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Ginny Messina RSS Feed (Port Townsend, WA)

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Vegan Pressure Cooking: Delicious Beans, Grains, and One-Pot Meals in Minutes
Vegan Pressure Cooking: Delicious Beans, Grains, and One-Pot Meals in Minutes
Price: $11.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vegan food is easy, delicious and beautiful, and this is the cookbook that proves it., January 5, 2015
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Full disclosure: I know the author of this book and, in fact, she contributed the recipes for one of my own books. So, yes, I may bring a little bit a bias to my review, but it doesn’t change the fact that everything I’ve made from this cookbook so far has been a winner!

I hadn’t used a pressure cooker for many years and appreciated JL's Pressure Cooking 101 chapter which got me feeling comfortable and familiar again with this appliance. So far I’ve made:

Vegan “Bacon” with Cabbage
Potato, Apple and Lentil Soup
Rosemary and Thyme Brussels Sprouts
Cinnamon Curried Chickpeas
Seitan Swiss Steak

All were excellent and I’d make them all again. (In fact, I’ve already made the Potato, Apple and Lentil Soup twice; this recipe alone is worth the price of the book!)

I love that the recipes are relatively simple without tons and tons of directions, but still produce some unique flavors. And the photos throughout the book by photographer Kate Lewis are a bonus; they are gorgeous.

As someone who eats an exclusively vegan diet and is also a vegan educator, this is exactly what I want in a cookbook—a book that showcases vegan food as being easy, delicious and beautiful.

Plant-Powered for Life: Eat Your Way to Lasting Health  with 52 Simple Steps and 125 Delicious Recipes
Plant-Powered for Life: Eat Your Way to Lasting Health with 52 Simple Steps and 125 Delicious Recipes
Price: $10.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy, practical and evidence-based guide for those who want to eat a more plant-based diet, August 18, 2014
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book, and am also one of its endorsers. But I endorsed it because it's an excellent book. It's one that I recommend especially to people who are just starting to experiment with vegan or vegetarian diets or semi-vegetarian diets. It gives clear advice for how to eat more plant foods and draws on some of the world's best plant-based cuisines for recipes. I'm picky about which nutrition books I'll recommend since so many make claims or give advice that really isn't supported by the evidence. Sharon's guidelines and advice are evidence-based. And easy to follow. And the recipes are good. Highly recommended.

The 7 Secrets of the Prolific: The Definitive Guide to Overcoming Procrastination, Perfectionism, and Writer's Block
The 7 Secrets of the Prolific: The Definitive Guide to Overcoming Procrastination, Perfectionism, and Writer's Block
by Hillary Rettig
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.13
12 used & new from $14.38

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for all writers, April 4, 2012
This book is packed with insight and tips for anyone who writes and sometimes procrastinates or stumbles. I've read it twice and have sticky-noted the (many, many) sections that resonated with me. As others have noted, I really did feel like Hillary was writing just for me! It's enormously helpful and highly recommended.

World Vegan Feast: 200 Fabulous Recipes from Over 50 Countries
World Vegan Feast: 200 Fabulous Recipes from Over 50 Countries
by Bryanna Clark Grogan
Edition: Paperback
21 used & new from $6.94

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Already one of my favorite cookbooks, September 15, 2011
This cookbook is so much fun--both to read and to cook from. The recipes are absolutely incredible, completely unique and simply wonderful. Everything I've tried so far is something I'd make again. And, the book itself is so entertaining and fact-filled. Bryanna is a food and cooking researcher, and she obviously reads widely on all different aspects of food preparation. The background to some of the recipes and the reasons why she uses certain techniques and ingredients is fascinating. This book is packed with information that really will enhance your cooking experience. But if all you want are the recipes, that's okay, too, because they are excellent!

The Ultimate Vegan Guide: Compassionate Living Without Sacrifice (Second Edition)
The Ultimate Vegan Guide: Compassionate Living Without Sacrifice (Second Edition)
by Erik Marcus
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.72
32 used & new from $5.99

11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have resource for anyone who is thinking about going vegan, June 9, 2011
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How great that the kindle version of this book is only 99 cents! I bought the paperback edition to have at home and then spent that extra dollar to have it on the kindle ap on my iphone as well.

I'm also buying copies for friends who are kind of on-the-fence about vegan diet--wanting to take the plunge but feeling unsure about whether they can do it. This book is so non-judgmental and reassuring, and so packed with practical tips, that I think it will give many aspiring vegans the confidence they need to take that first step.

It's a worthwhile purchase for vegan activists and educators, too--a great manual on how to help others go vegan.

Highly recommended for seasoned vegans, newbies, and anyone who is just starting to think about going vegan.

Vegan Diner: Classic Comfort Food for the Body and Soul
Vegan Diner: Classic Comfort Food for the Body and Soul
by Julie Hasson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.71
56 used & new from $6.89

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly good comfort food for vegans, May 8, 2011
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I love this cookbook! It's packed with great recipes for the best kinds of comfort food as well as fantastic photos of old-fashioned diners. The food photography is excellent--really some of the best I've seen in a vegan cookbook--and the cover with its yummy-looking food and retro feel (that burger and fries in a red plastic basket :) gives the book wonderful appeal. (And yes, there are instructions for creating a Blue Plate Special.)

So far, I've made the Pastrami-style Seitan Loaf and then used it in the Rockin' Reubens (which my husband has not stopped talking about), the Cheesy Mac, Smoky Seitan Roast, Not Your Mama's Pot Roast with Roasted Vegetables, Cheezy Sauce with Umboshi Vinegar and the Sweet Cornbread. Oh, and those fabulous Smoky Curls! Everything has been wonderful.

I love the spirit of this cookbook which celebrates good comfort food and proves that it's compatible with compassionate eating.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 24, 2011 2:31 PM PDT

The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability
The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability
by Lierre Keith
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.46
115 used & new from $5.35

232 of 318 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The myths behind The Vegetarian Myth: A dietitian's review, January 17, 2011
Lierre Keith suffers from numerous chronic health problems. Unable to secure a diagnosis for most of them, she decided that the vegan diet she had followed for twenty years was to blame. But she wasn't content to add a few animal products back to her diet. Instead, she set out to prove that healthy diets require copious amounts of animal foods and that small-scale animal farming is the answer to sustainability. To prove it, she has cobbled together information from websites (yes, she actually cites Wikipedia!) and a few popular pseudoscientific books.

I read the section on nutrition first. Since it's my area of expertise, I figured it would give me some idea of the quality of her research and analysis. But quality isn't at issue here because there is no research or analysis. Keith doesn't bother with primary sources; she depends almost exclusively on the opinions of her favorite popular authors, which she presents as proof of her theories. For example, when she writes about evolution as it affects dietary needs, and suggests that "the archeological evidence is incontrovertible," she is actually referencing the book "Protein Power," written by two physicians who have no expertise in evolution or anthropology. It's a neat trick, of course, because we have no idea where the "Protein Power" authors got their information. By burying all of the actual studies this way, she makes it laborious for readers to check her facts.

I doubt she did this on purpose. And I don't think she was being sloppy or lazy, either. She just doesn't understand how complex the research is and she certainly doesn't know much about basic nutrition. Worse, her conclusions are indebted to the Weston A Price Foundation, a non-credible group that bases its recommendations on the opinions of a dentist who wrote up his observations of indigenous populations in the 1930s.

As a result, we get page after page of contradictions, fabrications, and misinterpretations. For example, Keith is woefully confused about fats, believing that saturated fat is needed for absorption of vitamins and minerals and that humans have a dietary need for cholesterol (Neither saturated fat nor cholesterol are needed in diets; there is no RDA for either.)

Like most anti-vegetarians she is vehemently against soy, insisting that it reduces testosterone levels and therefore male libido (there is no evidence of this) and she speculates that African-American girls reach puberty faster because they are more likely to be enrolled as infants in food assistance programs like WIC and therefore, to be fed soy infant formula. It's true that African-American babies are less likely to be breastfed, but I couldn't find any indication that they consume more soy formula. And, it's not soy that produces abnormally fast growth in kids; it's animal foods. Recent research has linked animal protein to earlier puberty, and cow's milk to excessive growth in children. There is no evidence that soy is involved in either; in fact, recent preliminary research suggests that soy could slightly delay puberty in girls and also reduce their lifelong risk for breast cancer.

On page 227, she notes that "Mark Messina, a champion of soy, thinks the Japanese eat 8.6 [grams of soyfoods] per day," or less than a tablespoon. Really? Well, I happen to be married to Mark Messina, so I have a fairly good idea of what he "thinks" about soy intake. But even if I didn't know him, I could read his 2006 analysis of soy intake data that was published in the medical journal "Nutrition and Cancer." Apparently, Keith didn't or she would have seen that Asian soy intake is the equivalent of 1 to 1 ˝ servings or more per day. (She gets this wrong because she doesn't understand the difference between grams of soy protein and grams of soy food.)

I'm less able to evaluate her discussion of the environmental consequences of animal farming, although it seems reasonable to assume that she gets as much wrong in this section. Notably, she points out that ten acres on Polyface Farm (much lauded by Michael Pollan as an example of sustainable animal agriculture) can produce enough food to feed 9 people for a year. But on his blog "Say What Michael Pollan," mathematician Adam Merberg performs calculations which suggest that Polyface requires more calories in feed (for the chickens) than it produces in food. The numbers aren't nearly as egregious as those for factory farming, but they suggest that there is no such thing as truly sustainable meat production.

But Keith didn't give up veganism because of concerns about the environment; she gave it up because she didn't feel well. And she mistakes her cravings for animal protein for an actual need for animal protein. When she decides to eat her first bite of tuna fish after 20 years as a vegan, she says "I don't know how to describe what happened next. [...] I could feel every cell in my body--literally every cell--pulsing. And finally, finally being fed. Oh god, I thought: this is what it feels like to be alive."

This, more than anything, shows that Keith's conviction about her need for meat has to do with something other than nutrition--because food just does not work like that. Eating a bite of tuna--no matter how deficient you might be in a nutrient that it supplies--does not cause all of your body cells to start pulsing. It wouldn't cause you to feel too much of anything. (At the very least, you'd have to digest and absorb it first!)
It's true that some vegans are not healthy. They don't eat enough fat or enough protein or calories or they refuse to supplement with vitamin B12. There is tons of bad nutrition info out there for vegans, some of it from pretty popular sources. But Lierre Keith insists that a vegan diet will damage us all--she is 100% certain of this--and it is simply not true. It's not supported by nutrition science and it isn't supported by simple observations of long-term vegans, not to mention vegan from birth children.

Interestingly, she never tells us what she ate when she was vegan or what she eats now that she is an omnivore. Except to say that she used to eat "all carbohydrates" (All? No wonder she was sick) and that she now eats mostly animals and their secretions. And while she thinks she understands "moral vegetarians," she reveals her total disconnect from a vegan ethic with three short sentences in the closing paragraphs of the book, "I have looked my food in the eye. I have raised some of it myself, loved it when it was small and defenseless. I have learned to kill."

This is ultimately a sad book. Lierre Keith was desperate to find an answer to her health problems; she landed on vegetarianism and then spun a tale to support her theory. Her intent seems heartfelt; she sees herself very much as a savior of vegetarians and wants us to learn from her mistakes. And the book has been widely embraced by those who want to believe that meat-eating is healthy and just. The problem is that there is truly nothing in this book that accurately supports that conclusion.
Comment Comments (23) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 20, 2014 2:39 PM PDT

Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism
Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism
by Melanie Joy
Edition: Hardcover
33 used & new from $6.80

25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dietitian's perspective, February 4, 2010
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As a dietitian involved in vegan education, I found this book absolutely fascinating. It's written for meat eaters and explores the ways in which "carnists" avoid the moral discomfort inherent in viewing some animals as pets and others as food. Carnists embrace what Joy calls the three Ns of justification: Eating meat is normal, natural, and necessary --the very same justifications that have been used to defend every exploitative system in history, including African slavery and efforts to deny voting rights to women.

Until now, carnism as a belief system has not been named because it is the norm in our society. It's mainstream--which is simply a way of describing an ideology that is so widespread and entrenched that its practices are regarded as "common sense." Ideologies that fall outside the mainstream--like vegetarianism--on the other hand, are easier to recognize.

More importantly, though, the way in which entrenched ideologies remain entrenched is by staying invisible. And the primary way in which they stay invisible is by staying unnamed. "If we don't name it, we can't talk about it," Joy says. "and if we can't talk about it, we can't question it."

Carnism depends on another type of invisibility as well. The agricultural industry goes to great lengths to protect the secrets of how animals are raised for food on modern factory "farms." The system is necessarily cruel because, from a business standpoint, animal welfare is a barrier to profit. Producers don't want consumers to see these cruelties, nor do consumers want to see them.

Joy identifies the cognitive defenses that carnists employ, and suggests that, because empathy appears to be hardwired in our brains, carnistic defenses may actually go against our nature. We cannot be wholly integrated if we care about animals but support widespread animal cruelty. Joy is honest about the difficulties involved in closing the gap between values and behavior, but she is encouraging about the benefits to the individual, and practical in her recommendations.

Based on research in the field of psychology, including Joy's own, this book is a thought-provoking analysis of how meat eating has become so entrenched as to over-ride what people actually believe and hold valuable. Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows is highly recommended for both vegetarians and carnists and for anyone interested in the psychology of food choices.

Betsy-Tacy (Betsy-Tacy Books)
Betsy-Tacy (Betsy-Tacy Books)
by Maud Hart Lovelace
Edition: Paperback
Price: $5.99
269 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My always and forever favorite children's book, October 3, 2009
My beloved aunt dug a dusty old copy of Betsy-Tacy out of her attic for me when I was 4 or 5 years old. From the very beginning, I wanted to climb inside this book and live there forever. It is the happiest and coziest book in the world. Written in the 1940s, Betsy-Tacy is an account of Maud Hart Lovelace's turn-of-the-century childhood in Mankato, MN--which becomes Deep Valley in the book. All of the main characters and most of the minor ones are based on people that Lovelace really knew. The stories of a childhood lived simply and happily are pure magic, as are the illustrations by Lois Lenski. Ms Lovelace went on to write nine more books in this series, following Betsy's life through her first year of marriage. A particularly nice aspect of the stories is that the reading level increases with each book.

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