Who doesn’t want to shed a few pounds, right? Diet programs are everywhere, and they are all doing well, thanks the millions of us who keep hoping the latest promise of losing weight without pain will turn out to be true.
But weight loss doesn’t necessarily equal health gain, and that should be the number one priority of any food and lifestyle changes we make. Dr. Neal Barnard and Robyn Webb are offering a food plan that not only helps us achieve lower weight but also aids in reducing cholesterol, controlling diabetes, and improving a host of other diseases.
Barnard has written more than a half dozen books about health and nutrition, and he’s known world-wide as an advocate for healthy lifestyles. In order to write The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook, Barnard has teamed up with Robyn Webb, a nutritionist and cookbook author and the Food Editor of Diabetes Forecast magazine. What they’ve come up with is not a diet book but rather a way to improve health while accidentally losing a little weight in the process.
“Today, two-thirds of Americans are beyond the boundaries of a healthy weight, and American children are in the worst shape of any generation in history,” writes Barnard in his introduction to the book. Obesity and poor health are partners and we have to tackle both at the same time in order to really make a difference in either. Most of us know that we should eat healthier, but not everyone knows exactly what that means. Skipping lunch and having only the chocolate pie is not a healthy way to cut calories, but I swear to you – I know a woman who uses that strategy.
Study after study has shown that the most healthful diet is based on vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. Those of us who grew up eating meat-and-three for dinner every night can have a tough time adjusting to the idea that all we really need are the side dishes. Barnard admits that, in the beginning, “…vegan foods may seem a bit light.” Compared to the greasy burgers and fries that constitute the bulk of most American meals these days, fresh vegetables certainly will seem scanty, but only for a week or two. Once our taste buds recover from the abuse we’ve heaped upon them in the form of salt, MSG, grease and artificial flavors, there’s nothing more delicious than steamed veggies and fresh fruit.
Barnard uses the first section of The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook to explain how and why a plant-based diet works so well to help us lose pounds, maintain a healthy weight and ward off health problems. After that, he teams up with Webb to deliver pages and pages of vegan recipes – and they don’t all include tofu, either. Best of all – at least as far as I’m concerned — most of them are a snap to make.
Summer Pasta and Bean Salad, for instance, calls for a handful of ingredients and very little cooking. How about a Three-Layer Tortilla Casserole, or any of the pizza recipes? My favorite is the Pepper, Mushroom, Tomato, Spinach, Garlic Pizza, but all of them are yummy enough that I’d gladly eat them every day. Desserts are included, so don’t think that a vegan diet means no treats. Just one bite of the Raspberry Cake recipe will turn you into a convert. The authors include nutrition breakdowns for each recipe, so if you’re already counting calories, fat grams, or carbs, The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook will fit right in to your system.
For those who are curious about a vegan diet but aren’t ready to go at it full tilt, this is the book to start with. The familiar dishes combined with simple recipes make it easy to whip up something on a Meatless Monday. For those who want to improve their health, Barnard’s advice and information is invaluable. And for readers who just can’t get enough cookbooks (guilty!), Webb’s recipes provide a nice variety of fixes compiled in one place. Who could ask for more?