The Book that will Save your Life without Ruining it–The Food Babe Way book review

*This is a previous post from my old blog

This isn’t a diet book. It’s not a self-help book. It isn’t really any kind of book, actually, because it’s the first one of its kind. This book doesn’t make you become vegan, require you to purchase a gym membership, count calories or give up sweets for a lifetime. But this very may well save your life, if you let it, without ruining it.

So what is this book about? It is a guide for you to eat safely and healthfully for the rest of your life. In her book, The Food Babe Way, Vani Hari does all the investigating for you–she tells you what foods to avoid and what foods are safe to eat. You get a plethora of information that you didn’t know about food. If for your whole life you have struggled with weight issues, health issues or any kind of ailment or discomfort, it may be because of your diet. I’m so excited to now have a guide to help me while dining out and on the road. I’m not afraid to refer to it when I need to and bring it with me wherever I shop or dine. I’m equally, if not more, excited for the recipes, one of which I’ll be sharing with you below because it’s too delicious not to.

Hari has outlined some interesting points about food and diet that were new to me. I am not perfect when it comes to navigating our food system, and I probaly never will be. My hope is that our toxic food system will change so that I (and you), don’t have to, and one day we can all get food anywhere without having to worry about ingredients that harm us. I only wish I had known about many of these facts, habits, dangers and delicious foods when my Dad was alive. I know that much of this knowledge would’ve helped him lose weight, get healthy and live to be a ripe, old age. My hope is that this book makes it into as many hands as possible because we don’t deserve diabetes, heart disease or cancer — because we all deserve to live to a ripe, old age.

Here are some of the most important things I learned from The Food Babe Way:
Water, Restaurants and Diet Dangers
Water- There I was, all along, eating a healthy, organic lifestyle when all the while, my efforts at staying non-toxic and chemical-free were sabotaged by incredibly toxic faucet water. I’ve always loved drinking water but never really thought about filtered drinking water other than the occasional Brita filter, but it was a habit that never stuck. Now that I know from The Food Babe Way what my water may have in it, I’m on a path to getting healthier water. Because what’s the point of making sure my food is food if my water is full of toxins?

Restaurants- Aw, my Achilles heel, dining out. Even though I have made great strides in transforming my food environment at home, I still struggle with my food choices while dining out. I love Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Spanish and Mexican food, and the list goes on and on. Although I currently eat a 90 percent vegan diet, I learned that it’s not just animal products that are possibly full of things that will harm our bodies, (i.e. antibiotics, pesticides, hormones), but any type of food because we really have no regulation in our food system. So what if I end up at a restaurant with absolutely no healthy choices? In The Food Babe Way, Hari helps you navigate your favorite restaurant no matter what kind of food you choose. Knowing what to avoid and what to order is extremely helpful in a world of toxic, processed food.

Diets/Eating Styles- Hari breaks down different diets and eating styles, giving you the lowdown on the dangers and perks of each choice. I learned a lot from this section about my choice to eat mostly vegan and adopted some tips that will help me if I continue this eating style. For example, Hari mentions how vegans suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency and need to make up for it in other ways either by taking supplements or through eating specific foods. She also warns against eating fake meat that is chalk full of terrible ingredients.

Here are a few of Vani’s 21 daily habits that she eases you into one habit per day until you are eventually doing each of these habits everyday. I hope by giving you this preview, you can see how easy they are to follow and maybe it will encourage you get the book yourself to help you break free from a food system that isn’t serving you and quite possible making you sick and tired.

Eat Organic
The Food Babe explains everything organic including certification, health benefits, and the dangers of buying conventional. She puts emphasis on the Dirty Dozen and offers better choices for those who find themselves unable to purchase organic, AKA, The Clean Fifteen.

Hot water with Lemon and Cayenne Pepper

This habit is too easy not to do. If you start your day with this, you’ll feel incredibly energized all day and it will give you a plethera of benefits. All you need is half-filtered water room temperature, half filtered water boiled, one organic lemon, and a sprinkle of organic cayenne pepper. It may not seem like a fun habit to start each day in the beginning. The cayenner pepper can be difficult to handle so if you really need to, you can start with just the lemon and water. You’ll feel more energetic and less hungry throughout the day.

Enjoy at least one green drink per day
People seem to either love or hate juicing. Those who hate it have a myraid of excuses not to and probably a thicker waistline and more health problems whether their on a small scale like acne or a larger scale like obesity. Those who love it, will feel better, look prettier and live longer than those who don’t. That’s just a fact. I used to argue that it was too much work, too expensive and didn’t provide me with many benefits anyway until my accidental two-week test. I recently started a new job where there is a great juice shop nearby. While reading The Food Babe Way, I became inspired to juice again and grabbed a juice for each day that week. Each morning before work, I drank a green juice after my cayenne pepper and lemon-water regimen. Whether it was at 5:30 in the morning or 9 a.m., I had incredible energy and a full belly that lasted until my break each day. My skin didn’t trouble me and I felt overall wellness. Then came the week after. I’m not sure what it was, laziness and forgetfulness I suppose, but I fell way behind on my juice. As in none at all. I was really hungry at work early on and yawned too much for my liking. Needless to say, I learned my lesson.

Choose the best possible grains and carbs

Traditionally, people think of carbs as the food that makes us fat. Nothing could be further from the truth. Eaten the right way, carbohydrates can be some of the most nutritious and declicious food out there. The Food Babe helps you to navigate the dreaded carb by listing the healthiest finds as well as her favorite tasty treats.

Give up Fast Food

Luckily, this habit isn’t as hard as it used to be with all of the new, delicous and nutritious ‘fast food’ available to us. But some people in smaller towns and those who just can’t break the addiction to fast food still struggle from breaking this bad habit. The Food Babe reccomends changing your environment in the form of creating fast food choices in your home and avoiding the fast food hubs in your community. Hari offers tasty ‘fast food’ recipes and ways to find food in ‘food deserts.’ Hint–always read the ingredients and avoid The Sickening 15.

Pay attention to your Booze of Choice

Your best bet for booze is to stick with craft beer and organic wine. Too many beers available to us are full of GMOs and other toxic ingredients that have no business being in something we use to cheers to health. As for the hard stuff, tequila seems to be the least messed with choice. In her book, Hari lists specific beers to avoid and wineries that don’t use GMOs.

Stop Drinking all Sodas

This may be, by far, the most difficult habit for someone to break. For me fifteen years ago, it would’ve been near impossible. I was sourrounded by free soda at work and indulged in Diet Coke mixed with lemonade, Fanta orange soda and my favorite, Mr. Pibb. Thankfully, I slowly gave up soda, even though I was still surrounded by it daily.
The Food Babe recommends sparkling water along with other ideas, and gives you a dose of reality when it comes to their ingredients. Hint–they’re terrifying.
An ad I saw this week on BART from opentruthnow.org

Eat Less Dairy and Meat

This may not be easy but it pays off in the end. The Food Babe recommends thinking of meat as a condiment to add to dishes full of vegetables and grains. Try springing cheese on top of your pizza or salad next time instead of dousing it and plan your next meal starring a vegetable instead of meat, fish or poultry. If you do this just a few times a week, you are significantly lowering your chances of heart disease.
The purpose of The Food Babe and her new book is to shine light on the hidden ingredients in our food, how they make us fat and sick, and how to avoid them. In The Food Babe Way, Hari delves deep into what these ingredients really are, where they come from and what they are doing to our health.
Here’s a Look at some of The Sickening 15…

Growth Hormones in Meat

“In 2009, two Japanese researchers published a startling study in Annals of Oncology. They pointed out that there has been a surge in hormone-dependent cancers that roughly parallels the surge of beef consumption in Japan. Over the last twenty-five years, hormone-dependent cancers such as breast, ovarian, endometrial, and prostate cancer rose fivefold in that country. More that 25 percent of the beef imported to Japan comes from the United States, where livestock growers regularly use the growth hormonal steroid estuarial. The researchers found that US beef had a much higher levels of estrogen than Japanese beef because of the added hormones. This finding led them to conclude that eating a lot of estrogen-rich beef could be the reason for the rising incidence of these life-threatening cancers.”

Note: Milk isn’t any better. Take this quote from the Food Babe herself:

“Drink a glass of conventional pasteurized milk, and you might as well be drinking a hormone cocktail. Some dairy farmers inject their animals with hormones so that they pump out more milk. A Nutrition and Caner study reported in 2011 that cow’s milk stimulated the growth of prostate cancer cells in lab dishes, while almond milk suppressed the growth of these cells.”

Antibiotics

“Antibiotics have been given a free ride for decades, with millions and million being prescribed. This overexposure is a growing health concern. National surveys reported by the US Depratment of Helth and Human Services have shown antibiotic residues in meat, in milk and, in some cities in drinking water. That means even if you avoid unnecessary antibiotics from your doctor, you could be getting them from the grocery store and facet.”

Pesticides

“Pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides are sprayed on fruits, vegetables, grains, its and seeds–vitrually everything grown in nature–and they’re among the most toxic substances on eath, doing untold damage to our bodies. For one thing, they imitate estrogen (a fat-forming hormone) and disrupt thyroid function–two side effects that encourage weight gain. According to the Environmental Working Group, apples are the most heavily sprayed fruit.”

Refined and Enriched Flour

“If you buy bread, check the labeling. Make sure it’s made with sprouted “whole heat” flour or “whole grain” flour. Eiher one should be the first ingredient on the list. Also, avoid enriched, bleached, and while wheat flour. Choose whole wheat and whole grain, whole oates, rye, buckwheat, almond, or quinoa flour instead. By the way, this standard also applies to other flour-based products, like crackers, rolls, bagels, and any commercially baked food.”
High-Fructose Corn Syprup (HFCS)

Read all packing labels and if you see this ingredient, drop it and run. HFCS makes you fat and hides in soda, bread, flavored yogurt, crackers and cookies.

“When you ingest HFCS, insulin skyrockets, and insulin promotes fat storage. Not only does this sweetener make your insuli level surges, it also wreaks havoc on the hormone leptin, the body’s appetite regulator. HFCS surpreses your response to leptin, and you get so hungry you want to eat everything in sight. The result: Your body gets very adept at storing fat.”

Carageenan
It wasn’t until I began reading this book that I realized a shocking thing–my favorite brand of organic almond milk contained carageenan, a known carcinogen that has been linked to cancer. I felt disappointed but at the same time empowered that I now have the knowledge to make a healthier choice.

The rest of The Sickening 15 are explained in greater detail in The Food Babe Way.

Who’s Hurting Us?

In The Food Babe Way, Hari addresses who controls food in the US and what that means for its citizens. If only I’d known sooner the secret to the food system in this country, that our food corporations decide what we eat and hide cheap, dangerous ingredients in our food to make it last longer and taste better. I wasn’t sure how this was possible in this great country where it seems like we have a watchdog for everything. In this case, it turns out that the very ‘watchdog’ who is suppose to protect us from a toxic food system, the FDA, is in cahoots with ‘big food’ (i.e. General Mills, Pepsi, Coca Cola). What does this mean? Well, this means that the FDA gets its funding from the very people who need their approval for new ingredients to be declared safe. Strange though, because I’m pretty sure that if you’re taking money from someone, you wouldn’t turn them down very often. This kind of backscratching is what leads to harmful ingredients in our food.
These addictive ingredients promote the overindulgence of toxic ingredients that are hard to avoid and even harder to ditch. But I eat healthy, you’re thinking, this book isn’t for me. What I realized after reading this book was that even my best efforts to eat healthy were being sabotaged behind the scenes. Although I’ve made great strides to transform the food in my home, I’ve struggled to make those same changes in the food world outside of my home. I don’t eat fast food anymore but I still find it difficult to eat out at restaurants and on the road healthfully.

Final Thoughts

Vani’s 21 Day plan to get healthier and lose weight, helps you avoid big food and bad ingredients. And she makes it easy and delicious! What’s the biggest piece of information that I walked away with after reading The Food Babe Way? It’s this: Ingredients matter over everything, especially calorie count. If the ingredients are good, you can’t go wrong.
I think that The Food Babe Way is such a powerful book, that I wish I could buy one for each and every family member, friend, coworker, acquaintance and stranger I know! I truly believe that it could help everyone in some one. Whether you need help navigating the processed foods section of a grocery store, need a good place to order food online or want to change and possibly even reverse a health problem that you have, this book is for you. The delicious recipes and 21 day health plan makes it too easy not to at least try it. If you can’t get the book, send me a message and I’ll lend you my copy!

Now for a Food Babe recipe! This is one of my favorites to make for my sister, Allison, because we devour it together each time and it’s way healthier than the dip we used to share at the Elephant Bar.
~Creamy Kale and Artichoke Dip~

Serves 4

1/2 bag frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and chopped
2 cups finely chopped kale, spinach, Swiss chard, or collards
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 sour cream or Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons mayonaise (I used vegan mayo
1 1/2 tablespoons Parmesan or manchego, plus more for topping if desired
Coconut oil for greasing the pan

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
2. Combine all the ingredients except the coconut oil in a large bowl. Mix well.
3. Grease a medium baking dish with the coconut oil and put in the dip mixture.
4.Top with additional cheese, if desired.
5. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.
6. Remove from the oven and let sit for at least 5 minutes before serving with homemade pita or tortilla chips.

~Pita or Tortilla Chips~

Serves 4

5 whole wheat pitas or small sprouted corn tortillas
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Cut the pitas or tortillas into triangles with a pizza cutter.
3. Combine the triangles with the coconut oil, paprika, and sea salt in a large bowl.
4. Place the triangles on a baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until crisp.
5. Let cool and enjoy.

Where to find The Food Babe Way

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Books a Million

Your local Bookstore

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