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Healthy Life Kitchen
by Marilu Henner with Lorin Henner
2002

Is food combining a worthwhile diet to pursue? The court's still out on that one - there's much anecdotal information to be found, but no scientific studies proving its value. And then there's 50-something actress Marilu Henner, who is slender and has a fresh, glowing complexion - she makes you want whatever it is that she's got. Henner's approach to food actually has a lot more going for it than just food combining - she also eschews dairy, meat, refined sugar and the many additives found in prepackaged foods. Research does exist that shows people would be healthier if they avoided the majority of these items. The problem with pursuing these changes in your diet is that suddenly the world of food preparation becomes awfully restrictive. You really need a guide to lead you through the aisles of your local health food store and help you create a new approach to cooking. Henner's books - Total Health Makeover, 30-Day Total Health Makeover and Healthy Life Kitchen - serve this purpose quite well. Healthy Life Kitchen contains recipes for those who want to whip up healthy dishes without sacrificing taste. This is great, but the book also has other information that is even more valuable.

For nearly a hundred pages, Henner tells you how to recreate your kitchen in a newer, healthier form. Of course she discusses subjects like grocery shopping, dangerous food additives, and includes the inevitable food combining chart - but she also touches on other topics, such as chemical-free kitchen cleaners and effective systems for washing dishes and disposing of trash. The next couple hundred pages are the recipes. The majority are vegetarian (there are a few fish, seafood and chicken dishes for those who still eat animal protein). Most recipes (but not all) follow the rules of food combining, and when needed, natural sweeteners such as Sucanat and maple syrup are used. There is no dairy to be found anywhere. For the most part, these recipes are yummy along with being good for you. The only issue you may have is when a recipe such as mac and cheese (here called "Comfort Pasta") replaces the dairy with soy equivalents. People who are accustomed to dairy - primarily cheese - will find the taste unacceptable (one gets the impression that Henner has pretty much forgotten what real cheese tastes like). But not to worry - dairy fans can skip over the recipes using soy cheese and still find loads of delicious menu ideas. Best are the recipes that rely heavily on veggies, beans and spices. They're so loaded with flavor and health-promoting nutrients you'll wonder why you ever wanted to eat junk food in the first place.

Healthy Life Kitchen is a cookbook, and then some. Henner's way of eating may not have a lot of research to back up its claims, but there's no question that these wholesome, delicious meals are good for you.

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