Book Review

Book Review: Foodist by Darya Pino


I’ve been a big fan of the healthy eating blog, Summer Tomato, for the past two years. Along with The Nutrition Diva, Summer Tomato has been one of my go-to resources for trustworthy nutrition info. What I like about these two ladies is they both use science to back up their claims, they have a very balanced and non-extreme stance, they don’t buy into nutrition fads, and they recognize and celebrate food for what it is, not just as nutrients.

So, when I heard a couple of months ago that Summer Tomato creator Darya Pino got a book deal, I was excited. Her book came out in May and is called Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting (my Amazon Associates link). It’s written through the lens of weight loss, though it’s really about lasting lifestyle changes for your health. But I think it’s smart that it’s marketed as a weight loss guide–that’s going to help Pino get her message out. I would have never went on my own health and nutrition journey if it wasn’t for the fact that I was trying to figure out how to lose a little weight a few years ago.

The book doesn’t just talk about food. It covers a lot of topics that is part of the bigger picture that so many other health and weight loss experts neglect to mention–things like psychology and willpower, the importance of cooking your own food, mindful eating, non exercise activity thermogenesis (what I call “moving”), and the challenges of eating healthy in different social situations. A lot of what she writes about sounds like common sense but it’s all very solid advice. Besides, I think we all need a dose of common sense, considering all the fad diets and weight loss myths that are still floating around.

If you’ve never read Summer Tomato, I highly advise you to pick up a copy of Foodist. It’s probably one of the most trust-worthy and comprehensive guides to weight loss lifetime of healthy eating. It’s chock full of practical advice that works without stupid shortcuts or gimmicks, and it’s a well-written and well-organized book. If you’re already a loyal reader of Summer Tomato, a lot of stuff will sound familiar but I think there’s enough fresh content to justify getting the book. It’s also nice to have her philosophy and research nicely summarized in one place.

Book Review

Book Review: An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler



I’m glad Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal (my Amazon Associates link) was next on my book club’s list. As I hate wasting food and love to stretch a dollar, I’ve wanted to read this book for a while now. Adler’s beautiful message is this: there is no real beginning or end to a meal. The leftover ingredients at the end of one meal are the first step of the next meal. Though I sometimes do not use them, I know that you can cook with things that you might think of as kitchen scraps–bones, beet greens, stale bread. What she talks about that I’ve never thought about using is the oil in canned food, the liquid your jarred olives sit it, the flavorful water you’ve made after boiling food. I noticed I already started incorporating her style into my cooking after only getting through the first chapters. I reserved the oil from my tin of anchovies, as well as the leftover liquid from my stewed collard greens. I threw my neglected pine nuts into a pasta dish that did not ask for them.

But this book isn’t just about being thrifty and using things up–it’s a lovely philosophy on cooking. As long as you have some staples like salt, olive oil, parmesan, and breadcrumbs, you can turn just about anything into a simple, elegant meal. She also gives you ideas on how to elevate your meal with things like vinegar and fresh herbs, and even how to turn food gone wrong into something very right. I’ve always classified my cooking into two categories–recipes I follow or create, or my “ghetto meals”. The latter is when I want to use up leftovers. I completely give up on the idea of making it tasty because I just need to consume fuel and not waste food. An Everlasting Meal has inspired me to never feel the need to make a “ghetto meal” again. With just a little effort, I can take my kitchen scraps and turn them into something delicious that I’m not ashamed to eat. I’m glad I read this book before Hurricane Sandy came to New York–I’ve made surprisingly delicious meals during the hurricane with canned lentils and chickpeas that have been sitting in the cupboard for over a year.

My only issue with the book is also really one of its strengths. I love that Adler floods you with ideas and lessons in beautiful prose. This makes it a lovely read. But on a practical level, my process-driven brain is screaming, ahhh! I need all these ideas and recipes written down in organized bullet points so I can refer to them later. I know that was probably the author’s intentions, but it’s a shame because I’d much rather make everything else she talks about than the actual step-by-step recipes in the book. That’s OK, though. It just means I’ll be coming back to An Everlasting Meal again and again.

Please check out The Kitchen Reader, and Sarah’s blog, Simply Cooked!

Book Review

Book Review: My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss

If you read the blog The Wednesday Chef, I’m sure you’ve heard blogger Luisa Weiss’ book My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (my Amazon Associates link) was published last month. I had actually never been to her website, but after reading about this book, I ordered a copy out of curiosity.

I was very disappointed in the last food-blogger-turned-memoir-writer’s book I read, but My Berlin Kitchen restored my faith. I could not put this book down. She brings all these delicious scenes from foreign countries to life, so you feel like you’re right there with her in Berlin/New York/Italy, etc. As a girl with dual citizenship living in a third country, Weiss’ story really spoke to me. I could relate to her struggles of not knowing where home really is, yet longing for it at the same time, and how food can transport you to another time and place when you’re feeling homesick. I highly recommend this My Berlin Kitchen.

There’s a also good selection of international recipes in the book that correspond to each chapter of her life. She talks about the best Niçoise Salad that she ever had, so I decided to try that recipe out out. The only problem was that I’ve never had a Niçoise Salad. Cooking a dish that you’ve never seen nor eaten is like taking a yoga class for the first time when the teacher isn’t demonstrating any moves. You’re being told what to do, but you’re not quite sure how it works or what it should look like. I don’t know if my salad came out right–it wasn’t irresistible. But it was tasty nonetheless. I liked the fact that there was so much going on on my plate and that the vegetables weren’t raw. Can’t wait to try the rest of her recipes!

Book Review

Book Review: Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl

I’m going to go ahead and admit I’m totally new to the foodie scene. I don’t know most famous chefs, cooking TV shows personalities, or food writers. Though I had heard of Ruth Reichl, I didn’t know anything about her career or what to expect from her memoir, Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Food Critic (my Amazon affiliate program link).

It appears that the general pitch as to why you should read this book is because of all the strange disguises and characters Ruth Reichl would create to avoid being recognized in New York City restaurants while she worked as The New York Times’ restaurant critic in the 1990s. While they were entertaining, I felt like there was so much more to the book than that. Reichl is a great story teller and she really pulls the reader in, even if you don’t know the first thing about the restaurants or food she’s talking about. Sprinkled throughout her memoir are the actual reviews she wrote for The New York Times, as well as unpretentious recipes for everyday home cooking. You might think being paid to eat at fancy restaurants is the best job ever (like I did), but Garlic and Sapphires is a thoughtful reflection on elitism, office politics, and one woman’s struggle with finding her real priorities and passions.

Reichl included a recipe for spaghetti carbonara, which is such a classic, yet I’ve surprisingly only had it once! And as much as I’d like to get my pork jowl on, I already had bacon in the fridge so I followed her lead and used that instead. So simple but so tasty.

On an unrelated note, this book reminded me of that 80s Steve Martin movie, The Lonely Guy. If my memory serves me correctly, his lonely guy buddy tells him he can eat out at restaurants by himself if he pretends he’s a restaurant critic. A silly movie, but I like this scene when he first walks into the restaurant:


Please check out the book club I joined, The Kitchen Reader, and Marian’s blog, Spelt for Choice.