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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Greener Diets:
A new cookbook offers creative ways
to prepare healthy greens.

I feel so lucky to live in a place where beautiful, leafy green vegetables—curly kales, paddle-leaved collards, spicy red-tinged mustards, firm cabbages, dark-green stemmed broccoli—are available year-round and can be grown easily in backyard gardens. Springtime brings to the local markets an even greater variety of delicate, tender spring produce, like nettles and asparagus. A cookbook filled with recipes for preparing greens in creative, flavorful ways almost always attracts my interest, especially a collection that includes tips for preparing produce to maximize bioavailability of vitamins and minerals. 

Eat More Greens:
The Most Inventive Recipes to Help You Eat More Greens

by Zita Steyn
(Quadrille Publishing, 2017)

London-based nutritionist Zita Steyn wrote this cookbook for clients and friends who wanted to know how they could incorporate more greens (including sea greens) into their diets. Like many cookbook authors advocating less refined sugar, fewer empty carbohydrates, and more nutrient-density, Steyn works from beliefs that grew out of personal experience: Her mother learned to treat and manage symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome with a diet rich in dark, nutrient-dense greens. The recipes are simple, but Steyn uses intriguing combinations of herbs, spices, and fruits to give depth and complexity to her dishes.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Anything on a Taco


 Breddos Tacos serves up unusual, creative combinations for tacos,
side dishes, and condiments.

I love tacos. I’m a fan of all the traditional versions, especially when prepared by experts. I would go out of my way for al pastor (a flavorful pork slow-cooked in adobo and pineapple) at Berkeley’s Casa Latina; de pescado (freshly caught fish with mayonnaise made from just-laid eggs) from a beach vendor in the little town of San Quintín on the Pacific side of Baja, Mexico; or lengua (beef tongue with salsa verde) from the Taqueria Sinaloa truck on International Boulevard in Oakland. But at home, I define “taco” loosely as just about anything wrapped in a corn tortilla, the great harmonizer of whatever meat, tofu, produce, or meal remnants happen to be kicking around in the kitchen. There’s no limit to the combinations of ingredients that taste good together piled on a tortilla and garnished with salsa, chili peppers, avocado, shredded cabbage, onion, fermented pickles, cilantro, and a splash of hot sauce. Here’s a book to get you started on your own home taco adventures.

Breddos Tacos: The Cookbook
by Nud Dudhia and Chris Whitney
(Quadrille Publishing, 2017)

Neither Nud Dudhia nor Chris Whitney are Mexican.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf


An Apple a Day . . .

Whether it’s sauerkraut delivering probiotics to the gut or bone broths providing vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes, some doctors and health practitioners are looking to food, rather than pharmaceuticals or even vitamin supplements, to address patients’ health issues. Two new books tackle eating to prevent and control fatty liver disease and osteoporosis. 


Skinny Liver: A Proven Program to Prevent and
Reverse the New Silent Epidemic—Fatty Liver Disease 

by Kristin Kirkpatrick with Ibrahim Hanouneh 
(Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2017)

Award-winning dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick and hepatologist Dr. Ibrahim Hanouneh explain all the ways we tax our livers (other than by drinking alcohol) and offer food strategies to eliminate toxins and improve general health. Fatty liver symptoms often don’t manifest until the liver is seriously compromised, so many people don’t even know they’re at risk. People with fatty liver disease are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, liver cirrhosis, and liver cancer. The authors set out a four-week program built around exercise, healthy eating, and other lifestyle changes designed to encourage optimal liver health. They include recipes for simple dishes like a Blackberry Freekeh Salad, Spicy Turkey Burgers, and Root Vegetable Gratin, as well as eating and exercise plans designed to boost liver health.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Can Gluten-Free Mean More, Not Less?

Many desserts and other confections described simply as “gluten-free” get sold short. Baked goods made with a gluten-free flour can offer much, much more than simply being free of the protein that gives dough its elastic texture. Depending upon the ingredients— specifically the flours used—they can be deeply flavored, with a more interesting texture than is produced by standard all-purpose flours, making for a complex-tasting treat.

Alternative Baker: Reinventing Dessert with Gluten-Free Grains and Flours 
by Alanna Taylor-Tobin 
(Page Street Publishing, 2016)

San Francisco–based pastry chef, food stylist, and photographer Alanna Taylor-Tobin is the founder of the popular recipe website The Bojon Gourmet. Her latest cookbook features more than 100 recipes using gluten-free flours like corn, oat, chestnut, almond, buckwheat, sorghum, and others. These alternative grains possess a variety of intriguing characteristics that make for deeply flavorful baked goods. Headnotes to most of the recipes offer useful information about storage, complementary jams and other condiments, and suggestions for variations on the recipes. Find intriguing recipes like Roasted Banana Teff Scones with Muscovado Sugar Glaze; Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Matcha Cream Cheese Frosting; Mesquite Chocolate Cakes with Whipped Crème Fraîche and Raspberries; Chestnut Brownie Ice Cream Sundaes with Port-Roasted Strawberries; and Buckwheat Bergamot Double Chocolate Cookie.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Captivating Flowers, Perfumed Herbs, Curved Branches:
Love’s Truest Language

Harvest offers ideas for creating beautiful and delicious treats using items from your garden.

Harvest offers ideas for creating beautiful and delicious treats using items from your garden.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with beautiful and delicious things beyond the traditional chocolate! For inspiration, look no further than your own garden or the out-of-doors around your house. Flowers, branches, petals, leaves, roots, and seeds can make striking arrangements, flavor food and drink, and mix up into aromatic treatments and elixirs to excite the senses and welcome the early days of spring.


Harvest: Unexpected Projects Using 47 Extraordinary Garden Plants
by Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis
(Ten Speed Press, 2017)

Authors Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis own Homestead Design Collective, a local landscape design firm. The duo’s latest volume, filled with colorful photographs, describes how to grow 47 different plants and use them to create pantry staples, floral arrangements, fragrances, beverages, and beauty supplies. Lafayette resident Bittner also co-authored The Beautiful Edible Garden, and Harampolis co-founded floral design company Studio Choo and co-wrote The Flower Recipe Book and The Wreath Recipe Book. Organized by three gardening seasons, Harvest offers instructions for growing plants like cardoons, scented geranium, gem marigolds, Chilean guava, and chinotto orange to make lovely Marigold Bitters, Lemongrass Salt Scrub, Lilac Flower Cream, Vin D’Orange, Pickled Rhubarb, and Oregano-Infused Vinegar.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Celebrate the Year of the Rooster!

Many years ago I lived for a time in Taiwan and Hong Kong and traveled extensively throughout China. The food I discovered was remarkable: almost always fresh, locally sourced, flavorful, and characterized by a special regional ingredient or preparation method. Every place seemed to have a special dish tied to some historical event or ancient figure, or a special chili pepper or mushroom grown only in that village, or a pickle fermented with locally made wine or liquor. When I returned to the United States, I was disappointed to find that menus at many Chinese restaurants offered the same standard dozen or so dishes, often made from canned ingredients and heavy on the corn starch thickeners. In some measure, that was what their customers wanted. Thankfully, in the intervening 30 years, diners have become quite adventuresome and there are many more offerings to be had. One can find, particularly in this part of the country, restaurants specializing in a particular regional cuisine. And for cooks looking to prepare dishes themselves, items that were once considered exotic are now readily available. Many shops and markets offer ingredients (including seeds) to enable home cooks to prepare delicious, authentic dishes.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

michaelablemanMeet Michael Ableman, Author
and Transformative Farmer

Michael Ableman is coming to town! This is a great opportunity to meet an engaging early visionary from the urban agriculture movement.

Home for Michael Ableman is Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. That’s where he grows food on the 120 acres he calls Foxglove Farm. A cofounder of Sole Food Street Farms and founder of the nonprofit Center for Urban Agriculture, Ableman is also the subject of the award-winning PBS film Beyond Organic, narrated by Meryl Streep. As an urban and local foods system advocate, Ableman has created high-profile urban farms in Watts and Goleta, California, as well as in Vancouver. He’s also worked on and acted as an adviser for dozens of similar projects throughout North America and the Caribbean.

For over two decades, Michael Ableman has been telling the story of urban agriculture through his books: From the Good Earth, On Good Land, and Fields of Plenty. The scene of this new book, Street Farm, is the Low Track in Vancouver, British Columbia, noted as one of the worst urban slums in North America. Ableman narrates how the residents of this community worked to create an urban farm that could address chronic problems in their neighborhood.… Read More

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Reset and Recharge with Clean, Healthy Meals

Book reviews by Kristina Sepetys


Clean Soups: Simple, Nourishing Recipes for Health and Vitality
by Rebecca Katz
(Ten Speed Press, 2016)

Nothing sounds more appealing in this chilly weather than a steaming bowl of soup. Chef and author Rebecca Katz shares 60 recipes for flavorful, cleansing soups made from wholesome stocks to help you detox and stay energized.



Run Fast. Eat Slow. Nourishing Recipes for Athletes
by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky
(Rodale Books, 2016)

Hungry runners want delicious, wholesome meals to feed their bellies and fuel their runs. From world-class marathoner and Olympian Shalane Flanagan and chef Elyse Kopecky, a runner’s cookbook with more than 100 recipes without refined sugar and flour. 



The Naked Cookbook
by Tess Ward
(Ten Speed Press, 2016)

This small book with a plain cardboard cover and exposed binding features 60 simple and flavorful recipes composed of nutrient-rich ingredients, as well as a chapter on detoxing. Delicious, simple, low carb, refined sugar–free dishes support and fuel the body and encourage good health. 



The Perfect Blend: 100 Blender Recipes to Energize and Revitalize
by Tess Masters
(Ten Speed Press, 2016)

Blogger Tess Masters’s new cookbook is filled with recipes and tips for a more vibrant and healthy life with improved energy, boosted immunity, and reduced inflammation.… Read More

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Meet the Sea Forager

The Sea Forager’s Guide to the Northern California Coast
by Kirk Lombard with illustrations by Leighton Kelly 
(Heyday Books, 2016)

Author and fisherman Kirk Lombard shares fish-filled tales
at the Berkeley Public Library:
Saturday January 7, 2–3:30pm
3rd Floor Community Meeting Room 
2090 Kittredge St, Berkeley
Event info: here

Book review by Kristina Sepetys

Moss Beach resident Kirk Lombard is many things: writer, teacher, musician, actor, blogger, raconteur, commercial fisherman, puppet master, tenor, baseball historian, and maker of giant papier mâché faces. Having spent nearly a decade working for the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, he’s also passionate about marine resources. Together with his wife, Camilla Lombard, he founded Sea Forager Tours and Sustainable Seafood Subscription (a Community Supported Fishery program). On his “fun and crazy” San Francisco tours, he pulls out edible fish and seafood from local urban waters and discusses local regulations, sustainability, and the history of local fisheries, among other topics.
In his new book, The Sea Forager’s Guide to the Northern California Coast, Lombard’s enthusiasm of our local marine environments shines brightly. He combines his deep knowledge and experience with wry humor and colorful storytelling to profile the many species of fish and seafood found locally as he guides readers’ quests to hook fish, dig clams, and pick seaweed.… Read More

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Spirited New Year’s Celebrations!

Book reviews by Kristina Sepetys

A raft of new titles provides loads of inspiration for mixing up intriguing and tasty cocktails to ring in the new year!


Amaro: The Spirited World of Bittersweet, Herbal Liqueurs,
with Cocktails, Recipes and Formulas

by Brad Thomas Parsons
(Ten Speed Press, 2016)

Brad Thomas Parsons, author of the James Beard and IACP Award–winning title Bitters, explores the world of amari. Italian for bitters, amaro is a key ingredient in many popular cocktails. Parson starts with a tour of bars, cafés, and distilleries in amaro’s spiritual home of Italy, then offers more than 100 recipes for amaro-centric cocktails, DIY amaro, and amaro-spiked desserts. With handsome photos of drinks, snapshots from Italy, and loads of detail in recipe headnotes, Parsons discusses the dizzying range of amari available—from familiar favorites like Averna and Fernet-Branca to the growing category of regional, American-made amari.



Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes
by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau
(Ten Speed Press, 2016)

Talia Baiocchi is the editor-in-chief of Punch and the author of James Beard Award–nominated book Sherry. Leslie Pariseau is the former deputy editor of Punch. In their introduction, the authors explain that the word “spritz” generally refers to an easy, casual “bubbles and bitterness drink” served as an aperitif, but the word may have evolved from “sprezzatura,” which doesn’t have a direct English translation.… Read More

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