Sunday, 10 July 2016

Summer Reading, July 10, 2016

Well, now for something completely different in my summer reading diary. My husband and I have been reading a non-fiction book called The China Study Solution by Thomas Campbell, MD. The sub-title is: The simple way to lose weight and reverse illness, using a whole-food, plant-based diet. That pretty much says it all. (The book was first published as The Campbell Plan.)

To give some background, Dr. Campbell's father is T. Colin Campbell, PhD, a nutritional biochemist who spent his career researching the influence of diet on cancer at Cornell University. Dr. Campbell, Sr. came to the conclusion that the healthiest diet may in fact be essentially devoid of all meat protein and dairy. In fact, he believes that the only diet capable of reversing cardiac disease is a diet based on whole food, plant-based protein. The China Project, upon which this book is based, was a survey of 6,5000 adults in 65 counties in rural China, a population that consumed only small amounts of animal foods. The result of the research, stated simply, is that populations of more well-to-do countries that eat more animal proteins have higher levels of cholesterol which, in turn, are related to other types of disease, such as several types of cancer and diabetes. The doctors maintain that a whole food, plant-based diet may partly prevent or treat a number of illnesses and conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, ulcers, kidney stones, obesity, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, a variety of cancers, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, cataracts, and macular degeneration. That's a lot to claim, isn't it? Together, father and son co-authored the results of the China Project in The China Study, a pretty weighty tome of over 400 pages. The China Study Solution gives you the nuts and bolts of the research and a proposed diet plan.

The diet allows you to eat fruits and vegetables, whole grains (breads,cereals, and pasta), nuts and seeds, legumes (beans), and non-dairy beverages such a soy and almond milk. You are allowed small amounts of sugar. The diet does not allow you to eat meat, fish, dairy, or fats. Have you heard that olive oil is heart healthy? Dr. Thomas Campbell calls oil an "unnatural pure-fat product" that is the most energy-dense (high calorie) known food. For example, here's what he says about soybeans and soybean oil on page 62. Soybeans are incredibly nutrient-rich foods. One hundred calories of raw soybeans has abundant protein and fiber and a wide variety of good vitamins and minerals that are nicely packaged with a good balance of fats. A quarter cup of raw green soybeans has as much calcium as about a half cup of 2% milk. Soybean oil, on the other hand, has had almost every good nutrient stripped away, providing you with nothing but pure fat and ultra-concentrated calories.

The China Study Solution cites a vast number of medical studies and ends with several recipes and a shopping list to get you started. It also discusses vitamin supplements and warns you that healthy kids and adults should take a B12 daily supplement of 100 micrograms as you cannot get this essential vitamin by eating a whole food, plant-based diet.

My husband and I, who both want to lose some weight and die peacefully in our sleep after an active, healthy long life, started the diet yesterday. Afraid that I might find the diet monotonous, we went to a bookstore today and bought 2 cookbooks written by Dr. T. Colin Campbell's daughter, Leanne Campbell, PhD, and other contributors: The China Study Cookbook and The China Study All-Star Collection. Since both my husband and I had been given gift certificates for this bookstore chain, the cookbooks cost us nothing and give us a wide variety of recipes from which to choose. They also have lovely colour photos. Paging through the book, I saw a picture of what looked like macaroni and cheese. Knowing that you can't eat cheese on this diet, I was curious and checked out the recipe. Turns out that the whole wheat macaroni is teamed with cooked and mashed butternut squash and, coupled with onion and garlic, has a delicious-looking sauce of ground cashews and soy milk with seasonings. Can't wait to try it!

I'll let you know how we do on the diet in a subsequent post, particularly after we visit our doctor for our annual physicals in a few months. Here's to good living and healthy eating!

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Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Cathy Spencer, Author: Summer Reading Diary, Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Cathy Spencer, Author: Summer Reading Diary, Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Summer Reading, Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Just finished reading Carola Dunn's cozy mystery, Superfluous Women, the latest installment in the Daisy Dalrymple series. I've already read a few of the other books in the series and enjoyed them. The setting is England after the first world war and features Daisy, a poor but titled young woman who makes her living by writing and selling magazine articles, and the Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector she marries.

In this episode, Daisy is convalescing after a bout of bronchitis in the small town of Beaconsfield, where she meets up with an old school chum who has just moved to town with two other women. These three young "spinsters" are some of the "superfluous women" referred to in the title who will never find husbands because of the 700,000 British men who died during WWI. Wanting a home of their own, they pool their resources and skills to buy a house, but it turns out that the house comes complete with a dead body locked in the wine cellar. Soon Daisy is tottering around town in between naps to help solve what appears to be a murder, and it doesn't take long before her husband is drawn in out of his jurisdiction to aid with the investigation.

What do I like about the series? I like the historical elements and the traces of humour in the writing. The primary characters are interesting and likable, and no one owns a craft store or has a cat who solves the crimes. But mostly, the mysteries are gentle - no gore, no overt violence, and Daisy is seldom threatened herself. They're a nice, easy-going read, perfect to relax with before turning out the lights and going to sleep. We don't always want our reading to be spicy or thrilling, so if this kind of story appeals to you, I recommend it.

The covers are also quite attractive, don't you think?

Catch the next book in my summer reading diary, coming soon. Cheers!

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