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If the Buddha Came to Dinner: How to Nourish Your Body to Awaken Your Spirit    by Halé Sofia Schatz & Shira Shaiman order for
If the Buddha Came to Dinner
by Halé Sofia Schatz
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

If the Buddha Came to Dinner gives us an enticing new perspective on food. The authors recommend 'learning how to feed your spirit so you can be fed by it on a regular basis' and encourage 'transformational nourishment' to change constricting habits into practices for growth.

Schatz suggests that we regularly question 'Who are you feeding?', since we often feed our emotional needs - simply asking the question can result in behavior change. She recommends 'vital foods' like whole grains and fresh caught fish; eating local, seasonal produce and organic foods; and trying sea vegetables. Tips for daily practice, include giving the body a break from digestion, eating what you need and not what you crave, and expanding your spice repertoire. All of these tips are covered in detail.

Sugar excess is addressed, not only in soft drinks but also in orange juice. A variety of substitute food options are suggested. A rigorous 'cleanse' (phased over several weeks) is recommended, to eliminate toxins and stimulate the body's self-renewal - 'like giving your body an annual tune-up' - and detailed instructions are provided on how to manage it. We are told to listen to our natural biorhythms and to keep our bodies in balance - the last third of the book includes recipes to help do this.

The idea of Haleakala Red Lentil Soup appeals to me, with salsa and cinnamon spicing up the lentils. I love avocados and am intrigued by 'Avocado and Red Onion Salad'. 'Cauliflower Curry' is an old favorite, and this one sounds especially appetizing, as does 'Soba Noodles with Scallions'. I've wondered about 'Ceviche' and there are two appealing marinades, and of course a selection of tofu dishes including 'Crispy Sesame Tofu' (with tons of garlic, crushed red pepper and fresh ginger).

If the Buddha really came to dinner, he'd probably tell us to be mindful of what and why we eat, in much the same way as this book does. It serves up an unusual blend of spirituality, nutrition and recipes, nourishing to both body and mind.

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