A review of Stress Free Foods by Lee Gold

According to nutritionist/chef/home economist Lee Gold prolonged stress can lead to significant health problems from heart disease to stroke, ulcers, depression, cancer, diabetes, and more. It is a vicious cycle. The more stressed you get, the more you will develop problems like teeth grinding, weight gain, headaches, and bad eating habits, which in turn stress you out even more. Gold’s latest book provides the antidote.

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

Stress Free Foods
By Lee Gold
Pan Macmillan
ISBN: 0330363999, Aug 2003, A$16.95

If there is a buzzword for the 21st Century it has to be “stress.” If you are anything like me, you tend to eat thoughtlessly from a single bowl while simultaneously feeding a hoard of demanding children, washing up, and checking e-mails. Mealtime is anything but relaxing. Stress is no lightweight complaint either. According to nutritionist/chef/home economist Lee Gold prolonged stress can lead to significant health problems from heart disease to stroke, ulcers, depression, cancer, diabetes, and more. It is a vicious cycle. The more stressed you get, the more you will develop problems like teeth grinding, weight gain, headaches, and bad eating habits, which in turn stress you out even more. Gold’s eleventh book provides the antidote.

Stress Free Foods, is more than a cookbook, but it does contain, at its heart, 100 very nourishing, easy to prepare recipes. These include relaxing drinks to help you sleep, soups full of fibre and flavour, high protein low fat main courses, smoothies, salads, and some delectable desserts. Every recipe includes information on the specific vitamins and minerals it contains, along with a little history. I especially liked the very simple Steamed Date Pudding (though can’t confirm the aphrodisiac effects unfortunately), the Thai Chicken Curry soup, and the cauliflower patties with spicy mango chutney. Despite being unanimously healthy the recipes are mostly child friendly – important to keeping stress levels down, and are generally what you would call comfort foods – sweet, flavour and texture rich foods with a hint of what you might have had as a child. Mashed potatoes, barbecued chicken, banana bread, oatmeal scones – but all with a unique twist, and an eye for health.

In addition to the recipes, the book contains information on the nature of stress, and some good strategies for dealing with it, including a 14 day de-stress strategy with affirmations, and a sample day’s program. I though that this last chapter was a little brief to do justice to a 14 day plan. This is made up for somewhat though in the chapter on dealing with stress, which provides practical ideas on tackling stress such as changing our perspective (cup half full…), increasing our support network, re-prioritising our time, exercising, drinking more water, and improving the quality of our sleep (if you have a baby, just skip this paragraph and re-read the one on changing perspectives…). There are also a number of deep breathing exercises and meditation instructions, and although I’m not one for affirmations, and real meditation is as much of a long shot for me as a full night’s sleep, I can strongly vouch for the effectiveness of deep breathing.

The books also provides stretches for the desk bound, information on supplements, and some holistic relaxation techniques, such as aromatherapy, feng shui, the importance of humour, and the importance of good nutrition. The stress relief sections are well written, clear and jargon free, and fun – like reading a good magazine, or watching an episode of Body and Soul, but It is the recipes which really make this book shine. Gold’s culinary training shows in her simple but delicious and even innovative recipes. Serve these healthy meals to your family, and replace your coffee with her lime flavoured green tea, and the stress relief will be obvious.

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