Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Joy of a Book Review: Joy Bauer's Food Cures

Last year, Joy Bauer’s Partnership Director contacted me with this email:


We would like to reach out to you regarding one of our most prominent experts, Joy Bauer (the official Today Show nutritionist) who has been doing great work advocating for "real food" diets concentrating on a more holistic view of nutrition.

We have exciting news that we want to share with you about Food Cures, her encompassing food and health philosophy that gives attention to issues like local and organic diets, as well as gluten free and food allergy sensitive diets as well as other serious conditions, like diabetes and heart disease. 

The updated Food Cures book is hot off the press and we want you to be the first to review it! The information is currently updated online so check it out:

. Let me know that you're interested and we'll get a book out right away.
We also invite you to be part of the Joy Bauer Food Cures network, which includes receiving up-to-the-minute food news, exclusive invites to events with Joy, and other partnership activities. Just show your enthusiasm and we'll get you a button to add to your site linking to Joy's. 

Look forward to working with you on this project and more to come!

Intrigued, I googled Joy Bauer. I had never heard of her, let alone the books she had published. I wanted to make sure that, if I was going to do a book review, I wanted to get all the facts straight about what she stood for regarding health. Her website is very informative, though I wanted to also find out what other people thought of her work.

From what I could see, there was a little criticism, but it was rather minute in comparison to all the positive things I found in my researching of her. Bobby Flay is quoted to saying she is a go-to source regarding nutrition. And in my opinion, whatever Bobby Flay says is law (I admit it, it’s a chef-crush).

When this book came in my mailbox, I was beyond ecstatic. I was actually being given a book to review from a well-known nutritionist. It felt like I was being given a scroll to decipher, it was that important to me. I wanted to be sure that I knew the book cover to cover, with all the pros and cons listed in front of me, so that this review had all the facts for my readers. Also, I wanted to at least share similar values to the author who requested my critique when they offer to give me a free copy of their book.


On Amazon, the book was given 4.5 stars out of 5, and I want to analyze the comment of the person who gave her 1 star. While the critic said,

“This book is too big and heavy for starters! It is more like a textbook. I did not find it to be an easy, informational read and would not recommend it.”

I happen to disagree. Yes, it is like a textbook, in the sense that Joy’s Food Cures (2011) are separated in parts (i.e., losing weight, looking great, living long and strong, and feeling good), which are then broken down to various ailments one may have. And I happen to like how it had been laid out. From weight loss to a healthy face, from cardiovascular disease to memory, from mood to cancer prevention, she essentially made sure that whatever you wanted to work on, you could go to that section and find the food to help with the healing process. In my case, her sections on PMS, IBS, and celiac disease have been quite helpful. Each section begins with facts on each condition, like how it is caused and how it affects the body, but most importantly how food affects the body, both positively and negatively. She also offers supplements and vitamins and her specific reasoning for choosing them in addition to her food fixes, and then her 4-Step program for each section is broken down based on the basics of each ailment, a grocery list for ultimate healing, going above and beyond the ailment with other considerations, and finally, the meal plans.

I really enjoy the FAQs throughout the book from people seeking advice, as well as the tables with specific information further analyzed. The best part of her answers is that she treats them like they aren’t anything to be embarrassed or ashamed of, which is how it should be done. Her voice throughout the book is diplomatic and empowering towards the reader, and her advice as well as her meal plans is easy to follow. And since most foods have more than one healing property, snacks and recipes are shown in multiple sections and at least provide the page number where you can find it.

The recipes are rather delicious, and although I’ve tried to stray away from calorie counting because of disordered eating (which she also talks about via starvation on p.31), she also shows the grams in protein, carbs, fat (saturated), cholesterol, sodium, and fiber. In her section for Type 2 Diabetes (p. 183), she provides the grams in sugar in addition to the other recipe breakdowns just mentioned.

I’ll admit; her section on Type 2 Diabetes concerned me before I received the book. I was afraid that she was one of those nutritionists; you know, the ones who encourage artificial sweeteners for weight loss. While she does encourage low fat, reduced fat, or 1% dairy – something I don’t particularly agree with her on, and here’s why –, she uses the term “sugar substitute”, and this kind of diplomatic wording could mean anything. Instead of using the words artificial sweetener or *shudder* Splenda, it could mean xylitol or stevia or coconut sugar or agave nectar. I gave her kudos just for this in of itself. That, and her not using or opting for soy in everything as a protein or dairy replacer.

Her recipes are broken down by meal type: breakfast (300 – 400 cal.), lunch (400 – 500 cal.), and dinner (500 – 600 cal.). She is all for a good breakfast, snackage from under 100 calories to 100 – 200 calories, well-balanced meals, and provides other options to enhance recipes calorically. In essence, you should be eating over 1200 but she does stay within the lines of a 2000-calorie based diet (which sometimes does not apply to athletes and other special cases as recommended by your doctor). So she’s a nutritionist that’s all for eating, and variety for said eating at that.    


I like using her recipes as guidelines for nutritional balance and calorie range. In her section for Celiac disease, she does know her gluten free grains, including additives that have many gluten-freers cocking their heads to the side. She also has common and not-so common foods containing gluten on pages 416 – 417, including a list of foods that may contain gluten. She provides the best advice for those newly diagnosed with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or conditions that benefit from a gluten free life:
  • Don’t cheat. Ever.
  • When eating packaged foods, choose labels specifically with a “certified gluten-free label.” Trader Joe’s is very good about that, and I’ve not had any issues with any of the products I’ve eaten.
  • Be a gluten sleuth.
  • Avoid all uncertainties: When in doubt, don’t eat it.
  • Beware of contamination in your own home: I don’t have a gluten-free household, so double dipping in condiments and spreads is a strict no-no.

With the meal plans, particularly in the Celiac disease section, it is very apparent that she has done extensive research and testing to make sure you have a delicious outcome every time. She is big on healthy fats, rice crackers, and many of the recipes throughout the book are naturally gluten free anyway. I was rather partial to the Breakfast Burrito (pages 144, 205, 316, and 452), though I used two eggs to make a “crepe” on a griddle pan with 1/4 – 1/2 c. black beans and a slice of cheese as the filling. I’ve also done something similar to her Strawberry-Banana Cottage Cheese with Almonds (pages 44, 144, 204), and blended the fruit together to make “syrup” and topped it with flaxseed meal and chia seeds. She also has a recipe for Green Tea Pound Cake (p. 464), something I definitely want to make in the future (a gluten free version, of course).

So it comes down to this, the pros and cons of the book, and my rating.

The Pros:
  • The book overall is well written and nicely separated into sections that is consistent, informative, and easy to read.
  • There are numerous recipes that are easy to make, delicious, great for budgets and those seeking nutritional variety.
  • The author is very big on food fixes over supplements, and always wants you to consult your physician and/or nutritionist before changing your diet (but really, the food she offers is delicious and healthy so I don’t think the professionals will complain).
  • Diplomatic wording: she knows that some people who have Type 2 Diabetes as well as those looking to lose weight use artificial sweeteners but doesn’t encourage it. Words like “sugar substitute” is used, and even stevia is mentioned.
  • She shows that there is nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of when you have an ailment, and gives you a very easy way to take your life into your own hands (again, with the help of a health professional).
  • Joy encourages whole and fresh foods over processed and pre-packaged foods. A total plus, in my opinion.
  • List love: I love how she lists foods based on their nutritional profile, such as the best foods for all the Vitamins, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Flavonoids, Magnesium, Biotin, Folic acid, and this is just to name a few.
  • For weight loss, she recommends eating protein with every meal (p.24). Awesome.
  • Her background and resources: she knows her stuff and has references to back it up.

The Cons:
  • The encouragement of low-fat/reduced-fat/1% milk, cheese, tub spreads: I’m not big on these products because they have a tendency to have unhealthy additives and actually have more fat than the whole fat products (which is usually 4%).
  • The discouragement of saturated fats: I’m all about moderation, but I find that my body has difficulty functioning properly without a little animal fat throughout the day.
  • The emphasis on calories: it is important to know when you aren’t eating enough, but calories aren’t everything. I think if she plans on updating her book in the future, I’d like to see what 100 calories of almonds looks like in comparison to 100 calories of radishes, and maybe talking more about calories in general (i.e., what it is, why it’s important, how calories can differ, etc.).
  • The studies: I’d like to see in-depth explanations to the studies she mentions.

To conclude the first of (hopefully) many book reviews, I’d like to thank Joy Bauer and her people for giving me the opportunity to do this. I give this book (which can be ordered on Amazon) 4.5 + out of 5 stars (4.8, give or take), and recommend this book for anyone looking to up their nutrition.

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