Our fave healthy reads!

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

The stack of books on my night stand just keeps growing and growing with all these awesome wellness books that I just can’t get enough of!  From creating miracles in your life, and acting in alignment with how you want to feel, to eating for a perfect period, and having a super healthy, natural pregnancy… There’s so much to choose from!

Here’s what I’m reading now:

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Healthy Summer Reads

By Callie McBride

Whether a new book sits on your bedside table each week, or summer is the one time of the year when you’ve even got extra time to read, a great genre of books that both entertains and educates is “health and wellness”. You can find light reads and much more in-depth books alike, that inform you of important health topics and also stir up inspiration for your own personal lifestyle. Soaking in a bubble bath or lounging on the beach are two prime spots to sink into a book and escape the world for a little while.

Here are my top healthy reads for this summer:

1. Vegan Before 6, by Mark Bittman

vb6Mark Bittman offers an interesting and completely doable concept to his readers by taking the pressure off of becoming a full-fledged vegan, and instead eating a diet free of any animal products until 6pm each day. This means that no foods are “forbidden” and no sense of deprivation is felt throughout the plan. Filled with recipes, helpful tips, and a 28-day eating plan that shows why a vegan diet is the way to go most of the time, this easy read could have even the meatiest of eaters have a change of heart.

2. Crazy Sexy Diet, by Kris Carr

The strong, beautiful, and hilarious Kris Carr brings her spunky energy and full-of-life attitude to her fourth book which walks readers through a 21-day cleanse as well as all the needed information to adopt a plant-based diet. Her writing is smart, witty, and filled with life experiences that add that personal touch necessary for readers to relate to. She covers all of the bases, including skin, hair and nails; body; spiritual energy; mental health; physical strength and energy; and happiness, all of which she promises will improve and skyrocket when switching to veganism. Especially touching is her recounting of her battle with cancer, and how incredibly brave she was to successfully turn to food as her ultimate source of medicine.

3. Yoga Cures, by Tara Stiles

This quick and fun read by Tara Stiles reveals in tiny chapters every single awesome benefit that yoga offers. From joint pain relief to weight loss to less anxiety and better sex, Stiles’ voice is relaxed and to the point in her book, which also demonstrates tons of yogi moves and includes tips and tricks to perfecting one’s flow.

4. Unbearable Lightness, by Portia De Rossi

This intense but beautifully crafted novel by actress and vegan Portia de Rossi delves into the dark world of eating disorders, as well as the touching journey to recovery. de Rossi grew up modeling and acting in Australia and, once thrown onto television in America, lost sight of what was important in surrender to her highly disordered thoughts. Her story is closely detailed and so personal that readers feel as if they experience everything alongside her. A heartwarming ending places this book on my favorites list, as it is a huge reminder of how precious life is.

5. The Kind Diet, by Alicia Silverstone

It’s all in the title: “The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet”. Actress and resident vegan Alicia Silverstone approaches veganism in an extremely approachable and easy way in her book, which features tons of recipes that I can personally say are life-changing (I’m referring to the vegan seven-layer dip and the homemade peanut butter cups). Without going too much into detail about nutrition and health benefits, Silverstone’s cookbook serves as a reminder of all the other amazing things that going vegan can do: literally save the planet! Her aim is to cause the most cautious of readers to consider the lifestyle, and her method seems to work. Her online forum is extremely popular, as is her incredible food.


6. YOU: The Owner’s Manual, by Dr. Mehmet Oz

For a more scientific, biology-lesson type read, pick up this heavy-duty manual by Dr. Oz. It’s got an interactive element to it with mini quizzes at the beginning of each chapter to test you knowledge on health and the body, before delving into the nitty-gritty of the body’s entire makeup. Don’t fear, this isn’t a bore. It’s chock full of information that can help turn your  entire household into a much more health-conscious one. Dr. Oz places all of the focus on YOU in this book, so with each page you will learn more ways to improve your lifestyle and maintain the best health state you possibly can.

Pick up one of these books today for your next day at the beach, and soon enough they’ll be dog-eared and torn from love. If you’ve already gone through them, enter the titles into Amazon and click  “similar to” for more healthy reads that won’t dull your mind this summer. Happy reading!


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The Organic Beauty Book List 2010

There is a whole lot of information out there about health, beauty, and food, some of it a little more contradictory that we would like.  Some advocate local over organic produce, some the other way around; some say there is no way to be healthy and keep meat in your diet, others say the only an omnivore can be truly healthy; some push a hard line DIY lifestyle as the only way to keep your body and home safe and toxin free, others say everything in moderation.  So how do we figure out which advice to follow?

My philosophy has always been to soak up as much knowledge as possible, and use common sense and a knowledge of one’s self and one’s own habits to figure out what works best.  There is no universal cure-all or answer that will work for everyone.  That said, there have definitely been some books that have been instrumental in my figuring out where to be strict and where to let things slide, as well as helping to create a general knowledge base that informs my decisions of what to put in, on, and around my body.  Check out a few of these titles, or go the distance and read ’em all to make yourself a fabulously educated Organic Beauty!

Food and Farming:

The Organic Beauty Book ListAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver provides a really interesting look into a family’s decision to try to live as total locavores, growing much of their food on their own fledgling farm and purchasing the rest from nearby farmers.  Now, I’m not one to glorify the Green Acres life — farm living is not the life for me — but this book provided a really insightful look into a whole slew of topics, ranging from locavorism to environmentalism, vegetarianism to the benefit of the small family farm.  It is a super well written narrative that will forever change how you view your local Greenmarket.  

In his followup to the vital read, The Omnivores Dilemma, Michael Pollan came out with two more absolutely essential books, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, and its companion text Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual.  Together, these books really outline what we should and should not be eating, and more importantly, WHY.  Pollan goes a step further than The Omnivores Dilemma by taking us out of the realm of industrial agriculture, and into the grocery store, an area which is much more familiar.  Here, he debunks quick food fixes that are being touted as easy alternatives to the preparation of more time consuming whole foods, and really gets to the bottom of what it means to eat healthy.  While In Defense of Food can get really technical, and goes into a lot of detail about what we should and should not be eating, Food Rules offers a simple pocket guide that, in my opinion, should be a veritable bible for grocery shopping Americans.  The book advocates a mostly plant-based, whole foods diet, and is full of quippy little mantras (“the whiter the bread, the quicker you’ll be dead”) that really healthy eating a no-brainer. Truly, these are both must-reads.

Diet and Health:

The Organic Beauty Book ListThe Life Force Diet, by Michelle Schoffro Cook, completely changed my life when it came to dieting and health.  After many years of struggling with stomach problems, food sensitivities, and other health problems, this book really shed light on how I was shooting myself in the foot with what I was eating and set me on an amazing path to total wellness.  Cook does everything from explaining how and why certain foods make us feel the way we do, to completely outlining a new way to think about food.  This is less of a diet and more of a total overhaul of how you eat that will last you for the rest of your life.  By eating the enzyme-rich foods she outlines, and taking the right supplements, I starting looking and feeling the best I ever have in my life!  The foods she advocates bring on mental clarity, radiant beauty, energy, and a forever slim physique. The ULTIMATE guide to being an Organic  Beauty!

The Organic Beauty Book ListI’m not going to lie.. I have a major crush on Alicia Silverstone.  In addition to being supremely adorable, she has used her fame to work tirelessly for animal rights and the environment, and she just seems like an absolute sweetheart.  So when I saw that she was coming out with a diet and lifestyle book, I had to have it, regardless of what it said.  So imagine my glee when I opened up The Kind Diet and found a well-written, funny and educational book that was impossible to put down!  In addition to personal anecdotes and beauty tips, this book talks a lot about the environmental, ecological, and ethical justifications for a vegan diet, but in a way that is never preachy or didactic.  She writes about how said diet improves your health, well-being, and beauty, and makes the transition so easy for those new to it!  Now I am not a strict vegan, but I use her recipes and tips from this book ALL the time and would recommend it to anyone who wants to look and feel.. well, kind of like Alicia Silverstone!
The Organic Beauty Book ListIf there was ever a stylistic opposite to The Kind Diet and its sweet, supportive tone, it would be the Skinny Bitch series by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin.  The hilarious, acid-tongued girls have an entirely different take on getting you to eat better and look great… basically “do you want to stop being fat, ugly, and pimpled?  Then quit eating disgusting, rotting animal flesh and breast milk and start caring about what you put in your body!”… in a nutshell.  They balance scientific evidence and research with the most hilarious tough-love, no nonsense voice that really makes you see the insanity in American eating practices.  Though there is definitely an animal rights bent, there is none of the crunchy, granola, hippy aesthetic that turns off so many glam girls to the message.  And the recipes are awesome, realistic, and easy.  I absolutely LOVE these two!  Check out Skinny Bitch in the Kitch for great recipes, Skinny Bitch Bun in the Oven for expecting mothers, and Skinny Bastard for the men in your life.
 Beauty and Body:
The Organic Beauty Book ListI went on a frantic clean-out spree after I read No More Dirty Looks: The Truth About Your Beauty Products.  It is a really scary and enlightening look into what terrible things go into the beauty products most of us use every day. The knowledge gleaned from this book is a major influence in my starting this blog, and is really vital for everyone who has ever set foot in a salon or used store bought beauty products.  In addition to identifying red flags and products to keep outside a 10 mile radius of your home, they share the results of tons of research and product testing to bring you recommendations of the most safe and effective products on the market, as well as lots of great homemade remedies made from ingredients you probably already own!
The Organic Beauty Book ListI know this isn’t a book, exactly, though it does come with a very informative pamphlet of guidelines for ultimate health and beauty, but this is SUCH a great series that is so in line with the Organic Beauty philosophy that I just had to recommend it.  Holistic health and fitness guide, Rainbeau Mars (yes, her real name) has been my absolute favorite yoga instructor for some time, and I’ve only ever seen her on her DVDs!  Her Yoga for Beauty series is comprised of two DVDs, AM and PM, that really focus on detoxifying, cleansing, beautifying and balancing yoga postures.  Her 40 Disciplines for Beauty are loosely based in the Ayurvedic tradition, and provide a lot of useful tips on caring for your body and natural living.  A must for every Organic Beauty!