Reviews written by Barbara Scott
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Cinch is not just another diet. It's a lifestyle change combining an initial fast with tasty but unusual food combinations. All the foods, including the spices, used in the Cinch regimen are targeted to some purpose. This is a program that has been carefully thought through by Cynthia Sass, a registered dietitian and nutritional consultant, and she appears regularly on such television shows as Today and Good Morning America. One important element to the method is that you don't worry about calories, fats, ratios. It's a cinch!
To jumpstart the Cinch program, you can begin with a 5-day, 5-food, 4 meal a day cleansing diet. The five foods are spinach, almonds, raspberries, eggs and yogurt. The basis for this choice is that the foods are filling, they contain natural detoxants, and each has been proven to support weight loss. Your beverages will include water, seltzer, tea and one cup of coffee a day.
Once you have passed this hurdle, you will begin to incorporate healthy, and pretty straightforward rules: no soda, control serving sizes, learn how to substitute nutritious foods for fatty sugary treats. And -- a little chocolate is allowable and goes a long way. Yay!
The best thing about Cinch is the recipes -- they sound delicious and that in itself can offer you hope that this is a diet that will work. Even the names are appetizing: Garlicky Barley Vegetable Chicken Soup,Ginger Turkey Stir-Fry, Salmon Ginger Rice Bowl. The book includes brief testimonials ("My mind is saying that I really can do this") that the reader can identify with as s/he struggles with the challenges of altering the way we think about food, about hunger, and about our goals. One of the exercises (really a meditation) in the book involves slowly, very slowly, eating ten chocolate chips.
Another important aspect to Cinch eating is that it can be undertaken if you are a vegan, a vegetarian, or a dedicated carnivore. Frequently asked questions are dealt with, and solutions to common diet problems are offered, such as to avoid the "f" word ("fat")and to incorporate bonding with a friend into your walking routine.
Since the author is well known and advises both the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays, we can trust her advice, making her method all the more attractive.
Dragon Gate Toaism is a discipline that combines practices for total body health, sexual enjoyment, reduction of stress, control of energies and the manifestation of desired outcomes, even acquisition of wealth. It sounds like a winning formula and no doubt many will be drawn to this well organized book written by a master of the system, Dr Steven Lui, and Jonathan Blank, an entrepreneurial writer drawn to Taoism.
Dragon Gate Taoism has not entered the popular realm as so many Eastern practices have because it involves a direct lineage of teachers. It is not primarily religious, but instead looks at body wholeness and attainment of earthly goals.
The book gives numerous practical instructions for exercise, proper breathing, healthy diet, posture, and meditation. And yes, there is an emphasis on chi, and how to unite with the forces of earth and heaven through body alignment and contemplation. There is a section on mental discipline stating that stress causes us to act irrationally, so in order to preserve our thought functions we must learn to relax the mind as well as the body.
Many people will read Secrets of Dragon Gate to learn more about maximizing sexual experience, and indeed the authors advise against celibacy and encourage good sex. The Dragon Gate practice encourages mutual sexual pleasure but also, and more importantly, sexual power and health. Techniques such as groin exercises and massage are recommended.
The authors also suggest that practitioners of this path can achieve wealth as well as health by visualizing desired outcomes and moving toward manifesting those outcomes. They state that "as a guide to your manifestation abilities, you can look at what is in your life--because whatever you are experiencing is something you are manifesting." And if you gain the outcome you want, share it with others. Always good advice.
Bodhipaksa is “a Buddhist teacher and author living in New Hampshire, but originally from Scotland.” He got his name when he joined the Western Buddhist order. It means “wings of enlightenment.” He runs a Buddhist organization called Wildmind and publishes meditation CDs.
In addition, he says, “I teach meditation and Buddhism in prison. That’s an incredibly satisfying thing to do.” This indicates that his is not merely a dry practice.
In this attractive book, he compares life itself to the flow of a river. If we let go of the idea of permanence and let ourselves drift in a consciously guided way, we can free ourselves from attachment. It’s a useful and inspiring metaphor. The author says “Energy simply flows through us, just as water and other elements do. And an individual organism is just an eddy in this larger flow of energy. A living being, seen this way, is a self-organizing vortex of energy and matter, not separate in any real way from the surrounding flow of elements.”
Living as a River explores ordinary meditation practice, even driving a car as a form of meditation. It is written in a poetic style that should lead a practitioner of Buddhism to access deeper meanings and utilize them for his or her own path. However, the author considers himself a “skeptical Buddhist” so his teaching offers a thoughtful approach to those who are not committed to that faith.
The subtitle of the book is “Finding Fearlessness in the Face of Change.” That strikes me as a challenge that would resonate with all of us in these times when it seems that spiritual concepts take second place to worldly concerns, and worldly concerns often engender a sense of fear for the present and the future. Bodhipaksa says, “I hope that as a result of engaging with this book, you will start to see yourself differently—start to see yourself, even if just for brief periods, as more fluid and dynamic that you normally think you are.” That is certainly an appealing idea for all spiritually-minded beings. Reason enough to buy the book and take up the challenge.
Raw Food for Real People
Living Vegan Food Made Simple
New World Library, 2010
Review by Barbara Bamberger Scott
If Rod Rotondi were pasta, as the name ticklishly suggests, he would be raw, dark green pasta. He is a wanderer and food expert who has gathered recipes and food lore from all parts of the world. His own food preference, the one he so knowledgeably touts in this book and at his Los Angeles restaurant Leaf Organics is, as the title implies, affordable, simple, organic, raw and tasty. As the author says, “People today are incredibly confused about what to eat. We seem to have lost the thread of culture and tradition that used to inform our food choices…this book will not present a scientific treatise on why to eat raw foods…” but rather, a how-to and a why-to based on sensible habits that our bodies will thanks us for. Rotondi believes “in the wisdom of our nature, and when it comes to food choices, I think the wisest course is to listen to our bodies first and foremost.”
Raw food would seem to be a great choice for the lazy, but to make a meal of it, one has to go beyond grab and run, and learn some techniques -- sprouting, drying, juicing -- to tempt the palate with raw food variety that goes a step further.
How, for instance, can you make un-baked pizza that is as mouthwatering as the frozen or delivered-to-your door variety? Here’s how, a la Rotondi, to concoct a “Pizza Pizzazz”: for the crust, you need diced yellow squash, chopped carrots, sprouted buckwheat, sunflower seeds, sprouted lentils, sea salt, ground flaxseeds, soaked almonds, and diced onion. Those ingredients get blended into a dough-like consistency. For the “cheeze” (his term) you will use onion, garlic, pine nuts, yeast, miso, water, turmeric and sunflower seeds, and for the marinara sauce you can go a little bit more conventional, with some fresh basil, olive oil, tomatoes and oregano. No doubt this pizza will take more time than dialing Dominos and waiting by the door, but the result will be not only healthy but delicious, as all really nutritious foods are.
With explanations of how to overcome the protein and sugar addictions that are the most notable barriers most people experience in approaching the idea of going vegan, and with detailed descriptions of all the ingredients Rotondi wants us to keep on hand (sprouts, grains, moss and nuts to name just a few), and with an inset of dazzling color photos of some of the food combos with appealing and clever names like “rawsagna,” “caesar in the raw salad” and “lean green scene smoothie,” this book will win you over to the veggie side of the street in no time. There are even recipes geared to kids, so the whole family can “live vegan” with just a little practice and the acquisition of some good eating – and cooking – habits.
Try it – you’ll love Rotondi’s raw recipes!
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