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6 Must-Read Books On Health And Nutrition

Leslie Cerier’s cookbook, Gluten-Free Recipes for the Conscious Cook

is on the top 6 list with Michael Pollan’s and Marion Nestle’s…

“As a nutrition and health coach, Mary Porter is frequently asked about books on food and wellness. Here she shares some of her favorites. printed May 2, 2011 on

In the past few weeks I’ve participated in several wellness fairs which I find both enjoyable and fascinating. People are very curious about what they should be eating; they bring all manner of questions to my table, and some very constructive conversations ensue.  One of the things that draws people to my exhibit in the first place are the books I display from my own lending library. That usually leads to a discussion of what other books I recommend reading, so I thought today I’d share some of my favorites with you.

What to Eat

By Marion Nestle

Nestle is my #1 food hero. I love to see her quoted in the media (which she is often) because she is a voice of common sense and trust amid the madness that surrounds nutrition and health policy. What to Eat is something of a bible for people trying to pick through the rhetoric and figure out what they should be putting in their mouths. Nestle’s voice is engaging; her narrative addresses the questions we all have about eating well and offers guidance for each person to make the best and most informed decisions about their approach to food. If you really want to get down and dirty on what the government and food manufacturers are doing with our food supply, check out Nestle’s other book, Food Politics.

In Defense of Food

By Michael Pollan

Although Pollan’s breakthrough Omnivore’s Dilemma is still a top choice for understanding how this country produces and markets food, I continue to be drawn to the simple message of In Defense of Food – “eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Pollan uses a wide range of examples to show how we’ve become disconnected with real food and how we can work our way back to eating what our bodies are designed for. I absolutely love his description of imagining what your great-grandmother would think about Go-Gurt. The book is filled with wonderful humor about the ridiculous state of our food system.

Suicide by Sugar

By Nancy Appleton and G.N. Jacobs

Very few of us don’t have a sugar habit to some degree, but the majority of people don’t understand the effect of sugar on our bodies and our brains. Appleton and Jacobs very bluntly unpack the destructive impact our #1 national addiction is having on our health and offer practical steps for weaning yourself off the sweet stuff. For those who want to take their sugar rehab to the next level, The Sugar Addicts Total Recovery Program by Kathleen des Maisons is a top-notch guide. des Maisons is one of the pioneers in the field of sugar addiction treatment and her program is highly effective.

Student’s Go Vegan

By Carole Raymond

I couldn’t do a column about favorite books without a few cookbooks thrown in. I’m a foodie at heart and cookbooks feed my soul. With more light being shed on the benefits of a plant-based diet, this slim volume is a great primer for those interested in exploring vegan cooking that’s not intimidating. Raymond aims the book at college students who have limited income, resources, kitchen space and equipment, so you need nothing special here to take this journey. Most every ingredient can be found at your regular grocer and preparation is easy. For a compelling argument for going vegan, I suggest reading Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. While I personally find the authors’ use of profanity to be gratuitous, I understand why they used their approach to bring attention to their message – which is strongly presented and backed up with good research.

Gluten-Free Recipes for the Conscious Cook

By Leslie Cerier

Gluten intolerance and celiac disease are on the rise, but thankfully there are now many fantastic resources available for those who have to transition to this diet. Released last year, this lovely book offers a great section on understanding and cooking gluten-free grains plus a wide variety of mouth-watering recipes for all courses, including superb baked goods. The cookbook is vegetarian, but for those with gluten intolerance who are still eating meat it offers wonderful alternatives. Gluten-free bakers should check out Pascale Cymbele’s The Allergen-Free Baker’s Book which provides recipes free of gluten, soy, dairy and nuts that taste amazing.  A recently made chocolate cake was to-die-for!

Feeding the Whole Family: Recipes for Babies, Young Children and Their Parents

By Cynthia Lair

Anyone with young kids at home should have this book on their shelf. I recommend it often to parents who feel like they’re making three different meals every night and worry that their kids are only ever going to eat macaroni and cheese. Lair creates beautiful recipes for parents which are then deconstructed to make them palatable for younger family members. The beauty of following these guidelines is that they help you see ways in which other dishes you make can be similarly broken down. What I most appreciate about the book is the opportunity to help your child’s palate mature and become more diverse while mom and dad enjoy a fantastic meal.

Do you have a favorite book on nutrition and cooking? Please share!”

Mary Porter is a nutrition educator and counselor living in the Fort Hunt area. Her company, A Better Plate, works with individuals, corporations and groups teaching the art and practice of nourishment. You can email her at

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