Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Summer Reading, July 27, 2016

It's been a couple of weeks since I've blogged about my reading due to a decision to only talk about books I've enjoyed and can recommend. (Aside to one of my fellow authors: "Witty" banter can be overdone and can't take the place of character or plot development!) But I've just finished a book I can recommend, Girl Waits With Gun, the first in a blossoming series about the real-life Kopp sisters. Author Amy Stewart bases her novel on newspaper articles that were published as the result of a 1914 accident between the three sisters, who were riding in their buggy, and a car driven by a wealthy factory owner who plowed into them. When the eldest sister, thirty-five-year-old Constance, tries to claim $50 in damages from the factory owner, Henry Kaufman, she sets off a string of nasty persecutions from Kaufman and his gang of hoodlums. Attacks escalate from rocks with threatening messages being hurled through the sisters' bedroom windows in the middle of the night, to shots being fired at the house, to attempted arson. Isolated on a small farm outside of Paterson, New Jersey, the sisters enlist the help of Sheriff Heath, a stalwart, dedicated, and forward-thinking lawman who develops feelings for Constance, but it is through her own efforts to solve the case as well as to help a young factory worker whose infant son, fathered by Kaufman, has disappeared, that retribution is made.

Although the story starts a bit slowly, I soon became enamoured with the sisters. Constance, tall for a woman, strong, and resourceful, seems to be waiting for her life to begin and has a big secret. Norma, the middle sister, never wants to leave the farm and spends her spare time training homing pigeons to carry cut-out newspaper headlines back to her sisters. Fleurette, a teenager, is the spoiled, artistic family beauty who dramatizes everything and can't wait to escape the isolation of their lives. I also enjoyed the historical detail, the homeyness of the sisters' lives, and the sensibility of women who are trying to act like ladies while dealing with some very unladylike problems and a judicial system that fails them.

There is a second book in the series, Lady Copp Makes Trouble (another actual newspaper headline, I assume), that I'm looking forward to reading. But check out Girl Waits With Gun first.


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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!

You can subscribe to my blog or follow it by e-mail by clicking on the icons on the bottom right of the page. If you'd like to know about new releases, leave your name and e-mail address through the "Contact Cathy" app at the top right of the page.