Monday, 28 March 2016

"Eat Better, Live Better, Feel Better" by Julie Cove | Book Review

Eat Better, Live Better, Feel Better by Julie Cove
Publishing Date: March 1, 2016
Pages: 298
Publisher: Appetite by Random House
Links: Goodreads | Indigo | Book Depository | Kobo

Eat Better, Live Better, Feel Better is an interesting new cookbook all about alkalizing your life. It includes a 4-step program to ease you into the alkaline lifestyle.

I was interested in this cookbook because I like learning about the different ways you can feed your body - i.e. vegan, paleo, gluten-free, alkaline - and I love having recipes for clean eating.

This cookbook is very educational on the subject of an alkaline diet, and there's tons of useful information provided. You'll learn everything from what exactly the alkaline lifestyle is, to how to check your pH levels, to the symptoms of overacidity in your diet. There's a list of foods and their alkaline levels...even an alkaline food pyramid! It's full of beautiful pictures, adorable illustrations, and delicious-sounding recipes.

I went through the whole book looking for recipes I could sink my teeth into. Like I've said before on here, I do consider my kitchen very spite of this, I could only find three recipes to make based on what I had at home.

Clockwise from left: Chai-Spiced Hemp Mylk (p. 121);
Lemon-Lime Chia Fresca (p. 120); Wild Summer Berries
with Vanilla Almond Lemon Cream (p. 257)
Now, that's subjective because it all depends on what kind of food you stock your kitchen with; part of what I learned from this book is that if I were to eat alkaline, I'd have to do an overhaul because there are a lot of different- and sometimes fancy-sounding things required for several recipes, and they're not what I consider everyday ingredients based on how and what I eat now.

Having said all that, I was able to find three recipes (in addition to the recipe for alkaline water, which I also made because several recipes call for it) as I like to do for cookbooks. For me personally, these are all an acquired taste. They're things that in my mind I think I could get used to, or that I need to tweak for my own taste buds next time I make the recipes.

All in all, this cookbook teaches you all about what it means to eat an alkaline diet and why it's good for your body. It's full of alkaline, mostly vegan meals, and even though the ones I tried weren't my favourite, there are still tons of recipes I'd like to try from this book!

*This book was sent to me by Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 11 March 2016

"The Passenger" by Lisa Lutz | Book Review

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz
Publishing Date: March 1, 2016
Pages: 320
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Links: Goodreads | Indigo | Book Depository | Kobo

After Tanya Dubois' husband dies suddenly and under suspicious circumstances, she decides to flee town instead of sticking around and answering to the police. She dyes her hair, changes her name, and cashes in her credit cards. The thing is, she's why would an innocent person try to disappear?

Throughout the novel, we get hints at Tanya's (now Amelia, and many other identities) dark past through cryptic email exchanges with someone she used to know. I found that way of revealing information about her very interesting, and it made me want to know what happened that was so bad that she had to leave her hometown and disappear.

In terms of characters, there wasn't enough to Tanya-Amelia-etc's character for me to really empathize with her. She had lost so much of herself over the years, so perhaps it was the author's intention to have her essentially be a shell, but it made it hard for me to really root for her and be invested in her life.

However, it was really cool to read about Tanya-Amelia-etc as well as Blue, another mysterious woman rarely seen but somehow always present, navigating this off-the-grid life. There were so many times when they had to get themselves out of messy situations involving strength, cunning, and a lot of dirty work, and I enjoy reading about these kinds of scenarios.

The Passenger is a fun, fast-paced read that takes us on a literal journey of escapism. The focus is mainly on the action and although the two main female characters are undoubtedly badasses, it would have been nice for them to have more depth. Regardless, this is an enjoyable read that'll make you feel just a little more confident in your ability to disappear, if you ever needed to.

*This book was sent to me by Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

"Hot Thai Kitchen" by Pailin Chongchitnant | Book Review

Hot Thai Kitchen by Pailin Chongchitnant
Publishing Date: March 8, 2016
Pages: 264
Publisher: Appetite by Random House
Links: Goodreads | Indigo | Book Depository | Kobo

Pailin Chongchitnant grew up in Thailand, watching all the beautiful, fragrant food being made in her kitchen. She became a Cordon Bleu-educated chef in San Francisco and, wanting to share her knowledge and teach people about Thai cuisine, she started her own cooking show on YouTube called Hot Thai Kitchen!

Pailin really seeks to educate in this cookbook. There is so much interesting, useful information in this book for those of us who are interested in learning about Thai food - there are nearly 100 pages before the "Recipes" section, with everything from how Thais eat, to iconic dishes from different regions of Thailand, to the structure of a Thai dish.

One section I found very interesting was "How to Make an Educated Substitution". In this, Pailin teaches us what we need to consider about the recipe before we decide what substitute to use. What you use depends on several factors, and it's great information to have so you can rest assured you're still making an authentically Thai dish.

Another great section is "Where to Buy Thai Ingredients". It's important to note that Thai cuisine involves a particular set of ingredients. I consider my kitchen to be very well-stocked, but I was missing tons of ingredients because Thai food involves a lot of ingredients I don't generally keep on hand. That said, I was still able to make delicious food from this book, using only what I had at home.

And now, on to the food!

My absolute favourite dish I made, and the one that was by far the biggest hit with my family, were the Crispy Spring Rolls. For some reason I had anticipated these being hard to make, but I actually found them pretty simple and kind of therapeutic to make! I didn't have spring roll wrappers, which the recipe asked for, so instead I used rice paper and I think it worked out really well. These spring rolls are so delicious and I'm already looking for an excuse to make more.
Clockwise from the top: Crispy Spring Rolls (p. 162); Street-
Style Fried Bananas (p. 225); Stir-Fried Rice Noodles with
Soy Sauce & Chinese Broccoli

Whenever I'm at a restaurant and I see that they have fried bananas, that's my go-to dessert. So when I saw this recipe for Street-Style Fried Bananas, it wasn't even a question, I knew I was going to make these. Again, I didn't have the Namwa bananas or sweet plantains that the recipe called for, so I used regular bananas and they worked great. This dish is a nice balance of sweet (from the sugar and coconut) and savoury (from the sesame seeds).

The last dish I made from the cookbook was Stir-Fried Rice Noodles with Soy Sauce & Chinese Broccoli. Now, I made a lot of substitutions in this recipe (instant noodles instead of rice noodles, broccoli instead of Chinese broccoli), but I kept the sauce pretty close to what was called for. Even though the ingredients were quite different from the recipe, I really like how the dish turned out!

All in all, Hot Thai Kitchen is a very informative cookbook full of pretty photography and delicious recipes. It's great for anyone interested in learning about Thai cuisine and becoming acquainted with new ingredients!

*This book was sent to me by Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

February Book Haul!

There may be less days in February, but I didn't let that stop me from accumulating some great books! All of the books in this month's haul were sent to me buy Penguin Random House Canada - I'm so grateful and I just want to say thank you! It's been a month of such great books, let me tell ya.

From the top:

1. 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad (Review here!)
2. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
3. The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel
4. The Passage by Justin Cronin
5. The Twelve by Justin Cronin
6. The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
7. If I Had a Gryphon by Vikki VanSickle & Cale Atkinson (Review here!)

What books did you get this month?