Food Stuff 

GOOD FOR YOU

The Food Bible
by Judith Wills
(Simon & Schuster, $25, 320 pp.)

Healthy eating is important, or so echoes our conscience every time we unwrap another Whopper. But when it comes down to it, what does healthy eating really mean?

Fortunately for the junk food aficionados among us, author Judith Wills has taken the time to spell out exactly what is nutritious, how much of it we should eat, and even how to cook it to create a more appealing dinner option than yet another fast-food hamburger.

In a comprehensive guide, complete with luscious full-color photographs of nutritious foods, Wills explains the fundamentals of healthy eating, which pretty much follow the Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines of low fat, plenty of fruits and vegetables, a sensible intake of protein and limited fats and sweets.

To make it easier to adopt such a diet, she offers tempting recipes and a complete nutritional analysis of common foods, as well as suggested diets for the various stages of life, from infancy through pregnancy and old age.

One section of the book deals with food as medicine, suggesting specific foods that may be helpful in easing or treating various conditions. While Wills does not suggest there are food-based "cures" for serious diseases such as cancer or AIDS, she does explain how to meet the nutritional needs of people with these diseases. She also provides suggestions for foods to ease lesser ailments, such as hangovers and nosebleeds, and thoroughly explains the benefits (or lack thereof) of herbs and dietary supplements (such as blue-green algae or royal jelly).

Especially helpful are the charts explaining the amount of essential vitamins, minerals and elements contained in everyday foods (for more selenium, eat Brazil nuts or lamb’s kidneys; for more folate, go with chicken livers or black-eyed peas). They contain some surprising facts: 100 grams of poppy seeds have 1,580 milligrams of calcium, while there’s only 115 mg calcium in an equal amount of whole milk.

If the charts aren’t exactly mouthwatering, Wills suggests a number of "meal makeovers," in which she lists the typical components of various meals, and offers suggestions for alternate foods that provide more nutrition for the calories.

For example, a breakfast of 1 cup corn flakes, 1/2 cup low-fat milk and one slice of white toast spread with 1 teaspoon of margarine and 2 teaspoons marmalade sounds reasonably healthy (especially if you usually eat Pop-Tarts). But for 299 calories, you get little fiber and no vitamin C.

The alternative Wills offers (1 cup muesli cereal, 1/2 cup skim milk, 3/4 cup fresh raspberries and 1/2 cup orange juice) has 388 calories, but offers more fiber and complex carbohydrates, which keep you from feeling hungry just in time for that 11 a.m. doughnut.

And if you’re still tempted by that chocolate-glazed, relax: Wills’ nutritional gospel provides the rationale that you can indulge, at least once in a while. Besides, what’s a bible without a little sin?– Alisa Gordaneer

TREATS

Hop out for Easter brunch. Paint Creek Cider Mill & Restaurant in Rochester (248-651-8361), Big Rock Chop & Brew House in Birmingham (248-647-7774) and Mac & Ray’s Restaurant in Harrison Township (810-463-9660, ext. 429) are offering special brunches on April 4. Call individual restaurants for serving times and prices. ... Get out that barbecue! As of April 1, you can grill the experts at 800-GRILL-OUT. That’s Weber Barbecue’s tips line, and it offers free barbecue tips and new recipes.

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