This list is actually Recommended Reading, Viewing, and Cooking. Enjoy!
1. Forks Over Knives, DVD and Book. Many of you have seen or heard about this documentary, which includes interviews with one of my nutrition heroes, T. Colin Campbell. I recommend watching with your family, as it is both entertaining and enlightening. It provides solid research for many things that we’ve been saying for a long time: mainly, that fruits, veggies, nuts, and grains won’t just make you healthier – they can actually save your life.
2. I’d also like to recommend Forks Over Knives – the Cookbook, which has over 300 plant-based, whole-food recipes. The dessert section is written by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, who has written several other great vegan cookbooks.
3. Spark, by John J. Ratey. We all know that exercise is good for us, but it turns out it’s not just good for the heart, bones, and muscles: it’s incredibly, stunningly good for the brain. This meticulously researched, briskly readable book details the ways in which elevating your heart rate truly improves all areas of mental functioning, and staves off dementia. Think that you’re not supposed to be as mentally quick and nimble in your dotage? Think again! You don’t have to lose your intellectual edge, and exercise is the key.
4. The Untethered Soul, by Michael A. Singer. This book brings together the wisdom of many ancient cultures and spiritual paths in an elegant, easy to understand manner that is so relevant to our modern life. I normally speed-read through these types of self-help/transformational books, as I much prefer to spend my reading time on good fiction, but this is a book to savor.
I only read one chapter a day of The Untethered Soul because I knew it would be important to integrate this wisdom into my being and experience of life. Not only do I recommend The Untethered Soul, I suggest that you too take it slowly, and give yourself time to contemplate, synthesize, and embody the teachings. Life is a gift… any lesser perspective is merely a moment of seeing life through the veil of a tethered soul.
5. The China Study, by T. Collin Campbell, PhD. This comprehensive tome is exciting in its implications for health and longevity. I’d love it if everyone in the world read it from cover to cover, but just skimming it will likely change the way you think about food and your own health.
“This is one of the most important books about nutrition ever written-reading it may save your life.” -Dean Ornish, MD
6. The Rave Diet and Lifestyle, by Mike Anderson. This Spartan book isn’t flashy, but has amazing recipes and great suggestions for healthy living. From the publisher: (the book) describes a diet and lifestyle program that is designed for weight loss as well as the reversal of a wide range of diseases, including heart disease and diabetes, and the prevention of our common cancers.
7. Green for Life, by Victoria Boutenko. While I’m not a raw-foodist like the author, I agree with almost everything that she has to say in this great, short book. The thesis here is that we all need more greens in our diet, and the way to get them (and to actually enjoy them, which is a challenge for many of us) is to learn to make Green Smoothies. As my readers know, I advocate starting every morning with a Green Drink, and Boutenko offers some delicious recipes, as well as lots of info on how greens will put a spring in your step, a smile on your face, and promote longevity.
8. Eat to Live: the Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, by Joel Fuhrman. Pretty much what the title says: it seems revolutionary at first, but for anyone who’s been considering what the other authors on our list have said, this is the book that will show you how to put into practice all that healthy eating. Whether you’d like to lose ten pounds, or a hundred, this book can teach you the basics on feeling satisfied, while giving your body delicious, nutrient dense food.
9. The Great American Detox Diet, by Alex Jamieson. A nutritionist and gourmet vegan chef, Alex Jamieson is the wife of Morgan Spurlock (of Supersize Me fame). Appalled and terrified, she watched her then fiancée destroy his health when he decided to show America just how horrible fast food is while he made his movie. For anyone who hasn’t seen Supersize Me, it’s a funny, riveting, intelligent movie that follows the director for 30 days as he eats an exclusively McDonald’s diet. His doctors were shocked at what happened to him in just a few weeks, and his fiancée made him promise to turn his diet over to her once the Mickey D’s experiment was over.
He did, and it took him months to regain his health and lose weight. But people started clamoring for the diet that she put him on, and so she decided to write this book. It’s more than a diet, of course – it’s a lifestyle change in the extreme. But it combines her deep knowledge of nutrition with her skills as a chef, and it’s a fun read.
10. Supersize Me, DVD. See notes above, from The Great American Detox Diet.
11. The Food Revolution, by John Robbins. Like The China Study, this book is not a diet. It’s a meticulously researched and lovingly penned discussion of how what we eat affects every aspect of our lives, and the implications for the health of the planet. Anything by John Robbins is wonderful, including: Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World’s Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples.
12. Skinny Bitch, by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. A few words of caution about Skinny Bitch: it is not for the faint of heart. If profanity and crude humor bother you, stay far away from this one. It’s funny, but possibly offensive, so bear that in mind.
Second, while I like much of what they have to say about dairy, eggs, and meat contributing to America’s obesity epidemic, I hugely disagree with the authors’ reliance on vegan junk food as a way to get healthy. Vegan junk food is marginally better than non-vegan junk, but is often loaded with sugar, unhealthy fats, artificial flavors, etc. These types of foods should be avoided whether they contain animal products or not.
That said, the book is fun enough, and makes some very good points.
13. The Vita-Mix 5200. Ok, so this isn’t a book, but I just had to put it on the list because it is a life-changing appliance. Make smoothies using the whole fruit and vegetable – peels, stems, and all. It will puree your food to a creamy, marvelous consistency that allows you to consume the whole food, not merely the juice. These are the commercial-grade blenders used in restaurants and cafes to make whole-food smoothies, and they can handle anything you throw at them. Make your own nut butters, “milks” (like oat milk or almond milk), “ice creams”, all in minutes.
It’s a major purchase, and seems really expensive at first, but this is the only blender you will ever need. It’s more than a blender – it really will change the way you eat. It’s worth the investment. I’ve had mine for ten years, and it’s as good as new.
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