The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your LifeThe Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life by Janice Kaplan
Published by Dutton

I picked up this book because I thought it might be similar to Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, a book I loved and that I was actually able to apply to my life. And it somewhat lived up to my expectation that the two would be similar – Rubin spent a year focusing on being happier, while Kaplan spent a year focusing on how choosing to be grateful can be a catalyst for happiness and peace in your life. I liked The Gratitude Diaries well enough – it was compelling, read rather quickly, and was a good mix of interesting and funny.

I wasn’t in love with this book, though. It was one of those that was good but, weeks after reading it, I’ve forgotten most of what Kaplan had to say. In general, I try to look on the positive side of things and not let bad situations ruin my days and I do try to be mindful of being grateful for what I have and acknowledging that (sometimes only to myself) on a regular basis. So I think I may not have been quite the target audience of this book since I was already kind of buying what Kaplan is selling before I even picked it up? Anyway – I liked The Gratitude Diaries but it wasn’t the most memorable or impactful book I’ve ever read.

100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love by Lisa Leake
Published by William Morrow Cookbooks

Lisa Leake, creator of the popular food blog 100 Days of Real Food, decided one day that what she had been feeding her family for years was mostly processed, unsustainable, and unhealthy, and she and her husband gave themselves the challenge of eating (and feeding their two young daughters) no highly processed or refined foods for 100 days. This book is half the story of how they managed to do it, what they learned, and how they have sustained this lifestyle food choice over time, and half a cookbook where she shares some of their favorite recipes as a family.

I have to admit that Leake’s story is pretty inspiring. I am not sure that I could manage to do this just cooking for myself, and she managed to get her entire family eating this way. The rationale behind why she made this choice, and what exactly constitutes “real” food in her mind made perfect sense to me and is a philosophy that I can see myself at least incorporating into my diet. I can’t say that I plan on overhauling my diet completely but it’s certainly a starting point to a more healthful lifestyle.

The cookbook section has a surprising amount of variety, as well as recipes for things that I wouldn’t automatically think would fit into the real food lifestyle. There were quite a few that I wanted to make, but I only ended up making one – vegetarian chili – before the book had to go back to the library. The chili was really good, very filling, although I admit I doctored the recipe just a bit by adding canned pumpkin (hey, it’s fall and I had pumpkin to use up!). I don’t think the pumpkin made too much of a difference except maybe for the texture – it was a little on the thinner, soupy side before I added it.

I’d definitely recommend the book for anyone considering a change in eating habits or just wanting to know more about the real food thing. You can also check out her blog if you want to get an idea of what Leake is all about.