Book Review · health

Books That Changed My Life: No 1. The Kind Life

I’ve started noticing a pattern in the books that really spoke to me.  They all share a couple things in common: Trying to live the healthiest way you can and really going back to a simple way of living.  In this series, I’ll be posting a book per post, each highlighting why each spoke to me personally.

I’ll be posting them in the order I discovered their brilliant knowledge.

It all started with The Kind Life, by Alicia Silverstone.  I came upon it by accident while browsing Half Price Books.  I saw it in the cooking section, and since I was such a big fan of Alicia Silverstone, I decided to take a gander.

Kind Life

I read the first few pages and decided to buy it immediately.  I was hooked from the beginning.  The information and stories she shares, as well as tasty recipes to promote eating a more plant-based or completely vegan diet really put things into perspective.  I’d heard here and there how our meat was pumped full of hormones and how processed food wasn’t that great for you, but this book really brought it all home.  And she speaks to you like the friend next door, keeping the book warm and informative.

After reading it, my husband and I changed a majority of how we ate.  We sought out more vegetarian dishes and utilized beans in creative recipes.  We shopped the vegetarian section and started to review where our meat was coming from.  Eventually, we started trying out vegan options for meat (most don’t taste bad at all and don’t contain as much sodium as a lot of processed sandwich meats or sausages do.)  When we do want real meat, we look to buying quality over quantity.  Organic chickens and bacon without nitrates and other ‘nasties’, as Alicia calls them.  We decided it was better to not eat as much meat, and therefore, spend a little more money for a good piece of quality meat, when we did.

So, forget Meatless Monday.  It was such an easy transition that we now only eat meat, including fish, maybe twice a week.  We don’t even miss meat when we’re not eating it, which is such a change, since we both grew up in meat and potato families!

Another easy step for us was to get rid of the microwave.  We barely used it, it took up precious counter space, and it was a hassle to clean.  We got a toaster oven to replace it, for heating foods in glass bowls.  With this decision, it helped lower the amount of processed foods we bring into the house.  Like other working couples, we do get busy and there are definitely evenings where we just want to heat something convenient for dinner.  But it’s helped us look at what kind of quick foods we do get.  If it’s something that can only be heated in a microwave, we don’t buy it.  It’s also pushed us to meal plan.  This really enhanced our love of cooking.  We really focused on good ingredients and letting the dishes shine with their simple, but delicious flavors.  No more depending on too much salt or too much sugar.  The hints of savory or the hints of sweet made our cooking and baking better.

We’re more conscious of reading labels.  The sodium and sugar content in foods is absolutely insane.  Because I have a history of Diabetes in my family, these food changes can really determine if I will in the future, get this disease.  So, reading in Alicia’s book that eating a plant-based diet, with less meat and less dairy can reverse Diabetes was what really got me on board.

Sometimes, all it takes is looking at the ingredients list, and if it consists of items you can buy in bulk – why not make it yourself?  Here are some small changes that are easy to make and could help transition you or your family to controlling how much processed food goes into your kitchen and discovering the beauty of pure foods.  The best part is, they’re easy to make and most use ingredients you already have in your pantry or fridge.

  • Mustard
  • Taco seasoning – You can leave the salt out and add to taste when cooking
  • Marinades – can double as a sauce when reduced
  • Muesli – Bulk items can be found in your local supermarket or co-op
  • Crackers
  • Tortillas
  • Vinaigrettes
  • Bread pudding, bread crumbs, croutons – all great for using up bread ends or stale loaves
Kind Life 2
Homemade muesli in a half gallon canning jar. All the items I found – oats, barley and rye flakes, ground flax seed and pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds were purchased in the bulk aisle of my local co-op.
Kind Life 3
I took up canning so I could preserve my garden’s harvest for the winter months. This way, I’m able to control the amount of sodium that goes into my canned goods.
Kind Life 4
Homemade tortillas ended up being so easy, I’ve sworn off buying them pre-packaged. They taste better, too!

I definitely recommend this read to anyone who’s looking to change the way they eat or are curious about where our food comes from.  Alicia’s website is a great place to browse her recipes and articles about her lifestyle.  What have you been making yourself?  I’m curious to know if you want to leave a comment on changes in your diet!

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