Were I not already a lover of sweet potatoes, this book could have hooked me with its opening reference to Anna Karenina! Of course, I am not surprised that a thoroughly researched, brilliantly written book full of powerful information and delicious recipes should open with a literary reference. The reason? It is written by one of my dearest friends, an all-around renaissance woman who can quote Tolstoy while whipping up a perfect sweet-potato frittatta!
When my ambitious, go-getter friend Ashley told me that she had landed a book deal, I wasn't particularly surprised. But when the book itself landed in my hands I was totally blown away! She had said she was writing a cook book "with a little health information." What she wrote is closer to a how-to manual on becoming a super human. The book is about WAY more than just sweet potatoes, though there are some tasty recipes in there. Her approach to health reminds me of that 4-Hour Body guy (I actually love that book, I just haven't gotten around to motivating myself to implementing some of the ideas). She gives you instructions on how to test your health so you can figure out your own unique biology and what your body in particular needs; it's really pretty amazing.
The book opens with a breakdown of why modern food is so bad for us, and compares it to more traditional ways of "processing" and preserving food. The sweet potato is really just a symbol for a food that is optimal for our health, not a suggestion that we should eat it exclusively, of course. The bulk of the book gets into the nitty-gritty of understanding your health. There are chapters on why all calories aren't created equal, making hormones work for you instead of against you, maximizing the benefit you get from exercise.
After a thorough education in the what, she has a really excellent section on how to optimize your health: testing to understand how your body is responding to the food and diet you're using, getting off the sugar roller coaster (yes please!), how to improve your cholesterol in two weeks (no drugs!), identifying problem foods and intolerances, choosing the right exercises for your body. And then finally, at the end of the book, the sweet reward is a bunch of DELICIOUS recipes starring, the sweet potato, of course (remember her sweet potato linguine post?) My favorites were the unusual ones: the rainbow cube snacks, sweet potato poppers, on-the-go quiche. And then the desserts, of course: fudge brownie bites (starring sweet potatoes!), ice pops and chocolate sweet potato truffles, plus a great recovery drink.
Visit her website, it's awesome. And like the facebook page; she's got fun giveaways like this Withings WiFi scale. And seriously check out the book; this quote from another reviewer kind of sums it up: "The four pillars: Food, Hormones, Inflammation, Activity - is probably the best, and clearest framework for understanding the critical interplay of systems in the human body. If I were king for a day, I'd laminate the explanation on page 42/43, and hand that out in every hospital in America. Health care crisis mitigated. Adult onset diabetes solved. Childhood obesity solved."