Whenever I feel lost, I come back to books. Books have this arcane way of setting the world to rights, of being the salve for all that hurts. As a writer, I make sense of the world through prose; prose helps me navigate loss, love, and the ocean of emotions that fall in between. Books have the propensity to rebuild worlds we previously thought were ruinous, and I always come away from a book with a sense of hope. For me, books are always the answer. Always.
Last week I mourned the kind of life that had a stronghold on me. Habits that were at turns comforting and destructive, and after the dust settled and the anger subsided, I spent the greater part of the weekend immersed in books trying to make sense of the hows and the whys and trying to architect a new space I can occupy–a life lived mindfully. Below are a few of the books I’ve combed through, and over the course of the coming months I’ll share other writers and tomes that inspire me to nourish and rebuild.
After I had a minor rage blackout in my nutritionist’s office last week (in response to my laundry list of food sensitivities), she handed me her good friend Nadya Andreeva’s, book, Happy Belly: A Woman’s guide to feeling vibrant, light, and balanced. On the train ride up to Rhinebeck, I learned about proper food combinations, an individual food’s path to digestion (DYK that larger pieces of beef can take up to eight hours to leave your body?), that the less you chew, the more you make your digestive system work in overtime, and, as a result, fermentation starts to occur since food is in your system longer than it should be? Fermentation = yeast = bloat = digestive issues = heartbreak = I miss bread. I MEAN.
Nadya’s book explained all the complicated science quite simply, and the Ayurvedic philosophy, of which most of the book is based, really resonated with me. I’ve been exploring self-care and deep listening lately, and while it may sound bizarre to you, listening to myself chew my food has made a complete difference in the way I come to a meal.
However, I was also angry, which you would expect when you tell a woman she can no longer have pizza, bread, turkey, sweet potatoes, pasta and did I mention, BREAD? I needed humor, anger and some sentitmental education, and April Peveteaux’s breezy, hilarious, yet informative, memoir, Gluten is my Bitch, was just the ticket. I discovered April’s book will typing in certain expletives + gluten in Google search, and I’m glad I did. A celiac, April breaks down the science of our suffering, while at the same time making me laugh through the pain. She also presents a lot of great recipes and some optimism with regard to science and celiac.
When I was done punching walls and kicking pillows around the apartment, I settled into Cara Reed’s Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking: Delicious, Gluten-, Egg- and Dairy-Free Treats and Sweets. Thumbing through the recipes, I saw a lot of my beloveds (coffee cakes, chocolate cakes, crackers and chocolate chip cookies) made without gluten and dairy, and let me tell you this: A WOMAN FELT HOPE. I plan to bake from this book over the next few weeks, but I already thoroughly loved the coffee cake muffins I baked this weekend.
After foraging through my agent’s expansive garden in Rhinebeck, he handed me this lovely book, Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen: The Girlfriend’s Cookbook and Guide to Using Real Food to Fight Cancer by Annette Ramke + Kendall Scott. While my condition is nowhere nearly as serious as cancer, I found a lot of their mindful healthy eating tips smart, and their vegetarian recipes (most of which are gluten-free!) inspiring. Their approach is holistic and self-nourishing, and I’ve already bookmarked a lot of dishes I plan on making.
I’ve had many extensive conversations with my nutritionist about Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar: Your Complete 8-Week Detox Program and Cookbook, and let’s just say that while Dana likes the idea in concept, she’s not a fan of the execution, as well as many of the high-fat recipes. While I agree, I did find Sarah’s book an eye-opening read. Quite simply, it made me aware of just how much sugar we consume, and the fact that sugar is in EVERYTHING. Look at your labels. Take the total number of carbohydrates, subtract the dietary fiber, and divide that number by 4.2. You’ve just discovered how many TEASPOONS of sugar are in your meal, and how easy it is for us to get addicted to something for which we weren’t built (from an evolutionary standpoint) to regulate. Just for the knowledge alone, this book is worth the purchase, and I did find many of the recipes, rather than the program, to be wonderful, in moderation.
Finally, one of the best acquisitions I made this year was Kimberley Hasselbrink’s Vibrant Food: Celebrating the Ingredients, Recipes, and Colors of Each Season. I’ve already bought four books for holiday gifting, and if this book doesn’t inspire you to eat well, I don’t know what will. Kimberley offers up incredible seasonal fare, inventive recipes, and I’ve made her fritters more times than I’d like to share.
If you’ve discovered books that have inspired your food journey, please let me know!! You guys have been so awesome with the recommendations, and I have tons of new apps I’ve downloaded and bloggers I’m now following, as a result!