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Peas and goodwill to all



Peas and goodwill to all

A new cook book gives advice on how not to die

Hilary Biller

One of the perks of my job is the plethora of newly published cookbooks that land on my desk. In an instant I can judge the ones that will fly off the shelves and others, dare I say, that may not quite cut the mustard. The title alone of this cookbook, How Not To Die, stopped me in my tracks, urging me to turn the pages. It also comes at just the right time as all those virtuous New Year resolutions are beginning to fade …So who is Dr Michael Greger, apart from being one of the authors of the book? You’ll know if you’re one of those who reads through all the bumf, that he comes with a long pedigree: a physician, author and the expert behind the popular website NutritionFacts.org.
Though he includes some heavyweight rave reviews of his work, including one from the Dalai Lama, he managed to endear himself to me in the first paragraph of his introduction: “I admit it. I am a nutrition nerd.”
The essence of his book is that he believes (and offers many testimonials proving it) that people can heal and help themselves to prevent and reverse disease by eating properly.
Yes, we all know that. I want more!
The core of his message is this: people should follow a lifestyle he describes as “whole-food plant-based nutrition”. He says “the healthiest diet is one that minimises the intake of meat, eggs, dairy and processed junk, and maximises the intake of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, mushrooms and herbs – basically food that grows out of the ground”. I’ve heard all this before, I thought to myself, it’s the same old message.
But what kept me turning the pages were the recipes – and the pictures.
He starts off with a chapter of simple preparation with recipes to make your own basics. These include almond milk and date syrup (a green light sweetener I tried last night consisting of a cup of dates, a cup of boiling water, a teaspoon of lemon rind all blended together – so delicious). There’s also a savoury spice blend and an umami sauce that adds tons of flavour to many vegetarian and whole-grain meals which are otherwise bland. There’s a great vegetable stock and ranch dressing too.After that the chapters are broken down into recipes for different meals – breakfast, snacks, soups, salads, burgers, veggie mains, bean cuisine.
I was inspired to try out some of the ideas, which to me is the sign of a good cookbook. I made the stuffed sweet potatoes with balsamic-date glaze using that date syrup I’d made up initially. It is an easy recipe and the result is very tasty.I have such a sweet tooth (which I’m desperately trying to curb) so I was taken with the fudgy no-bake brownies consisting of nuts, dates, almond butter and cocoa powder mixed together in a food processor. I found that I had to wait too long for them to chill for an hour, so I spooned them out of the tray.Is the book worth buying? Yes if you’re looking for a healthier lifestyle (as we all should be). It’s full of ideas that don’t involve expensive or exotic ingredients. It gets a high five because we should all be eating less meat and processed foods. Not only are processed foods not good for us but producing them has a huge impact on the environment.
RATING: 4 stars
By Michael Greger and recipes by Robin Robertson
Publishers: MacMillan
Price: R360
Available at Exclusive Books and online from takealot and loot

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