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Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats Paperback – Illustrated, 1 April 2003
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Nourishing Traditions The Cookbook That Introduced All The Current Food Trends!
You read it here first:
- Butter, not margarines or spreads.
- The first step to good health—make your own salad dressing.
- Eggs, pate and caviar are health foods.
- Soak your grains—your body will thank you.
- Sourdough bread—so much more digestible.
- Your body needs salt—and unrefined salt is best.
- Sauerkraut and other lacto-fermented foods keep your gut biome healthy.
- Healthy soft drinks like kombucha and brewed ginger ale.
- Bonebroth for nutritious and delicious soups and sauces.
- Prepare for pregnancy with nutrient-dense foods.
Learn the why’s and how’s in America’s classic cookbook on healthy traditional foods. Over 750,000 copies sold.
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The first 10% of the book (according to my Kindle) provides a pretty thorough overview of nutrition, broken specifically into the categories of fats, proteins, carbohydrates, milk products, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, salts and spices, and beverages. It can be technical at times (which I actually love), but provides a lot of information that many mainstream nutrition books and blogs don't cover. For this "Introduction" section of the book alone, I gave the 3 stars, because I truly enjoyed it and learned new information, even if I didn't agree with quite everything presented. I was disappointed that during the section on salts & spices, the health benefits of individual herbs and spices were not really discussed. Also, the author was very quick to dismiss any caffeinated products such as coffee, tea, and chocolate, despite acknowledging that these have been part of many traditional diets for centuries. While these are admittedly controversial, the author presented only brief and very one-sided evidence for their elimination from the diet, without addressing any of the positive health benefits that have been discovered. Still, I enjoyed this section of the book immensely, took copious notes, and was excitedly relaying information to my best friend, who also happens to love nutrition science but isn't such an avid reader. I was sadly disappointed when I discovered that the other 90% of the book was primarily recipes, with some additional nutritional and cultural information about food mixed in. Admittedly, that was my own fault for not paying enough attention to the book details. I expected a book that was at least 50/50 nutrition and recipes, but this is primarily a cookbook.
Which leads me to my main complaint on this book. Unless you have an extremely cultured and adventurous palate, most of these recipes will never be used. In fact, I would caution against even reading through some of them on a full stomach (unless gelatinized vegetable molds, pickled olive leaves, and cow brains just make your mouth water). Although I give the author credit for compiling a very large variety of recipes, probably no more than 20-30% of them were something I would even consider putting in my mouth, far fewer sounded appetizing enough to be worth the expensive ingredients and prep time, and I honestly can't think of a single recipe that made me think "Mmm, that sounds delicious". Most of the recipes that seemed relatively normal could be easily found in most Paleo cookbooks or on Pinterest and just adapted to use organic ingredients or healthier fats.
My second caution on the book is that it seems very impractical for the average American. Many of the foods that are recommended are "specialty" foods that are quite expensive and not readily available in most areas of the country. Significant emphasis is placed on raw dairy (illegal in most states), completely pasture-raised animal products and organ meats, and uncommon varieties of raw grains. Finding any of these products is difficult and expensive, but finding all of them together in one location is unlikely for most Americans. Even more impractical is the idea that most people would have such high incomes and ideal locations while simultaneously being able to devote endless hours to meal prep instead of going to work. Many of the recipes include extensive prep work, such as soaking and rinsing grains, nuts, and beans repeatedly throughout the day, culturing your own dairy, simmering bone broths for hours on end, fermenting your own vegetables and condiments, and making every recipe from scratch. Is this the healthiest way to eat? Undoubtedly. But a diet that is so far out of reach for most working adults with families and budgets isn't really very helpful in the end.
Finally, I did take issue with some of the food safety principles that were addressed in the book. I am neither a food safety expert nor a scientist, but the practices were questionable enough that I wouldn't be willing to take the risk myself. Many of the fermented foods are made by adding whey to various vegetables or fruits and leaving the closed (but not heat-sealed) jars at room temperature for several days, which seems like a high bacterial risk. It was even suggested that white spots of mold on a marmalade prepared in this manner could just be removed with a spoon. The author also advocates eating raw meat (not just sushi) after it's been frozen for a couple weeks and has several recipes include raw eggs with no cooking or pasteurization. Perhaps most notable is the strong encouragement to consume raw milk, with relatively little warning about the potential risks or guidelines for how to evaluate the source to determine if adequate precautions are being taken. Recipes for baby formula also include raw milk and under-cooked egg yolks, which seems irresponsible to suggest for an infant, regardless of whether it's a reasonable risk for an adult.
Overall, I was disappointed in this purchase since I now have a book that is primarily full of recipes I'll never make and nutritional advise that will be difficult to implement. However, if you have the time, resources, and adventurous taste-buds, this could be a great purchase for you.
I grasped the notion of ‘body as terrain’ and ‘food as medicine’. I now eat delicious, pastured, fragrant, nutrient dense, food that is rich in butter, cream and coconut oil. I eat ferments, kefirs, kvasses, yogurts, organ meats, broths, stocks and vegetables of course (without pesticides). I prepare my breads the traditional way and the taste and aroma are incomparable. And my belly likes it too. My kitchen is fragrant once again with the Ghee that my mother and my grandmother before her made. Our insurance premiums are completely wasted because we have not been sick in the last eight years. Nary a cough, cold or flu. This way of living and eating has opened up my life in delightful ways to farmers markets, farmers and the wonderful kinship of likeminded people.
If you have children, feeding them NT food will make them stronger, smarter and healthier. If you are sick, you will get well on this food. The body WANTS to heal, and is set up to heal, if properly nourished. Many people with chronic degenerative disease I know, got not just better, but were cured. My recommendation is, ignore all other isms, fads and trends. Don’t just borrow the book from your library. Buy it. Take a week off from work to read it, imbibe the wisdom, and pass it forward. Sally and Mary probably saved my life. I am forever indebted to them.