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Eat Like the Animals: What Nature Teaches Us About the Science of Healthy Eating

David Raubenheimer and Stephen J. Simpson. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28 (256p) ISBN 978-1-328-58785-5

Entomologists Raubenheimer and Simpson (The Nature of Nutrition, coauthors) discuss what humans can learn from other animals about eating in this revelatory work of health science. The authors open with their central question—how do living things know what to eat?—and go on to describe conducting an experiment that found locusts instinctively eat a set amount of protein and carbs, but if confronted with an unbalanced diet, prioritize the former. A follow-up experiment with human volunteers found the same. Their search for other species which manifest “protein leveraging” leads them to study gorillas in the forests of Uganda, wild yaks in the Bhutanese Himalayas, and other species in far-flung locations. The authors observe that while many animals’ “food environments” have not substantially changed over time, those of humans have, with ready access to “ultraprocessed” foods (high in fats and carbs). The “strong appetite for protein shared by all animals,” they assert, drives human overeating and consequent health problems. The authors conclude with helpful advice on making balanced dietary choices. Whether readers are drawn to the book’s health takeaways or to the scientific nitty-gritty, they will find much food for thought in this fascinating study. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/28/2020 | Details & Permalink

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The Outdoor Kitchen: Live Fire Cooking from the Grill

Eric Werner, with Nils Bernstein. Ten Speed, $35 (256p) ISBN 978-0-39958-237-0

In this exacting grilling guide, Werner, chef and owner of the Hartwood restaurant in Tulum, Mexico, elevates outdoor cooking. He begins with instructions for assembling a rugged backyard grill and smoker (he recommends befriending an ironworker), complete with sketches and measurements for a made-to-order model, as well as advice for hacking a store-bought one. Cooking in embers is a favored technique, as seen in a surprisingly lengthy collection of vegetable recipes, from eggplant to bell peppers, all of which cook nicely in direct heat. Elsewhere in the vegetable kingdom, there are 10 recipes for grilled corn, including corn ice cream and corn salsa. Flavorful entrees in the seafood chapter includes rainbow trout with cumin and burnt citrus vinaigrette. The importance of brining is explained in a brief poultry chapter that features butterflied chicken with toasted mustard seed oil. And among the several steak options, Newport steak with mole is a standout for its unique sauce flavored with grilled apples, banana, and onion. Backyard chefs seeking challenges beyond the propane grill will find much to enjoy in this vibrant collection. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/28/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Chi Spacca: A New Approach to American Cooking

Nancy Silverton, with Ryan DeNicola and Carolynn Carreño. Knopf, $35 (384p) ISBN 978-0-525-65465-0

Restaurateur Silverton (The Mozza Cookbook) gives her all in this excellent carnivorous compendium of dishes served at her eponymous restaurant in Los Angeles. Despite the American cooking referred to in the title, these recipes “are inspired by how an Italian butcher might cook.” This is the rare Italian-accented cookbook without a chapter on pasta, but with a grilling tutorial instead, here from executive chef DeNicola. Recipes are solid and aren’t always simplified for the home kitchen: focaccia di Recco (which, Silverton notes, is ordered by 85% of the tables at Chi Spacca) requires a 14-inch copper pizza pan and cheese that needs to dry in the refrigerator for 10 days to two weeks before being used, and the preparation of a beef cheek and bone marrow pie is best spread over three days. Nose-to-tail ethos can be seen in dishes such as toasts made with beef drippings and roasted amberjack collars. The latter are part of a fish chapter with surprising depth, given the carnivorous nature of the proceedings. Best suited for experienced cooks, this outstanding volume is poised to expand Silverton’s considerable audience. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/28/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Jiffy Body: The 10-Minute System to Avoid Joint and Muscle Pain

Bart Potter. Blue River Publishing, $20 trade paper (146p) ISBN 978-1-73398-430-0

Potter, founder of a fitness-training company, presents a system designed to eliminate joint and muscle pain in this positive and uncomplicated look at the body and how to use it properly. Using amusing cartoons, Potter explains that even routine activities such as sitting, standing, and exercise can lead to muscle imbalances that can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. To combat these symptoms, Potter outlines a program of different exercises targeting combinations of muscle groups, providing photographs and detailed illustrations to show the relationship between movements and muscle groups. One caveat is that the low-resolution photos are inconsistent with the clarity of the illustrations. However, Potter’s tone is enthusiastic and his stories are inspiring, encouraging readers to embark on the assorted exercise programs. Filled with succinct explanations and extensive variations on exercise routines suited to a wide range of abilities, this is an inviting tool for achieving better health. (Self-published)

Reviewed on 02/28/2020 | Details & Permalink

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The Complete Guide to Keto: The Never Hungry Diet

Michelle Stacey. Centennial, $19.99 (192p) ISBN 978-1-951274-10-8

Stacey (Fasting Girl) provides an accessible introduction to the keto diet in a guide rich with photos, charts, and lively text. She begins with by explaining how the diet works. Readers will learn about good and bad carbohydrates, the regimen’s potential health benefits, and the four kinds of keto diets (standard, targeted, cyclical, and high-protein). Part II, “Ready, Set, Keto,” covers getting started. Preparation tips address setting up the kitchen and include a shopping list. Stacey provides a helpful keto “cheat sheet” with substitutions for conventional carb favorites to help readers quench snack cravings. She also shares tips on “eating out on keto,” exercising, and avoiding common mistakes. The best section, though, is Part III, “Cook Keto,” which kicks off with a seven-day meal plan (featuring three meals and two snacks each day) and contains nearly 60 pages of recipes, complete with mouthwatering photos that should go far to encourage dieters to give keto a try. Stacey’s well-produced book will please keto neophytes with its surplus of tips, encouragement, and ideas. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/28/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Share: Delicious Sharing Boards for Social Dining

Theo A. Michaels. Ryland Peters & Small, $19.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-78879-211-0

Michaels (Orexei!), a semifinalist on BBC’s MasterChef, inventively combines ingredients and foods in a way that invites families or groups “to enjoy a sociable, shared dining experience” in this fun and accessible cookbook. Notions of what constitutes a brunch buffet yield artful arrangements of French toast topped with crisped pancetta and pan-seared bananas; chubby rolls of ouzo-cured salmon; and individual pots of yogurt with roasted rhubarb and pistachio. The “Ocean” chapter features a sharing board that can include scallops baked in half shells with chipotle butter; chunks of pickled swordfish with pink peppercorns; langoustines, and a fennel-green apple salad. In the “Barbecue” chapter, Michaels suggests Greek-style lamb chops; chicken souvlaki with date molasses and tahini dressing; and chili-and-ginger infused pork burgers with a cucumber relish. Recipe measurements are given in both grams and ounces, and Michaels includes tips about which flavors, textures, and platings work best together (complementary colors; no juicy things next to crunchy ones). These tempting recipes will inspire both novice and skilled party hosts. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/28/2020 | Details & Permalink

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The Irish Cookbook

Jp McMahon. Phaidon, $49.95 (432p) ISBN 978-1-8386-60567

McMahon, a Galway chef and restaurateur, takes a comprehensive look at the past, present, and future of Irish cooking in this thoroughly researched collection of more than 500 recipes. An advocate for using wild and sustainable ingredients, McMahon is especially inventive when it comes to fruit: duck breasts are served in a port and red currant sauce, crab is prepared with curry mayonnaise and pineapple, and a haunch of venison gets treated with with plums, port and cinnamon. Some desserts are literally earthy: carrageen moss pudding combines seaweed with honey and milk, while hay ice cream is flavored with toasted hay and sugar. The vegetable chapter includes such standouts as spinach with hazelnuts and wild garlic; steamed asparagus wrapped in sea lettuce; as well as many a potato side dish (curried potatoes; hasselback potatoes with smoked bacon and beer). The book is pleasantly laid out with two to three recipes per page opposite a spacious full-color photo of a plated entrée. In addition to the recipes, McMahon provides a useful field guide for foraging plants, seaweed, and mushrooms (for more adventurous cooks), as well as a succinct history of food in Ireland. With an eye on terrain, McMahon offers both authentic and innovative approaches to modern Irish cooking. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/28/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Simple Spice Vegetarian: Easy Indian Vegetarian Recipes from Just 10 Spices

Cyrus Todiwala. Mitchell Beazley, $26.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-78472-576-1

Todiwala, who has three restaurants in London and hosts BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, gathers a flavorful range of meat-free Indian recipes in this satisfying volume. The author restricts the recipes to using only 10 spices, and while that simplifies ingredient lists, it does make the flavor profiles somewhat repetitious. However, he incorporates a casual tone, and offers flexible instructions with numerous variations (make a zucchini, split pea, and mint salad heartier with feta or hard-boiled eggs). A breakfast chapter includes a hearty oatmeal, spiced with ginger and chilies, and rich unbaked fudge-like bars made with ghee, coconut, and cardamom. A chapter on eggs, in keeping with the author’s Parsee heritage, presents a trove of intriguing options, including a chapatti-wrapped omelet and savory French toast. Desserts include a chocolate cake made with grated zucchini and hazelnut and a refreshing cardamom kulfi. Detracting from the cookbook’s appeal are bizarre moments, such as the warning that “rice is one of the most dangerous foods in the house” that prefaces a rice and bean salad, and unexplained U.K. expressions such as “cabinet pudding” and “drunken wet nelly.” While the recipes don’t break new ground, home cooks new to Indian cooking will find this a decent primer. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/28/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Animal Friends to Sew: Simple Handmade Décor, Toys, and Gifts for Kids

Sanae Ishida. Sasquatch, $22.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-63217-235-8

Ishida (Sewing Happiness), a children’s book and crafting guide author, provides a slew of child-friendly projects as adorable as they are functional. A chapter on sewing and embroidering basics should get readers up to speed before they begin the projects, which are divided among décor, toys, and “wearables,” with the last section being the stand-out. It includes koala and monkey bibs for messy mealtimes and hooded capes suitable either for Halloween, or, when made out of “cozy” terry cloth, as baby bathrobes. Helpfully, the wearables aren’t too labor intensive—to wit, Ishida’s baby slippers can be sewn in nine steps. For home decor, she adds a whimsical spark to common household items, turning easy rope baskets into a dog and cat design with the addition of embroidered details. In the toy section, particularly charming plans are provided for stacking blocks, “ideal for the crawling and toddling set,” with embroidered mouse, raccoon, bear, and elephant faces. Ishida provides templates for users to cut out or trace and, in the closing resource section, shares info on fabric sources, reference titles, and online sewing help. These sweet DIY projects will appeal to parents who are also avid or aspiring sewers, not to mention to their kids. (May)

Reviewed on 02/28/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Eat for Life: The Breakthrough Nutrient-Rich Program for Longevity, Disease Reversal, and Sustained Weight Loss

Joel Fuhrman. HarperOne, $28.99 (392p) ISBN 978-0-06-224931-9

Celebrity doctor Fuhrman (Eat to Live) lays out his case for the “Nutrarian” diet in this heavily notated guide to healthier eating. Fuhrman posits that the Nutrarian diet—a regimen focused on nutrient-rich, mostly vegan foods—“is the pinnacle of excellence in the nutrition world” and can slow aging, prevent disease, and boost longevity. He bolsters those claims with case studies of those who’ve conquered diabetes, hepatitis, cardiovascular disease, and even stage IV melanoma by following his plan, and supplements his argument with citations of his own studies as well as those done by other physicians (he concludes with nearly 50 pages of notes referencing various scientific studies). Those worried about palate fatigue will appreciate the breadth of dishes in these 100-plus recipes, such as black bean and butternut squash chili; Asian ginger lime zucchini noodles; a meatless bolognese (made with tempeh); buffalo cauliflower; no-bake brownies; crispy onion rings; Mac and Peas (a combination of oats, vegetable broth, miso, and yeast replaces the cheese); and huevos rancheros (made with scrambled tofu). Ingredients are easily sourced, and Fuhrman’s directions are easy to follow. Home cooks looking to change their lifestyles will feel in good hands with Fuhrman’s encouraging and detailed guide. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/28/2020 | Details & Permalink

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