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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

BOOKS: Good Junk Food & Comfort Food

A great read and a permanent reference book for everyone who wants to make better food choices and teach kids how to do the same. Get your copy now.

 

Junk food is a pejorative term attributed to Michael Jacobson, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. He first used it in 1972 to refer to food that is of minimal nutritional value (little protein, vitamins or minerals) and worse, typically high in fat, sugar and other empty calories. Some of the culprits include candy bars, potato chips and other salty snacks, soda, and many desserts.

Could he have known that a substantial number of Americans—junk food lovers—would come to see the term as a positive? No doubt, if someone were to establish a chain called The Junk Food Food Court, the lines would be out the door. (Note that if you take this concept and run with it, you owe THE NIBBLE a royalty, which we will put to the service of healthier-eating awareness.)

In his series of Eat This, Not That books, David Zinczenko has done a great boon to America by pointing out the horrors in our diet: the salty, sugary and fat-laden foods we consume. While we know they are not good for us, we never realized how bad they were until he garnered so much media attention.

 

Two new books take on the topic of junk food, and both are worth putting on your bookshelf.

UNJUNK YOUR JUNK FOOD

The first book is Unjunk Your Junk Food: Healthy Alternatives to Conventional Snacks, by Andrea Donsky and Randy Boyer with Lisa Tsakos.

The premise is that you don’t have to give up junk food to eat healthy; just make smarter choices.

As such, the book features some 175 favorite brands of junk food, from candy and chocolate, to cookies and ice cream novelties, to chips and dips, to sodas and other beverages. It showcases the “bad food” on the left hand page, with the better alternative on the facing page.

Equally as important, the book explains why, giving a detailed comparison that is both enlightening and interesting. In addition to the specific food comparisons, there are helpful overviews and glossaries: basic nutrition, bad ingredients to watch out for and things even a ten-year-old can understand and appreciate.

In fact, we really like this book for both kids and adults. Instead of demanding change, it confers upon the reader a great understanding of the differences between good and bad ingredients, while providing a more-than-satisfactory alternative for each bad food.
 
Even though we don’t eat much junk food, we were enlightened by:

  • The great tips for reading food labels and recognizing false claims.
  • The explanation of many ingredients—especially the polysyllabic ones that look like the chemicals they are.
  • The nutritious ingredients to look for and dangerous additives to avoid.
  •  

    VEGAN JUNK FOOD

    While Unjunk Your Junk Food truly is about junk food, Vegan Junk Food, by Lane Gold, is misnamed. We’d call it Vegan Comfort Food. Perhaps because there were already a few titles that focus on vegan comfort food, the publisher wanted a point of differentiation. Instead, it’s a point of confusion. This is a vegan cookbook focusing on popular comfort foods.

    While we’re at it, we also don’t like the subtitle, “225 Sinful Snacks That Are Good For The Soul.” Again, there are some snacks (caramel popcorn, cookies) but the majority of the recipes are meal items, not snacks.

    We also don’t find it inviting to call food “sinful” or that other misused word, “decadent.” And we wager that no cleric would agree that sinful undertakings are “good for the soul.”

     

    A terrific book and a great gift for anyone who eats junk food. Get your copy now.

    While we use our editor’s pulpit to point out what others have missed, the good news is that the content of the book is quite appealing: chock-full of vegan recipes for every meal and snack of the day:

  • Muffins, scrambled tofu with biscuits and sausage gravy
  • Cheesesteak, corndog, meatball sub and mac and cheese
  • Asian and Mexican favorites—empanadas, fajitas, tacos, tofu eggplant tikka masala, wontons, etc.
  • Appetizers and dips, from jalapeño poppers to teriyaki kabobs
  • Cakes, candies, cookies and more
  •  
    It’s an inexpensive book ($11.17 on Amazon.com), so we can forgive the limited number of photos. Everyone knows what cheesecake, dip, fried rice and muffins look like.

    We recommend this book for every person/family who enjoys these foods, because eating vegan as often as you can is your contribution to saving the planet.* Not to mention all the cholesterol saved.
     
    *Animal manure is the number-one component of greenhouse gas (which produces climate change, a.k.a. global warming); raising animals depletes and pollutes water tables and a whole bunch more reasons we’ll cover on Earth Day.

      





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