I was so excited to get Meals that Heal Inflammation by Julie Daniluk as this book came highly recommended by my colleagues in the RHN program - from both lecturers and fellow students. "She's one of us," I thought happily, "and she's so successful. I want to be just like her!" After my moment of completely being a star-struck kid, I cleared my mind so that I could review it unbiased.
Not getting into 10 pages of this book, Julie recounts her personal experience with food and inflammation. It was a tale of ups and downs, where she goes through the process of finding her food triggers. She had periods of eating well and not-so-well and this greatly impacted her health. Remember how I said I wanted to be "just like her?" Nevermind. Although I can definitely relate to her in my own journey to health, she's had it way worse.
As I get deeper into the book, it dawned on me that in 400 some-odd pages, Julie has given the reader valuable information that took me two years (and several thousand dollars!) to complete in school, and then some. She addresses inflammation from an integrative perspective, including things like a chapter on the emotional component of our eating habits and one on alternative therapies in acute injuries. And of course, most of the book is on the nutritional contribution to chronic inflammation. It's a fantastic introduction for the reader experiencing feelings of dis-ease, who've "tried everything" but haven't experienced any alleviation. Some examples include arthritis, skin problems (that's me!), hyperactivity, headaches and many other disorders that people wouldn't even think to consider as being related to foods.
I tried at least one recipe from each section. This was the fun part - especially welcomed after finding out how much inflammation was (still) in my body! In general, I found that to make these dishes ingredient by ingredient, pre-planning was definitely needed. There's a tonne of variety in terms of the vegetables used, so I found myself short of a few ingredients in each of the recipes - for a lot of the recipes. It's not a bad thing, just an observation. It can be daunting and for some, it may be difficult to find ingredients such as xanthan gum and dulse. Not me though, I live at health food stores...my trouble was not having enough vegetable variety (a little bit ironic for a nutritionist, I know). The author does suggest playing with your food and experimenting with substitutions, so she's pretty realistic and awesome that way.
Burdock Root Tea - I've actually made this before, but seeing it as a recipe reminded me, "Oh yeah, I haven't had that in a while". Also, the author reassures you that having it turn bright green is normal. Phew. I loved this section on "liquid healing" because it gives some great ideas on teas (like combining rooibos and peppermint that I can't wait to try) and gives you the beneficial properties. I might even give ginger tea a second chance because it sounds so healthful.
Flax Apple Pudding - This one was fairly tasty and contained no added sweetener. I'm okay with that because I haven't had sugar (natural and synthetic) in over 2 months, but people coming from the Standard American Diet (filled with processed sugars) may need some time for their taste buds to adjust. I also didn't find this one to be very aesthetically pleasing, but I find cooked breakfast cereals typically aren't.
Sesame Green Beans - With only 8 ingredients (most of them, I didn't measure and just tossed on), this one is quick and easy to prepare. The fragrance from the toasted sesame oil worked really well with the garlic and lemon. I liked how she made use of the "water saute method" of cooking these green beans instead of oil.
White Root Mash - I tried this with a turnip, as is recommended in the book (because I didn't have the other two options available - celery root and Jerusalem artichoke). I don't think it's actually fair to harshly judge a cookbook author based on a vegetable that I'm not sure I like, so I'm not going to say anything. I might try this again with another one of her vegetables.
Dairy-Free Pesto - I've done pesto similar to this before and it's always a winner. You get slightly different flavours depending on the type of basil and type of nuts or seeds you use and it always seems to work. I treat this one as a no-measure recipe, which speeds things up.
Raw Pad Thai - Ingredients I was missing: carrot, purple cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts, almond butter, tamari. I subbed in other veggies like light green pepper green cabbage and cilantro and used salt instead of tamari and all was good. It was fresh and summery, perfect for a day like today.
Berry Pie - I tweaked this recipe a little bit based on the ingredients I had: pecans, arrowroot powder, agar, lychee and water. I also soaked my nuts beforehand, so that they would form a good crust. The original one looked about 1000 times better than mine (with the colours of blueberries and raspberries), but I expected that when I decided to use plain, white lychees. This recipe provided an awesome idea (doing the arrowroot and agar created a jelly-like filling) and inspired a unique and tasty creation. Hmm, just comparing the images, perhaps I was a bit stingy on the fruit too :P.
Overall impression of the book was good. I found that it had a lot of creative suggestions (like crumbling rice cakes and topping them with seasoning to replace popcorn - genius!) It was also a user-friendly guide to making permanent lifestyle changes and that I'll definitely be returning to again and again.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for this review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.