I love looking at cookbooks and pictures of food for inspiration in the kitchen. And I love exploring new and different ways of preparing food.
So I was pretty excited when one of my work buddies let me borrow “The Kind Diet,” written by Alicia Silverstone in 2009. Normally on Sundays I write about books from different trilogies and sagas, but I got a little sidetracked this week.
In “The Kind Diet,” Silverstone discusses her path to eliminating all animal products from her diet and choosing foods that both satisfy her and give her limitless energy. You might remember Silverstone as Cher from “Clueless” or as Batgirl from “Batman and Robin.” She stirred up the Internet when she announced the alternative way she feeds her children. She also has a website called The Kind Life, were she shares advice, recipes and anecdotes about macrobiotic and vegan living.
To begin “The Kind Diet,” Silverstone talks about her path to veganism and macrobiotics. One of her most memorable stories was about when she worked at an animal shelter, and one night, went home with 11 dogs because they were all scheduled to be euthanized. She has a bleeding heart for all animals and found it unethical to continue eating animal products.
Her husband, Chris, introduced her to macrobiotics a few years ago, which is the practice of eating a grain-based diet with vegetables and avoiding all highly processed foods and animal products.
In each chapter she discusses what she calls “Nasty Foods,” such as meat, dairy, highly processed and refined sugars and genetically modified organisms. She outlines the ethical, environmental and health-related reasons why “nasty foods” should not be eaten, and she is very convincing.
At the end of the book, she has recipes for various vegan and macrobiotic foods, some of which use some unusual ingredients.
I’ve experimented with vegan cooking, boiling pots of seitan and steaming my own vegan pepperoni and baking vegan cupcakes. I have bags of textured vegetable protein and vital wheat gluten in my cupboards and bricks of tofu in my fridge. The food is delicious, flavorful, versatile and interesting, and I’m always curious about new ways of cooking different ingredients. I want to try her Moroccan Couscous with Saffron, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups or Toasted Nori Burritos.
Silverstone’s book made me want to go searching for hijiki sea vegetables, umeboshi plums and kabocha squash. Silverstone lives in an area where those foods are readily available, and if not, she’s a celebrity. She can make them readily available if she really wants them.
Some of her advice is a little strange. For example, I should drink a tea made of carrots, daikon and umeboshi plums to relax my liver and help reduce menstrual cramps. That sounded a little weird, but I’d be willing to try it. Macrobiotic eating is also big on how you chew and digest your food, which was discussed at length throughout the book. Silverstone is pushing 40, but she looks like she’s in her 20s, so she must be doing something right.
If you already have a stigma against vegan eating and cooking, read “The Kind Diet” to gain a new perspective. If you’re interested in learning more about macrobiotics and vegan cooking, check out the recipes in this book. They all sound delicious!