December 21, 2012


Naturally Gourmet
Karen Houghton, R.N., B.S.N.; Review and Herald Publishing Association, Hagerstown, Maryland; 2010; 224 pages; hardcover; US$24.99. Reviewed by Sylvia M. Fagal, a registered dietician with a master’s degree in nutrition who has taught nutrition for more than four decades.

The Naturally Gourmet cookbook by Karen Houghton presents more than 100 recipes in a beautifully illustrated display of totally plant-based eating. An important feature is that the ingredients are mostly mainstream—the shopper won’t have to locate a specialty store to complete most of the recipes.

2010 1539 page28For anyone who wants to cut down on refined grains and sugars (but still may be hoping for some compliments!), this cookbook is an easy-to-follow collection of vegan recipes with an emphasis on fiber. Nutrition facts are given per serving for each recipe. In the case of toppings, though, the user should note that the nutrition information may be only for the topping recipe, not including what it may be served over.

The recipes often attain sweetness by using dried fruits, which put sugar in a proper natural setting—surrounded by fiber, minerals, and vitamins.

Besides giving good food information, the author summarizes other important points beyond the basic food: “Remember each day—a handful of nuts, 2-3 Tbsp of seeds, at least 8 glasses of water, 40 grams of fiber, 45-60 minutes of exercise, an attitude of gratitude, and time in God’s Word. You are well on your way to improved health.”

Even so, as with any vegan regimen, it’s important to include adequate vitamin B12 fortification in an active form (cyanocobalamin), not from fermented plant sources. Those who wish to follow a vegan diet will find this book useful in preparing pleasing and healthful foods. For more information, go to

Naturally Gourmet
Reviewed by Peter Landless, M.B., B.Ch., M.Med., F.C.P.(SA), F.A.C.C., associate director of the General Conference Health Ministries Department.

Both the preparation and eating of food is something that delights most people! Those who teach the principles of healthful nutrition emphasize the importance of making one’s plate look like a rainbow of colors. This not only makes the food appear attractive but also ensures that the choices made include foods rich in nutrients and phytochemicals essential to optimal health.

Karen Houghton’s book is beautifully illustrated and presented. It’s also produced on excellent-quality materials that appear robust enough to withstand regular use in a busy kitchen. The recipes are varied and easy to follow. There’s an important significant emphasis on the use of protein products such as legumes in their natural state, therefore avoiding excessive use of processed proteins, which are often loaded with salt and preservatives. The recipes are presented in user-friendly formats and invite one to attempt to create the food combinations presented. The nutrition facts with each recipe are extremely helpful and assist one to readily ascertain both the caloric and nutritional value of the various foods. This is very important because we all need to be conscious of the calories and content of the foods we so readily consume. There’s an excellent emphasis on fiber and the need to use the food pyramid wisely, as well as avoiding refined sweeteners and flavorings.

The book has a clear and simple index, and a highlight is the introductory page on helpful hints. It’s crucial that nutrition not be viewed in isolation, but that adequate hydration, regular exercise, trust in God, and a keenly grateful heart all contribute to health and wellness as a whole. These points are emphasized at the outset.

It’s important to note that individuals wishing to follow a total vegetarian diet should be informed of the necessity of supplementing certain essential nutrients, such as vitamin B12, and that especially the latter be in a bioavailable and readily absorbable form, such as cyanocobalamin. Excellent preparations are available for this purpose. An additional vital supplement is vitamin D. Much scientific evidence shows the disadvantages of vitamin D deficiency and the benefits of adequate vitamin D in the diet. Most health-conscious people are aware of the need to have appropriate sunlight exposure to ensure vitamin D levels are adequate, but many live in environments in which such exposure is inadequate (Northern Hemisphere) or, at times, even dangerous (extremely sunny and hot environments).

Naturally Gourmet is generally an excellent and well-balanced resource that appears to be ideally suited to serve individuals living in the developed world with access to adequate resources.

The Full Place Diet: Slim Down, Look Great, Be Healthy*
Stuart A. Seale, M.D., medical director, physician, and educator for Lifestyle Center of America’s (LCA) diabetes and weight-management programs in Sedona, Arizona; Teresa Sherard, M.D., a staff physician at LCA ; and Diana Fleming, Ph.D., LCA’s director of nutritional services; Bard Press, Austin, Texas; 2009; 160 pages; US$19.95; hardcover. Reviewed by Sylvia M. Fagal.

Many people who struggle with excess weight have trouble keeping to a diet—especially if that diet plan makes them live with hunger. This approach is not only full plate, but full stomach. The key is fiber, which gives the sense of fullness. But fiber is not absorbed, so it doesn’t contribute any calories. This eating plan gets us away from refined foods, which unfortunately are consumed in many parts of the world. The authors build a convincing case for the whole-food approach. Extra helps such as a start-up diary, an activity journal, and a book for those with type 2 diabetes are also available for an additional cost.

Behavior change is hard. The authors give good preparatory information to help a person decide that the high-fiber approach is a good idea. Then they divide the plan into three stages to ease a person into good habits, increasing fiber intake gradually from the typical 10 to 15 grams per day to 40 grams per day. Besides being filling, whole high-fiber foods have greater nutritional value than refined foods. Along the way the book gives “Fun Facts” and other helpful information.

2010 1539 page28This natural-form food approach is well supported. A recently published report shows that higher intakes of cereal fiber are associated with lower total body fat, especially less abdominal fat.1 People diagnosed with type 2 diabetes often are overweight. A study has shown that switching from polished white rice to brown rice (with its outer bran and germ portions intact), along with other whole grains, will cut a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes by 36 percent.2 These are good reminders that we really need to get back to what grandma or great-grandma (and The Full Plate Diet) would say is best: eat those veggies, fruits, nuts, and whole-grain breads and cereals. In the past century (1909 to 2007) the average meat intake has increased by about 75 pounds per person per year in the U.S. In the same period our average cheese intake has increased by more than eight times, now averaging more than 30 pounds per person.3 Meat and cheese have no fiber and a lot of calories—two explanations for America’s weight problem and a good reason to follow The Full Plate Diet.

When choosing high-fiber foods, consider those labeled “organic.” Often foods locally grown on smaller farms are organic. I taught for years that “organic” was not worth the extra money, because there was no legal definition and the unscrupulous supplier could label foods as organic that weren’t grown in any special way. Now the U.S. has a federal definition of “organic,” including the requirement that it not be genetically modified. Genetic modification is a controversial topic, one that deserves study. I personally choose to avoid as much genetic modification as possible, for changing the genetics of a food changes the proteins. This could set the stage for new allergies. Beyond that, we don’t have any idea yet what “fallout” may result from such changes and just what effect these changes may have on the nutrients and the consumer.

For more information, go to

Note: The Full Plate Diet was written primarily for a non-Adventist reading audience and has references to meat eating and studies regarding the drinking of alcohol. According to the publisher, these statements would not have been included if the book were targeting Adventists. The Adventist Review editors want potential readers of The Full Plate Diet to be aware that these references are there.—Editors.

1. Nicola M. McKeown et al., “Whole-Grain Intake and Cereal Fiber Are Associated With Lower Abdominal Adiposity in Older Adults,” The Journal of Nutrition, September 2, 2009.
2. Qi Sun et al., “White Rice, Brown Rice, and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in U.S. Men and Women,” Archives of Internal Medicine 170, no. 11 (2010): 961-969.
3. Neal Barnard, “Trends in Food Availability, 1909-2007,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 91, suppl. (2010): 1530S-1536S.

This feature was published on December 9, 2010.