Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Book Review: The New Sonoma Diet

The New Sonoma Diet: Trimmer Waist, More Energy in Just 10 Days
By Dr. Connie Guttersen RD, PhD
Hardcover, 400 pages
Publisher: Sterling; 1 edition (January 4, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1402781186
Rating (1 to 5 *): *****

I have said it before, and it bears repeating, I despise diet books. They are hideous things aimed at people who hate the food they eat and who hate themselves for eating it.  I love food and I do not need to reprioritize food in my life. At its best food is art, and I am a connoisseur. The food recommended by diets is horrid, contrived to make dieters despise the food that they eat. It is not for me. But The New Sonoma Diet is different.

Much of the overweight problem in the United States today is directly related to the view of food as nothing more than fuel. Many of us do not consider the labor and love that went into making what we eat, we view it simply as coal to be shoveled into our furnaces. The diet subculture does not change this view – quite to the contrary, it reinforces it, then tells us how wicked we are for shoveling in too much fuel. In order to accommodate the need to moderate that fuel intake, they (the smart money-makers in the diet marketing industry) provide pre-packaged frozen foods, akin to the Swanson Hungry-Man meals that we have supposedly been glutting ourselves with up to now. 

The New Sonoma Diet does not do that. As discussed before, much of the Sonoma Diet concept has to do with fresh, seasonal food, prepared with love and care. It is the new and expanded version of The Sonoma Diet Plan, reviewed here about a year ago, despite the title, this is not a “diet” book in the traditional sense. This is a book about healthy eating, aimed at devout foodies. This book is for people who love to eat and love to cook. In fact, if the original Sonoma Diet Plan had any failing it was that you really had to plan your meals. There were no shortcuts – everything was about fresh produce and high quality proteins and taking the time to cook them. Lunch on day two depended upon having leftover grilled flank steak from day one, and you had to keep a healthy stock of fresh herbs on hand.

I, for one, love to cook, but I have lots to do in my life and often do not have the time to stand in the kitchen for an hour preparing good quality fresh food, so my darling wife and I often fudged, applying the principles of The Sonoma Diet, but not getting the variety of produce that Dr. Guttersen recommends.

The New Sonoma Diet has solved this problem. The diet is unchanged, and the principles remain the same as in the earlier work, but now, in addition to the wonderful recipes and menus from the original book, there is a selection of more convenient and easy to use recipes. She has also expanded on her section of valuable power foods. Ultimately, The New Sonoma Diet is not so much a recipe book, though there are a number of excellent recipes included in it, as it is a book on how to eat. It leverages the wisdom of Mediterranean eating habits, and applies them to the modern American eater. To benefit from this book, you do not need to eat her Nectarine, Arugula and Goat Cheese Salad (p. 286), though you may be sorely tempted, but you simply need to understand how to balance your plate, what to eat a quantity of, and when to stop. This is not a diet that relies on denial. Quite the contrary, when using Dr. Guttersen’s recipes and her recommended menus, my wife and I never felt hungry or deprived.

The tag-line on this book describes it the best: “A Simple, Healthy, More Delicious Way to Live.” And it truly is a way to live. So get out to the farmers’ market and have a field day, then come home and eat like a king! You will feel better immediately.

Spanish Roast Pork Tenderloin with Chickpeas and Spinach
The New Sonoma Diet, p. 260
Start to Finish: 1 hour
Yield: 4 servings

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound pork tenderloin in Spanish Marinade (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup onions, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons Spanish paprika
1 can chickpeas, drained; reserve liquid
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half or chopped tomatoes
4 cups baby spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil and pork tenderloin. Cook until lightly browned. Turn tenderloin over and move to the side of the pan.
  3. Add onions to the side of the pan where the pork had browned. Add 1 tablespoon of the bean liquid. Add garlic and paprika to the onions and stir. Let pork continue to brown. Once brown, remove pork from pan. Add chickpeas to onions; stir to coat. Place pork on top of chickpeas and place in hot oven. Roast for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the pork is 143° F (turn at 8 minutes).
  4.  Remove pork from pan and let rest in a warm spot. Sprinkle cherry tomatoes on top of chickpeas. Place in oven and roast for 10 minutes until slightly dried. Stir in the spinach and 1 tablespoon chickpea liquid. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Slice pork ¼ inch thick on the bias.
  5. To serve, place 1 cup of chickpea mixture on the plate and top with 4 ounces of sliced pork.
Nutritional Facts per Serving: 450 calories, 35 g protein, 19 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 39 g carbohydrate, 11 g fiber, 60 mg cholesterol, 350 mg sodium, 6 glycemic load)

Spanish Marinade for Pork Loin or Chicken Breasts
The New Sonoma Diet, p. 179

1 teaspoon garlic, mashed to a paste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon ground cumin, roasted
¼ teaspoon ground coriander, roasted
1 teaspoon Spanish paprika, smoked or plain
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice and zest
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Mix ingredients together
  2. Place in a leakproof container or resealable bag, such as a Ziploc bag. Add pork or chicken. Let sit for 15 minutes to overnight. Grill or sauté the meat.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, yum.

    I'm like you about food. I love food. I don't have a problem with food, and for the most part, it doesn't have a problem with me. I love the art of it, the design, the textures, the flavors, the scent... food should be an experience. Food and dining should be an event. Stuff it in your face and shovel it in doesn't do much to fuel anything except your body, and then marginally so.

    Great review... we're doing low-carb, gluten-free, no sugar (none, zero, zip....) not for weight loss 'diet' but for health reasons, with the adrenal insufficiency, so we're learning new ways to cook and eat at home. It's going to be an interesting challenge to keep it creative!