Wonderfoods (by Natalie Savona)

Eighteen months ago, after reading some online reviews, I bought - and thoroughly enjoyed - Natalie Savona's 'The Big Book of Juices and Smoothies'. The author is a nutritionist who writes in a concise and interesting style, and although I shall probably never use 90% of the juice/smoothie recipes, I've been inspired to make fresh fruit juices and smoothies almost daily ever since.

So I thought it about time I bought another of her books, and decided to order 'Wonderfoods' from Amazon UK. My first surprise was that it looks very small - not even as tall as a standard paperback, although it's about the same width and depth. I was also a little disappointed to see that there were only two recipes per type of food.

However, I dipped into it over the next few weeks, and found I appreciated it more and more. The book is divided into nine main sections - for instance, energy, heart, age, mind - each focusing on foods that are known to help in some way. The majority of the foods described, unsurprisingly, are fruit and vegetables, seeds and nuts - foods known to be healthy in general. There are explanations of why each food is good, with full-page colour photographs, and then the two recipes use, as far as possible, not just the food being focused on but at least two or three others mentioned elsewhere in the book.

Some of the recipes sound excellent, although others require rather unusual ingredients that may not be available in Cyprus.

In a sense, there wasn't anything new: all the information can be found online, or in other books about health and nutrition. But it's a useful reference guide to inspire and encourage, and written with more of a human touch than many recipe books.

I did find myself wondering: is there such a thing as a 'wonderfood'? Or is it just a modern buzzword for healthy food? Maybe that's all they are. After all, no one food can work miracles or solve all health problems, particularly if someone's lifestyle is otherwise unhealthy!

Yet all the foods in this book are natural, and provide health benefits of some sort if eaten in conjunction with other good food. Most people would do well to eat more of them, while cutting down on convenience foods and high-fat desserts. Healthy food can taste very good, as shown in these recipes.

I was pleased that the author makes the point that we shoudln't get fanatical, or worry so much about our diet that we get ulcers. Moreover, she says, there's nothing wrong with the occasional pizza or even chocolate eclairs. But we will feel far better, and be more energetic and productive if the majority of what we eat is based on these so-called 'wonderfoods'.

All in all, highly recommended.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 22nd July 2008

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