Reading Fanatic Reviews

Weight Loss

100+ Keto Chaffle Recipes by Sam Kuma

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100+ Keto Chaffle Recipes*

Some Pretty Inventive Ideas

I used to run a specialty food store in northern California, so I am always attracted to any cookbook that I see at my favorite book review site. I also have friends who follow the keto diet, so I like to review those books for them. When I first read this title, I will admit that I had no idea what a chaffle was; I actually had to look it up on the ‘net! For those of you who don’t know, a chaffle is a waffle made with eggs and cheese as a base instead of the typical carbohydrate ingredients.

I thought the organization of the book was a little bizarre. He called the first section of recipes simply “keto chaffle recipes.” Aren’t these all keto chaffle recipes? The first couple of the section were basic ones, but the rest in this chapter were actually more of the “sweet” variety of chaffle, even if the sweet was not accomplished with carbohydrates. Sections followed with chicken chaffles, cake chaffles, savory chaffles, and finished with pizza chaffles. I was surprised to find that one of the basic recipes was for a vegan version, made with vegan cheeses and a flax meal egg substitute; vegans don’t get enough love in most keto books.

Unfortunately, the book didn’t follow some of the standard ways of writing a cookbook, which could make it confusing to some cooks. The list of ingredients should follow the order of their use in a recipe. This rarely happened in this collection. The recipes themselves sounded fine; in fact, some sounded quite tasty. There are also some issues with the introductory section of the book. For instance, a section labeled “About Keto chaffles,” more talked about the keto diet rather than the chaffles. While the author did include some hints and tips—which I think are good—I found it curious that he didn’t address why all of these recipes require a mini waffle maker instead of a regular-sized one. I imagine it would become rather tedious if you were making these for a family. However, if you have a hankering for waffles and you’re on the keto diet, you may very well enjoy this diverse set of chaffle recipes.

5-Day Healthy Smoothie and Juice Cleanse by Alex James

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5-Day Healthy Smoothie and Juice Cleanse*

Different Kind of Book on Food Cleanse

When I first read the blurb of this book, I found myself a little confused about what the book might contain. I wasn’t sure how some of what was stated related to the idea of a food cleanse, juices, or healthy smoothies; what would a lentil dish have to do with that? I also thought that the subtitle was confusing as well; what did the author mean by owning the weekend?

This book is clearly written by an author who is passionate about the subject and has done what the book is about. This is not about a standard, short-term juice or smoothie cleanse (though you could use it for that). Instead, the author strongly recommends using juices and/or smoothies as the basis of your diet during the week and eating other foods for dinner and on the weekends, choosing a diet plan that you believe is healthful for you. (I actually found the author’s discussion of diet beyond what this book is about to be refreshing. The author advocates that you figure out what is best for you and your body.) The author suggests three phases to the cleanse, the first being the juice phase and the second being the smoothie phase. During these phases, you either have juice or a smoothie for breakfast and lunch. The author suggests doing at least a week of each, though the author did follow Phase 1 for a year. For Phase 1, the author gives two recipes, one for breakfast and one for lunch. Phase 2 just has one smoothie recipe. You definitely need a juicer to do Phase 1 and a high-powered blender to do Phase 2.

I found the concept of having juices and smoothies like this to be an interesting one. Back when I first became vegan, I actually did something quite similar, having a large smoothie in the early part of the day and a basic dinner later. The author does give tips about how to make some of this ahead and even includes checklists and plans in the back to help you better set up your week. The author does also include some recipes that you could have for the eat-what-you-want meals of the week. That’s where the lentil recipe comes in. I found it kind of funny that the author also included “recipes”—that are somewhat detailed—for the perfect buttered toast and grilled cheese.

Unfortunately, the author did not stay on point for this book. Much more is discussed than the juices and smoothies or the cleanse aspects. Again, I can sense this book is a passion project for the offer, but I truly believe that nonfiction books should stay on topic. Write another book if you want to discuss tangential ideas.

I’ll admit that I’m intrigued enough by this idea that I’m considering giving it a try. I really did enjoy making healthy smoothies back in the day as they are a quick and easy way to get a variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet. I think this kind of thing is easier to try in spring or summer when the weather is warmer and produce is better than it is in late fall or winter. I might give this a try then and see how it makes me feel.

When Mediterranean Mindset Meets DASH Diet by Marcella Palmer

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When Mediterranean Mindset Meets DASH Diet*

Good Book that Looks at the DASH Diet and Mindset

You can tell when you read the early parts of this book that the author is very passionate about the DASH diet as well as what she calls the Mediterranean mindset. She has blended these two concepts in this book. First she gives an overview of the DASH diet and its origins; she also explains how she came up with seven tenets of Mediterranean mindset. She then looks at the benefits of the DASH diet from a medical perspective. The next chapter seeks to bust myths about the DASH diet, like cost and restrictions. She does talk at some length about the foods that are best on this diet, and she even gives some recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At the end, she has a further tip section about how to incorporate the Mediterranean mindset with the DASH diet with very specific action plans to help you with meal planning, activity, and other concepts that support weight loss.

I’m a registered nurse, so I thought that some of what was stated in the medical section was not wholly accurate but would probably be good enough for the general reader. The book is a little repetitive in parts and could have been condensed some. Sometimes her enthusiasm overwhelms the idea she is trying to get across. In general, I agree that the DASH diet is a good one to follow as it is basically about eating whole foods. I disagree with a few of her statements. One was actually nonsensical to me. At one point, she talks about not adding sauces, salt, or other seasonings to your food—just try them as the chef intended. Well, if you’re the home chef, you will most likely be using some seasonings, or the food is going to be pretty bland and you won’t stick with a diet! There is certainly nothing wrong with most sauces or seasonings; you might need to watch for a few ingredients in sauces, but herbs and spices like oregano and cinnamon zazz up a dish. While salt isn’t strictly prohibited on the DASH diet, it is recommended to be consumed in small quantities and in balance with other minerals like potassium, magnesium, and calcium. This actually shouldn’t be a problem if you eat home-cooked whole foods that have only been lightly seasoned.

The recipes seemed straightforward, and most appeared to be simple to do. I liked how the author emphasized vegetarian- and vegan-friendly options within the diet. Indeed, the DASH diet is very friendly for non-meat eaters as well as those who are omnivores. I thought the tip section at the back was fantastic. I love the idea of mini action plans. They would definitely all be helpful to the would-be dieter as he or she tried to live a more healthful life, whether that’s through your food or lifestyle choices.

Accelerated Weight Loss – 70 Positive Affirmations by Marcella Palmer

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Accelerated Weight Loss - 70 Positive Affirmations*

Good Affirmation Process Along with Targeted Affirmations

The mind can be an incredible tool when applied with intent to many different topics. The power of affirmations comes from this space. They can help your brain accept a new, more positive reality. This book begins with an explanation of the author’s technique for working with affirmations. She has a 5-step process that should help to imprint any affirmations better than if one had just simply spoken some aloud once or twice. In fact, I quite like her affirmation procedure. It wouldn’t really take that long, and the effect could definitely be magnifying. The affirmations themselves all have to deal with weight loss and having a healthy body, as the title suggests, and some affirmations are specific to the DASH diet. From the way things were worded in the book, it sounds like there are audio files that go along with this or will be provided by the author in some way. I was not given access to that as a reviewer, so I cannot speak to what that might be. I would hope that she would give the reader time and space to follow the 5-step process that she recommends. All in all, this appears to be a decent book of affirmations for weight loss, especially if you are following the DASH diet.

The Complete Keto Desserts Book for Carb Lovers by Owen Moss

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The Complete Keto Desserts Book for Carb Lovers*

Yummy-Sounding Keto-Friendly Desserts

I always find it laughable when a cookbook proclaims itself “complete.” As if that could ever be for any recipe lover. However, for anyone who is on the keto diet and is missing desserts, this book provides an ideal solution. It is jam-packed with 75 keto-friendly recipes that the author states have been tweaked from family recipes to be made suitable for the keto diet. A lot of them do sound quite yummy, including the first one, Chocolate Almond Ganache Cake. Other good sounding ones include Puffy Strawberry Scones and Decadent Butterscotch Dessert. The recipes do appear to be keto friendly, using alternate low-carb flours and sweeteners. The author does give the number of carbs per serving, and I was surprised how low some of them were.

While this is a good book of desserts that one could enjoy while on the keto diet, I do have some issues with it. First, the recipes aren’t organized in any fashion. They are just placed in random order. Desserts can be split into specific types like shakes, cakes, and candies, for instance. I would have loved to have seen this kind of organization. Sometimes you’re looking for a particular type of recipe and don’t really want to read through 75 recipe titles to figure out what you might want. I mentioned above that this book does use some low-carb flours and sweeteners. It also does use a few other ingredients that are uncommon. While the author did have a brief int section on the flours and sweeteners, he didn’t really have a section that addressed these other obscure ingredients. That would have been handy. Finally, those recipes that needed them didn’t have pan sizes. Many of the recipes don’t need them, though.

Other than these three issues, I did find this book to be stuffed with good-sounding recipes perfect for people on a keto diet.

Keto Diet for Beginners by Jesse Ryan

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Keto Diet for Beginners*

Excellent Keto Guide for Beginners

I have read a lot of cookbooks and diet books throughout my life. Lately, because of the ease of publishing such books on Amazon and other online publishers, it seems like people rush out super simple books that are cobbled together from a variety of sources and call it their own. That’s part of why I found this book refreshing. It is clear that the author has walked the talk. The author is undoubtedly well experienced with the keto diet and offers a lot of personal tips and suggestions.

The book starts by defining what the keto diet actually is. For once in keto books, it very clearly defined in terms of percentages of macronutrients. The author even has an entire section of the book to help you figure out what that should look like in your own diet. The author also touches upon various topics that are important in keto, like the keto flu, exercise, and fasting. The author even broaches topics like when to stop certain practices like fasting and how to ease into the keto diet. The concept of meal planning is addressed, and the author does give a meal plan with lots of recipes to get you started. Most of these appear relatively simple, and I would imagine they come from the author’s own repertoire. There is a section at the end, following the recipes, about tracking your progress. Personally, I think that all the non-recipe and meal planning stuff should have been together at the beginning so that the book just could have ended with the meal planning and recipes, but this is a minor quibble. Compared to most of the keto books that I have read, this is the most detailed and will genuinely help out a beginner.

The Complete Keto Cookbook by Amanda Klein

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The Complete Keto Cookbook*

Brimming with Recipes

Even though it has a very short section in front with brief articles about what the keto diet is, its benefits, and how to set yourself up for keto cooking success, this book is really all about the recipes. There are over 600 recipes in this cookbook. The author has chosen to divide this by the type of meat, with other sections on vegetables, vegan recipes, appetizers, and dessert recipes. I thought that the book would have been arranged better if some of the recipes were split out into more logical groups. For instance, each section has quite a few soups. I would have loved to have seen a soup chapter—as I adore soups and we are heading into soup season. Perhaps within that chapter—if the author had gone that direction—she could have designated the types of meat or veggies that served as the base. I would have loved to have seen other such split outs.

In looking over the recipes, I found some of them to be the typical easy kinds of recipes that people enjoy today while others were a bit more complex. Most just use regular ingredients from the grocery store; only a few called for specialty ingredients. Only the briefest of nutritional information was given. While carbs were listed, it wasn’t stated anywhere in the book whether this was net carbs or total carbs.  I thought some of the proportions between ingredients were a bit off. For instance, there was a salad recipe where a serving was one cup of lettuce with 1/4 cup of avocado.(For one thing, I can’t even imagine a salad that small; but that seems like too much avocado for the amount of lettuce.) Inexplicably, some recipes appeared in more than one section.

I thought that the sections preceding the recipes we’re mostly full of the normal information you hear about keto in these kinds of books and on popular blogs. I don’t necessarily agree with some of the information presented; I think it is just the standard stuff that is said for this diet. You can easily skip these sections and just move on to the recipes. There are no photographs in this ebook; the only pictures you will see are on the cover. I can’t really tell you if these are wholly keto-friendly, as I am not 100% knowledgeable about all of the ins and outs of the keto diet. But, however, I did find this set of recipes to be both practical and inspiring, even for people who don’t necessarily follow the keto diet.

Weight Loss Mastery by Jonathan Green and S. J. Scott

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Weight Loss Mastery*

Good Habits but Some Issues

This book combines several ideas to aid weight loss framed in the form of habits that should be adopted. I’ve seen the concepts in other places but not necessarily together. The book not only contains five habits to cultivate for weight loss but also discusses what they call the six pillars of weight loss mastery, which are mostly about mindset. Within each of the habit sections, the authors list strategies and steps to achieve the habit.

The five habits that are the cornerstone of this book are nothing truly unique. They include things like making better food choices, mindful eating, and moving more. I thought the book started in a way that was perhaps a little shaming of someone who is overweight. Not everyone who is fat is afraid of intimacy, for instance, and to imply that and the other things mentioned, the authors seem to be saying that fat must (or should) equal personal shame for every person who is fat. This isn’t necessarily so, and for those teetering on the edge of self-worth problems because of weight issues, such discussion is more harmful than helpful. The first section also gives links to a bunch of studies about the dangers of obesity. Having studied as a nurse, I would caution against taking any one study’s results to be the be-all, end-all say in any matter.

The book’s subtitle states that this book will help you shed belly fat. “Flat belly” is certainly a buzz phrase at the moment. But in searching the book, I don’t really see where this is specifically about targeting belly fat—which you can’t really do anyway. The only mention of belly fat in the book is in the section on food talking about black beans! This section listed what the authors called “fat-burning” foods but actually gave no evidence or information about why these would be considered “fat burning.” They were just natural, healthy foods. I’d like to see the data on that a fat-burning claim. Despite this, the combination of habit-building techniques is actually pretty decent. There are just some issues with shaming voice, the somewhat disingenuous subtitle, and some of the “facts.”

Autophagy Fasting with Water for Beginners by Jason Berg and Eric Fung

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Autophagy Fasting with Water for Beginners*

A Hot Mess

This book is a hot mess. One look at the table of contents will reveal that the book is all over the map. The book is definitely repetitive in places, and the structure does not follow a logical pattern. With a topic like this, the book should open with a good background section which should be followed by a clearly defined method. Instead, here, the initial part is scattered and disorganized. I don’t think they define autophagy quickly enough before they start using it everywhere. Because it is such an unusual word, the author should let the reader know that right away. I thought that the background information should have been structured more cleanly and less repetitively; there are several places where they could have said a concept once instead of over and over in different areas in the text. The authors seem to grapple with the idea of distinguishing regular fasting from autophagy water fasting; this actually happened in several places in the book. These concepts definitely need to be streamlined for the reader. The method that the authors suggest is not all set in one place. It is mostly after the background, but some of it is contained within the initial section as well. There is at least one chapter that should have been split into more to aid clarity. Some statements in the text contradicted each other. The medical claims seem outlandish at times and aren’t backed up with mentions or links to research.

There are definitely some issues with language. For one thing, I think the authors are trying to impress the reader with the use of medical- and scientific-sounding words. It is evident in places that they don’t really seem to understand these terms. I am an RN, and I was surprised to see their description of the medical suffix of “-phagy” as “engulf”; it actually means to digest or to eat. There was at least one place where I just about laughed out loud because what they said was nonsensical: “In Type I and type II diabetes, fasting could aggravate the side effect of diabetes.” Mercy! Diseases have symptoms and complications; medications/drugs have side effects! And which “side effect” of diabetes could fasting aggravate? Aside from these aspects of language, the book is rife with grammatical, punctuation, and usage errors; it seems unlikely that this was self-edited (let alone professionally edited). Words were left in that should have been removed; in other places, words appeared to be missing. The language for the nonscientific jargon part of the text is a bit stilted in a way that makes me think that the authors may not be native English speakers. If you are interested in the topic of water fasting, I think you could find a better book on the subject.

The Ketogenic Diet for Beginners by Anivya Publishing

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The Ketogenic Diet for Beginners*

Biased Information and Questionable Recipes

This book purports to be for beginners. I think it is more of a recipe book with a few short articles about the ketogenic diet itself. I found these articles to be heavily biased and light on fact. If you’re hoping to gain true information about this diet to help you better understand it, you would do better to look elsewhere.

The recipes are divided into three sections, breakfast and brunch (30), dinner ideas (31), and snack recipes (10). I have actually written cookbooks myself, so I tend to be a stickler when I look at the format of recipes and how they are laid out. In this cookbook, I definitely found some issues. Some titles are misleading. For instance, the coconut egg scramble, the second recipe in the breakfast section, would lead you to think that it has coconut in it from the title, but it only has coconut oil.

The ingredient lists are inconsistent; they don’t always follow the order in which the ingredients are used. Sometimes the preparation didn’t follow the ingredients when it needed to do so–you can’t have “1 diced bell pepper”; it should read “1 bell pepper, diced”. Sometimes a piece of information that wasn’t preparation followed the ingredient (like “12 strips bacon, organic cooked”). Sometimes the formatting of the directions wasn’t correct either. In at least one place, a paragraph was styled as a header, not as text. There are also issues in the entire book with grammar, punctuation, and usage. They were definitely issues with commas (especially not preceding a preparation method), spacing, and capitalization. This book needs an editor, one who specializes in cookbooks.

As to the recipes themselves, I thought some sounded interesting while others made me question the flavor profile. For instance, I can’t quite imagine a zucchini and coconut flake egg scramble. Some of the amounts of the ingredients in recipes is concerning. For example, the first omelet calls for three eggs but one entire bell pepper that’s been diced. It would seem that that recipe would be more of a bell pepper dish with a little bit of egg binding them than a true omelet.

If you have an interest in the ketogenic diet, I would suggest looking through the table of contents before deciding to purchase to see if these types of recipes would interest you.

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