Beyond diets, library has books that can change the way you cook

  • Posted: Sunday, May 5, 2013 12:01 a.m.

SALISBURY — Seems like we all want to be healthy these days. Luckily I got a dose of good genes. It’s still apparent, however, that some fine tuning is in order. While some might start their search at the Y or with a personal trainer, my first stop was the online catalog at the library, specifically the Dewey Decimal 613 and 641 selections.

I was not looking for a quick fix. None of the “miracle diets” interested me. Instead, my search was for some healthy changes that fit easily into the life I live each day.

I love good food and like to cook. There’s nothing better than sitting down to a leisurely meal with good friends, and I know I don’t want to feel deprived at the dinner table while trying to be healthier. One book immediately caught my eye, “A Year in the Village of Eternity: The Lifestyle of Longevity in Campodimele, Italy” by Tracey Lawson. How could I go wrong when the synopsis described: “people here lead extraordinary long lives, enjoy low blood pressure and low cholesterol, and stay active and healthy to their last years.” With a format that reads like a memoir and a list of seasonal recipes, I’m quickly envisioning delightful meals, simply prepared and designed around local produce.

Add a second book, an updated version of an old favorite of mine, “The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook: A Delicious Alternative for Lifelong Health” and my shopping list to good health begins. The author, Nancy Harmon Jenkins, promises to nourish body and soul and this new version warrants a careful read. Recipes such as slow-cooked chickpeas with orange zest and lemon juice and braised pears in red wine seem both healthy and interesting to the palate.

A third choice, “Chef MD’s Big Book of Culinary Medicine: A Food Lover’s Road Map to Losing Weight, Preventing Disease, and Getting Really Healthy,” appears to cover all my wants and needs. Dr. John La Puma “decided to research the science of nutrition while also going to culinary school to learn to cook.” The end result was a concept he terms “culinary medicine.” This book includes an eight-week program for optimal health. Chapter 5, “Recipes and Meals: What to Eat and How to Make It, for Every Meal (Including Dessert)” piqued my interest. I found a list of pantry essentials and recipes for foods I know I enjoy and these definitely have a healthier twist. The recipes also include substitutions for items you might not normally have on hand, a convenient feature.

“Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa” may become my box cereal replacement and “Toasted Walnut and Creamy White Bean Pitas” a satisfying lunch. Chapter 7, “What Do You Eat for That” includes good food sources for 12 different vitamins and minerals. There are also medicinal and tasty food choices for many different health conditions, each section containing explanations of the condition, a list of foods to increase in your diet, a list of foods to decrease, and suggested recipes.

Of course, if I’m really serious about a healthier life, exercise can’t be ignored. Walking is my activity of choice, yet it’s quite apparent that a quick pace doesn’t tone everything. Could a book titled, “Full-body Flexibility” by Jay Blahnik change my daily habits? Are there really exercises that will blend seamlessly into my everyday life? Perhaps I could watch “The Abs Diet Workout: the Six-week Plan to Flatten Your Stomach and Keep You Lean for Life,” a Rodale Production. The selections at the library seem endless. And if I find that I don’t exercise while those healthy pears are baking, there’s always the gardening section, yet another option for healthy living.

Computer classes: For beginners — May 20, 7 p.m., South; May 21, 1 p.m., East (registration required, call 704-216-7731); May 23, 9:30 a.m., Headquarters. Classes are free. Sessions are about 90 minutes. Class size is limited and on a first come, first serve basis. Dates and times are subject to change without notice.

Rowan Public Library annual book sale: Monday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sale items include fiction and non-fiction, hardbacks and paperbacks, DVDs, audiobooks and children’s books. Most items $2 and less.

Dig into Reading this summer: Rowan Public Library and the Friends of RPL invite children of all ages to Dig Into Reading this summer. Sign your child up for a fun-filled summer of programs and reading. Preregistration begins on May 13 at all library locations for children ages 12 months to rising fifth-graders. Children will be able to earn prizes by reading throughout the summer. For more information please call your nearest RPL location.

Beneath the Surface teen summer reading: Teens will be exploring the underground through events, activities and reading. Preregistration begins on May 13 at all library locations for rising sixth- through 12th-graders. Each week teens will focus on exploring our underground world including mummies, gems and cities below the surface. Teens can earn library dollars to enter various raffles. For more information call 704-216-8234.

Spring photowalks: Monday, 6 p.m., East branch; May 13, 6 p.m., South branch; May 18, 10 a.m., headquarters. Photographers of all ages are invited to Spring Photowalk. Bring cameras, wear comfy walking shoes, and get ready to have fun. Registration is required. Register online at or call 704-216-8229.

Wayne Henderson in concert: Headquarters, May 23, 7 p.m. Henderson and Friends will play. Henderson’s guitar playing has been heard at Carnegie Hall, the White House and in Asia. The concert is free and all are welcome.

Book Bites Club: South (only), May 28, 6:30 p.m., “The Cookbook Collector” by Allegra Goodman. Book discussion groups for adults and children meet the last Tuesday of each month. The group is open to the public and anyone is free to join at any time. There is a discussion of the book, as well as light refreshments at each meeting. For more information, please call 704-216-8229.

Library closings: May 25-27, all locations closed for Memorial Day.

Displays for April: headquarters, Older Americans month by Jo Kearns; South, student art by South Rowan High School art class; East, Winnie the Pooh by Kim Davis.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.

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