by Barbara Cornell
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Earth Month than putting something in the earth and watching it grow. If it grows into something delicious and healthy, so much the better.
- You will know exactly how your food was raised—it will be organic if you want it to be.
- You will be the ultimate locavore —just pick it and bring it into the kitchen!
- Working in the garden is good exercise—a great way to work up an appetite for your homegrown veggies!
Are you unsure of how to get started? Howard County Library System has some excellent books full of advice for the beginner and the pro. Here are some of our newest.
The Ultimate Guide to Growing Your Own Food, 2011, by Monte Burch, promises you will “Save money, live better, and enjoy life with food from your garden or orchard.” Burch covers “why,” “where,” and lots of “how-tos.” with excellent photos and illustrations.
Another great general book is How to Grow Food, 2011, by Richard Gianfrancesco. His “Growing Directory” gives information on “how to grow, maintain, harvest and store” crops. He packs an immense amount of information into each page including “value for money” and a calendar with advice for each season. His “How to Grow” section covers soil prep, starting seeds, controlling pests, pruning, and more. He finishes with “Preserving Your Crop” and includes recipes.
Creative Homeowner’s Fast, Fresh Garden Edibles: Quick Crops for Small Spaces, 2011, by Jane Courtier, will appeal to the impatient gardener with little spare time. Courtier gives enough well-illustrated introduction to inspire and ground the beginner then presents a directory of food crops uniquely divided by speed: “Superfast,” “Faster than the average vegetable,” and “Worth the wait.”
The Food Lover’s Garden, 2010, by Mark Diacono, is full of tempting surprises. It has a decidedly British flavor—the author’s first book was named Practical Book of the Year by the UK’s Garden Media Guild—but it translates well to the U.S. I was delighted to find that my Carolina Allspice bush has a culinary use and to see a recipe included! Diacono is rather “evangelical” about nasturtiums and Jerusalem artichokes as well. He will have you converted!
I love the tiny book How to Grow Your Food: A Guide for Complete Beginners, 2011, by Jon Clift and Amanda Cuthbert. It is another British import that is very happy here in the U.S. I like that the section on each vegetable or fruit includes the following: “plant or seed,” “planting/sowing,” “how do they grow?”, “looking after your ___,” and “now what” (what to do after the harvest).
I hope these suggestions will get you started on the road to happy gardening. So it’s Earth Month! Go plant something!
By Angie Engles
Memory, moods, sleep, dreams, and learning are all things associated with the brain that absolutely fascinate me and, of course, ultimately all tie together. If there’s something natural (or safely herbal) that will help with any of those things, I will most likely ingest it.
I’m also a sucker for books with fetching covers and easy access to helpful information that’s not in fine print. That’s probably why I grabbed up a copy of the fascinating book Power Foods for the Brain, by Neal D. Barnard, a book dealing with how best to treat that part of our body that houses our mind and pretty much everything we need to function as a human being.
It’s a pretty great book, and if it has only one flaw it’s that there are just so darned many jam-packed facts found within. Just to give you an idea of some of the many useful, even lifesaving, offerings, here are some of the meatiest parts (though, please, consider more vegetables and less meat):
- When it comes to metals in one’s diet, iron and copper are not stable. They can, in fact, be harmful to your ealth. You can see this when you pour water into a cast iron pan and it doesn’t take long before it rusts because it’s oxidizing. Soda cans (aluminum) also have been considered harmful to the brain (forgetting, for one moment, the soda itself which is also not very healthy.)
- Cholesterol increases the build-up of something called amyloids, abnormal proteins often made by cells in your bone marrow that can be deposited in any tissue or organ. These amyloids can in turn build into a plaque that has been linked to Alzheimer’s.
- MRI scans have shown that exercising can actually reverse the shrinking of the brain that comes with age.
- The amount of caffeine in coffee (and this little fact may be enough to inspire you to give up that java juice magic, though probably not if you have coffee flowing through your veins) takes a lot longer to get out of your system than previously thought. For example, if you drink coffee at 8 in the morning, a quarter of that caffeine is still in your system twelve hours later.
- Special cholesterol-lowering foods include: oats, beans, barley, almonds, and walnuts.
And just in case you forgot:
- White (and wheat!) breads aren’t so great for your sugar levels. Rye and pumpernickel, however, are much better choices and perfect for achieving a low-glycemic index.
- White potatoes can raise your blood sugar levels considerably. Sweet potatoes are far healthier and less starchy.
Dr. Barnard certainly can’t solve all your health problems, but he can tackle the less serious ones like low energy, poor sleep patterns, irritability (who doesn’t want to let go of THAT?), and trouble concentrating. He offers a three-step plan which shows you which foods to add to your diet (foods rich in Vitamin E like spinach, broccoli, and sweet potatoes have been linked to protecting brain cells), which foods to most definitely eliminate or ease up on (his mention of fish as something less than positive may shock some people), and how exercise and (some) supplements can make a big difference in your life. It’s a given that we know what we eat affects our bodies, but sometimes we forget our brains are part of the deal too.
by Teresa Rhoades
What does The Dukan Diet have to do with the books Bossypants by Tina Fey and Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand? These three books were on the top 15 non-fiction bestseller list in May 2011.(1)
Find The Dukan Diet at your local branch of HCLS.
A review of the diet by Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, director of nutrition for WebMD, provides a short synopsis of the diet plan. The Dukan is basically a four-phase, high-protein, low-calorie diet plan. There’s no weighing foods or counting calories. You eat as much as you want, at any time of day–as long as what you’re eating is lean protein. Protein is the centerpiece in all four phases, along with oat bran, lots of water, and a 20-minute daily walk. Vegetables are allowed in the second stage, followed by small amounts of fruit and whole grains.
You may have noticed that this sounds very much like the Atkins diet. One of the pros of the diet is that dieters lose weight rapidly–as much as 1-2 pounds a day during the first phase–some of the cons mentioned in the book are that dieters may suffer frombad breath, constipation, dry mouth, and fatigue.
The folks at WebMD provide stage-by-stage bullet points of the diet directions (in case you are not able to obtain a copy of the book):
During Phase 1 (the “Attack” phase), dieters focus on lean protein and can choose from 72 lean or low-fat meats (excluding pork and lamb), fish, poultry, eggs, soy, and nonfat dairy. They can also have that along with 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran and 1.5 liters of water daily.
Phase 2 (the “Cruise” phase) allows unlimited amounts of 28 non-starchy vegetables every other day along with a core diet of unlimited lean/low-fat protein and 2 tablespoons of oat bran. As mentioned previously, starch vegetables such as carrots, peas, corn, and potatoes are not on the approved foods list.
Phase 3 (Consolidation) allows unlimited protein (now including pork and lamb) and vegetables every day, along with one piece of low-sugar fruit, 2 slices of whole-grain bread, and 1 portion of hard cheese. Dieters can also have 1-2 servings of starchy foods and 1-2 “celebration” meals (in which you can eat whatever you want) per week during this phase. In this phase, you begin the lifetime commitment of eating the core diet of pure protein one day each week, preferably the same day.
Phase 4 (Stabilization), according to Dukan, is when you can eat whatever you like without regain if you follow his rules–one day a week, follow the same all-protein diet as in Phase 1; eat 3 tablespoons of oat bran a day; and walk for 20 minutes daily and never take elevators or escalators. Sugar-free gum, artificial sweeteners, vinegars, and spices are allowed on The Dukan Diet. The book encourages dieters to take a daily multivitamin with minerals.
People who follow The Dukan Diet will lose weight because it cuts calories drastically. The lack of carbs also helps keep hunger at bay. But experts say this eating plan does not include all the nutrients you need for good health. “A once-daily multivitamin will not compensate for the nutritional goodness from fruits, whole grains and healthy fats that are inadequate in The Dukan Diet,” says Keri Gans, MS, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Gans also pointed out that losing more than 1-2 pounds per week can promotegallstones and muscle loss, she says: “It is unhealthy to lose weight so quickly because you not only lose fat and fluids but precious muscle mass…Constipation, bad breath, dry mouth, and fatigue should be a red flag that this is not a healthy diet,” she says. “Your body’s preferred fuel to energize and keep you going is smart carbs, and when you eat a healthy diet you should feel great–not have negative side effects,” Gans says.
Other articles, written by spokespersons of the American Dietetic Association also point out shortcomings of the diet. Andrea Giancoli, RD states that the Dukan diet lacks the produce and whole grains you need to ward off diseases, including cancer. Giancoli also wonders about the maintenance part of the plan because you can gain weight eating whatever you like 6 days each week. “The plan isn’t balanced enough to give you the nutrition you need, but it will probably give you constipation, low energy, brain fog, and bad breath,” says Giancoli.(2)
Based on another review by Karen Ansel, MS, RD, CDN of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the diet is not “all bad.” While her review does mention some of the concerns that the other reviewers posed, she points out that, “On the upside, the diet does recommend several healthful practices such as choosing leaner cuts of protein, encouraging daily exercise, moderating salt intake and striving for lifelong weight management. Because it is highly regimented, the Dukan diet can be a good fit for people who require a highly structured plan.”
The Dukan diet is extremely popular because as Ansel mentions, it is likely to help readers shed unwanted weight (including famous people such as Kate Middleton and others). Most medical reviewers, including Ansel, agree that the highly restrictive nature of the Attack and Cruise phases raise health concerns that make it difficult to recommend this diet.
So…before trying out this diet, please note the following: “People with diabetes are recommended to consult their health team before embarking on a significant change to their current diet.” And even for those without diabetes, it is always advisable to discuss how the diet could be best adapted to your own requirements with your health care provider.
(1) Publishers Weekly, 5/2/2011, Vol. 258 Issue 18, p13-13, 3/4p
(2) Prevention, Jul2011, Vol. 63 Issue 7, p70-70, 1p
Posted by hclibrary on Mar 3, 2013 in Health, Reviews | 0 comments
By Cristina Lozare
Get “Me Before You” at your branch of the Howard County Library.
My mother and I loved three-hankie, weepy movies. We’d get teary-eyed, no matter how many times we saw Deborah Kerr in a wheelchair telling Cary Grant in an Affair to Remember, ”If you can paint, I can walk.”
Me Before You by Jojo Moyeś did not only make me whip out the tissues, but it made me ponder life and the right to end it and the endless possibilities of love. Louisa Clark, 26-year-old working girl in a sleepy English village, is a caretaker of a very moody, suicidal quadriplegic 36-year-old, Will Traynor. Will, a former man about town, a lover of beautiful girls and a financial wizard, was hit by a motorcycle and has been in a wheelchair for two years. He has given his parents six months before he plans to end his life in a clinic in Switzerland. Unbeknownst to Louisa, she is hired to be on suicide watch for the duration.
Louisa and Will could not have come from more disparate backgrounds. Louisa wears blue sequined shorts, bumble bee tights and a mini dress made from her grandfather’s curtains. Will smells rich and acts privileged, even ensconced in a state-of-the-art wheelchair. Jojo Moyeś, has spot-on zingers in the interactions between Will and Louisa that are just witty and delightful. And she does not shy away from putting us behind the wheelchair and letting us see the unrelenting pain of Will Traynor. Nor do we escape unscathed when decisions have to be faced by Will and Louisa as the deadline looms.
The prose is not lofty, but realistic, funny and not sentimental. I found myself rooting for Louisa as she made plans to take Will to California, anything and anywhere to make him desire to live again. On the other hand, Will continuously encourages Louisa to stop limiting her horizons and to expand her experiences and start living life.
It is a unique love story, tender and eloquent in its desires. It opens up possibilities and more questions about life, and the right to end it. One thing I am sure of though, it is one love story my mother and I would have cried and cheered for for days.
Introversion: it sounds like the name on an 80s pop band or some kind of condition you just need to get over already. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines it as: “the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life.”
Sigmund Freud, in that way only he could, ascribed sexual meaning to the most non-sexual thing and considered being introverted a form of pathology, a way to deal with the outside world (and sex) by shutting in on oneself. Carl Jung was much kinder in how he saw introversion, seeing it more as an attitude toward life, an inner psychic kind of energy.
These days, thankfully, the introvert is enjoying a surge in popularity and is not only very functional, but quite capable of contributing to the world. Two exceptional books to have come out recently address the hidden wealth and beauty of being an introvert in a world that often screams extrovert.
“Introverts who are not shy,” Sophia Dembling, author of The Introvert’s Way, writes; “[they]are used to being told they could not possibly be introverts.” Many assumptions are made about introverts that are outright false or just the result of well-intentioned misunderstandings, including the misconception that an introvert is a snob.
“I have to admit, there were times over the course of my life…when even I wondered if maybe I were some kind of coldhearted snob. Why was I so reluctant to go to parties and why did I want to leave them shortly after arriving? Why? Because it’s not my nature. I’m an introvert. And there’s not a damn thing wrong with me.” So says Dembling who provides scientific and cultural background about introversion as well as helpful tips and an understanding of the introvert’s nature.
If you’re an introvert, it isn’t that you’re shy, but that you appreciate the benefits of quiet solitude. You’re not antisocial, instead, you find spending time alone a great way to recharge before moving on again in the world. It’s not that you dislike people, but that you find more meaning in one-on-one connections than in large get-togethers.
Another recent book (which appeared on The New York Times Best Seller list and at one point had almost 200 requests on it at HCLS) on introversion is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Susan Cain’s amazing book truly speaks to anyone who is introverted or understands what it’s like to be.
“Without introverts,” Cain tells the reader, “the world would be devoid of the theory of gravity, the theory of relativity, W. B. Yeats’s ‘The Second Coming,’ Chopin’s nocturnes, Proust’s ‘In Search of Lost Time,’Peter Pan, Orwell’s ’1984′ and ‘Animal Farm,’ The Cat in the Hat,Charlie Brown, ‘Schindler’s List,’ ‘E.T.,’ and ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind,’ Google and Harry Potter.”
As someone who is an introvert, I love that the author recognizes many introverts feel social pressure to be outgoing and talkative and that they can be quite good at disguising that little fact.
Full of lots of interesting insights and useful information, QUIET gives credit to some of the most innovate minds that just happen to be introverted. Praising the hidden strengths of introverts, Cain suggests that revealing the power of quietude will not only free introverts to be themselves, but will add to positive advancements in leadership, parenting, intimate partnerships, and the workforce.
by Barbara Cornell
‘Tis the season—for the Farmers’ Market Chef to hunker down with a good book and wait out the season. The seed and flower catalogs promise that spring planting and summer harvest will again come, but for now we are looking for entertainment within the house.
It is a good season to enjoy cookbooks, and to enjoy fiction—how about a hybrid of the two! Fans of Patricia Cornwell’s character Kay Scarpetta have probably discovered her 1998 “novelette” Scarpetta’s Winter Table. It is a short little narrative (91 pages) of a week between Christmas and New Year’s when Scarpetta and her coworkers and friends spend some down time and feed each other. The “recipes” are really just descriptions of how they are preparing their food.
Susan Wittig Albert is a prolific writer of cozy mysteries, notably her China Bayles series. China is a refugee from the legal rat race pursuing her dream to run her herb shop, “Thyme & Seasons” in Pecan Springs, Texas. Albert’s 2003 book An Unthymely Death and Other Garden Mysteries is a “treasury of stories, herbal lore, recipes, and crafts from the world of Pecan Springs.” One could read the stories and skip the recipe sidebars—or read the recipes and skip the stories!
The rest of my reading suggestions make no pretense at fiction and are housed happily in the cookbook section of the library. For example, readers of Jan Karon will recognize the characters in Jan Karon’s Mitford Cookbook & Kitchen Reader, 2004. Karon claims she can’t really cook, so she recruited cookbook editor Martha McIntosh to develop the recipes, each one in turn credited to one of her characters. Excerpts from her books are sprinkled liberally throughout and Karon adds notes and personal stories that indeed “give readers an extended family.”
Debbie Macomber, on the other hand, loves to cook and believes “sharing recipes can bind us with others…It’s about nurturing traditions.” Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove Cookbook, 2009, follows a central character, Charlotte Jefferson Rhodes, around the town of Cedar Cove as she visits other characters at addresses which are titles for her books—breakfast at 16 Lighthouse Road, tea at 6 Rainier Drive. After dessert she follows with Easter, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The dishes are lovingly photographed. No wonder some fans have told Macomber they gain weight just reading her books.
Joanne Fluke’s Lake Eden Cookbook: Hannah Swenson’s Recipes from the Cookie Jar, 2011, takes place in Swenson’s Lake Eden, Minnesota, bakery and coffee shop, “The Cookie Jar,” at her 4th Annual Christmas Cookie Exchange Luncheon. In addition to the many recipes from her mystery series that stars Hannah Swenson, Fluke has added many new recipes and layered them between slices of narrative. The language is homey and peppered with personal notes (“You’d better lock your freezer if you want them to last”).
So why are these homey recipes from fictional locales showing up in a “Wellness” blog? I believe the act of cooking for—and eating meals with—loved ones is its own kind of health food.