at which our culture propels itself is contrary to a happy and healthy life,” writes Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. “When moving through life too fast we inevitably eat too fast, which destroys our metabolism and creates digestive upset.” The tenth anniversary edition of The Slow Down Diet is designed to help the reader “stop fighting food and start embracing it,” not by supplying a series of recipes but instead by presenting ways to recalibrate your metabolism based on such concepts as relaxation, awareness, rhythm and pleasure. The idea, says David, is to “empower yourself to explore your unique relationship to food, to let go of fear and guilt, and to be with your body in a dignified and loving way.” —Lisa James

 

BUILDING A BETTER BRAIN

The Complete Brain Exercise Book

By Dr. Fraser Smith, BA, MATD, ND

ROBERT ROSE (www.robertrose.ca), 384 PAGES, $24.95



The Brain Fog Fix

By Dr. Mike Dow

HAY HOUSE (www.hayhouse.com), 304 PAGES, $24.99

 

Remapping Your Mind

By Lewis Mehl-Madrona, MD, PhD, with Barbara Mainguy, MA

BEAR & COMPANY (www.bearandcompanybooks.com),
308 PAGES, $18.00

 

One expects to slow down as the years go by—knees grow stiff and climbing stairs isn’t as easy as it used to be. But for many people, the more worrisome markers of age involve trouble thinking and remembering. Every time you misplace the keys or wonder why you entered a room it’s easy to think, “Is this just a sign I’m trying to juggle too many things at once? Or is it a sign that I’m really losing it?” So it’s not surprising that books have been written to help older readers maintain their mental edge.

One approach sees the brain and the body in a similar light—keep both exercised, the thinking goes, and they’ll work better longer. That tactic is front-and-center in The Complete Brain Exercise Book: Train Your Brain! Written by Fraser Smith, chief academic officer for the naturopathic physician program at the National University of Health Sciences, this book features exercises designed to “improve memory, language, motor skills and more,” such as trying to recall names from a map or calculating sums in one’s head. These exercises are bolstered by a brain-healthy lifestyle that covers physical activity and proper diet, including menu plans and recipes. As Smith writes, “We must acquire and practice new skills, develop new understanding and create new experiences. Novelty literally wakes up the brain and gives it the input it needs for optimal performance.”

Do you feel that somehow you’ve fallen off the mental beam and can’t find your way back on? It’s called “brain fog,” and it happens because “our brains are simply not getting the support they need to produce the essential brain chemicals that keep us energized, calm, focused and inspired,” says psychotherapist Mike Dow, author of The Brain Fog Fix: Reclaim Your Focus, Memory, and Joy in Just 3 Weeks. Those two ever-popular culprits—poor diet and lack of exercise—are part of the problem, says Dow, as are too many meds, exposure to environmental toxins and lives that are overloaded with digital everything but short on human and spiritual contact. Besides the standard food, activity and sleep advice, The Brain Fog Fix includes getting rid of mental ruts such as pessimism and seeing life in strictly black and white, as well as spending less time on Twitter and Facebook and more time cultivating a positive outlook and connecting with others.

Avoiding mental decline isn’t the only reason to alter one’s way of thinking. Lewis Mehl-Madrona, executive director of Maine’s Coyote Institute and author (with colleague Barbara Mainguy) of Remapping Your Mind: The Neuroscience of Self-Transformation through Story, sees narrative a key to healing. “Increasingly it seems apparent that the stories we tell ourselves literally impact our health,” he says, providing examples such as Louise, whose crushing headaches eased after she acted on Migraine’s demand that she live an authentically artistic life, and Tina, who learned to leave a false invincibility rooted in alcohol and drugs behind in the company of a new community. Mehl-Madrona places these anecdotes in the context of studies showing badly we need to tell our stories, and how those tales can become talismans of healing: “The leap from the laboratory to the consulting room often offers ideas to inspire people to believe that they can change and recover.” —Lisa James

 

FINDING STRENGTH WITHIN

Your Inner Will

By Piero Ferrucci

TARCHER/PENGUIN (www.tarcherbooks.com), 258 PAGES, $15.95

One thing leading-edge research in neuroscience and other fields has done is exploded many of the old, established beliefs about human nature and its capacity for change.

Take, for example, willpower: At one time you were either strong-willed or weak-willed and falling into the second group was seen as a basic character flaw, difficult if not impossible to correct. But that’s simply not true, says Italian psychotherapist Pierro Ferrucci—if you believe in your own freedom. In his work he meets people “who feel imprisoned; this is by far the most common metaphor,” he writes in Your Inner Will: Finding Personal Strength in Critical Times. “These people believe they are in a prison, but deep down they know they are free. Freedom, however, exposes them to the risks and responsibilities they shirk.”

Instead of regarding lack of will as a permanent defect, Ferrucci sees willpower as a muscle that can be developed with work. The idea is to learn to observe one’s own emotional reactions: “We cannot suppress or eliminate desires,” he writes. “Yet we can certainly take our distance from them, and thus loosen their grip on us.” By addressing central issues such as plasticity—the idea that our brains are less hard-wired than we believe they are—mastery, autonomy, resilience and integrity, Ferrucci provides a way out of the prison that belief in “weak will” creates.

Ferrucci quotes a Latin proverb, Per aspera ad astra: Through hardship we reach the stars. If you’re feeling earthbound by challenges large or small, Your Inner Will may help you attain escape velocity. —Lisa James

 

HEALING THROUGH YOGA

Restorative Yoga Therapy

By Leeann Carey

NEW WORLD LIBRARY (www.newworldlibrary.com),
208 PAGES, $17.95

Yoga Therapy for Stress & Anxiety

By Robert Butera, PhD; Erin Byron, MA; and Staffan Elgelid; PhD

LLEWELLYN PUBLICATIONS (www.llewellyn.com),
360 PAGES, $19.99

Anodea Judith’s Chakra Yoga

By Anodea Judith, PhD

LLEWELLYN PUBLICATIONS (www.llewellyn.com),
454 PAGES, $24.99

If you ask attendees at your local yoga studio why they’ve taken to the mat, many of them will give similar answers: Relaxation, greater flexibility, overall well-being. However, a number of this ancient art’s practitioners are treating yoga less as a soothing pastime and more as a therapeutically focused intention, a trend encouraged by books aimed at this growing audience.

Certified instructor Leeann Carey has created what she calls Yapana Yoga, which she says in Restorative Yoga Therapy: The Yapana Way to Self-Care and Well-Being is “designed to encourage self-inquiry, reflection and change.”

While many yoga forms—fitness-oriented power yoga, for example—concentrate on active poses, Yapana Yoga focuses on supported passive poses. She says such positions “give the body an opportunity to stretch passively and the mind the opportunity to experience what comes from doing nothing…[they] help to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, often referred to as the ‘rest and digest system.’”

Yapana makes extensive use of blocks, bolsters and other yoga props to encourage a deep sense of ease. As Carey puts it, “The better the musculoskeletal system is supported to meet you exactly where you are—stiff, flexible or with a wandering mind—the more fully the body/mind can relax.” These props are used to hold the practitioner in a number of standard poses, such as backbends, forward bends, twists and inversions. Restorative Yoga Therapy also includes tips for expectant mothers and sequences for specific goals, such as dealing with stiff shoulders or a cranky lower back, or quieting the mind under stressful conditions.

Stress, a common motivation for beginning a yoga practice, and its unloved stepchild, anxiety, are the subjects of Yoga Therapy for Stress & Anxiety: Create a Personalized Holistic Plan to Balance Your Life. The authors—a yoga specialist, psychotherapist and physical therapist—call their approach Comprehensive Yoga Therapy, which they say is designed to help the reader “practice the kind of self-reflection that motivates true, lasting change in life.”

CYT helps counteract anxiety-generating angst by encouraging connection to what the authors call “deep motivation,” something more than simply wanting to feel less anxious. “Removing stress is not about waiting for external circumstances to change, which keeps us stressed,” they write. “Instead, we turn inward and take ownership over the beliefs that created stress and anxiety in the first place.”

In service of that goal, Yoga Therapy for Stress & Anxiety turns yoga poses into jumping-off points for deeper work. For example, one exercise asks the reader to build a list of calming poses, then to “consult this list in times of need and offer yourself just one of the movements in order to step away from anxiety.” The idea, say the authors, is that “yoga removes stress permanently, because it gives us a true experience of the higher self, the part of us that resides beyond stress.”

Yoga is one tool Ayurveda, India’s traditional system of medicine, uses to influence flows of energy through the body, especially through energy centers known as chakras—the topic of Anodea Judith’s Chakra Yoga.

Judith—a writer, therapist, spiritual teacher and certified yoga instructor—uses the seven chakras, which run along the spine, as the spine of her book, taking each one in turn and recommending appropriate poses. For example, the third chakra (manipura), located between the navel and the solar plexus, is concerned with matters of energy, willpower and mastery, and is responsible for the adrenal glands and digestive organs. Judith says working with this chakra activates energy, or the “internal fire [that] gives you the spark to do anything in your life.” She recommends poses such as Warrior I, which in addition to strengthening the legs and hips as well as opening the shoulders, also “generates energy and focus” and “strengthens the will.”

The idea behind Anodea Judith’s Chakra Yoga, Judith says, is to address both physical and spiritual matters. She calls yoga “the connecting yoke between the worlds, [which serves] both the physical temple and the spiritual reality within.” —Lisa James

 

ARE CELL PHONES THE
NEW CIGARETTES?

Overpowered

By Martin Blank, PhD

SEVEN STORIES PRESS (www.sevenstories.com), 272 PAGES, $17.95

In 2013 Energy Times published a story, “Our Irradiated Lives,” in which we looked at various sources of low-level radiation and their possible health consequences. At that time we reported, “Most investigations into cell phone usage have found no ill effects. But many studies…looked at people who had used them for less than 10 years and defined ‘heavy use’ as 30 minutes a day.” As one of the sources for that story noted, “People are now using cell phones for thousands of minutes a month…If you’re holding a cell phone against your head for thousands of minutes you’re going to have an effect on the brain.”

Martin Blank, who has been studying how electromagnetic fields (EMF)—which power cell phones in particular and the world in general—affect human health for more than 30 years, says that concern is well-founded. In Overpowered: What Science Tells Us About the Dangers of Cell Phones and Other Wifi-Age Devices he writes, “It is time we replaced the common corporate refrain of ‘no solid evidence of danger’ with ‘it’s time we acknowledge the dangers and do something about it.’”

In Overpowered Blank lays out the evidence behind this statement, and it’s disquieting: epidemiological evidence has linked EMF to cancer, Alzheimer’s and other disorders. What’s more, EMF—unlike other forms of environmental degradation—“isn’t a byproduct of civilization. To the contrary, EMF science and our ability to harness it are the very cornerstone of modern society,” says Blank.

It’s the constant presence of EMF in our daily lives that makes overcoming its dangers so daunting. Blank shows that the science on EMF health hazards has been subject to obfuscation by the wireless industry. Noting that this kind of research is expensive, he says, “By controlling the funding of the science, industry significantly influences the publicly accessible data on this vital public health issue.”

Fortunately, there are steps people can take to reduce EMF risk. Blank mentions solutions such as living “as far away from cell phone antennas as possible” and keeping your phone in airplane mode, in which “all wireless communication is disabled,” when you can.

“People simply cannot bear the thought of restricting their time with—much less giving up—these beloved gadgets,” writes Blank. “Like most people, I too love and utilize [them]. Instead, I want you to realize that EMF poses a real risk to living creatures and that industrial and product safety standards must and can be reconsidered.”

Overpowered can give you the knowledge you need to not only protect yourself and your loved ones but also become a proponent for change. —Lisa James

 

FITNESS BOOKSHELF

No Sweat

By Michelle Segar, PhD

AMACOM (www.amacombooks.org), 246 PAGES, $16.95

Eat Like a Champion

By Jill Castle, MS, RDN, CDN

AMACOM (www.amacombooks.org), 246 PAGES, $16.95

How many times have you promised yourself that you would start a fitness program—but always “later” or “tomorrow” or “next week”? As crucial as exercise is for well-being, it isn’t always easy to get yourself going, especially if you really would prefer just another quiet night on the couch.

Behaviorist Michelle Segar realizes people know they should exercise—but that doesn’t mean they’re motivated to do so. She says her research has shown that “logical rewards like ‘health’ and ‘weight loss’ do not motivate people to sustain health-related behavior as well as immediate and emotional rewards such as ‘well-being.’” No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness is Segar’s effort to bring the results of her research to the general public.

Segar calls her program MAPS—Meaning, Awareness, Permission and Strategy—and each area gets a separate part in No Sweat. In Meaning, the reader learns to identify the underlying expectations that can make or break a fitness routine. Awareness helps the reader understand the science of motivation and how to put that knowledge to practical use. Permission encourages the reader to make self-care, including fitness, a priority among all of life’s other commitments. Strategy helps the reader pull all this information together into a program tailored to his or her specific needs.

All the motivation in the world isn’t going to help if the body is not properly fueled for movement, an especially crucial factor if the body in question is still growing. Child nutrition expert Jill Castle tackles this issue in Eat Like a Champion: Performance Nutrition for Your Young Athlete.

“Many young athletes don’t eat to compete,” Castle explains. “They’re slowed down by fatty, sugary foods, not enough calories or the wrong (and even dangerous) foods.” Eating junk food and candy isn’t good for any child; for one competing is sports, poor diet can hamper performance.

In Eat Like a Champion, Castle provides information on everything a parent needs to know about feeding a budding athletic star, from major nutrients such as protein to vitamins and minerals to hydration. She then helps the reader use this data to prepare healthy meals eaten together—and promotes family mealtime as worth the effort in an everyone-doing-their-own-thing world. Castle says sitting down together three or more times a week “have been linked with children’s improved health, academic success, healthier eating and body weight, and improved self-esteem.” That’s important no matter what afterschool activities a child is involved in. —Lisa James

 

AYURVEDIC ADVICE

The Wheel of Healing with Ayurveda

By Michelle S. Fondin

NEW WORLD LIBRARY (www.newworldlibrary.com),
266 PAGES, $15.95

The Essential Ayurvedic Cookbook

By Lois A. Leonhardi

ROBERT ROSE (www.robertrose.ca),
352 PAGES, $24.95

One thing renewed interest in non-conventional medicine has done is introduced Americans to healing systems from other parts of the world. And while Traditional Chinese Medicine—especially the once-novel, now-common practice of acupuncture—has drawn the most attention, India’s traditional medicine, Ayurveda, has attracted increasing interest. That awareness is reflected in two recently published books dedicated to this ancient system of well-being.

Michelle Fondin takes an overview approach in The Wheel of Healing with Ayurveda: An Easy Guide to a Healthy Lifestyle.

“By taking charge of your life and learning how to use the eight ‘spokes’ of the Ayurvedic wheel of healing, you can work your way toward wellness,” says Fondin, a trained practitioner who came to Ayurveda after a cancer diagnosis 15 years ago. Noting that the word Ayurveda translates as “science of life,” she covers not just physical and emotional health—two spokes of the wheel—but spiritual, financial, relationship, occupational and environmental health as well, along with healing your past.

Fondin compares the Ayurvedic wheel to a bicycle wheel. “If a wheel is missing some spokes, or the rim is bent, balancing becomes more difficult,” she writes. “If you continue to ride a bike that is missing spokes…the wheel will eventually collapse from lack of wholeness.” The Wheel of Healing with Ayurveda helps you strengthen the entire structure by addressing, among other topics, the need to establish nourishing relationships, eliminate debt and reach beyond “the rut of routine.”

Physical health, specifically, a healthy diet, may not be the only spoke in the Ayurvedic wheel, but it’s certainly one that vexes many people. If that sounds familiar, you may want to examine The Essential Ayurvedic Cookbook: 200 Recipes for Health, Wellness & Balance.

Author Lois Leonhardi, another Ayurvedic practitioner, dedicates the book’s beginning to Ayurveda’s basic principles, which include the balancing of opposites (think of TCM’s concept of yin/yang), the idea that every person has a constitution that consists of three basic types—vata, pitta and kapha—and the need to weigh six tastes—sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. The idea is to eat in such a way that your unique VPK constitution stays in balance. For example, a person in whom vata—light, cold, dry—predominates should use foods such as avocado, lemons and nuts as garnishes, while someone with a predominantly kapha—heavy, slow, cool—constitution should use chili peppers, horseradish and sprouts.

The recipes in The Essential Ayurvedic Cookbook “are created to be tridoshic (balancing to all doshas) unless otherwise indicated,” writes Leonhardi. This leads to some food combinations most people wouldn’t think of, such as a breakfast of Amaranth Porridge with Pear Juice, Currants and Almonds or Cinnamon Lotus Edamame Sauté as a side dish. But the recipes are about more than just the food itself; the idea, says Leonhardi, is that “by integrating a philosophy of wellness into your life, you can seamlessly transition to a healthy and happy body, mind and soul.”

That’s a notion that both The Essential Ayurvedic Cookbook and The Wheel of Healing with Ayurveda heartily support. —Lisa James

 

 

SALMON IN PERIL

The Breach

By Mark Titus

AUGUST ISLAND PICTURES, 82 MINUTES (www.thebreachfilm.com)

We love seeing salmon on our plates. But that doesn’t mean we’ve always been kind to salmon in the water: The massive numbers that thrived on this continent’s coasts for millennia have plummeted within the past century.

Seattle filmmaker and fishing guide Mark Titus, who has been casting for salmon since his youth, set out to discover why these fish are disappearing. What he learns is a tale poetically told in The Breach, which weaves together stories from five Pacific Northwest locations.

All salmon require clear freshwater streams at the beginning, when they hatch, and at the end, when they return to their birthplace waters to breed. In between, they can spend years at sea, where their flesh accumulates the minerals that feed their native forests when they die shortly after spawning—if they don’t feed bears, eagles and other creatures, including people, first.

However, The Breach shows salmon thwarted at every turn by dams, pollution, fish farming and other human-created interruptions in the fish’s life cycle, driven by demand for water-generated electricity and for profit.

Native Americans, who have depended on salmon in sustainable ways for centuries, have led the fight for the salmon’s cause, along with other Northwest residents who want these fish to thrive in the wild. And The Breach documents their successes, such as the removal of a dam on the Elwha River in Washington State.

But there are no easy fixes in the battle to restore wild salmon to their previous levels. As one biologist tells Titus, fish farms—which degrade water quality and promote parasitic infestations among wild species—leave “an industrial footprint” on what was pristine wilderness. And Titus admits that as someone living in a modern city, “I’m individually a part of what we’ve collectively done to the salmon and in the end I don’t know if it’s possible to put things back to the way they were.”

The forces that have degraded salmon runs throughout the region have money and political influence on their side. The last story in The Breach is that of Alaska’s Bristol Bay, a remote ecosystem which sustains one of the North Pacific’s last great wild salmon fisheries. Bristol is now under threat from the proposed Pebble copper mining project and what would be an immense waste pool, to be hemmed in by a dam. Unlike the breaching of the dam on the Elwha, however, a breach of the Pebble dam could be catastrophic for Bristol Bay, the salmon and the people who live and work there.

A voiceover provides the salmon’s point of view; she surveys how humans have changed her world and says, “Cleverness is not wisdom.” The Breach represents an attempt to absorb the wisdom the salmon would impart to us. —Lisa James

 

ESCAPING A SWEET TRAP

The Complete Guide to Beating Sugar Addiction

By Jacob Teitelbaum, MD and Chrystle Fiedler

FAIR WINDS PRESS (www.fairwindspress.com), 304 PAGES, $19.99

The modern world’s sweet tooth continues unabated, and it’s killing us. Global diabetes rates have risen by nearly half over the past 20 years, according to a recent study, fueled by an increase in obesity that is, in large measure, fueled by increased consumption of refined carbohydrates—with sugar playing a major role.

If the sugar monster has you in its deadly grip, Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum believes he can help set you free. “For more than 30 years, I have incorporated sugar detox into treatments for countless patients suffering from chronic health problems,” says Teitelbaum. “A former sugar addict myself, I came down with chronic fatigue syndrome in 1975. Eliminating my sugar addiction was an important part of my recovery.”

Teitelbaum, known for his work with CFS and fibromyalgia patients and his best-seller From Fatigued to Fantastic (Avery), has distilled his years of experience into The Complete Guide to Beating Sugar Addiction. Written with veteran health author Chrystle Fiedler, this book presents a clear-cut explanation of why you can fall into sugar’s snares and ways to climb back out.

In the first part, Teitelbaum lays out evidence for four different kinds of sugar addiction: the need for quick energy supplied by “quick hits of caffeine and sugar”; a response to adrenal glands exhausted by stress; sugar cravings that result from yeast overgrowth; and sugar consumption that stems from hormonal upsets such as menopause. (A quiz at the beginning of each chapter allows the reader to see which profile he or she fits best.) The second part then presents plans tailored to each type of addiction, such as using supplements to support pooped adrenals or natural therapies to deal with menopausal symptoms. A third part addresses specific disorders associated with sugar addiction, such as anxiety, CFS/fibromyalgia, indigestion and sinus problems. The book also presents recipes developed by holistic nutritionist Deirdre Rawlings.

“Sugar addiction is the canary in the coal mine,” says Teitelbaum. “It usually points to a larger problem that is also dragging you down.” The Complete Guide to Beating Sugar Addiction provides a ladder. —Lisa James

 

HEALING BEAUTY

Cassandra Eason’s Healing Crystals

By Cassandra Eason

COLLINS & BROWN (www.sterlingpublishing.com),
160 PAGES, $12.95

Crystal and Stone Massage

By Michael Gienger

HEALING ARTS PRESS (www.healingartspress.com),
158 PAGES, $16.95

Since the beginning of time, people have been beguiled by crystalline mineral formations for the beauty of their colors, from amethyst’s deep purple to jade’s striking green. But ancient healers discovered that each stone had its own unique energetic properties, allowing crystals to play a role in human well-being. Today, these remarkable objects are again being employed for their therapeutic properties.

For a basic grounding in crystal lore, you can turn to Cassandra Eason’s Healing Crystals: An Illustrated Guide to 150 Crystals and Gemstones. Each richly illustrated entry provides a history along with information on how that stone can be used for healing and other purposes. For example, Eason, a British New Age author, says that green calcite “encourages bone health,” while jasper “helps to keep you cheerful and focused whatever the day throws at you.”

She also discusses crystal practice in general, including information on how to use them with bodily energy centers known as the chakras.

If you’re looking for a more specific approach to crystal practice, Crystal and Stone Massage: Energy Healing for the Vital and Subtle Bodies may be of interest. The late Michael Gienger, a European crystal expert who wrote nearly two dozen books on the subject, explains several different styles of stone massage (along with coauthors Hildegaard Weiss and Ursula Dombrowsky). These include Intuitive Massage, in which the practitioner relies on his or her “inner perception” to employ the stones’ vibrational energies; Vital Body Massage, which uses gentle pressure “with the intention of harmonizing and vitalizing the [body’s] energy field; Harmonizing Massage with Amber, designed to take advantage of the resin’s “distinctly different properties”; and Crystal Sphere Massage, which “encourage(s) a better body awareness.” Photo illustrations make the techniques accessible to nonprofessionals. —Lisa James

 

PLANT PORTRAITS

Herbal Goddess

By Amy Jirsa

STOREY PUBLISHING (www.storey.com), 256 PAGES, $19.95

In the face of a healthcare system facing significant challenges, many Americans—more than a third of all adults, according to a government survey—are taking matters into their own hands by using a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approach to health, which includes everything from vitamins and other dietary supplements to yoga and massage.

The use of herbal remedies, one of the oldest forms of medicine, falls squarely under the CAM umbrella. “Herbalism is our cultural heritage,” writes master herbalist and yoga instructor Amy Jirsa in Herbal Goddess. “No matter where our ancestors came from, chances are they used plants as medicine…This knowledge was instinctual, deep and common.”

As the subtitle, Discover the Amazing Spirit of 12 Healing Herbs, makes clear, Jirsa is less interested in providing an herbal encyclopedia than in exploring several common herbs in depth. Each richly illustrated section provides the physical, mental and spiritual effects of the herb in question along with ways to prepare it in the kitchen and as a beauty aid, as well as yoga poses that augment the herb’s effects.

For example, dandelion “is a superhero tonic for the liver, kidneys, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, stomach and digestive system” and yields an essence that “inspires a natural intensity and love of life”; its detoxifying effects are complemented by the yoga pose Reclining Twist.

The fresh young greens pair well with stuffed mushrooms while the roots can be roasted and ground as a coffee substitute or cut for their sap, which Jirsa recommends for burns, stings and acne.

Many of us would turn to the plant world’s ancient healing wisdom if only we knew how. Herbal Goddess provides this lore in a useful, accessible format. —Lisa James

 

THE PATH TO SPIRITUAL
WHOLENESS


 

Healing the Western Soul

By Judith S. Miller

PARAGON HOUSE (www.paragonhouse.com), 234 PAGES, $14.95

A recent San Diego State University study showing a marked drop in religious involvement among American Millennials, those born between the late 70s and early 90s, has generated a blizzard of blogosphere commentary. According to results published in PLoS ONE, American college students are twice as likely as their elders to give their religious affiliation as “none.”

These results represent the intensification of a pre-existing trend in which each new generation shows less religious affiliation than those that came before. What’s more, a growing number of people find themselves disconnected from not just institutional religion but spirituality itself.

Perhaps not coincidentally, sizeable portions of the population suffer from anxiety, depression and other emotional ills. “People have lost access to the wisdom in their core,” says psychologist Judith Miller. “Psychology without spirituality is not very effective.”

In Healing the Western Soul: A Spiritual Homecoming for Today’s Seeker, Miller says the Western belief smorgasbord known as “spiritual but not religious”—a little shamanism here, a little Buddhism there, none of it approached from a place of deep, lifelong commitment—doesn’t provide the strong sustenance one needs to face either a planet in turmoil or the life crises that come to all of us. Instead, she urges people in the Western world to reclaim their own spiritual roots through the mysticism that lies at the heart of both Christianity and Judaism, and to not see ecstatic experiences as psychotic episodes but as transcendent revelations. Accepting this sense of oneness with the Divine, Miller believes, allows people “to recognize the spiritual guidance that comes to us” for use in healing on one’s deepest levels.

Miller writes, “If the existence and purpose of the Soul were widely acknowledged, we would recover awareness of our inner template in which Union is natural and separation is unnatural.” Healing the Western Soul provides a map back to that spiritual core. —Lisa James

 

LYME’S MENACING FRIENDS

Natural Treatments for Lyme Coinfections

By Stephen Harrod Buhner

HEALING ARTS PRESS (www.healingartspress.com), 440 PAGES, $19.95

Lyme disease, an infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi that has left some people incapacitated for months or even years, is bad enough on its own. What’s worse is that the ticks which carry Borrelia often transmit a number of other equally nasty microbes along with it.
Master herbalist Stephen Harrod Buhner knows this territory well, having written Herbal Antibiotics and Herbal Antivirals. In his latest book, Natural Treatments for Lyme Coinfections: Anaplasma, Babesia and Ehrlichia, Buhner takes on disorders that may not have Lyme’s fame but are just as unsettling for those who suffer from them.

Buhner believes that infectious disease, once thought to be vanquished by antibiotics, is re-emerging as a significant threat due to a combination of environmental disruption and antibiotic overuse. “A great many more diseases are emerging out of the ecological matrix of the planet,” he says. “Many of them possess, or soon acquire, resistance to the majority of antibiotics.” In Natural Treatments for Lyme Coinfections, Buhner explores how these infections are transmitted and diagnosed, and how they do the damage they do, before providing treatment protocol guidelines based on herbs, such as the immune enhancer astragalus, and supplements, such as amino acid L-arginine, which helps protect blood vessels.

Natural Treatments isn’t an easy read; as Buhner puts it, “Please understand that some of the book is fairly technical.” But if you suspect you’ve been infected with one of these microbes, or if you’ve undergone treatment that hasn’t worked, it will be an informational treasure trove for you and your practitioner. —Lisa James

 

COOKING FOR DIGESTIVE HEALTH


The pH Balance Health & Diet Guide for GERD, IBS & IBD

By Dr. Fraser Smith, Susan Hannah and Dr. Daniel Richardson

ROBERT ROSE (www.robertrose.ca), 288 PAGES, $24.95

 


Living with Crohn’s & Colitis Cookbook

By Dede Cummings

HATHERLEIGH (www.hatherleighcommunity.com),
296 PAGES, $15.00

Digestive disorders are distressingly common—and often more serious than you might think. According to a report from the National Institutes of Health, diseases of the liver, pancreas and digestive tract cost the US more than $140 billion annually and account for more than 13 million hospitalizations and 100 million outpatient visits.

Diet, which plays a vital role in the treatment of most chronic diseases, is especially crucial when coping with ailments of the gastrointestinal tract. Two recently published books address this topic.

As its title indicates, The pH Balance Health & Diet Guide for GERD, IBS & IBD casts a fairly wide net by addressing three ailments not normally thought of as being related: gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach contents back up into the esophagus; irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which covers symptoms such as gassiness, cramping and diarrhea and/or constipation with no physical cause; and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), conditions such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis that damage the digestive tract. According to the book’s authors—two faculty members at the National University of Health Sciences and a freelance writer—these disorders are best managed with what they call a “pH balanced diet,” in which acid-producing foods, such as wheat and beef, and alkali-producing foods, including most vegetables, are kept in a ratio of between 20% to 40% acidic and 80% to 60% alkali depending on how out-of-balance your body is currently. In addition to supplying four weeks of meal plans and an extensive recipe section, The pH Balance Health & Diet Guide provides valuable information on food reactions, lifestyle modifications and other helpful topics.

The second book, Living with Crohn’s & Colitis Cookbook, focuses on the two chief forms of IBD; author Dede Cummings dove into the subject after undergoing surgery for Crohn’s disease in 2006. Her recipes include smoothies, broths and other simple fare to help deal with flare-ups as well as those aimed at health maintenance such as Gluten-Free Banana Granola Pancakes, Curry Turmeric Leek Soup and Garlic-Herbed Scallops. Cummings takes an encouraging tone towards her fellow sufferers; “I hope the recipes in this book will encourage you to…love your body,” she says, “…and take responsibility for your own health and education.” —Lisa James

EATING CLEANLY

Eat Clean, Live Well

By Terry Walters

STERLING EPICURE (www.sterlingpublishing.com),
288 PAGES, $30.00

 

Part-Time Paleo

By Leanne Ely, CNC

PLUME/PENGUIN (www.penguin.com), 246 PAGES, $18.00

In a world where prepared foods often come with long lists of bewildering additives, many people are making a concerted effort to base their diets on wholesome, natural ingredients. “Maintaining good health and well-being today requires greater awareness and effort than it did in years past,” says chef and culinary educator Terry Walters, author of Eat Clean, Live Well. “Quality is often sacrificed for convenience and economy, with labels telling us what we are to believe rather than what we need to know.”

Walters first wrote about this topic in her 2009 award winner Clean Food, and again in the 2011 followup Clean Start. Eat Clean, Live Well articulates Walters’ continuing desire for “progress toward establishing a more sustainable future.”

Like a number of cookbooks that focus on local ingredients, Eat Clean, Live Well presents recipes suitable for each season, from Sugar Snap Peas with Orange Ginger Dressing in spring to winter’s Sweet and Smokey Brussels Sprouts. (While Walters addresses the need to eat clean animal products at the beginning of the book, all of the recipes are vegan.) Along the way, Walters includes what she calls “Clean Living” topics, such as a piece on vitamin D and the sun in the summer section and pointers for maintaining a strong immune system under autumn. The idea, as she puts it, is to make choices “that give beauty and meaning to each day and allow us to live with intention, purpose and good health.”

One of today’s most popular clean-eating ideas is the Paleo diet. Based on the notion that our bodies have never adapted to grain-based foods, it holds that we only should eat foods that our ancient ancestors hunted or caught, such as meats and fish, or gathered, such as nuts, seeds, eggs and vegetables. (Paleo stands for the Paleolithic era, which started with the first use of stone tools approximately 2.5 million years ago.)

Leanne Ely, creator of a meal planning website called savingdinner.com, describes herself as a “part-time Paleoista” who adopted the diet after being diagnosed with a thyroid condition. She says she wrote Part-Time Paleo: How to Go Paleo Without Going Crazy to help newbies adjust to “this new way of living (yes, this is a lifestyle and not a diet).”

One way Ely makes it easier to adopt a Paleo eating plan is by presenting 12 weeks of menu plans, with shopping lists, to help the reader get started. She also includes such useful items as a list of common foods that would seem to fit the diet, such as lentils and peanuts, but don’t (many items on the list contain substances that Paleo adherents say interfere with digestion). Juices and soups play a prominent role, while entrees include Wilted Greens with Lemon Shrimp, Tomatillo Shredded Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomato Flank Steak.

If you have wanted to try Paleo but haven’t been sure how to go about it, Part-Time Paleo would be a good start. —Lisa James

AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE

The Grateful Life

By Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons

VIVA/CLEIS (www.vivaeditions.com), 292 PAGES, $15.95

We are in what is frequently promoted as a season of gratitude, a time to give thanks for all the good things in our lives. But for many people this is a difficult state to achieve, often for understandable reasons: ill health, economic hardship, the loss of loved ones, the death of dreams. How does one find gratitude under such circumstances?

According to Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons, being grateful is something best done step by step. “Whenever and wherever…we pause, sometimes in the middle of really cruddy circumstances, to say thanks for the blessings we have right now, it is a powerful form of grace,” they write in The Grateful Life: The Secret to Happiness and the Science of Contentment.

Sammons, a writer of books about “making a difference,” and Lesowitz, a marketing professional, view gratitude from a number of angles, such as its effects on workplace productivity, goal setting, and physical and spiritual well-being, as well as provide advice on how to incorporate being grateful into one’s life. But the real strength of this book lies in the personal stories the authors use to illustrate their points. In one case, a Chicago businesswoman found her gratitude in helping the homeless. In another, an Illinois couple are grateful for the “circle of angels” that gather after a flood upends their lives. And the book begins with Sammons’s own story of how playing with her granddaughter helped the author cope with her mother’s terminal cancer.

It isn’t always easy to find one’s way towards gratitude, but the potential rewards are great. The Grateful Life provides a valuable signpost. —Lisa James

 

Spiritual Cooking with Yael:
Recipes & Bible Meditations
from the Holy Land

By Yael Eckstein

WINTERS, 121 PAGES, $14.99

As a resident of Israel and as senior vice president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, Yael Eckstein knows a thing or two about spirituality. And as a host who cooks healthy, delicious meals for her family and dozens of weekly Sabbath guests, Eckstein knows a thing or two about food. Eckstein melds both of those passions, food and spirituality, in this simple-to-follow book of native recipes, which appear with Biblical aphorisms and the author’s take on them.

Opposite Eckstein’s recipe for Hummus, for example, you’ll find a passage from Job 12:8: “Speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee.” Eckstein, who says she sees no act as purely physical, meaning there is a spiritual component to everything, writes: “The beautiful harmony of the natural world is one to cherish and learn from. The rain falls and nurtures the fruits, plants and vegetables, animals are fed, human life is sustained. The cycle of nature is an ecosystem that, when undisturbed, is a chain that provides for all. Take a moment to recognize the journey take by the water in our cup and the food on our plate and open yourself up to amazement and appreciation. We have the same ability to provide sustenance to others by sharing a nice word, a kind smile, or a nutritious meal. Find your way to give to others!”

Among other traditional staples included are shakshuka, a hot breakfast treat of tomatoes and eggs; tahini; and carrot kugel bread, as well as more conventional dishes: creamy lasagna, teriyaki salmon, and tomato bisque, to name a few. Spiritual Cooking with Yael is filled with tidbits and recipes that are good for you and your soul.

 

Sharing Morocco: Exotic Flavors
from My Kitchen to Yours

By Ruth Barnes

GREENLEAF (WWW.GBGPRESS.COM), 298 PAGES, $29.95

Ruth Barnes’ family lived in Morocco for many decades but later made Israel their home. Her parents became farmers who kept chickens, ducks, roosters, goas and horses, and they grew a variety of vegetables and fruits. “Food was an important part of their vibrant community and a way for them to keep traditions alive,” Barnes writes in her beautiful cookbook, a record of those culinary traditions. As many as three or four hundred guests would attend parties at the family farm, and Barnes, her mother, aunts and sisters would spend the day in the kitchen cooking and telling stories. “As soon as one meal was over,” she writes, “they were thinking about the next.”

As exotic as cuisine from Morocco is, Barnes early on in her cookbook gives readers a jolt of self-confidence by observing that the book’s recipes are “easily mastered with a few techniques and basic components” of both traditional and modern Moroccan foods. Those foods are meats, spices, and fresh vegetables, all of which get ample elaboration in later chapters and are represented by luscious, healthful recipes, including those in a traditional tagine. Barnes also takes readers to the souk, or marketplace, for a look at Moroccan street food beyond the kebab: Butternut Squash with Chickpeas (G’ra bil Homus, written traditionally) and Frittata with Green Peas, Carrots, and Onions (M’hummar) are examples. Beautiful color glossy photographs of the dishes accompany each recipe.

Barnes dedicates Sharing Morocco to her parents, Dina and Yaish Elkoby, who she says raised her and her siblings “with love, wisdom, and generous spirit.” Sharing Morocco is filled with all of those ingredients, too.

 

Food, Family and Tradition:
Hungarian Kosher Family Recipes
and Remembrances

By Lynn Kirsche Shapiro

CHERRY, 279 PAGES, $35

The recipes in Food, Family and Tradition should be pored over slowly and savored. They are, after all, more than recipes. They are at once tributes to Jewish lives cut short by the Holocaust and by survivors who thrived and adhered to their faith and traditions in the harshest of circumstances. Author Kirsche Shapiro dedicates Food, Family and Tradition, part cookbook, part memoir, to her parents, Sandor and Margit Kirsche, who passed the faith and traditions of those who came before them to future generations, and to the memory of her grandparents, who were murdered in the Holocaust, as well as to her aunt, Goldie Weinberger, “who survived and remained true to the Jewish faith even in the Soviet Union,” where religious practice was prohibited.

“Our family tree was broken and burned by the Holocaust,” its many branches cut off and with them all their future fruit,” Kirsche Shapiro writes of her grandparents and the many members of her parents’ extended family who were killed. “But its roots were strong and today the branches that were left have blossomed in the new generations.”

It is in that optimistic, life-affirming spirit with which recipes such as one for latkes, or potato pancakes, traditionally eaten during Hanukkah, are offered. Each Hanukkah, Kirsche Shapiro follows her family’s latke recipe while her husband makes latkes from his own created recipe (both are included), paving the way for a friendly family latke showdown. When all is said and done, plates of both types of latkes are usually left empty.

The book is filled with gems, such as a challah recipe from the first kosher bakery in Chicago, a pair of delectable stuffed cabbage recipes, a surprise chop suey, a traditional Sabbath Chulent (or stew), among many others. Food, Family and Tradition is a living treasure chest to be enjoyed by many, many generations to come.

 

YOGA IN WORDS AND PICTURES


Rodney Yee’s Complete Yoga for Beginners

By Rodney Yee

GAIAM (www.gaiam.com), 80 MINUTES, $14.98


Yoga and Body Image

By Melanie Klein & Anna Guest-Jelley

LLEWELLYN (www.llewellyn.com), 266 PAGES, $17.99

Forty years ago, disco was king, white polyester was a fashion statement and yoga was barely noticed outside of its native India. Today, disco and white polyester have been consigned to history’s dustbin. But yoga’s popularity has grown exponentially; it is currently practiced by more than 20 million Americans, with more taking to the mat every year. So it’s not surprising that yoga has spawned its own media mini-industry.

If you’re new to yoga, you may try popping Rodney Yee’s Complete Yoga for Beginners into your DVD player. Yee, who has been making audiovisual yoga instruction guides for two decades, moves through the poses at a deliberate pace while providing an easy-to-follow voiceover. After the Yoga Basics section—which presents such foundational poses as Mountain and Plank—the DVD provides three additional segments with sequences designed for flexibility, energy and relaxation. (You can download additional materials created by Yee from Gaiam’s website.) Each segment is about 20 minutes, long enough to be beneficial but short enough to fit into one’s daily schedule.

If you are a yoga veteran, you may want to peruse the pages of Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery & Loving Your Body. Melanie Klein, MA, a sociology and women’s studies professor, and Anna Guest-Jelley, MA, founder of a website for what she calls “curvy yogis,” talked to 25 contributors about how yoga and body image interact. It’s a timely topic. Long regarded as the province of the extremely thin and flexible, yoga has seen an influx of people who don’t fit that description as it has become more popular. “A yoga practice can and should be available to everyone and every body,” the authors write. “We…want yoga teachers to begin cultivating healthy dialogue in class that allows the yoga practice to nurture students…by focusing on the quality of mind, not the aesthetics of the pose or the body in the pose.” Contributors range from singer Alanis Morissette, who finds in yoga “an attunement” to all parts of herself, physical and spiritual, to Power Yoga teacher Bryan Kest, who used yoga to help himself stretch past a violent, angry youth to a place where he can “remain in the moment and acknowledge the change.” —Lisa James

 

SNACKING, UPDATED

Chips: Reinventing a Favorite Food

By Chris Bryant

LARK/STERLING (www.larkcrafts.com), 150 PAGES, $14.95

Consider, if you will, the potato chip. It is a party favorite—can you imagine a gathering without chips ’n dip?—with an unhealthy reputation, thanks to its high fat and salt content.

However, by making your own, “you get to be in charge of quality control,” writes recipe developer and cookbook author Chris Bryant in Chips: Reinventing a Favorite Food. “You can make chips from healthy, wholesome ingredients using the best oils…Forget about the unpronounceable additives and preservatives that come with store-bought chips.”

The book presents chips made in several styles—frying, dehydrating, baking—that include the potato but extend to such novel ingredients as butternut squash, mushrooms and pears. An initial setup chapter provides all the information you’ll need to become a chipmaster.

From a nutritional standpoint, some of Bryant’s offerings, such as Baked Chips with Maple-Bacon Drizzle, fall into the category of occasional treat. But others, including Za’atar and Aleppo Sweet-Potato Chips with Cool Hummus Dip, can serve as healthy afterschool snacks. And still other recipes, such as Blue Chips with Wild Salmon Tartar, Truffle Oil, Chives and Crème Fraîche, are elegant enough to serve at the poshest of parties. —Lisa James

GROWING THROUGH STRUGGLE

The Gift of Maybe

By Allison Carmen

PERIGEE/PENGUIN (www.penguin.com), 160 PAGES, $15.00

Expectation Hangover

By Christine Hassler

NEW WORLD LIBRARY (www.newworldlibrary.com),
222 PAGES, $24.95

The Relationship Handbook

By Shakti Gawain and Gina Vucci

NEW WORLD LIBRARY (www.newworldlibrary.com),
160 PAGES, $15.95

“Into every life a little rain must fall,” the proverb says, and there are times when it feels more like an overwhelming deluge. That leads to one of the big questions of our existence: What are we to make of woe? Can it ever be fruitful, or is it just meaningless suffering? The authors of three recently published books offer their perspectives on this age-old query.

“For most of my life, I had an addiction that no doctor could cure…My addiction was to certainty,” writes Allison Carmen. “At every moment in my life, I desperately sought to know what was going to happen next.” Despite outward trappings of success as a lawyer, Carmen lay awake at night worrying about what awful thing might lie around the corner.

To cope with her overwhelming emotions, Carmen developed a philosophy she calls Maybe, which she outlines in The Gift of Maybe: Finding Hope and Possibility in Uncertain Times. It entails accepting that all potential problems in life—whether they involve health, money, relationships or career—have a number of potential outcomes, some good, some bad. “Once we begin to apply the idea of Maybe, we see that the cycle of change is never-ending,” says Carmen, now a life coach and business consultant. “The good news is that when we are gripped by our fears of the unknown, Maybe can help us.” The Gift of Maybe explains how you can use this approach as an antidote to stress and anxiety.

Closely related to the need for certainty is the expectation that specific things will happen—and the sense of loss that follows when that which one expects doesn’t materialize. Learning how to cope with such situations is the subject of Expectation Hangover: Overcoming Disappointment in Work, Love and Life.

Written by another second-career life coach, Christine Hassler, this book explains how we set ourselves up for unhappiness through what Hassler calls “expectation hangovers.” It then presents a series of role-playing exercises such as imagining you are a surfer riding the waves of emotion that follow setbacks, or stepping into a scientist persona to collect data on your behavior—all in the service of not setting yourself up for disappointment by clinging to expectation. “Life often throws us a curveball to get us to look in a different direction, one that is even better than we planned,” writes Hassler. “This is your window of opportunity.”

Life is built on relationships with partners, children, family, friends and coworkers—and with hidden aspects of our own selves. While such associations can be sources of both joy and frustration, Shakti Gawain, a personal development seminar leader, and long-time collaborator Gina Vucci also believe relationships can be channels for self-awareness, an idea they explore in The Relationship Handbook: A Path to Consciousness, Healing and Growth.

One of the book’s basic principles is that all of us develop multiple selves, including our everyday “primary self” and the “shadow self” where we lock away emotions we want to repress, such as shame and fear. Such unacknowledged selves can distort our relationships with others; as Gawain and Vucci put it, “Our rejection of certain people in our lives is actually an attempt to distance ourselves from the parts we’re rejecting within ourselves.”

The authors believe we can use relationships as mirrors in which we can discover our disowned selves and become conscious of such internal entities as the Rule Maker and the accomplishment-driven Pusher; the exercises provided are designed to turn self-knowledge into self-liberation. For anyone who runs repeatedly into the same relationship difficulties, The Relationship Handbook may prove helpful. —Lisa James

THE POWER OF SOUND

Tuning the Human Biofield

By Eileen Day McKusick

HEALING ARTS PRESS (www.healingartspress.com),
252 PAGES, $16.95

We live awash in overlapping fields of energy, from the gravity that keeps us on the earth’s surface to the electromagnetic waves that carry our radio and TV transmissions. In fact, some researchers claim that the body is enveloped by its own electromagnetic matrix called the human biofield. It is this biofield that ancient healers sought to influence through chant and music, which fell out of favor with the coming of an approach to medicine that focused on the body’s material aspects.

Science has since closed the circle; we now know that matter is basically solidified energy. And that realization has brought the various therapeutic uses of sound, such as music therapy, back into favor.

Therapeutic sound is the focus of Tuning the Human Biofield: Healing with Vibrational and Sound Therapy. As author Eileen Day McKusick puts it, “The subtle field around the body is a field of potential, of energy, and information—in other words, a field of mind and consciousness.” Aimed at people who wish to become sound therapists themselves, this book provides a detailed look at how sound helps release biofield disturbances.

In the course of explaining how she came to practice sound therapy—specifically through the use of tuning forks—McKusick presents the scientific reasoning behind this modality. She also relates sound’s healing properties to the chakras, seven energy centers that can become unbalanced by energy blockages resulting from trauma. McKusick says tuning fork therapy can clear these blockages, resulting in better physical, mental and emotional health.

“Once subtle energy is described, measured and defined, we can no longer dismiss biofield therapies as having no basis in science,” says McKusick. In Tuning the Human Biofield, she argues that such approaches to healing are both real and powerful. —Lisa James

BONDS OF LOVE

The Good Luck Cat

By Lissa Warren

LYONS PRESS (www.lyonspress.com), 244 PAGES, $21.95

“It has always been about cats for me,” says Lissa Warren, who notes that “in my family, adopting a cat is like adopting a child—not something to be taken lightly.” So it’s fitting that her book, The Good Luck Cat, begins with the adoption of a Korat named Ting-Pei as a companion for her retired father.

The love between Warren—now vice president, senior director of publicity and acquiring editor for Da Capo Press—and her parents shines through The Good Luck Cat, a love that always extended to their animal companions. And soon a strong bond grew between her ailing father and the lively, mischievous little gray presence in their New England home. As Warren writes, “All of us adored Ting, but there was no question whose cat she was.”

But in 2008 Warren’s father died of a heart attack. Not long afterward, Ting’s own cardiac disorder, a potentially fatal AV block, was discovered. Then, three years after a human pacemaker saves Ting’s life, Warren’s left leg went numb; eventually she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

The Good Luck Cat is an ode to how four lives—three human, one feline—intertwine in acts of devotion large and small, and how those connections foster healing in the worst of times. For example, after Ting comes home from her operation, Warren and her mother “take turns sleeping on the floor beside her—positioned so that, if she tries to get up, one of us will know it.” And that concern is reciprocated: “Now I’m lucky to have Ting to cheer me up when my MS flares, to have her beside me at this moment.”

The Good Luck Cat eloquently explores the notion that there is no such thing as a mere pet. After Warren’s father dies, Ting spends most of her time sleeping. “It seems entirely plausible to me that Ting is depressed,” Warren writes. “In fact, it seems entirely plausible to me that a cat can have pretty much any emotion a human can…One thing’s clear: They grieve.”

Warren says, “There’s something about having a cat to take care of that regulates a family.” The Good Luck Cat goes to the heart of what family means. —Lisa James

HOMEMADE BEAUTY

The Best Natural Homemade Soaps

By Mar Gomez

224 PAGES, $24.95


The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils
Handbook for Everyday Wellness

By Nerys Purchon and Lora Cantele

480 PAGES, $24.95

ROBERT ROSE (www.robertrose.ca)

It’s the time of year when many people start wondering what to give loved ones for the holidays. Many prefer to hand-craft their gifts, believing it gives their offerings a more personal touch.

If you’re one of those do-it-yourself people, you may enjoy The Best Natural Homemade Soaps: 40 Recipes for Moisturizing Olive Oil-Based Soaps. Written by Mar Gomez, who leads natural products workshops, it provides recipes for soaps that are not only lovely to look at but are healthful as well.

After giving you all the information you’ll need to become a home soapmaker, Gomez provides recipes for soaps based on different main ingredients. Some use beauty standbys, such as cocoa butter, which helps nourish and moisturize, and rose, recommended for sensitive skin. But you can also find soaps with such surprising ingredients as carrots (for mature skin) and irritation-easing green tea.

Many of the recipes in The Best Natural Homemade Soaps call for essential oils. These aromatic plant essences are front and center in another Robert Rose title, The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness.

Written by the late Nerys Purchon, who established Australia’s Rivendell herb farm, and American aromatherapist Lora Cantele, the Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook takes a comprehensive approach to its subject. The authors begin by discussing dozens of essential oils, including such long-time favorites as clary sage and geranium along with lesser-known oils like galbanum and hyssop. One section is devoted to medicinal uses for various oils blends, including sweet almond, lavender and Roman chamomile for insomnia and eucalyptus, tea tree, lemon, thyme and cinnamon for coughs and colds. Another section, entitled “Aromatherapy for Daily Living,” provides information on using essential oils for beauty and personal care as well as such household concerns as deodorizing rooms. —Lisa James

FITNESS TO GO

The Burst! Workout

By Sean Foy, MA

WORKMAN (www.workman.com), 246 PAGES, $14.95

The fact that library shelves groan under the weight of studies enthusing over exercise means nothing if you don’t have the time for it—or don’t believe you have the time. Many recommendations call for 30 to 60 minutes of daily physical activity; if you feel achy and winded after going up a flight of stairs, your response may well be, “Why bother?”

“What’s needed is a new approach to exercise, a way to achieve maximum results in the shortest amount of time possible,” says exercise physiologist Sean Foy. The author of The Burst! Workout: The Power of 10-Minute Interval Training believes short-term exercise sessions can be effective as long as they address all of the body’s needs. His solution: a mini-workout that combines cardio, muscle strengthening, core work and stress relief—all in 10 minutes.

One strength of The Burst! Workout is that it contains three training levels—beginner, intermediate and advanced—so that you can get going no matter what shape you’re in, although Foy does recommend that all but the fittest start at the beginning. Another advantage is that you won’t wind up with expensive equipment gathering dust in the garage. Level I exercises are bodyweight only, while Levels II and III use (for the most part) low-tech aids such as stability balls, resistance bands and dumbbells. Besides clear illustrations, exercises such as the Band Squat, Chair Spinal Twist and Ball Thigh Stretch feature tips on proper form and ways to either increase or decrease the intensity level. (Exercises suitable for office use are marked with a phone icon.) A journal at the back lets the reader track progress.

Foy says small, incremental improvements in fitness “can have a significant impact on your energy, metabolism, health, weight and happiness.” The Burst! Workout may be what you need to finally make that happen. —Lisa James

ENERGY HEALING, EXPANDED

energy

 

Energy Medicine Yoga

By Lauren Walker

SOUNDS TRUE (www.soundstrue.com), 201 PAGES, $18.95

erergies

The Energies of Love

By Donna Eden & David Feinstein

TARCHER/PENGUIN (www.us.penguingroup.com), 262 PAGES, $25.99

Energy medicine—broadly defined as techniques that tap into the universal energy field which animates everything, including people—has long been an accepted mode of healing among alternative practitioners. Two recently published books expand on that concept in interesting ways.

Yoga is linked to prana, an Ayurvedic term for the cosmic energy that sustains life. In Energy Medicine Yoga: Amplify the Healing Power of Your Yoga Practice, Lauren Walker presents an eight-week program designed to “influence[e] the direction of our body’s energy patterns in order create positive change.” As she explains, “Often energy gets stuck in one specific location or fixed in patterns. This stuck or fixed energy becomes painful, and that pain signifies something, whether physical or emotional, needs to move.”

A student of Rod Stryker, the creator of ParaYoga, and Donna Eden, founder of Eden Energy Medicine, Walker combines the two disciplines by presenting classic yoga poses, such as Sun Salutations, along with techniques such as chanting that tap into sound’s healing power. The ultimate goal of Energy Medicine Yoga is developing the ability to scan one’s body for subtle signs of illness before, as Walker puts it, “it is forced to scream its messages.”

Eden herself has already written a book on energy medicine with her husband, clinical psychologist David Feinstein. Now Eden and Feinstein have written The Energies of Love: Keys to a Fulfilling Partnership. Like Walker, Eden and Feinstein aim to help people change unhelpful energy patterns. But in The Energies of Love, this involves the more complex task of taking two people’s energy systems into account.

A society in which gender roles have become more flexible makes relationships more complicated. As Eden and Feinstein put it, “A marriage today is more than ever a creative arrangement harboring extreme challenges and unanticipated possibilities as the maps from the past have lost their currency and the terrain itself is in continual flux.” The Energies of Love provides a way to navigate this new world; Eden and Feinstein give the reader tools that range from communication methods honoring each partner’s point of view (hint: asking “do you mean…” is better than sarcasm), to using Emotional Freedom Techniques (also known as tapping) as a way of defusing overwhelming emotions, to enhancing a relationship’s energy levels through sexual passion. The fact that they’ve experienced the joys and frustrations of a long-term marriage themselves gives their advice greater weight.

Many of us live in relationships with intimate partners, and how we interact with our loved ones can profoundly influence our physical and mental well-being. The Energies of Love can help strengthen those relationships so each partner benefits. —Lisa James

BASIC EATING

Honestly Healthy for Life

By Natasha Corrett and Vicki Edgson

STERLING (www.sterlingpublishing.com), 272 PAGES, $29.95

As any gardener knows, one of the factors that determine how well plants grow is the pH, the balance between acid and alkali (base), of the soil. Everything else can be perfect: sun exposure, moisture levels, fertility. But if the pH balance is off, plants will simply fail to thrive.

It turns out we’re not that different—and in our case, basic is better. “When your body is bombarded with acid-forming foods, it has to rely on supplies within your body to recalibrate your blood pH…which can mean leaching minerals out of your bone tissue or putting extra work on your kidneys and liver,” explain Natasha Corrett and Vicki Edgson, authors of Honestly Healthy for Life: Eating the Alkaline Way Every Day, who say consuming a mostly plant-based diet produces the mildly alkali environment that best promotes health.

Corrett, a vegetarian chef, and Edgson, a nutritional healer, use the first part of their book to explain the principles behind alkaline eating and help the reader set up a pantry accordingly. The recipes in the second half are creatively arranged. After a Recipes at a Glance chart with the book’s offerings broken out into standard listings (breakfast, soups, main meals, etc.), the actual recipe chapters use headings such as On The Go (“to fit with your busy times”) and A Breath of Fresh Air (suitable for outdoor eating). The recipes themselves offer novel twists on standard dishes, such as Curried Sweet Potato instead of potato salad and Wild Mushroom Quinoa “Risotto.”

Eating to foster a basic body environment doesn’t have to be boring. Honestly Healthy for Life can help you stay balanced in style. —Lisa James

 

 

THE CUTTING-EDGE KITCHEN

seedsd

Super Seeds

By Kim Lutz

STERLING (www.sterlingpublishing.com), 192 PAGES, $14.95

raw

Choosing Raw

By Gena Hamshaw

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 276 PAGES, $19.99

bread

Bread Revolution

By Peter Reinhart

TEN SPEED PRESS (www.tenspeedpress.com), 256 PAGES, $30.00

Once upon a time, you earned your home-gourmet stripes by learning how to chiffonade basil into elegant ribbons or prepare a whole fish en papillote (in parchment, if you haven’t taken French Cooking 101). But today the well-educated chef stays on top of the latest trends in healthy eating, an effort aided by three recently published cookbooks.

Super Seeds is, in the words of the subtitle, The Complete Guide to Cooking with Power-Packed Chia, Flax, Hemp, Quinoa and Amaranth—all of which rank high on both the health and hipness meters. Written by Chicago food blogger Kim Lutz, it provides some basic information on these extremely nutritious foods before presenting more than 75 recipes, including such novel items as Strawberry Breakfast Pudding (which uses chia seeds) and Hemp Tofu Lasagna.

Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat, is not dedicated to the idea that 100% raw is the only way to go. “I’m a raw foods enthusiast,” clinical nutritionist Gena Hamshaw explains. “I don’t adhere to any particular percentage of raw vs. cooked.” Hamshaw helps the reader adopt a rawish diet by addressing raw-food myths, misconceptions and FAQs, and by supplying 125 recipes for everything from nut-based pâtés (Nori Rolls with Gingery Almond Pâté and Raw Veggies) to “pasta” made from julienned zucchini (Zucchini Pasta with Quinoa Meatless Balls).

Bread has been a dietary staple for thousands of years. But in Bread Revolution: World-Class Baking with Sprouted & Whole Grains, Heirloom Flours & Fresh Techniques, professional baker and instructor Peter Reinhart reminds us that everything old is, eventually, new again. For people who are serious about the art and craft of home baking, Bread Revolution provides a master class on materials, including sourdough, and techniques that include baking with healthful sprouted grain flour and making specialty items such as croissants and English muffins. —Lisa James

 

INTUITION FOR EVERYONE

First Intelligence

By Simone Wright

NEW WORLD LIBRARY (www.newworldlibrary.com), 256 PAGES, $15.95

For many people, the idea of deliberately invoking one’s intuition, that inner sense of knowing what one should do in any given situation without using cognition-based thought, is something for the spiritually gifted, or the psychic, or—to be less charitable—the mildly nutty.

Simone Wright says all those notions are simply wrong. Wright, who consults on this topic with clients ranging from athletes to cops to CEOs, says that everyone has a sense of intuition. What’s more, as she says in First Intelligence: Using the Science & Spirit of Intuition, “This intelligence is in our biology. It’s a head-heart thing. Not a voodoo, woo-woo thing…I can teach anyone to do it.”

First Intelligence is Wright’s textbook. She explains how our bodies are biologically attuned to our environment, including the emotional environment we create for ourselves, and to “the unified field” of a universe alive with energy. It is this field in which thoughts create waves of energy; when waves collide, Wright says, “This is how we experience an intuitive hit.” Wright then goes on to discuss how intuition can be harnessed by accessing the unified field with questions about health, relationships, career and other matters, and learning how to interpret the messages that come back. A series of exercises helps the reader put this information to work.

In a world where making one’s way through life means hacking through a constantly expanding barrage of information (and disinformation), it helps to have a sharp, ever-present tool. Wright says intuition is that tool, and First Intelligence is her guide to wielding it most effectively. —Lisa James

BEYOND THE CLOTHES RACK

I’m Not a Size Zero

By Laticia “Action” Jackson

www.laticiajackson.com, 210 PAGES

For too many women, “physically fit” is synonymous with “better looking.” Improved health and well-being? That’s nice, but what’s really important is getting into that slinky black dress or hot-pink bikini—and turning heads while doing so.

Laticia Jackson is having none of it. In I’m Not a Size Zero: Defining Your Curves While Loving Yourself, she says women “are constantly led to believe their value is measured by their appearance. Trying to measure up to these unrealistic expectations has the ability to create feelings of inadequacies, low self-worth and low self-esteem.”

Jackson, a certified trainer who holds degrees in exercise science and public health, is determined to push back against these pressures. “What good is a flat stomach if you don’t love yourself?” she asks.

True to Jackson’s word, the first part of I’m Not a Size Zero, entitled “Love Yourself Fit,” focuses on how women can fight subliminal “skinny is better” messages. “The weight scale isn’t your friend,” Jackson writes. “I know you and the scale have been friends for years, but it’s time to limit the time you spend together.”

Instead, you can spend time with the diet and fitness sections in Jackson’s book. Her diet recommendations focus on the now-standard triad of lean protein, healthy fats and low-glycemic carbs. Her exercise background comes through in the fitness section, which covers setting goals and measuring progress, cardio fitness, resistance training basics and exercises for the upper and lower body as well as the abdominals.

“Take each day and continually work on becoming a better version of yourself,” Jackson advises. I’m Not a Size Zero can help you on that journey. —Lisa James

 

FEEDING CHILDREN
WITH ALLERGIES

Allergy-Free Cooking for Kids

STERLING EPICURE (www.sterlingpublishing.com), 184 PAGES, $14.95

A lengthy list of foods have been found to cause adverse effects in a significant number of children. Some suffer from true allergies, in which an abnormal immune response can lead to potentially life-threatening reactions; others experience food intolerances, which can result in digestive upsets, headaches and hives.

But one thing all these kids have in common—they all still need to eat. What’s a parent to do?
According to Allergy-Free Cooking for Kids, “it’s possible, and very important, to make delicious food that not only your child will like, but that the whole family and your children’s friends will like as well.” Each of the book’s three sections—gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free—include recipes for breakfasts, lunches, snacks, dinners, desserts and party items. Many of the recipes avoid multiple offenders. For example, the Beef Lasagna in the gluten-free section, which features rice-paper pasta, is also nut-, dairy- and egg-free.

Providing tasty, nutritious meals for a child who can’t eat one or more common foods can be a challenge. Allergy-Free Cooking for Kids helps make that job easier. —Lisa James

 

FINDING EMOTIONAL HEALTH

workbook

The Mindful Way Workbook

By John Teasdale, Mark Williams and Zindel Segal

THE GUILFORD PRESS (www.guilford.com), 228 PAGES, $24.95

 

herbs

Herbs for Stress & Anxiety

By Rosemary Gladstar

STOREY BASICS (www.storey.com), 128 PAGES, $8.95

Recently, the World Health Organization announced that depression is the main cause of illness and disability among the world’s teenagers—and suicide the third most common cause of death in this age group.

Distressing as this news is, it really isn’t a surprise. WHO estimates that 350 million people worldwide suffer from the sadness, fatigue and apathy that mark depression. What makes it worse is that this common mood disorder has been linked to physical ailments such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

One therapeutic response to depression involves mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), which helps the mind avoid the autopilot mode that allows negative thinking to take hold. John Teasdale, PhD, Mark Williams, DPhil, and Zindel Segal, PhD, first laid out the principles of MBCT in 2007 with the publication of The Mindful Way Through Depression (Guilford).

Their latest volume, The Mindful Way Workbook: An 8-Week Program to Free Yourself from Depression and Emotional Distress, uses a workbook format to better enable “profound and lasting change” among readers. Each chapter covers a week’s worth of exercises on each step in the MBCT program. For example, week six helps the reader see thoughts as mental events, not as representations of reality; in one exercise, the authors ask, “What was your attitude towards the thoughts you encountered? Were you impatient, irritated, wishing they weren’t there, or accepting, interested, or just neutral towards them?” A series of guided meditations in CD format helps bolster the book’s written content.

Anxiety is the world’s other great emotional burden. And while extreme anxiety and panic should be discussed with a practitioner, milder occurrences are amenable to self-help. In Herbs for Stress & Anxiety, Rosemary Gladstar—known to many as the Godmother of American Herbalism—provides natural plant-based remedies that promote calmer nerves and a greater ability to weather the stress experienced by everyone at some point in their lives. —Lisa James

          

 

RETRAINING THE ADDICTED BRAIN

Recover!

By Stanton Peele, PhD

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 296 PAGES, $24.99

Addiction extracts an enormous human and societal toll. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the totals for alcohol and drug addiction in the US include $41 billion for healthcare costs alone, $428 billion if you add in expenses related to crime and lost work productivity. And what addiction costs to the people involved—not only the addicts themselves but also their families, friends, neighbors and coworkers—is incalculable.

These costs explain why addiction treatments have proliferated over the past several decades. Many programs are based on the 12-step treatment model, in which addiction is seen as a progressive disease and the lifelong abstinence required to keep it under control necessitates the addict admitting his or her own helplessness.

“This is what we have been told for decades. This view is wrong,” says Stanton Peele.

Not surprisingly, statements like this have their detractors. But Peele isn’t just anyone voicing an opinion about the nature of addiction; he is, in the words of Psychology Today, “a seminal figure in the addiction field.” In Recover! Stop Thinking Like an Addict and Reclaim Your Life with The PERFECT Program (written with Ilse Thompson), Peele presents a treatment plan based on the addict’s own power to change his or her circumstances.

Mindfulness—paying deep attention to the present moment—lies at the heart of this book. “Addiction is the mindless and relentless chasing of superficial urges and compulsions, a desperate grasping at fleeting satisfaction; mindfulness is its perfect, natural opposite and antidote,” Peele says. It is the skill discussed in the Pause part of the PEFECT Program, followed by the self-forgiveness of Embrace, the learned integrity of Rediscover, the life management skills of Fortify, the ability to stay on an even keel of Embark, the call to joy of Celebrate and the ability to roll with life’s punches of Triage.

“The absence of self-acceptance is the worst thing about the 12 steps,” Peele writes. Recover! takes people who struggle with addictions in the opposite direction. —Lisa James

 

A LIFE WORTH LIVING

The Life Organizer

By Jennifer Louden

NEW WORLD LIBRARY (www.newworldlibrary.com),
248 PAGES, $15.95

“Time is a thief” the saying goes, and it’s true: The tasks of daily life can occupy many hours without providing any deeper payoff. Bills need to be paid and clothes need to be cleaned, of course, but is that all there is to existence?

Jennifer Louden doesn’t think so. The life coach and retreat leader has written The Life Organizer: A Woman’s Guide to a Mindful Year (now available in paperback) to guide busy women into “a way of living where paying attention to your inner knowing and intuition is as important as logic and to-do lists.”

The heart of Louden’s book is “The Life Planner: Fifty-two Weeks of Mindful Living.” Each week’s entry asks the reader what she can “let go of,” “have to” and “could do” in response to a series of questions that probe an issue in depth. For example, Week 1 asks in sequence, “What experience or feeling do I yearn for today? How might shadow comforts or time monsters block me from trusting myself or from exploring the yearning I just named? What would help my body feel listened to and loved? How have I been talking to myself lately?” Answers can be written in the book itself—although one might not want to mar such a beautifully produced book—or in a separate journal.

Many women give so much of themselves away to others that they have a hard time attending to their own concerns. The Life Organizer provides a gentle path to self-care. —Lisa James     

THE KEYS TO BEATING CANCER

Radical Remission

By Kelly A. Turner, PhD

HARPER ONE (www.harperone.com), 312 PAGES, $25.99

A cancer diagnosis is always unwelcome, no matter what the circumstances are. But imagine being told it’s stage four, and that modern oncology’s entire arsenal of weapons—surgery, chemo, radiation—will, at best, likely buy you nothing more than a little extra time.

And then imagine that you change your lifestyle and your cancer disappears, allowing you to live years beyond the point when you “should” have been dead.

While rare, such cases do occur. And they raise a question: Why?

That’s what Kelly Turner, PhD, then working as a counselor at a cancer hospital in San Francisco, asked when she first heard about someone who had what Turner calls a “radical remission.”

Turner’s investigation of the more than 1,000 such documented cases provides the backdrop for Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds.

What’s surprising about the “key factors” Turner discusses—those that came up repeatedly in her interviews with these remarkable people—is that only two of them, radical diet change and herb/supplementation usage, are physical in nature. The others exist in that borderland where body, mind and spirit meet. For example, Turner, who now lectures and consults in the field of integrative oncology, was struck by how many radical remission survivors “believe the body has an innate, intuitive knowledge about what it needs in order to heal.” This led her to list “follow your intuition” as a key factor. Others factors include taking control of one’s health, releasing suppressed emotions and increasing positive ones, embracing social support and deepening one’s spiritual life.

The final factor is having a strong reason for living—a compelling motive to continue one’s earthly existence. As Turner puts it, these patients’ “unwavering conviction is ‘Yes! I want to keep living.’”

“What makes Radical Remission cases so inspirational is that they are true,” Turner says. “Some people with advanced cancer have found ways to become cancer-free.” These stories engender a hope that gives Radical Remission its power. (To read case histories, or to report your own story, go to radicalremission.com.) —Lisa James

 

A TASTE OF PESACH

pesach

By the women of Yeshiva Me’on HaTorah

ARTSCROLL/SHAAR (WWW.ARTSCROLL.COM), 240 PAGES, $29.99

Passover is the holiday in which Jews swap out bread products with yeast for matzah. The move symbolizes the desert wanderings of the ancient Hebrews after their deliverance from slavery in Egypt, when their mobility did not offer enough time for bread to rise. Food and symbolism are also central to the seder, the festival meal that marks the beginning of the eight-day holiday. The seder plate holds foods such as horseradish, or bitter herbs, representing the slavery; charoset, a mix of chopped nuts, apples and wine, symbolizing the mortar with which the Hebrews were forced to make bricks for the Pharoah.

Passover is also laden with fried foods, but many of the more than 150 recipes in A Taste of Pesach—and more than 140 of those are gluten-free—marry good health and great taste. The book’s recipes were collected by the women of Yeshiva Me’on HaTorah in Roosevelt, New Jersey. “Among us are working mothers who need quick and easy recipes and stay-at-home-mothers who have more leisure time for cooking,” the women write in their introduction. “Some of us are super-organized and prepare everything in advance; others do everything at the last minute. For a few of us, it’s all about coking large quantities quickly; for others, exquisite individual presentations are a priority. Some of us cook on a budget; others will splurge on more exotic items. Some of us serve only healthful foods; others enjoy serving an indulgent treat, especially for Yom Tov,” or holidays.

So while A Taste of Pesach has something for everyone, there is plenty to satisfy the health-conscious kosher cook. An Olive-Tomato Salad or Tomato Basil Salad will help begin the festive meal, as will Seared Tuna with Avocado and Spicy Mayo. A Mushroom-Stuffed Sole will make for a hearty and wellness-promoting main dish, while a Roasted Vegetable Medley will help balance out the plate. For dessert, the Stuffed Baked Apple with Pecan Sauce will not be cause for guilt. No one said Passover had to be a holiday of deprivation.

medit

Mediterranean Cooking:
More Than 150 Favorites to Enjoy with Family and Friends

By the editors of ACP Magazines

STERLING (WWW.STERLINGPUBLISHING.COM), 368 PAGES, $19.95

Instead of that big fat ham that usually sits in the middle of your Easter table, why not add religious resonance, and a more healthful approach, to your holiday meal by turning to the region most central to the Easter story—the Mediterranean? The region’s diet has long been known for its health-boosting qualities, and you won’t sacrifice taste. Especially not if you dive into Mediterranean Cooking by the editors of ACP Magazines, an Australian outfit.  The collection features traditional classic dishes, such as Lamb Kebabs with Yogurt and Pita Bread, with inspired contemporary variations.
Saffron Rice with Zucchini Flowers will add a nice touch of Easter yellow to your holiday table, while Salt Cod and Potato Pie and other fish dishes may put you in the mind of the Galilee.

The enticing color photographs that accompany the recipes show that presentation is an important ingredient for preparing these dishes. Pickled Zucchini Salad, for instance, is a handsome sculpture of green, while a Chicken Tagine with Dried Plums is dressed in its holiday best on a bed of finely shredded Swiss chard leaves.

This book is not marketed as a holiday cookbook—that’s the leap, and not such an outrageous one, that we’re making as reviewers. But you can dip into Mediterranean Cooking any day of the year and it will feel like a holiday.

 

 

THE RIGHT APPROACH FOR YOU

Pick Your Yoga Practice

By Meagan McCrary

NEW WORLD LIBRARY (www.newworldlibrary.com), 220 PAGES, $15.95

Once little known outside of its native India, yoga has become one of the hottest wellness trends in the United States. But for the neophyte reading a class schedule it can all seem a bit daunting: Bikram? Integral? What do those names mean—and which of them do I try?

Meagan McCrary, certified instructor and retreat leader, answers those questions in Pick Your Yoga Practice: Exploring and Understanding Different Styles of Yoga. A chart near the front of the book that highlights core elements—intense or gentle, for example—of the different styles (with references to specific chapters) makes it easy for the reader to find a yoga format suitable to his or her purposes. Each chapter then provides an overview of a single style, such as a discussion of how Bikram Choudhury came to set his 26-posture sequence in a room heated to 105 degrees or why the Integral style takes a big-picture, combined-method approach to yoga practice. Additional material, including a history of yoga in the US, provides a framework that helps explain how yoga got from its ancient roots to its modern incarnations.

“You know yourself best. The choice of which yoga style, or styles, you want to practice is very personal and one that only you can make,” McCrary says. Pick Your Yoga Practice can help make that decision easier. —Lisa James

VEGAN SPECIALTIES

soups

The 30 Minute Vegan Soup’s On!

By Mark Reinfeld

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 262 PAGES, $17.99

cheesy

The Cheesy Vegan

By John Schlimm

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 244 PAGES, $19.99

 

vegan

Vegan Chocolate

By Fran Costigan

RUNNING PRESS (www.offthemenublog.com), 304 PAGES, $30.00

Veganism—a form of vegetarianism that eschews all animal products including dairy and eggs—is becoming ever more popular, especially among people who eat a plant-based diet for both health and ethical reasons. At one time the budding vegan would have been hard-pressed to find any cookbooks on the subject. But it’s a sign of this category’s growth that publishers are starting to come out with vegan books tailored to specific needs.

Two recent examples come from Da Capo Press. One of them, The 30 Minute Vegan Soup’s On!, tackles a subject that fits fairly comfortably within most people’s framework of what a vegan diet might look like. Author Mark Reinfeld, a culinary teacher who also wrote The 30 Minute Vegan, calls Soup’s On! a “soups preparation training manual” that covers everything from creating flavorful all-vegan stock to making creamy soups that don’t require the usual dairy finish. A series of “Chef’s Tips and Tricks” throughout the book help the novice soup chef master recipes such as Fire-Roasted Tomato and Rice Soup with Spinach and Creamy White Bean Soup with Broiled Artichoke Hearts.

One thing that puts off some would-be vegans is the thought of having to give up such favorites as cheese. Another Da Capo title, The Cheesy Vegan: More than 125 Plant-Based Recipes for Indulging in the World’s Ultimate Comfort Food, tackles this problem head-on. “We have officially entered the Age of Vegan Cheese!” proclaims author John Schlimm, and he gets the party started with recipes for cheddar, feta, brie and other cheeses using ingredients such as nutritional yeast, agar powder (a natural thickening agent) and tofu. Schlimm then instructs the reader how to use his cheeses in recipes that run the gamut from Swiss & Cheddar Sunday Brunch Tarts to Cheesecake Party Parfaits.

If anything can give cheese a run for its money in terms of popularity, it’s chocolate—and there are vegan versions of that, too. In Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, vegan pastry chef Fran Costigan spends a whole chapter discussing chocolate; she says that even non-milk chocolates may have milk solids in them, so it is “of the utmost importance that you carefully read labels every time, even when you are purchasing a favorite vegan brand.” But she also lavishes the same care on her recipes’ other ingredients, including the non-dairy milks and fats that give desserts their richness. All this attention to detail shows in recipes such as Raw Cacao Superfood Truffles and Gluten-Free Brownie Bites. (The pictures in this beautifully produced book will make you want to gnaw on the pages.) —Lisa James

Living a Real Life With Real Food:
How to Get Healthy, Lose Weight,
and Stay Energized—the Kosher Way

By Beth Warren, MS, RD, CDN

SKYHORSE (WWW.SKYHORSEPUBLISHING.COM)

374 PAGES, $24.95

The approach that Beth Warren, MS, RD, CDN, takes in promoting good health in her sensible new book, Living a Real Life With Real Food: How to Get Healthy, Lose Weight, and Stay Energized—the Kosher Way, is rooted in ancient times: It is the concept of keeping kosher, the name given to food that adheres to Jewish dietary laws.

The author calls upon both her lifelong Jewish observance and her credentials as a registered dietician and certified dietician-nutritionist to present a fascinating hybrid approach to health. And, for those who remember the old rye bread commercial, you don’t have to be Jewish to embrace it.

In her nuts-and-bolts explanation of kosher dietary laws, Warren notes that keeping kosher is a commandment from G-d, but she also endorses eating kosher as a way toward better health. A kosher diet eliminates roughly 30% of food products on the market, letting you narrow your choices for more healthful eating. It encourages inspection of food packages, training your eye to search labels for wellness-promoting ingredients. And keeping kosher encourages discipline. Warren is quick to add, however, that foods with a kosher symbol on the package do not automatically make them more healthful.

The author also calls upon her Syrian heritage, which lends itself to the healthful tips in Living a Real Life With Real Food, apparent in some of the 50 accessible recipes included in the book’s second half. Most Syrian dishes that Warren recounts included vegetables such as okra, eggplant, potatoes, mushrooms, as well as a variety of beans, lentils, and peas—healthful ingredients, to be sure.

In Living a Real Life With Real Food, the author waxes poetic about health through the lenses of the Bible, the Talmud, the Sabbath, and Maimonides. Yet even without the kosher element, Warren’s book stands on solid ground as an approachable and worthwhile guide to healthy living.

With an accessible writing style, she offers meal plans, case studies of some of her clients, and pragmatic tips. Her explanations about such subjects as grass-fed versus grain-fed beef, alternative milk sources, wild versus farmed seafood, how to identify food intolerances, and a host of other topics will help you make the shift from a diet of processed foods to a real life with real food.

Warren’s readers might find themselves pleasantly surprised to find that her world of real foods encompasses all food groups. “To me,” she writes, “real food is defined as the closest thing to being fresh and whole, minimally processed, G-d given, and available since biblical times.”

 

 

HERBAL STRESS-BUSTERS

Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism

By Donald R. Yance, CN, MH, RH(AHG)

HEALING ARTS PRESS (www.healingartspress.com),
658 PAGES, $50.00

Asthma, depression, high blood pressure: Scanning even a partial list of the disorders that researchers have linked to stress can be a sobering experience. Given the potentially fatal consequences of these illnesses, it is no exaggeration to label stress a killer condition.

Fortunately, nature provides an answer for the biological havoc that uncontrolled stress can create. Adaptogens are herbs that, as the name suggests, help the body adapt to both physical and emotional stressors. These plants, prized by traditional healers the world over for centuries, have made their way into modern alternative medicine. But how do you choose the remedy that’s best for your needs when faced with a wall of bottles in the health food store?

That’s where Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism can be helpful. Written by a master herbalist, this book isn’t for the casual, just-make-me-better-doc kind of healthcare consumer; it wouldn’t look out of place on a practitioner’s bookshelf, actually. But anyone who takes their health seriously will find an abundance of valuable information within its covers.

One of the book’s strong points is that author Donald Yance doesn’t present the adaptogens—a category that includes plants such as ginseng, ashwagandha and rhodiola—in a vacuum. Based on his more than two decades of clinical experience, Yance has found that herbal stress-fighters work best when used with “targeted nutritional remedies and supportive herbs, which I refer to as adaptogen companions.”

The first part of the book expands on Yance’s healing philosophy by presenting key topics such as cardiovascular health, weight management and the metabolic basis of aging. The second part presents writeups of more than 60 adaptogens, supplemental herbs and nutrients. Each section covers traditional usages and modern research, and includes a reference list.

In today’s hectic world, stress is an unavoidable fact of most people’s lives. Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism allows you to make intelligent choices when it comes to stress management. —Lisa James

 

SOUL SMART WISDOM

By Karen L. Garvey

Artwork by Diane Daversa

Published by Intent, 40 PAGES, $9.99

Soul Smart Wisdom (Intent) is a joyful pick-me-up for anyone needing a little uplifting, and that’s most of us at some point. Author Karen L. Garvey’s aphorisms push and pull you to progress, however you define it, in succinct nuggets that are not meant to be consumed and spit out, but savored for their depth.

Consider this: “Language poses limits. Practice using your heart, gestures, body language, facial language and touch to unite with others.” Or how Garvey, a professional coach, pulls together the dichotomies of life in this simple yet golden reflection: “Everyone matters as an individual and we all matter together.”

Culled from Garvey’s previously published The Answers, her motivational gems are brought vividly alive by stunning artwork that bursts with color from Long Island fine artist, illustrator and designer Diane Daversa, who is clearly among her element when working from nature. Daversa’s rays of sunshine beaming through treetops or reflections on bodies of water are themselves a cure for the winter blues.

Like the meditative qualities of water, Daversa’s magical lakeside landscape, for example, makes ruminations like this come to life: “The reflection pool mirrors what it sees. You cannot create a new image in the reflection. Your life is a reflection as well, mirroring back in physical matter the quality of your thoughts and your beliefs. The pool can only reflect back what is there.”

Soul Smart Wisdom is like having a sunlamp nearby when the day’s skies are darkened with snow or clouds. It is available in bookshops, boutiques and at DianeDaversa.com and TheAnswersUnlimited.com.

 

 

TAKE THIS MINERAL TO HEART

Magnificent Magnesium

By Dennis Goodman, MD

SQUARE ONE (www.squareonepublishers.com), 174 PAGES, $14.95

Cardiovascular disease affects so many Americans that it’s easy to become numb to the statistics. But when the Heart Foundation says, “Every 33 seconds someone in the United States dies from cardiovascular disease, which is roughly the equivalent of a September 11th-like tragedy repeating itself every 24 hours, 365 days a year,” it’s enough to make you sit up and take notice.

The relentless nature of heart disease has led researchers to look for some way to slow the torrent. And one of the simplest, yet most promising, may be to increase our national intake of magnesium. No wonder a search of PubMed, the nation’s biggest medical-study database, under “magnesium cardiovascular” returned more than 6,200 results.

“As a heart specialist, I feel that the treasures held within magnesium have yet to be embraced by the medical community,” says Dennis Goodman, MD, author of Magnificent Magnesium: Your Essential Key to a Healthy Heart and More. “This master mineral is a necessary ingredient for approximately 350 enzyme systems, thus playing a role in the majority of your body’s metabolic processes. Surprisingly, however, upwards of 80% of Americans are deficient in this nutrient.”

Goodman, a clinical associate professor at New York University Langone Medical Center, says magnesium’s effects are so far-reaching because it is a cofactor, a substance that helps activate many of the body’s life-sustaining actions. That includes the processes by which cellular energy is produced (critical for hard-working cardiac muscle) blood vessels relax to lower blood pressure and calcium goes into bones instead of arterial walls. Unfortunately, modern life’s toxic mixture of chronic stress, poor diet and impaired digestion—among other factors—can drain the body of magnesium, setting the stage for hypertension and a variety of heart woes. In the book, Goodman explains how to increase magnesium levels through diet and supplementation.

“Perhaps one day, popping a magnesium supplement in the morning will be as common as taking a baby aspirin to protect yourself from a heart attack,” says Goodman. Magnificent Magnesium makes a strong case for that scenario. —Lisa James

 

Notable Books of 2013

There is no shortage of books that aim to improve your health. We’ve plumbed through the volumes that have crossed our desks over the past year to come up with this list of books that can directly or indirectly benefit your health. Good reading!

 

baking

Baking By Hand

(Page Street Publishing) by Andy & Jackie King

Food is healthiest when it’s local, and it doesn’t get more local than when you make it yourself. Baking By Hand shows aspiring bakers how to make artisanal breads by getting up close to their ingredients and forgoing a mixer. You can make your own chewy-crust Ciabatta, a Roasted Potato, Onion and Rosemary Bread, a Semolina-Apricot Bread and nearly 100 other bread and pastry recipes. The Kings are professionally trained bakers who started A&J King Artisan Bakers in Salem, Massachusetts. There are plenty of step-by-step photos to help you craft your breads.

 

eat

Eat to Live Cookbook: 200 Delicious Nutrient-Rich Recipes for Fast and
Sustained Weight Loss, Reversing Disease, and Lifelong Health

(Harperone) by Joel Fuhrman M.D.

In this companion cookbook to his bestseller Eat to Live, Dr. Fuhrman presents recipes that fulfill his long-time nutrition-first “nutritarian” philosophy. Dr. Fuhrman’s approach makes cooking simple and, with recipes like Coconut Carrot Cream Pie and Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream, doesn’t sacrifice taste for good health. Included are breakfast recipes, including Polenta Frittata and Blueberry Nut Oatmeal, main meals such as Too Busy to Cook Vegetable Bean Soup, among many others that will help keep you in top-top shape.

 

the

The Immune System Recovery Plan

(Scribner) by Susan Blum M.D., M.P.H.

Hope and encouragement are key ingredients in any effort to regain good health, and they are supported by the important themes of Dr. Blum’s book—that reversing chronic illness is a real option and that improvement can happen almost immediately with the practical program she recommends. The Immune System Recovery Plan is a highly accessible read, with sections on food as medicine, understanding stress, healing your gut and liver support. Each section features a “workbook” that lets you personalize the program and a series of recipes to follow. This book is a roadmap for treating autoimmune diseases—and then preventing them.   

intuition

Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking

(W.W. Norton) by Daniel C. Dennett

Daniel C. Dennett is one of our most important philosophers, and this volume collects many mind-stretching exercises and vignettes. Intuition pumps are thought experiments that grew out of a seminar to a dozen freshmen at Tuft University, where Dennett is the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy. For example, Dennett urges the reader to examine the sentence “Love is just a word.” Such a phrase is a “deepity,” a “proposition that seems both important and true—and profound—but that achieves this effect by being ambiguous.” There’s much more here, from explorations of Occam’s Razor to Rapoport’s Rule, that make Intuition Pumps… a healthy excursion for the mind.

invisible

Invisible Worlds: Exploring Microcosms

(h.f. ullman publishing) by Julie Coquart

Invisible Worlds comprises 99 photos of objects in nature, biology, chemistry, medicine, mineralogy and textiles, and represents the best of microphotography. Most have been taken by scientific researchers. Invisible Worlds is at once a breathtaking scientific journey, a work of art and the basis for a spiritual awakening. Even more than that, by showing how beautiful these objects are in their most basic forms, these photographs make science and our potential to understand life less daunting. There is plenty here to please the naturalist and health enthusiast. For instance, what resembles milky globules from the mind of a science-fiction film’s set director is actually a section of sage leaf. As Coquart explains, sage was seen as a universal remedy during the Middle Ages, and today is mainly cultivated for its essential oil, used in making vermouths, liqueurs and perfumes. Page after page, this book puts on display the building blocks of life in all their inspirational glory, making a journey to these invisible worlds well worth the trip.

isa

Isa Does It: Amazingly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week

(Little, Brown) by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

The idea of going vegan can be daunting, but Isa Chandra Moskowitz makes veganism fun and accessible in this delightful cookbook. Whether she is explaining how soup is one of the “most forgiving” meals to make or gently cautioning aspiring vegan cooks to avoid a “dusty” taste by replacing their old spices, Moskowitz is a comforting and reassuring guide through recipe after delicious recipe. Illustrated with handsome photographs of the meals and segmented by headings in fun typefaces, Isa Does It is chock full of recipes like Ancho-Lentil Tacos and Pesto Risotto with Roasted Zucchini that anyone would love.

lust

Lust for Leaf: Veggie Crowd-Pleasers to Fuel Your
Picnics, Potlucks, and Ragers

(Lifelong) by Alex Brown and Evan George

As the title of this unconventional cookbook shows, Lust for Leaf also puts the fun in healthy cooking. Authors Brown and George employ plenty of alliteration (Verdugo Verde, Radish Remoulade and Summer Seitan) and heaping servings of cool in edgy and entertaining recipes like Ambient Nachos, solar-cooked on a cookie sheet, and Eggplant Crasserole. We’re looking forward to trying the Kaleslaw, a recipe in Lust for Leaf’s BBQ Mosh Pit chapter. Afterward, we just may take in a Green Day show.

reboot

Reboot Your Brain: A Natural Approach to Fighting Memory Loss,
Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Brain Aging, and More

(Skyhorse) by Gary Null PhD

That Alzheimer’s has no known cure makes this book an important read; that two billion people worldwide are expected to suffer from some form of dementia by 2050 makes it a compelling one. Author Null taps 35 years of research in Reboot Your Brain, describing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, memory loss, depression, anxiety, dementia and other mental conditions and the diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes that help in each condition. A lengthy appendix of recipes, coupled with the in-depth look at each mental affliction, caught our eyes.

sicily

Sicily

(Phaidon Press) by Phaidon editors

The Mediterranean Diet is one of the planet’s healthiest, and Sicily offers an in-depth look at one of the region’s most storied islands. Sicily is at once a cookbook and travelogue, a book of history and health. In a section on olive oil, for instance, we learn that the olive was probably introduced to Sicily by the Phoencians, but that the citrus fruit took priority under Arab rule, with the olive regaining its crown in the Middle Ages; we also learn that unfiltered oils have the best flavor and health benefits. Phaidon is known for the beautiful images in its books, and with Sicily’s gorgeous photographs, of both food and landscape, you can almost taste the Cernia al Forno (Baked Grouper) and feel the sun on your back.

summer

Summerland: Recipes for Celebrating with Southern Hospitality

(Rizzoli) by Anne Quatrano

Owner of four celebrated restaurants in Atlanta, Anne Quatrano was named Best Chef of the Southeast by the James Beard Foundation and Best New Chef by Food & Wine, and her credentials show in Summerland. Putting a new spin on seasonal cooking, Quatrano features recipes for each month of the year. While there is plenty about southern food that makes it no friend to your arteries, Quatrano’s cookbook illustrates the depth of southern cuisine with decidedly healthy recipes such as Citrus Salad with Dried Olives and Candied Zest or the southern favorite, Hoppin’ John, both winter recipes. Along with the delectable recipes and handsome photography, Summerland features Quatrano’s folksy insights. Eating collard greens on New Years Day, for instance, is a traditional way to ensure wealth, she writes in her Braised Winter Greens recipe. Reading Summerland any day ensures immersion in a regional culture and its culinary riches.

whole

Whole Health: A Holistic Approach to Healing for the 21st Century

(Tarcher Penguin) by Mark Mincolla, PhD

The author’s Whole Health Healing System, developed over three decades, integrates elements of classic Chinese medicine, personalized nutrition and energy medicine. Considering that 65% of Americans are medicated, with over $250 billion spent on prescription medications, Whole Health is a worthwhile read and makes a good case for finding alternative ways to treat and prevent illness. Central to Whole Health is the author’s trademark Electromagnetic Muscle Testing (EMT) system, which is performed with the help of a partner who applies pressure on designated acupuncture points to help determine food intolerances.

owner

The Owner’s Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain

by JoAnn Deak, PhD and Terrence Deak, PhD

Books and other media that can get young people thinking and ultimately caring about their health are a welcome sight, and The Owner’s Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain doesn’t disappoint. With tasteful cartoon illustrations by Freya Harrison and written in plain English by the Deaks, this book urges adolescents to understand the processing power of their grey matter rather than their iPads. A follow-up to Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, it tackles the tough subjects and feelings young people are likely to encounter: overwhelming emotions, drama with friends, and romantic feelings. The Owner’s Manual… is a useful and informative guide, for young people, parents, and educators, to help keep adolescents grounded during these potentially tumultuous years.

 

FINDING HAPPINESS

trista

Happily Ever After

By Trista Sutter

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 254 PAGES, $24.99

 

happy

Happy Women Live Better

By Valorie Burton

HARVEST HOUSE (www.harvesthousepublishers.com),
218 PAGES, $12.99

gratitude

Living a Life of Gratitude

By Sara Wiseman

LLEWELLYN (www.llewellyn.com), 358 PAGES, $16.99

Ah, December: Tis the season to…feel more stress than during the other 11 months combined. Whether it’s trying to fit shopping and cooking and cleaning into weeks that are already overscheduled or watching Uncle Denny get nosily sloshed at the family get-together, sources of stress abound in what is supposedly a season of joy and good cheer. Where’s the happiness?

As it turns out, happiness is the topic of two recently published books and a strong component in a third.

You would think Trista Sutter has every reason to be happy. Starring in the first season of “The Bachelorette,” she married winner Ryan Sutter, a firefighter, in 2003; the ceremony was televised by ABC, which paid the couple a million dollars for the privilege. Life since then must have been easy, right?

“Away from the cameras, away from the spotlight, everything was different…Our off-camera lifestyle now includes a daily balancing act of work and play, a house in need of constant tidying, bills to pay, mail to open, kids needing Mommy and Daddy,” Sutter says in Happily Ever After: The Life-Changing Power of a Grateful Heart. “I have also suffered and struggled through my fair share of disappointment and pain,” including the premature birth of a child after Sutter developed pregnancy complications. (Mother and son are now fine.) In the book Sutter examines various life experiences, both her own and those of loved ones—her reaction to the early death of a favorite cousin, her husband’s abortive attempts at an NFL career—and decides to look on life with optimism. “No matter what life throws at me, I do my best to look toward hope and a greater meaning bigger than myself,” she says.

Valorie Burton believes hope, and the happiness it engenders, is lacking in a lot of women’s lives. “As women, we have more, but we enjoy it less,” says the personal and executive coach in Happy Women Live Better: 13 Ways to Trigger Your Happiness Every Day. “We are more educated. We have more choices. We make more money…And yet, research shows that collectively we are less happy than we were 40 years ago.” Burton’s response is to give women tools in 13 different areas designed to dispel sadness and depression. (You can take her quiz at HappyWomanTest.com.) In the chapter on connection, for example, Burton explains why people tend to feel more isolated nowadays—more people living alone, more text messages than conversations—and provides a list of ways to activate the connection “happiness trigger,” such as allowing oneself to be vulnerable and making eye contact. Other chapters cover topics such as managing finances, learning how to relax and practicing gratitude.

Learning how to be grateful is the focus of Living a Life of Gratitude: Your Journey to Grace, Joy and Healing. “In the moment we give thanks, everything changes. Our hearts crack open. We are flooded with love and light,” says spiritual intuitive Sara Wiseman. “The trick is to learn how to create this moment not just once in our lifetimes, but over and over again.”

Unlike Burton’s checklist approach, Wiseman tells a series of stories followed by questions meant to provoke gratitude-inspiring thought. In one of them, an attempt by Wiseman and her partner to drum by the moon on a Puget Sound beach is foiled by the damp Northwestern weather; “the realization sank in that we were not having fun at all.” But when Wiseman’s partner started skipping stones, they saw the water light up with phosphorescent sparks. She joined in “to watch the glowing circle of light create an aura in the waves…our plans for drumming were instantly forgotten, and we were suffused with joy.” Her recommendation to the reader: “Think back to a time when you made plans that changed unexpectedly.”

Life is full of interrupted plans and unexpected occurrences; the art of living lies in learning how to find contentment and delight amid the challenges. These three books, each in their own way, provide guidance for navigating the often-rocky road to happiness. —Lisa James

MODERN HOMESTEADING

artisan

The Artesian Market

By Emma Macdonald

DUNCAN BAIRD (www.randomhouse.com), 224 PAGES, $24.95

ferment

The Essential Book of Fermentation

By Jeff Cox

AVERY/PENGUIN (www.penguin.com), 262 PAGES, $25.99

In a complex, globally connected world filled with forebodings of catastrophe, some people are actively preparing for the unraveling of society as we know it. A number of these “preppers” yearn for what they see as a simpler era in which hardy settlers enjoyed independent lives far away from the dangerous chaos of city life. But survivalists aren’t the only ones looking to become self-sufficient. Many modern homesteaders see farmhouse arts such as conserving food—a skill now mostly lost to an urbanized population—as sources of joy and improved health.

As its title implies, The Artesian Market: Cure Your Own Bacon, Make the Perfect Chutney and Other Delicious Secrets takes an enjoyable high cuisine, rather than rough-and-ready survival, approach to food preservation. That’s hardly a surprise; author Emma Macdonald is a professional chef and founder of The Bay Tree Food Company, purveyor of pickles, dressings and other delicacies to many of London’s high-end department stores. Macdonald offers readers the chance to take baby steps at first; some recipes lean on purchased foods while others “show how you can create your own deli products at home.” It’s helpful that the instructions for a specific food-conserving technique, such as making rillettes (in which cooked meat is stored in fat) or preserving lemons, is shown next to an appropriate recipe. And while Macdonald’s first focus isn’t necessarily on health, there are enough dishes that fall into the healthy category—Moroccan Chicken Patties with Date Confit, Roasted Red-Pepper Gazpacho with Serrano Chips—to make The Artesian Market worthwhile for the nutritionally minded reader.

Nutrition is more front-and-center in The Essential Book of Fermentation: Great Taste and Good Health with Probiotic Foods. As a long-time writer and editor in the fields of food, wine and gardening, author Jeff Cox sees vital linkages between an organic approach to growing food and the use of fermentation in food preservation. “The more fermentation power in the soil, the more dead plant and animal matter will be thoroughly decomposed into its nutritive elements, and the plants that grow there will consequently be better fed and healthier,” he writes. “The more fermentation power in the guts of animals, the healthier those animals will be. And that includes us.” After explaining how fermentation works—how microbes help make foods tastier and more healthful—Cox then explores fermentation’s beneficial effects in the creation of bread, cheese, wine, dairy products such as yogurt and vegetable products such as sauerkraut. Recipes that include the finished products allow the reader to incorporate fermented foods into meal planning.

Even if you don’t expect civilization’s imminent demise, home-based food conservation is a skill that shouldn’t be allowed to lapse. The Artesian Market and The Essential Book of Fermentation are valuable sourcebooks in passing along this ancient knowledge. —Lisa James

STAYING ALIGNED

Natural Posture for Pain-Free Living

By Kathleen Porter

HEALING ARTS PRESS (www.healingartspress.com),
302 PAGES, $21.95

Are you slumped in a chair or sprawled across a couch while you’re reading this review? Most of us are unaware of how we position our bodies on a daily basis until pain, either transitory or persistent, reminds us that our skeletons are not infinitely flexible.

Much of this misery can be attributed to the fact that people, who are meant to walk upright, now spend much of their time sitting down—and misalign themselves in the process. “I have been privileged to have worked with many people who have shown me how readily chronic pain can be relieved by relearning how to align their bones and engage the deepest core of internal support,” writes Kathleen Porter in Natural Posture for Pain-Free Living: The Practice of Mindful Alignment.

Porter, director of the Center for Natural Alignment in Portland, Oregon, says modern living, with not only its sedentary nature but its emphasis on appearance over functionality, promotes poor posture by encouraging people to hold their bodies in unnatural positions; think of the teenager with a hip cocked out at a defiantly cool angle. Eventually such postures become ingrained, leading to skeletal imbalances and pain.

In Natural Posture for Pain-Free Living, Porter explains what normal human alignment looks like and how to re-establish this crucial baseline. For example, she says in many people the pelvis tilts backward, leaving it “unable to support a naturally upright spine,” which in turn pulls the rib cage out of position. Porter then provides a simple exercise called Turning Your Wheels designed to bring the pelvis and rib cage back into proper alignment.

“I believe, barring accidents, most orthopedic surgeries could be avoided if the body’s natural alignment is never lost in the first place,” Porter says. Natural Posture for Pain-Free Living provides a blueprint for returning to that state of nature. —Lisa James

INSIGHT BY THE VIAL

Your Blood Never Lies

By James B. LaValle, RPh, CCN

SQUARE ONE (www.squareonepublishers.com), 352 PAGES, $16.95

It happens thousands of times a day across the country: People file into small cubicles, roll up their sleeves and have blood taken for testing. But what do those tests measure and how are the results interpreted?

Most people would assume test interpretation is a practitioner’s concern, but James LaValle disagrees. “A blood test is essentially a blueprint of your health and a glimpse of its future. It tells you so much about what is going on inside your body, and it can speak volumes about what may go on inside of it somewhere down the line,” says the pharmacist, nutritionist and author of Your Blood Never Lies: How to Read a Blood Test for a Longer, Healthier Life. LaValle’s mission is to help the reader make sense of the numbers and form an action plan based on them.

Standard blood tests are broken into several categories including the lipid panel, which includes cholesterol and triglycerides; the basic metabolic panel, which measures blood sugar, kidney health markers and various mineral levels; the hepatic function panel, which assesses liver health; a complete blood count, which measures red and white blood cell markers; and hormones, such as thyroid and sex hormones. LaValle addresses all these test categories along with several optional tests, such as those for levels of homocysteine and C-reactive protein (CRP).

For each test, LaValle provides reference ranges, possible causes of high readings and associated symptoms, and drugs, supplements and lifestyle changes that can be used to bring readings into the normal range. For example, high levels of bilirubin, a product of red blood cell recycling, indicates liver dysfunction. LaValle lists possible causes of high bilirubin levels ranging from mononucleosis to liver failure; along with a drug used to fight this problem, he also lists supplements such as alpha lipoic acid and lifestyle changes such as getting more sunlight exposure. (Test results and possible treatments should always be discussed with one’s practitioner.)

Knowledge is power. Your Blood Never Lies gives you the information you need to address health problems before they worsen. —Lisa James

 

 CELLULAR SPIRIT

Secrets of Your Cells

By Sondra Barrett, PhD

SOUNDS TRUE (www.soundstrue.com), 282 PAGES, $17.95

One result of the Age of Enlightenment’s attempt to divide each person into discrete elements—physical, emotional and spiritual—is a profound sense of disconnection between our spirits and our bodies. A hallmark of societies in which technological advances have outstripped innate wisdom, this disconnect may help explain rising rates of emotional illness, including anxiety and depression, as well as the anomie and rootlessness that afflict so many people.

But what if the body itself provided the blueprint for a renewed union of our physical and spiritual selves? Biochemist Sondra Barrett started out believing that health was a simple matter of addressing chemical imbalances. Then she saw living cells under the microscope for the first time and was “enchanted by what I was seeing.” Thus began a journey that has culminated in Secrets of Your Cells: Discovering Your Body’s Inner Intelligence.

“This book speaks to two dimensions of our human experience: scientific investigation and spiritual exploration,” Barrett writes. “To fully know and appreciate life and our place in it, I believe both dimensions need to be present.” Her main thesis is that our cells, those trillion or so little packets of protoplasm that make up our bodies, “are little crucibles of measurable, discernible biochemical interaction that also carry the seeds of divinity.”

True to her training, Barrett presents clear, understandable discussions of such topics as how the body tells its own cells apart from those of foreign microbes (cellular identity) and how immune cells learn to detect and destroy such invaders. But she also addresses the connections between cell and spirit, and how the reader can use those connections to fashion a deeper, richer existence. For example, after noting that each cell has its own role to play within the body, Barrett asks the reader to consider questions such as “Where in my life am I the most creative?” and “What must I do before I die?”

Our bodies are, in the words of the Biblical psalm, “wonderfully and fearfully made.” Secrets of Your Cells explores this wonder in all its aspects. —Lisa James

SAVING FACE

face1

Vital Face

By Leena Kiviluoma

SINGING DRAGON (www.singingdragon.com), 192 PAGES, $19.95

face2

Japanese Holistic Face Massage

By Rosemary Patten

SINGING DRAGON (www.singingdragon.com), 144 PAGES, $24.95

face3

Natural Beauty

By Elizabeth TenHouten

HATHERLEIGH (www.hatherleighpress.com), 172 PAGES, $20.00

With an estimated $8 billion spent annually on cosmetics alone in the US, beauty appears to be one of our national obsessions. But no powder or potion, no matter how exotic or expensive, will help if the deeper issues that underlie poor skin tone and appearance aren’t addressed. Fortunately, there are ways to maintain a youthful visage based on substance instead of style.

Two offerings from Singing Dragon, an imprint of Britain’s Jessica Kingsley Publishers, employ massage as a key component in facial care. In Vital Face: Facial Exercises and Massage for Health and Beauty, Finnish physiotherapist Leena Kiviluoma presents her MimiLift Facial MuscleCare system. This program of self-massages and relaxation exercises targets two main groups of facial muscles—the chewing muscles and the mimic ones that form facial expressions—along with other muscles (including the tongue) in the head and neck. It is designed to help reduce facial pain, neck and shoulder pain, and headaches related to muscle tightness, in addition to improving one’s appearance and reducing stress. Vital Face provides an excellent introduction to facial anatomy before presenting the MimiLift system in a series of easy-to-follow, cleanly illustrated steps.

British holistic healer Rosemary Patten has written Japanese Holistic Face Massage to teach other alternative practitioners this technique, which developed in the 18th and 19th centuries as a way of combining massage with acupressure. But the book is also a valuable guide for the interested layperson. Unlike standard Western massage, which focuses on how different strokes affect the body’s physical structure, Japanese massage—like other forms of Asian medicine—concentrates on shifting the body’s subtle energy flows. Patten says the practice “is a perfect treatment to calm and release anxiety or tension” that can be used with other treatment modalities such as reflexology and aromatherapy.

Beauty industry insider Elizabeth TenHouten has written Hatherleigh Press’s Natural Beauty: Homemade Recipes for Radiant Skin and Hair “to teach you how to assess and reassess your skin’s condition on an ongoing basis.” Problems can then be addressed through TenHouten’s recipes for masks, moisturizers and other beauty aids, all of which use natural ingredients such as aloe and lime juice, and are organized by area of concern—face, lips, eyes, etc. The idea, she says, is to create an at-home spa that “should really feel like a break in your day-to-day life.” —Lisa James

 

Ritual Explored

We Are What We Are

Directed by Jim Mickle

140 Minutes

Opens today in New York

 “We Are What We Are,” Jim Mickle’s well-crafted horror film about a family of fiercely self-protective cannibals, is a multilayered story. It is a medical thriller with a bit of western drama that pits the sleuthing town coroner against the family patriarch trying to keep his macabre customs alive. And it has a toe in historical fiction, as a parallel story of an 18th-century family unfolds and sheds light on the roots of the creepy family tradition.

 It is also a treatise on ritual that explores the degree to which practitioners adhere to them and the risks associated with doing so.

 “When Jim talked to me about the story, it was that aspect of it that got my attention, that he wanted it to be an examination of ritual and kind of question why people do rituals. That really fascinated me,” actress Kelly McGillis of “Top Gun” and “Witness” tells Energy Times.

 “I do believe people can fall into rituals, and it doesn’t even have to be in terms of spiritual rituals,” McGillis continues. “It can be any kind of ritualistic behavior that one has. By becoming a ritual it loses its meaning because it becomes familiar. It loses it’s kind of importance by rote.”

 Though McGillis has a supporting role as the innocently helpful neighbor Marge, the Golden Globe nominee provides the comic relief in “We Are What We Are.” McGillis plays her role with a frivolous innocence. When Marge brings lasagna to the carnivorous clan, she declares: “It’s vegetarian.”

 Her borderline naivete is a sharp contrast to the measured performances by Bill Sage as the cannibalistic father Frank Parker and Michael Parks as his nemesis, helping “We Are What We Are” move along at just the right unhurried pace. Adding to the mood are what sound like bluesy old slave hollers playing during a family meal for which the Parker children graduate to more involved aspects of their ritual. The sinister goings-on are all supported by shadowy indoor and overcast outdoor shots, as if the film were layered in a sheet of grey.

 Director Mickle crafts poetic symmetry during a scene in which Parks’ character bathes his dog as the Parker family cleans and prepares its dinner. “We Are What We Are” is engaging suspense, even as the physician pores over medical books and case studies of rare diseases to uncover the mystery of the region’s many disappearances.

 As “We Are What We Are” builds to its “High Noon” crescendo, and torrential rains threaten to literally crumble Frank Parker’s world around him, one hopes that Parker’s kids finally get a decent meal and he his just desserts. —Allan Richter

 

 

MARKET DAY


cover1a

Fish Market

By Kathy Hunt

RUNNING PRESS (www.perseusbooksgroup.com ),
248 PAGES, $22.00

 

2a

Kale

By Stephanie Pedersen

STERLING (www.sterlingpublishing.com), 192 PAGES, $14.95

 

3

Fifty Shades of Kale

By Drew Ramsey, MD, and Jennifer Iserloh

HARPER WAVE (www.harperwave.com), 162 PAGES, $19.99

 

4

The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook

By David George Gordon

TEN SPEED PRESS (www.tenspeed.com), 126 PAGES, $16.99

Healthy cooking starts with healthy ingredients. But no food, no matter how powerful its benefits, will boost your well-being if you don’t know how to prepare it or what to look for when you’re shopping for it. Four recently released cookbooks are intended to help you cook—and shop for—healthy meals in confidence.

Fish and other marine edibles are among the foods that often give the novice cook pause, even if they are rich in healthful omega-3 fats. But veteran food writer Kathy Hunt says seafood is “flavorful and incredibly easy to prepare…a blessing on nights when I’m juggling six different activities” in the introduction to Fish Market: A Cookbook for Selecting and Preparing Seafood. Hunt then tries to instill that confidence in the reader with clearcut instructions for buying, handling and cooking fish, including boxed material on subjects such as shucking oysters (“acquire a sturdy oyster knife”) and handling live lobsters placed near the relevant recipes. Breaking the recipes into categories based on the type of fish being cooked (such as small oily ones or mild white-fleshed types) is another helpful touch.

A sign of kale’s stature as superstar food of the moment can be counted in the number of cookbooks that feature this leafy broccoli cousin. In Kale: The Complete Guide to the World’s Most Powerful Superfood, Stephanie Pedersen focuses squarely on kale’s stellar health-promoting properties, as befitting a holistic nutritionist, as well as those of other ingredients featured in her recipes. And while eating kale “at least three times a week (more often is even better!)” might seem a bit much, especially if you’re a kale newbie, Pedersen does include a chapter of shake and smoothie recipes, making it easier to pack more kale into your diet.

In contrast to Pedersen’s straight-up emphasis on nutrition, the authors of Fifty Shades of Kale: 50 Fresh and Satisfying Recipes That Are Bound to Please take—as you could guess—a more lighthearted approach. Psychiatrist Drew Ramsey, who uses diet modification in his work with patients, and chef Jennifer Iserloh continue the title’s mildly racy theme throughout the book with recipe titles such as “Lox Me Up and Throw Away the Key” (smoked salmon with kale cream cheese on whole wheat English muffins) and chapter headings that include “Morning Quickies.” But don’t let the playful text and gorgeous photography (including kitchen utensils tied up with string) fool you.

Ramey and Iserloh know their nutritional stuff and their recipes are easy for a beginning kale cook to follow, with no esoteric ingredients to track down.

Ok, so the featured ingredients in The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook aren’t exactly hopping off market shelves in this country just yet. But naturalist David George Gordon, the self-styled Bug Chef, points out that insects are eaten with enthusiasm “nearly everywhere except for Europe and the United States and Canada. That’s right: We’re the weirdos for not eating bugs.” He cites the benefits of a bug-based diet including cheap protein—a nutrient that forms 20% of a grasshopper’s body, according to Gordon—and a smaller ecological footprint than that left by meat production. And while you may have to dig a little, literally or figuratively, to find edible bugs (Gordon suggests pet stores for such critter chow as crickets), The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook provides imaginative ways for preparing them. Cream of Katydid Soup followed by Wasabi Wax Worms, anyone? —Lisa James

 

 

DIFFERENT DIETARY

APPROACHES

100

The 100

By Jorge Cruise

WILLIAM MORROW (www.harpercollins.com), 262 PAGES, $25.99

 

lo


Low-GI Slow Cooker

By Dr. Mariza Snyder, Dr. Lauren Clum and Anna V. Zulaica

ULYSSES PRESS (www.ulyssespress.com), 214 PAGES, $14.95

 

raw

Raw Challenge

By Lisa Montgomery

HATHERLEIGH PRESS (www.hatherleighpress.com), 222 PAGES, $17.00

 

vegan

Vegan for Her

By Virginia Messina, MPH, RD, with JL Fields

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 384 PAGES, $16.99

Diet books are a staple of the publishing business, forming a solid core among the offerings from just about any publisher with a significant health-and-wellness presence. And while losing weight is still the main focus of most diet books, other concerns such as blood sugar control and the ethics of meat-eating have also fueled continued growth in the diet category.

The diet book creating the biggest splash has been The 100: Count Only Sugar Calories and Lose Up to 18 Pounds in Two Weeks, a New York Times Best Seller. Written by Jorge Cruise, who has authored a string of popular diet books, The 100 also boasts a polished marketing program; the phrase “The 100” is trademarked and the cover carries a blurb from Andrew Weil. But Cruise’s basic assertion—that sugar really is much, much worse for you than other foods—is one that has been made by a growing cadre of researchers (such as childhood obesity expert Robert Lustig, MD, whose anti-sugar YouTube lecture has nearly 3.8 million hits to date). The book’s premise “is shockingly simple,” writes Cruise. “By simply consuming no more than 100 Sugar Calories (sugar in all its guises, plus refined starches) per day, you can drop up to 18 pounds in the first two weeks.” A two-week meal planner allows you to start the diet right away while picking up finer points from The 100 as you go along.

Sugar—as in blood sugar, or glucose—has been the focus of would-be pound shedders ever since the Glycemic Index, a measurement of how fast different foods raise glucose levels, was created more than 30 years ago. A small mountain of books have been written to make this concept as user-friendly as possible; among the latest is The Low-GI Slow Cooker: Delicious and Easy Dishes Made Healthy with the Glycemic Index. Authored by two chiropractors and a chef, the book presents nearly 90 recipes for everything from Polenta Breakfast Casserole to Upside Down Pear Chocolate Cake. In addition to a standard nutritional analysis—calories, fat, etc.—each recipe is also rated for not only Glycemic Index but also Glycemic Load, a measure of how all the foods in a recipe affect blood sugar when eaten in combination.

Another popular trend in modern eating is the move to a raw, or raw as possible, diet for not only weight loss but health enhancement in general. “The raw diet is a raw lifestyle. When I eat this way I feel at peace, which is a gift that no money can buy,” says chef and holistic health practitioner Lisa Montgomery. In Raw Challenge: The 30-Day Program to Help You Lose Weight and Improve Your Diet and Health with Raw Foods, Montgomery encourages the reader to ease into uncooking over the course of a month. Her 30-day meal plan not only specifies raw-only recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner but also provides daily facts and affirmations in addition to space for the reader’s log entries. A section of testimonials provides helpful real-life advice from people who have gone through Montgomery’s program.

Veganism—a strict approach to vegetarianism that avoids all animal products, including eggs and dairy—is another dietary approach that has seen a rise in recognition over the past few years, aided by the influx of celebrities such as actresses Natalie Portman and Betty White. Vegan writer and speaker Virginia Messina authored Vegan for Her: The Woman’s Guide to Being Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet “because women’s nutrient requirements and health concerns are unique.”

Unlike the other three books, Vegan for Her is more self-help medical primer than cookbook; Messina explains how vegan eating intersects with hormone production, female fertility, pregnancy issues and other women-centered concerns. But there are recipes, which are provided by food blogger and vegan lifestyle coach J.L. Fields. Her offerings include such playful items as “Ice Cream” for Breakfast and Chik’n Lentil Noodle Soup.

Whether you want to shed some pounds or simply feel and look your best, there’s a diet book tailored to your needs. —Lisa James

 

FARM AND FAMILY

Gaining Ground

By Forrest Pritchard

LYONS PRESS (www.lyonspress.com), 288 PAGES, $17.95

Forrest Pritchard’s return to the family farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley was supposed to be temporary, a time to contemplate his next move after graduating college. But the only thing keeping the farm in business were the paychecks from Pritchard’s father and mother, who had hired a series of farm managers while they worked at jobs in town. The low point came when five freight cars full of corn produced a profit of not the $10,000 the family was hoping for, but $18.16.

“Our family farm was broken,” Pritchard says. “I made up my mind that, somehow, we were going to fix it.”

How Pritchard has gone from agricultural greenhorn (“It came to my attention rather quickly that I had no idea what I was doing”) to successful proprietor of Smith Meadows over the past two decades defines the narrative arc of Gaining Ground. As you would expect he tells plenty of amusing tales about his steep learning curve, such as the time a careless butcher labeled Pritchard’s beef “Not for Resale.” But this book is also an ode to the interplay between generations. Pritchard’s father, at first skeptical of his son’s decision, comes to admire the younger man’s dedication to the craft of small-scale farming; in one of the book’s more moving passages Pritchard eulogizes his father, overweight and diabetic, who dies of cardiac arrest after a lifetime spent eating junk food while spurning farm-fresh produce.

As the subtitle—A Story of Farmer’s Markets, Local Food and Saving the Family Farm—indicates, Gaining Ground goes beyond life on the farm. Pritchard’s efforts have has been part of a small but important trend towards the kind of sustainable farming in which contact with dedicated local customers, often through farmer’s markets, is a key to survival—as it was for Smith Meadows.

Noting that many people don’t flinch at the prices of sports cars and luxury hotels, he says, “For some reason, even to this day, food has largely escaped this price-quality association.” Part of Pritchard’s mission is to help consumers understand the true costs of cheap food.

If you’re a veteran farmer’s market shopper or just someone who wants to find a new way to eat, Gaining Ground presents a farmer’s-eye view of the locovore experience. —Lisa James

RIGHTING HYPERTENSION

Blood Pressure Down

By Janet Bond Brill, PhD, RD, LDN

THREE RIVERS PRESS (www.threeriverspress.com), 340 PAGES, $15.00

They don’t call it “the silent killer” for nothing. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, often causes no symptoms until a stroke or heart attack sends its victim to the emergency room—or to the grave. And this deadly condition is pervasive, affecting nearly one in every three American adults.

The good news is that “high blood pressure is the most preventable cause of premature morbidity and mortality in the United States and the world, and that lifestyle therapy is the cornerstone of treatment for this disease,” says nutritionist Janet Bond Brill, who specializes in cardiovascular disease prevention. Having lost a grandmother, father and brother to untimely deaths fueled by hypertension, Brill has laid out her own lifestyle program in Blood Pressure Down: The 10-Step Plan to Lower Your Blood Pressure in Four Weeks without Prescription Drugs.

Like other books on the subject, Blood Pressure Down employs the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, a whole-foods eating plan low in sodium and high in calcium, magnesium and potassium, which over the past two decades has become the dietary gold standard for blood pressure control. Brill’s contribution is to combine DASH with other helpful advice and break it all down into 10 easy-to-follow steps. From losing that crucial first five pounds, through cutting out salt, adding key foods such as spinach and crucial supplements including vitamin D, and finally adding exercise, the idea is to present one manageable task at a time instead of overwhelming the reader with too much information at once—an overload that for many newly diagnosed patients leads to lifestyle paralysis and poor pressure control.

“Get your blood pressure down and you can prevent disease, disability and premature death,” writes Brill. Avoiding these calamities is the urgent message behind Blood Pressure Down. —Lisa James

PLANT-POWERED HEALING

wild

The Wild Medicine Solution

By Guido Masé

HEALING ARTS PRESS (www.healingartspress.com), 310 PAGES, $18.95

 

herbal

Herbal Antivirals

By Stephen Harrod Buhner

STOREY PUBLISHING (www.storey.com), 480 PAGES, $24.95

Have you heard the joke about the history of medicine? It begins in 2000 BC with someone saying he doesn’t feel well and being told, “Here, eat this root.” Remedies are then swapped in and out as the centuries pass—“That root is heathen, say this prayer,” “That prayer is superstition, drink this potion”—until the modern-day punchline, “That antibiotic doesn’t work anymore. Here, eat this root.”

Behind the humor lies the fact that many practitioners have returned to the healing wisdom found within traditional plant lore. Among them is Guido Masé, cofounder of the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism in Montpelier and author of The Wild Medicine Solution: Healing with Aromatic, Bitter and Tonic Plants.

Masé argues that humans and plants coevolved and that plant-based medicine (including kitchen remedies such as ginger and garlic) provides substances our bodies have come to expect, such as bitter compounds in such plants as dandelion and burdock that promote effective digestion and improved liver function. “Our minds, our guts, our immune systems all evolved in the context of consuming wild plants,” Masé says. The Wild Medicine Solution provides a framework for using these plants intelligently.

Putting plant power to healing use has also been the life’s work of Stephen Harrod Buhner, cofounder of The Foundation for Gaian Studies in Silver City, New Mexico, and author of more than a dozen books, the latest of which is Herbal Antivirals: Natural Remedies for Emerging & Resistant Viral Infections.

Viruses are the spies of the microbe world; treating the infections they cause can be difficult because they hide inside of the body’s cells, where neither the immune system nor antibiotics can find them. This stealth ability had led public health authorities to fear the possibility of viral pandemics sweeping across the planet similar to the flu epidemic of 1918-20 that killed as many as 130 million people worldwide.

Buhner believes the use of plant-based antivirals may help prevent such doomsday scenarios. After noting that many poorer countries are systematically exploring botanical antibiotics as alternatives to prescription drugs they can’t afford, Buhner adds, “It is my hope that this same kind of movement will begin in the treatment of viral diseases. We need new ways of thinking about viruses, their emergence and their treatment.” In addition to providing information on specific plants, Herbal Antivirals discusses respiratory infections and brain inflammation, two of the more common—and serious—consequences of viral activity.

Whether for everyday well-being or in dealing with dangerous diseases, plants offer natural options for improved health. The Wild Medicine Solution and Herbal Antivirals help put plant power in the reader’s hands. —Lisa James

UNDERSTANDING THE ACHE

The Mystery of Pain

By Douglas Nelson

SINGING DRAGON (www.singingdragon.com), 224 PAGES, $25.00

One thing we share with all sentient creatures is the ability to feel pain. But the fact that pain is a universal experience doesn’t make it easy to comprehend, especially the chronic variety that clouds many people’s days. Why does pain become an endless loop of affliction? What happens when it does, both biochemically and in the entity we describe as the body-mind? And how can someone who suffers from chronic pain finally break free of its grip?

These are the questions that massage therapist Douglas Nelson grapples with in The Mystery of Pain. Nelson’s practice has always included a lot of hurting clients, but eventually he realized “that I did not, at a very deep level, know what pain was, why it happened and how to treat it effectively.” This book reflects his efforts to understand the phenomenon that presents itself in his office every day.

Nelson finds that pain is mediated by nociceptors, a series of sensors throughout the body that serves as an early warning system. “The more you experience a specific stimulus as painful, the more likely it is that your nociceptors will be sensitized to that experience,” Nelson writes. Other, non-offending stimuli can then become swept into pain’s orbit; after a while the entire system, including the brain, is on a constant state of high alert.

Fortunately, pain sensitization can be reduced. Nelson presents ways to distract the brain, including meditation; reducing the fear that often accompanies pain; dealing with pain referred from other places in the body including amputated limbs (known as “phantom limb pain”); fibromyalgia; and the importance of social support.

While acknowledging the need for continued pain research, Nelson says, “We don’t always need more data, we need a deeper understanding.” The Mystery of Pain provides such insight. —Lisa James

FINDING MEANINGFUL ANSWERS

77 Questions for Skillful Living

By Michael Finkelstein, MD

WILLIAM MORROW (www.harpercollins.com), 354 PAGES, $26.99

Sometimes people cling emotionally to the notion of disease as a disaster that befalls from without—the “why me?” syndrome—even if intellectually they realize that most ill health in modern society comes from within as the result of poor habits. Yet habits, by their very nature, can become ingrained to the point where someone doesn’t know how to even approach them in a thoughtful and aware manner, much less change them. And given statistics that show a country plagued by serious chronic disorders, it would seem that many Americans are stuck in a health rut.

Michael Finkelstein is an optimist despite the gloomy numbers. “I believe that each one of us has the intelligence, the ability and the responsibility to make better choices,” says the author of 77 Questions for Skillful Living: A New Path to Extraordinary Health. As the title implies, Finkelstein—a board-certified internist who went into integrated medicine more than two decades ago—believes that you have to find your own way through the dark thickets of pain, disease, loss and confusion to find the sunny meadow of optimal wellness, and that answering a series of carefully crafted questions can help.

Finkelstein’s queries reflect an approach that may start with one’s physical habits (“Are you taking more medicines than you would like?” “Is your water intake adequate?”) but then go much deeper.

Questions such as “Can you reevaluate your financial ‘needs’ so that you’re not working so hard for things that aren’t important?” and “Are you able to let go of your attachment to specific outcomes and embrace uncertainty?” probe into the underlying discontents—especially the sources of chronic stress—that can promote both disease and profound unhappiness.

Living a life of unthinking habit can lead to unhealthy outcomes, emotionally and spiritually as well as physically. Answering 77 Questions for Skillful Living may lead the way to a healthier, more aware life. —Lisa James

HERBS FOR BALANCE

Principles of Chinese Herbal Medicine

By John Hicks

SINGING DRAGON (www.singingdragon.com), 160 PAGES, $15.95

When asked about what they know about traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), most people in this country will mention acupuncture. But acupuncture represents only part of the TCM arsenal; another is a highly organized system of herbal practice. Principles of Chinese Herbal Medicine by John Hicks, co-founder of Britain’s College of Integrated Chinese Medicine, provides a compact, accessible introduction to this subject.

Chinese medicine is based on whether or not the patient is in balance; imbalance leads to patterns of disharmony among the body’s “organs,” a term used in TCM to denote sets of interrelated energetic functions. Hicks explains this system in terms a reasonably educated layperson can understand.

Especially helpful is a chapter of patient stories that shows how TCM works in practice. One example is Peter, whose neglected cold deepened into what Western medicine would most likely call acute bronchitis but what Chinese medicine labels as “Wind-Heat.” He was treated with a five-herb formula and eventually other formulas designed to resolve residual symptoms after the main infection had passed.

Peter’s case illustrates an important point. Chinese medicine almost always uses herbs in combination because, as Hicks says, “The subtle blend of the actions of the individual herbs produces a greater overall healing action.” He then explains how these plants work, alone and in concert, to promote well-being.

Chinese medicine is more than just a decidedly different approach to the body and its ills. This ancient healing system is relevant today because it still has much to offer people in need of healing. Principles of Chinese Herbal Medicine can help you become an aware TCM patient. —Lisa James

TRAINING TABLES

vegan

The Vegan Athlete

By Ben Greene and Brett Stewart

ULYSSES PRESS (www.ulyssespress.com), 128 PAGES, $15.95

 

paleo

Paleo Fitness

By Darryl Edwards with Brett Stewart and Jason Warner

ULYSSES PRESS (www.ulyssespress.com), 176 PAGES, $16.95

One offshoot of the diet genre, aimed specifically at athletes, is the book in which a detailed eating plan and an illustrated exercise guide are presented together. Two recent offerings from Ulysses Press illustrate this development from opposite points on the dietary spectrum.

In The Vegan Athlete: Maximizing Your Health & Fitness While Maintaining a Compassionate Lifestyle, certified personal trainer and vegan Ben Greene pairs with ultramarathoner and writer Brett Stewart to show how veganism—a strict form of vegetarian dining that eliminates all animal products, such as eggs and milk—is compatible with athletic pursuits. “Vegan athletes are strong, resilient, mentally tough and resourceful,” they write. The authors present a complete training program including an overview of vegan dietary principles, two weeks of meal plans, recipes and a set of exercises. The idea is to help the fitness enthusiast ease into a vegan lifestyle while staying on top of his or her game.

In Paleo Fitness: Primal Training and Nutrition to Get Lean, Strong and Healthy, Stewart teams up with certified personal trainer Jason Warner and Paleo clinical nutritionist (and primary author) Darryl Edwards to promote the Paleolithic diet—the so-called “caveman diet” based on organic meats and poultry, wild-caught fish, healthy fats and organic produce—as a way to provide the athlete’s body with what Edwards believes to be its natural fuel. As in The Vegan Athlete, Paleo Fitness explains the diet plan’s basic tenets before giving sets of meal plans, recipes and exercises; it includes weekly workout charts as well. The authors say, “Paleo Fitness should not be seen as a quick fix but as an effective method to kick-start a new attitude toward food, activity and life.” —Lisa James

BRAIN RETRAINING

Bouncing Back

By Linda Graham, MFT

NEW WORLD LIBRARY (www.newworldlibrary.com),
434 PAGES, $17.95

The news from the Centers for Disease control is sobering: Suicide rates have skyrocketed among middle-aged Americans, with more people between the ages of 35 and 64 now dying by suicide than in motor vehicle accidents. It is believed that the housing crash and resulting recession may be at least partially to blame. Many people in this age group have suffered the loss of their jobs, their homes or both, while many others are just one missed paycheck or mortgage payment away from deep trouble.

Riding the waves of existence instead of being knocked over by them is one of the most crucial life skills anyone can have. And given the CDC report, it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine that for some people such a skill may even be lifesaving.

“Resilience is the capacity to respond to pressures and tragedies quickly, adaptively and effectively,” says psychotherapist Linda Graham in Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being. “Whether we tend to bounce back from terrible setbacks or stay where we’re thrown depends on our learned patterns of response.” Learning how to change unhelpful response patterns is the focus of Graham’s book.

Graham combines psychology, neuroscience and the received wisdom of earlier ages to present a program that rests on mindfulness, “the steady, nonjudgmental awareness and acceptance of experience,” which promotes a clear-eyed, flexible view of reality, and empathy, which promotes a deep sense of connection with self and others. According to Graham, practices that encourage these traits—such as meditation and forgiveness-seeking—help rewire the brain so one can move from a place of stagnant fear to one of resilient compassion.

It’s easy to huddle, terrified and stuck, in a corner when faced with the worst that life can dish out. Bouncing Back provides a map into a wider world of challenge mingled with joy. —Lisa James

PRESERVING GOODNESS

Put ’Em Up! Fruit

By Sherri Brooks Vinton

STOREY PUBLISHING (www.storey.com), 278 PAGES, $19.95

It used to be a farmhouse ritual, back when the United States was covered with farms: Preserving part of the year’s harvest to last through the coming winter. And in an age before refrigeration, canning—putting food in jars that were then boiled to retard spoilage—was one of the most popular preservation methods.

Nowadays, we take the ready availability of jarred and canned foods at the local supermarket as practically our birthright. However, a small but dedicated band of folks are disseminating the old knowledge of living off one’s own resources before such practical information is lost. Among them is Sherri Brooks Vinton, author of Put’ Em Up! Fruit: A Preserving Guide & Cookbook, who says, “Home food preservation is being rediscovered for what it is—a practical, economical way to enjoy seasonal foods all year round.”

Vinton provides everything the novice preserver needs to know, including required equipment, the boiling-water method itself and how to troubleshoot problems that can arise, such as overly thin or thick preserves. She then supplies processing information and recipes for 16 fruits (plus tomatoes—hey, everyone loves tomatoes). In addition to the things you’d expect from a book such as this, like recipes for Lemon Ginger Marmalade and Classic Cherry Jam, Vinton also covers tasty-sounding treats such as Blueberry Ketchup and Poached Quince.

Looking to expand your kitchen repertoire to include home canning? Put’ Em Up! Fruit will give you a solid knowledge base to build from. —Lisa James

CHILDREN IN TOXIC DANGER

Raising Elijah

By Sandra Steingraber

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 350 PAGES, $17.99

Parents writing about their harrowing experiences with a child under threat elicit a certain amount of sympathy because other parents can put themselves in the writers’ shoes, imagining what it would be like to feel the fear of, for example, shepherding a child through cancer treatment.

Raising Elijah is different because as the book’s subtitle, Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis, attests, Sandra Steingraber’s tale doesn’t concern her children, Elijah and Faith, only. Her background as a researcher—she’s a scholar in residence at Ithaca College with a PhD in biological sciences—makes Steingraber more than just a mom on a mission: She pleads for a stop to the wholesale ecological destruction that threatens all children.

Steingraber’s lyrical prose alternates between domestic affairs and those of wider scope, showing the connections that lay them—and the decisions those connections entail. For instance, the young Steingrabers looked for ways to economize and a friend suggested they could save money on food.

But that would mean throwing over organic food for supermarket alternatives, something that Steingraber, a cancer survivor, wouldn’t do. “Why does organic food cost more than conventionally grown food?” she asks. Research unearths several reasons, including the fact that “in the United States, labor is more expensive than chemicals.” Steingraber sticks to her guns, convinced that buying organic means “investing in a healthy environment for my own children.”

However the all-encompassing nature of chemical pollution means that individual initiative, no matter how diligently pursued, simply isn’t enough to keep the toxic world at bay. “My children do not live solely within the bubble of my kitchen and property lines,” Steingraber writes. “The occupy a much bigger ecological niche, and I cannot verify the agricultural origin of every food item served at every birthday party, summer camp, sleepover…I am a conscientious parent. I am not a HEPA filter.”

That’s the message that lies at the heart of Raising Elijah. “I discover that the domestic routines of family life with young children…are inextricably bound to the most urgent public health issues of our time,” Steingraber says. “Current environmental policies must be realigned to safeguard the healthy development of children…such realignment necessitates emancipation from our terrible enslavement to fossil fuels in all their toxic forms.” Steingraber walks her talk; since the book’s publication she has been jailed for protesting the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in her upstate New York community.

In a chapter on the potential hijacking of industrial chemicals as weapons of terror, Steingraber says, “It’s hard to write these words—as if the very act of describing horrific possibilities has the power to make them come true.” But ignoring the dangers posed by environmental contamination does an injustice to our children and all the generations to follow. Raising Elijah is a tribute to the joys of home—and a call to action. —Lisa James

 

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _

Evidence of America’s very rich culinary history can be found in the large number of books that have covered the nation’s cuisine over her many years. The number of volumes on America’s culinary offerings undoubtedly is also a function of the cuisine’s regional variety. Here are some books on the subject that we found compelling.

Capitol Hill Cooks: Recipes from
The White House, Congress,
And All of The Past Presidents

capital

(Taylor)

by Linda Bauer

Is it telling about the health of our public servants that, say, the contribution to this book by Rep. Mike Honda of California is what appears to be a decidedly healthful Japanese Chicken Salad, while Vice President Joe Biden’s are recipes for oatmeal cookies and two kinds of chocolate cake?

Author Bauer isn’t making those kinds of judgments, but it’s still interesting to see recipes from the nation’s leadership spanning our full history, from George Washington’s beer to the Obama family’s linguini.

 

Eating Up the Santa Fe Trail:
Recipes and Lore from the Old West

(Fulcrum)

by Sam’l P. Arnold

Reading about coffee in this book is just one reminder of the many ways our predecessors, with their simple way of life, got it right, perhaps even without knowing it. Back in the day, author Arnold reports, coffee was sold in its green unroasted state—witness the popularity of green coffee bean extract in today’s health movement. The authentic recipes that Arnold has collected in this book come from trappers, traders, setters, Indian tribes, and others. You can almost smell the coffee brewing on the fire.


The Great American Cookbook:

500 Time-Tested Recipes/

Favorite Foods from Every State

great

(Rizzoli)

by Clementine Paddleford

Paddleford is considered America’s first food journalist. Beginning in the 1930s, Paddleford began to chronicle regional American cooking. She traversed the nation, sometimes piloting her own propeller plane, and tracked down the best cooks in each place she landed. This volume is a revised edition of How America Eats, the culmination of Paddleford’s research first published in 1960.

 

The Founding Foodies:
How Washington, Jefferson,
and Franklin Revolutionized
American Cuisine

(Sourcebooks)

by Dave DeWitt

 This well-researched book sheds light on the seldom-told stories of the agrarian lives of the nation’s founding fathers. DeWitt’s reporting on the ardent support that our founding father’s gave to sustainable farming and ranching add nuance to today’s efforts toward sustainability by making us yearn for a better way that once worked, and worked well, as this book confirms. Recipes abound, as Washington, Jefferson and Franklin wrote many of their own and shared their love of food with friends and fellow politicians.

 

Food in the United States, 1890-1945

(Greenwood)

by Megan J. Elias

This volume sometimes reads more like a textbook, but don’t let that keep you from reading it. You’ll learn, for instance, that shredded wheat and cream of wheat made their debuts in 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago (celebrating, one year late, the 450th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the Americas. There are also some fascinating photographs. Witness, for instance, President Theodore Roosevelt having breakfast in 1903 with a group of Colorado cowboys, serving himself from pots over a fire. Or President Franklin D. Roosevelt carving the Thanksgiving turkey in 1941.

 

Secrets from the White House
Kitchens: A Celebration of Foods Enjoyed at The White House &
the People Who Lived There

(LaMarque)

by John R. Hanny

Secrets… is filled with recipes from leaders and first ladies throughout America’s history. As published here, these recipes convey a sense of privileged access, considering author Hanny served as a food consultant for six presidential administrations, first as a visiting chef with Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Jackie Kennedy’s Salmon Mousse with Cucumbers is here, as is Lady Bird Johnson’s Spinach Souffle, as are tales of the first President Bush’s disdain for broccoli and the weight-loss prescriptions that President Clinton received in the mail.

 

Eating with Uncle Sam: Recipes and Historical Bites from the National Archives

uncle

(Foundation for the National Archives)

Edited by Patty Reinert Mason

This handsome and colorful little hardcover is decidedly focused on and organized by food type—from breakfast and breads in its opening chapters to vegetables, fruits and sweets in its closing pages. But there’s also plenty of Americana as many of the recipes are from our nation’s leaders and other historical sources. Consider the recipes for Plum Conserve, Carrot Marmalade and Gooseberry Jam from the U.S. Food Administration’s “Sweets Without Sugar” campaign back in 1918. There are also wonderful illustrations and memorabilia, like the memo to President Nixon’s party that encouraged them to practice using chopsticks before their historic 1972 visit to China.


A White House Garden Cookbook: Healthy Ideas from the First Family
for Your Family

(Red Rock)

by Clara Silverstein

The theory behind First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to get American kids to eat more healthfully, a daunting task considering the nation’s high obesity rates, is that they will do just that if they have a hand in growing and preparing their food. That is at the heart of this colorful paperback, which chronicles the lifecycle of the White House garden and includes recipes from across America, including from the White House.

 

Our Founding Foods:
Classics from the First Century of American Celebrity Cookbooks

(Willow Creek)

by Jane Tennant with S.G.B. Tennant Jr.

Author Tennant, more explicitly than many, points out that early American cuisine—and its descendants—is really the cuisine of the English, as well as that of the Dutch, the Spanish, the French, the German, the African and the Irish. That’s because the earliest American cookbooks came across the ocean with those groups, who left their imprint on American cookery for generations to come. Martha Washington was America’s earliest celebrity chef, Tennant observes, but what makes this book so fascinating are the recipes from others whose names we may not be as familiar with but who were the bestselling cookbook authors of their time.

 

Reaching Past Suffering

Yoga for Emotional Trauma

By Mary NurrieSterns and Rich NurrieSterns

NEW HARBINGER (www.newharbinger.com), 200 PAGES, $17.95

Traumas large and small cause us to shut down, keeping the outside world at arm’s length. What’s more, emotional trauma has been linked to inflammation, a key factor in chronic disease.

Getting past life’s pains and griefs requires “practicing compassion in an intentional way...healing involves learning to be compassionate with yourself,” say Mary and Rich NurrieSterns, authors of Yoga for Emotional Trauma: Mediations and Practices for Healing Pain and Suffering (New Harbinger). Their backgrounds—she as a psychotherapist and yoga teacher, he as a meditation teacher—give them solid grounding for handling this topic.

The authors explain how trauma upsets the balance between the body’s fight-or-flight urges, which makes you feel jittery, and its rest-and-digest system, the one that lets you relax. Trauma often leaves people stuck in fight-or-flight; yoga, the NurrieSterns explain, helps the mind “unstick” and become calm.

While the book includes a set of asanas, or poses (none so extreme as to be beyond a fairly fit beginner), Yoga for Emotional Trauma goes well past the yoga mat in its recommendations, which also include breathing exercises and those that encourage the reader to get past the past and pay attention to the present moment.

“Your life is your message,” write the NurrieSterns. “Let it be one of hope, for your benefit and the benefit of others.” That is the ultimate message of Yoga for Emotional Trauma. —Lisa James

 

ENCOURAGING A YOUNG MIND

You Are Your Child’s First Teacher

By Rahima Baldwin Dancy

TEN SPEED PRESS (www.tenspeed.com), 322 PAGES, $17.99

Many parents will do almost anything to get their children into schools that offer youngsters the greatest opportunities, from the best pre-school in the area to an Ivy League institution. But while no one doubts the necessity of a good formal education, it is a child’s earliest years that helps set their course in adulthood. “The years between birth and age six are a time of growth and learning that is unparalleled in later life,” says Rahima Baldwin Dancy, Waldorf early childhood educator, mother of four and author of You Are Your Child’s First Teacher: Encouraging Your Child’s Natural Development from Birth to Age Six.

First published more than two decades ago, You Are Your Child’s First Teacher is now in its third edition. In it, Dancy confronts “the forces working against childhood”—including a rigid, test-centric approach to academics, plus a youth obesity epidemic and related increase in screen time among youngsters—that have come to the fore over the last 20 years with a methodology that sees the child as a “whole human being—body, mind, emotions and spirit.” The first two chapters expand on this theme with an in-depth look at the cultural forces that, in Dancy’s view, assail parenthood and home life.

The book’s remaining 11 chapters provide information on encouraging a child to reach his or her full potential. Topics include dealing with a newborn; speech and locomotion skills; weaning; providing a rich play environment; stimulating a child’s imagination as well as his or her artistic and musical abilities; discipline issues; and evaluating early childhood education options. One chapter covers common questions parents have, from how to handle TV and other media to promoting a child’s spiritual development.

In a world of hot-button adult issues, early childhood development often gets short shrift. You Are Your Child’s First Teacher provides a useful counterbalance. —Lisa James

FIGHTING AGE, DELICIOUSLY

The Longevity Kitchen

By Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson

TEN SPEED PRESS (www.tenspeed.com), 244 PAGES, $29.99

If you asked the average person, “Would you like to know which foods promote a longer, healthier life?” they might answer, “Sure, but can I eat anything that tastes good?”

The answer to that second question, according to chef Rebecca Katz and writer Mat Edelson, is yes. The authors of The Longevity Kitchen: Satisfying Big-Flavor Recipes Featuring the Top 16 Age-Busting Superfoods (Ten Speed Press)—who previously teamed up on The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen, also from Ten Speed—believe “great taste and great nutrition can joyfully coexist at the dinner table.” Actually, that’s the only way to maintain health over the long term; as a friend of Katz’s remarked, “If something doesn’t taste good, people won’t eat it no matter how good it is for them.”

The Longevity Kitchen’s “super 16” foods offer enough variety in taste and texture to please most palates. Not a fan of asparagus? Maybe kale will tempt you. Don’t appreciate thyme? Maybe basil is more your speed. What’s more, Katz has created recipes that blend healthy foods in creative ways, such as Quinoa with Edamame, Ginger and Lime or Roasted Olives with Citrus and Herbs. In addition to nutritional analyses, the recipes come with prep times and storage tips, making it easier for busy cooks to put in more kitchen time on slow nights and enjoy healthy leftovers on hectic ones.

“I’ve spent more than a decade motivating people to eat well,” Katz says. The knowledge she has amassed in that time is thoughtfully presented in The Longevity Kitchen. —Lisa James

 

CHEATING THE TRASH MAN

The Zero-Waste Lifestyle

By Amy Korst

TEN SPEED PRESS (www.tenspeed.com), 262 PAGES, $14.99

Of all the ways to reduce the waste piling into the nation’s landfills, recycling materials such as plastic, glass and metal has become the method of choice for many municipalities. But is that the best we can do?

Amy Korst doesn’t think so. “Trash is intimately connected to every environmental problem we face today,” she says. Korst’s response to her own waste stream was the Green Garbage Project, a year in which she and her husband, Adam, “tried to make absolutely no garbage.”
Korst distilled what she learned into The Zero-Waste Lifestyle: Live Well By Throwing Away Less. Recycling plays a role, but so do reduce and reuse, the other parts of the eco-friendly triad.
It may not be easy to find a bulk foods store, for example, let alone bring your own containers. But Korst believes this and other actions are worthy efforts: “The earth is the home to all of us, and we don’t have the right to trash it out.” —Lisa James

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Christmas and Hanukkah, with their respective images of Bethlehem and the Maccabees, give the Middle East a degree of symbolic significance that may not be as acute other times of the year. Three excellent cookbooks, The Lebanese Kitchen, Jerusalem and Cooking from the Heart, celebrate the culinary wealth and history of the region with fare that is mostly healthy and tantalizing year-round.

The Lebanese Kitchen

leb

By Salma Hage

PHAIDON (WWW.PHAIDON.COM), 511 PAGES, $49.95

Phaidon has a strong track record of publishing cookbooks that could easily be considered the bibles of ethnic cuisine. The trend began in 2005 with The Silver Spoon and has included 1080 Recipes, Vefa’s Kitchen, I Know How to Cook and India Cookbook. The Lebanese Kitchen belongs on the same shelf with those titles. Salma Hage, a Lebanese housewife with more than 50 years experience of family cooking, has delivered a comprehensive guide to Lebanese cooking that can only be called definitive.

Hage hails from Mazarat Tiffah (Apple Hamlet) in the mountains of the Kadisha Valley in north Lebanon. She learned to cook from her mother, mother-in-law and sisters-in-law. Because she helped bring up her nine brothers and two sisters, Hage would often cook for the whole family. Coming from the eastern Mediterranean, many of these Lebanese recipes, comprising lentils, greens, spices, fish and, yes, meats, too, are decidedly healthful. Makes sense. As the brief history of Lebanese cuisine in the front of Hage’s book poetically says, traditional Lebanese food is “based on the rhythm of the seasons” and locally available produce.

Dishes like Broccoli Quinoa Salad, which calls for mint, parsley, toasted pine nuts and olive oil, are tantalizingly good for the mouth and the heart, as are Hage’s Spciy Tomatoes and Cumin and her Walnut and Cayenne Dip. Her Saffron Monkfish and Rice, which calls for turmeric and pepper, among other ingredients, is also a heart-healthy delight, while her Sardines and Garlic is a feast in healthful omega oil.

Whole grains, harvested in summer months in Lebanon, are central to the cooking. “We always grew our own beans,” Hage explains. “When they were fresh in summer, we would sew them together with needle and thread like necklaces, and hang them up to dry. When you need them in winter, you drop them in hot water and they come up like new again.”

As explained in The Lebanese Kitchen, the culinary scene in Lebanon is “a mix of the earthy, hearty traditional peasant dishes that come from the country’s many mountain villages and the cutting edge, contemporary cuisine found in Beirut and other cities, influenced by the mixture of cultures, both of the Levant and Europe, that have called Lebanon home throughout its history.” The Lebanese Kitchen will encourage cooks to leaf through that history one recipe after another.

 

Jerusalem

otto

By Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

TEN SPEED PRESS (WWW.TENSPEED.COM), 320 PAGES, $35

Anyone who has spent time in Jerusalem and tasted daily life in the city will tell you that there is more coexistence between Arabs and Jews here than you would glean from the media. People work. People shop. People eat. Yotam Ottolenghi, a London restaurateur and author of the bestselling vegetarian cookbook Plenty (Chronicle), and Sami Tamimi, a partgner and co-author with Ottolenghi, were both born in Jerusalem in the same year. Their friendship and partnership is testimony to the goodwill that often goes overlooked in the mainstream press.

In fact, some of the foods that the co-authors of this wonderful cookbook cite seem to erase the differences. Ottolenghi and Tamimi say that one of their favorite dishes in the collection is a simple couscous with tomato and onion. The recipe is based on a dish that Tamimi’s mother used to cook for him when he was a child and very similar to a dish that Ottolenghi’s father used to make for him. In fact, the authors write, “everybody, absolutely everybody, uses chopped cucumber and tomatoes to create an Arab salad or an Israeli salad, depending on point of view.” Stuffed vegetables with rice or a rice-meat combination are cross-cultural. You’ll find the liberal use of olive oil, lemon juice and olives on many tables, no matter the culture.

Most of the dishes in Jerusalem are as healthy as the authors’ attitudes. Jerusalemites, Ottolenghi and Tamimi observe, eat seasonally and cook what’s grown locally: vegetables such as beets, cauliflower, kohlrabi and eggplants; fruits including figs, peaches, apricots and pomegranates; herbs; nuts; dairy products; grains; beans; lamb; and chicken; among many others.

Jerusalem is artfully photographed by Jonathan Lovekin, whose images freeze street and market scenes into a kind of calm and peace that one wishes for Israel’s capital. At the same time, they entice one to dive into the kitchen and get to work on dishes like Burnt eggplant with garlic, lemon and pomegranate seeds or Open kibbeh, described as a layered savory cake incorporating bulgur, ground meat, spices and pine nuts. Jerusalem is a very personal book, too. Consider Ruth’s stuffed Romano peppers, a recipe from Ottolenghi’s mother. Personal, yes, but a dish we’d love to see on our tables, too.

 

Cooking from the Heart:
A Jewish Journey through Food

heartcooking

By Hayley Smorgon & Gaye Weeden

HARDIE GRANT (WWW.HARDIEGRANT.COM.AU), 320 PAGES, $39.95

With stories and recipes from every continent, Cooking from the Heart is a fascinating journey of Jewish cuisine through the history of the people that have developed, cooked and eaten it. We are including the volume in this roundup of Middle Eastern fare because that region is ably represented here and is the geographic heart of the Jewish people and their history. The region is represented in Cooking from the Heart by recipes from Israel, Kazakhstan and Syria, but other influences seep into the melting pot: Israeli Erez Sharaba’s version of Aruq, or Iraqi chicken patties, for example, or Israeli Yuval Ashkar’s Aashpelo, or Afghani rice with chicken and sultanas (golden raisins).

Cooking from the Heart is not only a cookbook that will yield often healthy, always delicious exotic cuisine. It is also a delightful read because of the heartwarming profiles of the cooks who nurture the dishes they clearly love. Smorgen and Weeden tell the story of Tamara Ruben, who was born in a small Kazakhstan village in 1943, tells of the hunger she experienced while hiding with her parents in different towns during World War II. Despite the challenges, the authors tell of her “childhood spent playing with children in the same predicament, picking flowers at each train station their families visited during their escape.” Tamara’s family journeyed to Israel, and like others profiled in this book, ended up in Australia, where Cooking from the Heart was developed and where its authors are based.

One of these transplants, Sara Sutton, with roots in Syria, didn’t learn how to cook until after she arrived in Australia. We learn from Saras’s story that Aleppo, which dominates much of today’s news because it is a center of the fighting between Syrian rebels and the Assad government, was once the “jewel” of the Jewish people in that country. Despite her later immersion in cooking, Sara’s traditional recipes look mouthwatering. Her Kibbeh filled with mushrooms is a vegetarian delight (Sara stopped eating meat long ago) that uses ingredients such as bulgur, cumin, onions, walnuts and toasted pine nuts.

Cooking from the Heart also takes readers on a culinary journey through Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and the Americas. It’s a trip worth taking.

BETTER WEIGHT LOSS
THROUGH CHEMISTRY

The Science of Skinny

By Dee McCaffrey, CDC

DA CAPO PRESS (www.dacapopress.com), 430 PAGES, $16.99

The amount of information available on ways to lose weight can be overwhelming: There are books galore and diet experts on nearly every talk show. Unfortunately, many people don’t really understand how the body assimilates, metabolizes and stores food calories—and how modern processed foods throw the whole system out of whack.

Chemist Dee McCaffrey, who lost 100 pounds after replacing packaged foods with whole ones, turned her passion for nutrition into a second career. In The Science of Skinny (Da Capo Press), she shares her hard-won knowledge with a wider audience.

The first part of the book focuses on food science. McCaffrey presents famous research from the past—such as a study in which cats fed raw diets did much better than those that ate cooked food—with modern studies as proof that our bodies aren’t designed to handle refined sugars and flours, trans fats, additives and other items that originate in laboratories instead of fields and pastures. The book’s second part focuses on what McCaffrey calls “the processed-free plan for balanced eating and living.” It includes chapters on such “skinny superfoods” as organic eggs and sprouted whole-grain bread, a two-week initial phase, an ongoing phase and recipes such as Cheddar Sweet Potato Wraps and Wild Alaskan Salmon-Stuffed Tomatoes.

“We have to become conscious and aware shoppers and diners, and take responsibility for everything we put into our bodies,” says McCaffrey. The Science of Skinny is designed to give people the knowledge they need to become responsible consumers. —Lisa James

 

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