Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cookbook Review: Health on Your Plate (Plus a Giveaway)

Posted By on Tue, Apr 30, 2013 at 3:08 PM

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A few weeks ago, I received a copy of Health on Your Plate by Yara Shoemaker. Shoemaker is a former model and aesthetician who’s studied a variety of diets and health programs — ostensibly to maintain her health and appearance — and combined that with the practical knowledge she gleaned from older, healthier members of her grandmother’s Syrian community. For the book, she’s assembled a wealth of what should be common sense to serve as a road map toward a healthier lifestyle. This is not a diet book at all; more like a lifestyle guide.

She starts with the basics, even including guides to choosing cookware, appliances, and pantry items. She also includes information on how to best shop for food. For example, she’s got a great section on oils — which to use for what type of cooking and which to avoid (and why). Shoemaker is not a vegetarian, but notes that the common denominator in the healthiest of diets in the world is an emphasis on whole grains and vegetables. Other food groups can be included, but in moderation and prepared in a healthy way.

And though it’s not explicitly a beauty book, Shoemaker does include tips in various sections on how to maintain your appearance and how what you eat affects your appearance. She notes, “ 'You are what you eat,' so imagine what you would look like on the doughnut diet” as opposed to a diet of the slender carrot. But she doesn’t condescend to readers at all, and every claim is backed up by a thorough set of references included at the end of the book.

Shoemaker has also included a section of loose recipes, though most are guidelines for assembling a healthy salad (that you’d actually eat) or a healthy meal. Many of the actual recipes have a Mediterranean flair, as well as items like stuffed peppers and stuffed cabbage.

Essentially, this book is a nice reference for anyone who’s decided it’s time to make a positive change toward a healthier lifestyle. As I mentioned, it may seem like common sense to those of us who’ve studied diets and nutrition, but for those who don’t know what should and should not be in a healthy kitchen, it should prove to be very useful. The book does include more photographs of the author than I’ve seen in any book of this nature, though it does make it clear that Shoemaker practices what she preaches.

The book is available to purchase from Amazon. If you’re in Nashville and can pick up a copy of the book from downtown, leave a comment to enter to win it (if your profile doesn’t include an email address, let me know how to contact you either with that info or a Twitter handle). I’ll choose a winner at random on Monday, May 6.

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