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Everyday Super Food – by Jamie Oliver


ICYMI, Jamie Oliver was in Toronto on October 28th to launch his new TV show on Food Network Canada and his new cookbook Everyday Super Food. I was there at the TV show prescreening and had a chance to listen to Chef Jamie’s thoughts on his latest cookbook.

The uber chef and foodie, noted that his 40th birthday was the impetus behind this cookbook in which he has a section dedicate to nutrition healthy eating. With so many inspiring words of wisdom from Jamie, we just aren’t sure which one of these is our favourite!

• “On cold, wet, rainy days, food can be a hug.”
• “Access to freshly grown food is linked to longevity.”
• “If you just pick up your shopping and get cooking, you’ll be in a beautiful place.”
• “Food is there to be enjoyed, shared, and celebrated, and healthy, nourishing food should be colourful, delicious, and fun.”

Book Review: The Ultimate Hockey Cookbook for Hockey Families – by Erin Phillips and Korey Kealey

Any hockey mom or dad knows the challenges of feeding their athletes for games, practices and tournaments. In this new cookbook by Erin Phillips and Korey Kealey, you’ll find nutrition tips and winning recipes for your hockey star.

Phillips is a nutritionist, mom to three active kids, wife to Ottawa Senators’ defenceman Chris Phillips, and herself plays hockey. Kealey is a well-known recipe developer and mom to three competitive hockey players. Together the dynamic duo asked parents and wives of professional hockey pros to share their favourite recipes. The end product, which took two years in the making, is a beautifully illustrated cookbook with easy-to-make recipes from hockey greats including Daniel Alfredsson’s Power Play Meat Sauce, Jason Spezza’s Shoot-Out Sea Bass, and Nick Folgino’s Five-Hole Salad.

A few of the recipes call for veggie and phytoberry powders (a sponsor of the cookbook). While I’m not full convinced of the need for these supplements, Phillips’ nutrition advice is otherwise solid, highlighting the importance of pre-game fuel, hydration, post-game recovery and sleep. The food photography is mouthwatering and the recipes sport fun, hockey-themed names like Penalty-Kill Parfaits and Off-the-Post Purple Smoothie.

As a dietitian and hockey mom myself, I give thumbs up to The Ultimate Cookbook for Hockey Families. If purchased at Canadian Tire, 100% of the proceeds from book sales will be donated to JumpStart, a charity that offers financial assitance to help kids across Canada play sports.

Book Review – Unmasking Superfoods – by Jennifer Sygo, MSc., RD

It’s not always easy to find a nutrition book that’s easy to read and backed by credible research. But Sygo does just that. In Unmasking Superfoods, Sygo separates the truth from the hype behind some of today’s superfoods such as acai, noni, quinoa and the increasingly popular coconut oil. She also gives a shout out to kiwi, pistachios and mussels, calling them underappreciated superfoods. In another chapter of the book, Sygo offers a sound perspective on beef, eggs, potatoes and other foods which she feels have been given a bad rap.

For each superfood, you’ll learn about the backstory, the nutritional profile, the science-based health impacts, and finally the bottom line. Unmasking Superfoods is literally a mini nutrition encyclopedia for consumers and health professionals alike. It’s a keeper on my bookshelf.

Book Review: Grain Brain – by David Perlmutter, MD


Perlmutter, a neurologist in Naples, Florida claims that inflammation is the cause of many neurogenerative diseases and disorders such as dementia, diabetes, depression, ADHD, irritable bowel, and Alzheimer’s. The solution according to Perlmutter is to eliminate gluten, follow a low-carb diet and feed your brain a diet that’s high in fat. Fat, he claims will provide the nourishment that the brain needs. The diet involves restricting carbohydrates to 30 to 40 grams a day, followed by a maintenance phase of 60 grams of carbs.

Like most dietitians, I find this advice to be unsubstantiated at this time. Much of the evidence cited in the book is anecdotal and based on testimonials as well as the author’s own experience with his patients. The overpromise of health benefits from his diet plan raises another red flag. Plus, science tells us that carbs (more specifically glucose, and not fat) are the preferred fuel for our brain.

The author’s recommendation to increase our intake of fat to 80% of our daily calories warrants discussion. It’s a far cry from Health Canada’s fat recommendations of 20-35% of our daily calories. While it’s true that we could all stand to increase our consumption of healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fats from foods such as fish, avocados and olive oil, it’s not advisable at this point to increase our intake of saturated fats because of their negative effect on heart health. What we also know is that swapping saturated fat for polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats is beneficial to our heart health.

Perlmutter does make some recommendations with which I whole-heartedly agree. For one thing, he recommends that we exercise more and more regularly (he recommends at least 30 minutes, five times a week). Secondly, he advises that we work on getting restful, routine sleep seven days a week. The bottom line though is that Grain Brain is a low-carb diet. Instead of cutting out carbs, my advice is to choose smart carbs like whole grains, vegetables and fruit as part of a balanced diet.

Book Review: MINDfull – by Carol Greenwood, PhD

In the growing trend of healthy aging, MINDfull is an easy-to-read cookbook that will appeal to anyone who wants to optimize their brain health. Greenwood, who is a senior scientist at Baycrest Centre Foundation, has been studying the link between diet and dementia for years.

As Greenwood describes it, the brain “has a wonderful capacity to refresh, to renew and to repair itself and to create new brain cells and new connections throughout a person’s life.” The goal of the book is to inspire healthy lifestyle and eating habits to promote successful aging and prevent the degeneration of one’s cognitive function.

To eat your way towards a healthy brain, Greenwood recommends choosing a balanced, high quality diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables (for polyphenols), whole grains and cereals (for fibre), nuts (for monounsaturated fats), spices (such as turmeric and black pepper for anti-inflammatory antioxidants) and fish (for omega-3 fats). Vitamin E, folate and vitamin B12 are important too. These foods and nutrients support the body and brain in many ways:
• strengthens our blood vessels, allowing more oxygen and nutrients to reach every cell in our body;
• nourishes the parts of our brain that are actively involved in speech, learning and reasoning;
• protects our body and brain against inflammation; and
• promotes the growth of new brain cells and neural connections.

Each chapter of the book features practical nutrition information, tips and science-based references. With over 100 brain-boosting recipes like Sweet Potato Waffles, Indian-Spiced Chickpeas, and Malaysian Fish Cakes, you’re sure to find a few new favourites. It’s a welcome addition to my cookbook collection.

Book Review: The Essential Cancer Treatment Nutrition Guide & Cookbook

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, are a cancer survivor, or are a caregiver to someone with cancer, this new book is a must-have resource.

Author and fellow dietitian Jean LaMantia shares easy-to-read information about cancer basics and conventional cancer therapies. Her glossary of cancer terms, guide to preparing for cancer therapy, and tips for managing the side effects of cancer treatments are all welcome knowledge for anyone who may be feeling overwhelmed with the fear, pain and worry of cancer.

LaMantia knows what she’s talking about. She herself is a cancer survivor and was a key member of the support team for her father’s journey with cancer. Specializing in cancer care, LaMantia is also a program leader for Wellspring, a national cancer support agency.

The book has been very well researched and includes a detailed reference section. Oncologist Dr. Neil Berinstein assisted in interpreting the latest evidence-based information about cancer and nutrition.

Understanding how cancer can impact appetite and nutritional needs, LaMantia offers sample menus for dealing with common side effects. To make meal planning easier, all of the 150 recipes are identified as suitable for dealing with various side effects such as constipation, dehydration, sore mouth, low appetite, taste aversions and taste alterations. High fibre, high protein and risk reduction recipes are also noted. The array of FAQs and survivor wisdom quotes throughout the book add extra insight and helpful advice.

LaMantia’s hope is that her book will make your cancer journey a little easier. With her personal insights, detailed information and sound professional advice, I believe it will.

Book Reviews

There’s no shortage of food and nutrition books out there! Here’s a sampling of my favourites over the years.

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More than We Think
By: Brian Wansink, Ph.D., 2006

Hands down, this is one of my all-time favourite nutrition books! Wansink shares his entertaining, real-life research from Cornell University which sheds light on the “invisible” cues that make us eat more that we really need.  The book is filled with easy, practical tips for eating more mindfully, such including using smaller plates, taking “pause points”, and super-sharing instead of super-sizing.

10 Habits that Mess up a Woman’s Diet: Simple Strategies to Eat Right, Lose Weight, and Reclaim Your Health
By: Elizabeth Somer, M.A., RD, 2006

Somer shares common scenarios that promote overeating, such as nibbling while cooking, and finishing off your kids’ plate of food. Many of us can easily identify with these habits. You’ll find great insights from a dietitian and expert advice to help you reach your weight loss goals.

Healthy Starts Here! 140 Recipes that Will Make You Feel Great
By: Mairlyn Smith, PHEc., 2011

Not only is Mairyln Smith one of the funniest gals I know, but she also knows how to create delicious recipes that are absolutely no fail. Smith gives the 101 on must-have kitchen toys as well as a glossary of cooking terms in case, as she notes, you missed grade 8 Home Ec class. From apples and beans to shallots and yogurt, this book offers easy everyday recipes that will wow your family and guests.

GO unDIET – 50 small actions for lasting weight loss
By: Gloria Tsang, RD, 2010

Leave it to Gloria to write a book that is so easy to read and understand! Tsang offers practical tips for weight loss and answers common questions about fat, carbs and artificial sweeteners. This is a great go-to nutrition book for anyone who wants to lose weight and eat better.

 

Cook!
By: Mary Sue Waisman, MSc., RD and Dietitians of Canada, 2011

With over 275 recipes, this cookbook is perfect for the beginner and advanced cook. Waisman, a dietitian and trained chef, compiled this collection of recipes which were submitted by dietitians using home grown Canadian ingredients. Look for my Baked Salmon with Maple Syrup, and Couscous Primavera recipes, as well as my daughter’s delightful Piggy Pancakes.

Foods that Fight Cancer: Preventing Cancer through Diet
By: Richard Béliveau, Ph.D., and Denis Gringas, Ph.D., 2006

Two cancer experts share their passion for cancer prevention. Referencing the scientific literature, Béliveau and Gringas detail the benefits of various foods including garlic, green tea, berries and chocolate. At times, the content is reminiscent of my university chemistry classes, but the photography is stunning. Be sure to try the recipes in their follow up book called Cooking with Foods that Fight Cancer, 2006.

In Defense of Food
By: Michael Pollan, 2008

Fans of Pollan’s widely acclaimed book The Omnivore’s Dilemma (2006) will not be disappointed by this book. On the first page, Pollan sums his advice in seven simple words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Pollan promotes whole foods and values eating based on tradition, common sense, and the wisdom of our mothers and grandmothers. There are a few nutrition inaccuracies in this book, but all in all, a great read. Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual (2009) is the Reader’s Digest version of the book.

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