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Monday, April 27, 2020

The Create-Your-Plate Diabetes Cookbook: Book Review


Food has become a popular topic of conversation during this pandemic. Panic buying, changing habits (everyone is now baking their own bread?), food delivery, grocery store line-ups, shuttered restaurants, restaurants transitioning to delivery and take out only...and then you have all the memes poking fun at people suddenly becoming gourmet chefs for a few days until their resolve crumbles and they start eating cereal for every meal and everyone complaining they are gaining weight due to less activity and closer proximity to the fridge.

Unfortunately, the situation has been tough for a lot of my counselling clients struggling with disordered eating, whether its restriction and dieting or binging.

As I have stated many times, I am not a fan of diets and restrictive eating. That being said if you love being keto or whatever, you are healthy and not oscillating between restriction and binging - which is what happens to most people who try restrictive diets - than knock yourself out. Really, the point is that whatever way you eat should be sustainable and enjoyable.

If you want a simple way to determine a nutritious way to eat, fill half of your plate at every meal with non-starchy vegetables, a quarter with a complex carb (brown rice, sweet potato, etc.) and a quarter with a protein.

Unfortunately, most North Americans eat too few veggies and too much of everything else. Veggies are high in nutrients and fibre and fill you up with minimal calories. Part of the problem is that so few people actually prepare meals at home anymore and most restaurant meals and take out is not portioned the proper way. Typically starches are cheapest so you get the most of that.

But even if you don't want to cook fancy meals, the plate strategy is pretty easy. Just buy a damn rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, a bag of salad and a sweet potato and away you go.

If you are interested in learning how to cook and how to eat using the plate system, than The Create-Your-Plate Diabetes Cookbook, by dietitian, Toby Amidor, is a great resource. Just like the last diabetes cookbook I reviewed, it is a good book for anyone looking to eat better, not just those with have diabetes.

The first part of the book is chock full of information on nutrition and how to create your healthy plate. The third chapter of the book contains meal plans and tips on creating meal plates from breakfast through to dinner, as well as including snacks. All the recipes are contained in the book.

The recipe chapters include:


  • Breakfasts
  • Snacks
  • Appetizers
  • Smoothies and low calorie beverages
  • Soups & main salads
  • Main dishes
  • Side dishes
  • Dips, condiments & salad dressings
The recipes are mostly savory as you can see there is no dessert section, but there are some sweet recipes in the breakfast and snack chapters. I love that none of the recipes contain sugar. Amidor uses mostly stevia instead. If you are anti-stevia, you could substitute with monk fruit.

Each recipe has lots of detailed instructions, tips, nutrition information, and recommendations for what to pair it with to complete your plate.

There are some vegetarian and vegan mains, but most are not, though most of the side dishes are vegan or can be easily made vegan.  Not all recipes are pictured, but many are.

If you are sick and tired of trying all the latest fad diets and falling off them because they are too restrictive, this is a great alternative way to make sure you are eating in a healthy way. You never want to diet, because they really never work. You want to find a way of life that promotes your health and well being but is also enjoyable and sustainable.

Do I recommend this book? Yes, absolutely, it is a great way to learn a healthy approach to eating and contains a wide variety of healthy recipes that sound yummy and simple to make.

Disclosure: I was sent this book to review, but all opinions on this blog are my own.




Monday, April 6, 2020

Complete Calisthenics, 2nd Edition: Book Review



How is your pandemic going?  Are you bored yet? Or too anxious to be bored?

I am sure you have seen enough of people's online workouts and tips for keeping fit while stuck at home (but for the record, try out www.fitnessblender.com for free workout videos that are great!).

Perhaps fitness videos or apps are not your thing. Can I interest you in a fitness book? You know what books are right, those things made from paper...with a spine...and a cover...and you need to hold it in your hands and it has no battery or buttons?

If books do appeal to you, than I suggest checking out Complete Calisthenics, by writer and personal trainer, Ashley Kalym.

What are calisthenics? Bodyweight exercises such as planks, push ups, sit ups, pull ups, handstands, etc.

You should know that THESE EXERCISES ARE HARD! They all start with basic versions for beginners, but as a personal trainer myself, I can tell you right now, a lot of people will not even be capable of the beginner version. For push-ups, for example, he does not seem to allow push ups from the knees. His beginner version is just elevating the hands. My advice is to start with a goal of 1 repetition and build it up from there. Even if you only do 1 rep, you will still be getting stronger if you are consistent. As soon as possible add a rep and keep adding.

The exercises in the book are not equipment-free. You need a pull up bar, but these are inexpensive:
This is the one we have in our home and it has lasted for years.

A plyometric box is also useful, though you could also use a step platform in a pinch. You also need parallettes, though Kalym provides instructions on how to make them yourself. But you can easily find various kinds online such as these:
Big A and I are discussing ordering some. Big A has been very into circus training and acrobatics for a while now, so these are something we may both use for training.

Part I of the book starts with a definition of calisthenics and  goes through the risks and benefits plus required equipment.

Part II is about nutrition, rest and recovery.

Part III includes warm up and mobility exercises for every part of the body with extensive written instruction and photos.

The chapters in Part IV are the exercises, also very detailed in instruction and with photos and including:

  • Push ups
  • Pull ups
  • Dips
  • Handstands
  • Levers
  • Floor core exercises
  • Leg raises
  • Lower body (squats, curls, etc.)
  • Conditioning (i.e. cardio)
Part V is putting it all together into training programs.

I definitely am impressed with this book. Normally, I find it hard to 'read' to learn physical tasks but there is so much detail in the straightforward instruction and teaching points as well as photos with each exercise, that it even works for someone like me.

So yes, I recommend this book. If the idea of something like a fitness class or video or lifting weights bores you to tears, but you want to get strong and fit, than this may be the book for you. You can work through it at your own pace (hey if it takes you the whole damn pandemic to do 1 real push up, so be it!), but if you do start consistently doing these exercises, believe you me, you will be a ninja!

I actually think I may go through the book myself and see how many I can master. Why the fuck not, there is not much else to do right now!

Disclosure: I was sent this book to review but all opinions on this blog are my own.