7 health books (and reviews) you need to read

Ayesha Muttucumaru 12 April 2016
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7 shelf-health books you need to read

The GTG Book Club is back in session and this time round, we’ve been putting the year’s hottest health books through their paces.

From ‘Keeping It Real’ with Calgary Avansino to getting ‘Lean in 15’ with The Body Coach, getting ‘Sirtfood’ savvy to seeing if we can get ‘Clean and Lean for Life,’ here are the books we’ve bookmarked to provide ample shelf-help in the healthy eating and fitness  departments in the months to come...

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Keep It Real by Calgary Avansino

“Calgary's recently launched book Keep it Real is a manifesto to modern plant-based eating. As an extremely busy working mother of two, one of the handiest parts of the book is the way in which Calgary goes into detail about food prep for the week, what to freeze (and what not to freeze) and  how to fill your cupboards. There is a section focused on cooking for family and how to create tasty, healthy food your children will actually want to eat.

“The rest of the book is filled with delicious recipe favourites from Calgary's kitchen. Breakfast ideas include 'Overnight Oats, Four Ways,' (peanut butter and banana anyone? YUM) and 'Gluten-free Buckwheat Pancakes,' as well as delicious toppings to liven up scrambled eggs. Then, there's a whole section on smoothies - from Apple Crumble to a Basil Beauty one - and many delicious looking salads, curries and soups as well as fast-supper solutions such as 'Baked Sweet Potato Boats with Tasty Toppings'.  Finally there are healthy alternatives to sweet treats such as 'Banana, Pecan and Cacao Nib Muffins' as well as Calgary's healthier alternatives to dips and sauces. Overall, the book is an education in eating vital foods in order to maximise your own vitality. If anyone is a good ambassador of that, Calgary is.”

Reviewer: ST

£25.  Buy online .

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Clean and Lean for Life - The Cookbook

“From the founder of Bodyism and author of the popular series of Clean & Lean Diet cookbooks, comes a how-to tome for clean and lean living. This holistic guide begins with a series of bite-size tips on everything from understanding sugar and caffeine to mastering mindfulness, before detailing the basic dos and don’ts when preparing to live clean.

“The book is then broken down by meal time and bookmarked with a handy table of bad, better and best options when making ingredient choices. My husband and I opted to taste test the grilled steak (I try to have red meat once a week if I can) with roasted tomatoes and onion (and a handful of greens for colour balance!) The refreshingly few ingredients needed here made this dish quick and easy to prepare, while satisfying both taste and appetite with a healthy protein-heavy portion size.  All in all, this cookbook is a welcome addition to the kitchen shelf.”

Reviewer: GB

£19.95.  Buy online .

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Cook. Nourish. Glow. by Amelia Freer

“With stunning visuals, and easy to follow step-by-step recipes, Cook. Nourish. Glow by Amelia Freer is perfect for both the kitchen novice and pro looking to eat healthy, home-cooked meals without compromising on delicious flavours.

“With over 120 recipes covering breakfast to dinner to 'naughty' treats, every meal is quick to make and often provides a healthier take on unhealthy alternatives. Amelia addresses the reader from a real perspective and also provides useful information with regards to the benefits of the ingredients used in terms of why they are good for the overall improvement of your health. A great read.”

Reviewer: SM

£20.  Buy online .

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Lean in 15: 15 minute meals and workouts to keep you lean and healthy by Joe Wicks, The Body Coach

“The man widely credited with making exercise and healthy eating both fast and fun, Joe Wicks aka The Body Coach has quickly become one of the most famous names in fitness; and his first book of 15 minute meals and workouts not only makes the idea of a healthy living overhaul surprisingly speedy and simple to achieve, but also helps debunk some of the myths surrounding the area of weight loss too.

“With his food recommendations proving an incredibly delicious selling point for his successful 90 Day SSS Plan, this read follows in its footsteps, providing further food for thought and a menu of nutritious yet quick-to-prepare meals to suit either weekday or weekend (our particular favourite was ‘My Oaty Chicken’ - a healthier take on Southern Fried which ticks all of the boxes). A huge advocate of the benefits of high intensity interval training (HIIT), Joe dedicates a whole chapter on the topic, highlighting his key moves and workout recommendations to act as the perfect partner to his nutrition plan. Accessible and effective, his enthusiasm is infectious (as fans of his Instagram will already be able to vouch for) and if this is anything to go by, he could quite possibly be the future face of fitness that'll help inspire a whole new generation to see food and exercise in a completely new light.”

Reviewer: AM

£14.99.  Buy online .

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Deliciously Ella Every Day by Ella Woodward

“Making her plant based recipes more accessible than ever, the majority of the 100+ meals and snacks in this cookbook are not only quick to make, but also portable and ideal to freeze too. Presenting plant based eating as exciting rather than restrictive, (along with trying to save you from 'wellness' indicted bankruptcy), Ella also furnishes you with ample amounts of comfort food - genuinely hearty mash, parsnip fries, brownies, carbonara and of course the classic cauliflower pizza all feature in many guises.

“Ella's certainly not a carbophobe (see above), and you'll notice that the medjool date count is high, so there are sugars at play in Every Day; but this is balanced with healthy amounts of fibre and protein, all pertaining from natural sources. You're unlikely to lose significant amounts of weight by eating entirely 'Ella' if that's a health concern, but then the book never makes any claims on this count, and Ella herself encourages you to do 'Every Day' your way by balancing these recipes with other healthy ones in your repertoire, or enjoying food you love when out for dinner that doesn't necessarily follow the plant heavy Ella 'philosophy'. The ethos is extremely well balanced and healthy, so if you're at a loss as to what to make for work lunches (and at a loss as to finding the time to assemble them), want tasty meals to satisfy you after workouts or long days in the office or are keen on swapping 'real' food for ready meals, this is your perfect read.”

Reviewer: AH

£20.  Buy online .

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The Healthy Life by Jessica Sepel

“If you’re looking to overhaul your diet or perhaps are already a clean eater who wants to learn some new recipes, this book is for you. Written by Jessica Sepel, she begins by explaining that she essentially used to have an eating disorder - dieting, restricting herself and then bingeing. Now a nutritionist, she's very clear that the book is not about a diet, it's about eating well for both body and mind - weight loss is just a natural result of eating well if you need to lose a few pounds. It's also very thorough, more so than most!

“She limits or completely avoids gluten, dairy and refined sugar in her recipes, as well as limiting fructose. I'm not convinced that telling all readers to cut these out is wise - obviously we know refined sugar is one to cut out but the jury is still out a little on gluten and dairy. However, the food plans are undoubtedly healthy - every main meal contains a complex carb, protein, a good fat and plenty of greens. She also suggests three main meals plus two snacks per day.

“Skill-wise, it's not that easy - I'd say beginners would struggle as it's very restrictive in terms of what you're cutting out, even if a lot of the info makes sense and the recipes are tasty enough to ensure you don't feel you're missing out. However, it's all unprocessed, good wholesome foods, which can be done without spending a fortune. It's full of really useful, factual information, covering everything from healthy digestion, feeling good mentally and the link between food and skin. The book is presented beautifully too, which always helps!”

Reviewer: JJ

£30.02.  Buy online .

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The Sirtfood Diet

“First the 5:2, then Paleo, now this: the Sirtfood Diet is currently the diet on everyone’s lips. Created by Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten (both of whom hold master’s degrees in nutritional medicine, with Aidan also being a pharmacist), its science centres around a recently discovered group of everyday plant foods called sirtuin activators (i.e. ‘Sirtfoods’), believed by Goggins and Matten to hold the key to increasing fat burning while also increasing muscle mass and overall health at the same time.

“Once thought to be an incompatible mix, the findings originate from the results of a pilot study on 40 members of one of Europe’s leading health clubs, and has since proven popular with the likes of premier athletes such as David Haye, Sir Ben Ainslie and James Haskell. Taking the best aspects from some of the healthiest diets in the world (such as the Mediterranean diet), the meal plans and information proves easily digestible and extremely interesting, with chapters ranging from the most nutritionally dense ‘Sirtfoods’ around to alternatives for making the diet more vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free friendly. Although the original study group was small, its effects on those deemed relatively healthy (rather than just those who were overweight or obese), bodes well for the credentials of the diet; that being said though, it’s still too soon to pass final judgement on its long-term effects. Ingredients are relatively easy to source and recipes pretty easy to prepare, with a juicer being your only essential kitchen gadget of choice. Proving to be a convincing read; even if you choose not to follow the diet as outlined, it still provides some extremely fascinating nutrition know-how on the importance of ‘Sirtified’ ingredients to make your diet on the whole a lot healthier”.

Reviewer: AM

£7.99.  Buy online .