Happy Friday! To celebrate it almost being the weekend, I’ve got a double book review for you! The Medicinal Chef is a new series written by Dale Pinnock, fondly known to many as the “Medicinal Chef.” Pinnock not only has degrees in Human Nutrition, Herbal Medicine, and Nutritional Medicine, but he also has this committed passion to share with others about how foods can have beneficial effects on our health.
In collaboration with healthcare professionals, Pinnock has spent years showing patients how changes in diet and lifestyle can help prevent and/or combat disease when used alongside conventional medical treatments.
What I really like about this series is that each book is targeted to deal with a specific set of health concerns. In today’s review, I’ll be covering: “Eat Your Way to Happiness,” which is all about improving mood and decreasing anxiety and depression; and “Eat Your Way to a Healthy Gut,” which deals with digestive complaints like: IBS, constipation, bloating, and acid reflux.
Personally, I was very excited to try both of these books because I’ve dealt with symptoms in each category. If you’re fortunate enough to not have digestive or mood-related symptoms, that’s awesome! However, the reality is that over 70 million Americans suffer from some form of digestive complaint, 16 million Americans are affected by depression, and more than 40 million adults have dealt with some kind of anxiety disorder.
That’s a LOT of people. Here I am thinking “woe was me, I’m the only person dealing with this (literally) shitty symptoms,” but the reality is I’m not alone and there are ways (in addition to medication, lifestyle changes, and other professional medical advice) that can help with leading a happier, healthier life.
I’m the first skeptic to say, “pshh, food can’t fix what I’ve got,” but after trying some of these recipes, I was blown away by how they actually did give me energy and didn’t upset my digestive track (which is crazy, because it’s upset literally every single day).
So without further adieu, I’ll get to the nitty-gritty of the books. They’re both written in a similar format: the first half explores and explains the science behind the health issue, but it’s not overwhelming; the second half has 50 recipes specific to whatever ailments the book is about. In the Happiness title, the “science” part talks about different key nutrients and how there are specific sources of foods that are good for getting things like: magnesium, tryptophan, and Vitamin B. This section also talks about how the brain works and why certain foods might over or under-stimulate a person to feel depressed or anxious if you’re not getting enough or too much of a certain kind of nutrient.
In Healthy Gut, there are similar science-like descriptions about the digestive system and how there are known foods that can help relieve GI issues like constipation or bloating, and other kinds of foods that are known irritants that exacerbate those same symptoms. In this section, I really like how Pinnock uses brightly colored pages to highlight “top ingredients to ease bloating” and he explains why. It’s not just a random list of things that you’ll have to look up later.
Moving on to the recipes, they’re all very straight-forward in how they’re written, concise in ingredients, and EACH RECIPE HAS A PHOTO (okay, most of them, but I love when a cookbook has a photo because that gives me some direction for how I should plate it/what it should look like when I’m done putting it together).
For recipe tests, I tried to sample a variety from each title:
HEALTHY GUT RECIPES
Sweet Potato, Red Lentil, and White Bean Miso Stew (p. 83)
This recipe is targeted to combat constipation, but even if you’re not backed up, it’s a really hearty stew that’s vegan-friendly and very easy to make. My whole family really liked this one and it was their first time trying miso! The lentils can be made ahead of time and if you want to mix it up with a protein, this would be a really good recipe to pair it with.
Roasted Squash Soup (p. 106)
This one is specific to IBS/FODMAP diets, which are geared to avoid irritants that can easily upset the digestive tract. Because there aren’t onions or garlic, the recipe incorporates other ingredients to bring out the flavors and this is the one I featured on my instagram saying IT SAYS TO FREAKING CREAMY, but there’s zero dairy in. ZERO! The secret is coconut milk! This was another favorite that I ate several days after the initial recipe test…I ate it with crackers, with protein, by itself…it was so, so good.
Pineapple Coconut Smoothie (p. 126)
This drink is packed with anti-inflammatory agents, like the enzyme bromelain, and again, tasted creamy, but no milk (thank you, coconut “milk.”). I feel redundant saying it was super easy to make, but it was, and it’s a refreshing drink that you can make ahead of time or serve at a party, toss in a little mint or other decoration, and you’re good to go!
While the Health Gut book is organized by digestive complaints, Happiness is organized in terms of: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks, and Desserts.
King Shrimp & Guacamole Open Sandwich (p. 86)
This one’s in the lunch category and ugh, so easy to make, so packed in flavor. I picked up pre-cooked shrimp at the grocery store (which is what the recipe calls for). It was really easy to put together and if you’re sensitive to chile or pepper (hello, that’s me), then you can leave those off. This recipe has a ton of healthy benefits that are brain-friendly like selenium, magnesium, and B vitamins.
Last but certainly not least, I tried the Two-Herb Houmous (aka hummus) (p. 134)
If you’re looking for an easy snack or quick and healthy party dip, this hummus is really refreshing. Instead of buying it from the store with lots of artificial ingredients, this one is made fresh with parsley, basil, tahini (which I couldn’t find at my local grocery store, but major shout out to #TraderJoes that has it), and chickpeas. I’d never made hummus prior to this recipe test, but it tasted so much better than anything store-bought or in a restaurant!
All in all, I really like this set of books. I was happy to find out that more titles are in the works, so keep an eye on 2LWithIt for reviews about future Medicinal Chef titles!
This is a good book to get for yourself or a friend if you’re interested in learning about alternative ways to treat different health issues. Chronic health issues are nothing to be ashamed of and these books are really comprehensive resources to become more informed about digestive and mental health conditions.
I would also say that these cookbooks are good resources to have if you’re looking to eat healthier, or even if you’re a fan of more simplified recipes that are easy to make but full of flavor!
I received this book complimentary on behalf of the publisher, but all thoughts and opinions in this post are my own. All photography featured in this post is my own; please seek permission before copying or reproducing the images.
Score Card: Cover Art 5/5 | Content 5/5 | Ease of Read 5/5
Book Stats: Title- Eat Your Way to Happiness by Dale Pinnock; Eat Your Way to a Healthy Gut
Page Count- 143; 143
Binding-Hardcover (color photography and recipes inside)
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I'm a twenty-something year old recent law and business school grad living with a chronic health condition. Follow along on my shenanigans.