Tonics: More Than 100 Recipes That Improve the Body and the Mind

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9780060951115: Tonics: More Than 100 Recipes That Improve the Body and the Mind

As modern medicine has begun to appreciate the wisdom behind traditional healing foods and beverages, restorative elixirs have moved to the forefront of natural remedies. The science of phytochemicals, or plant compounds, has shown that many components of everyday foods have significant medicinal potency.

Robert A. Barnett, distinguished food and health journalist and an early proponent of the long-term health benefits of ordinary foods, brings tonics into your kitchen with this comprehensive guide. Learn how a spring tonic made from fresh dandelion helps cleanse the liver and why for centuries the Chinese have used angelica root as a soup ingredient to improve circulation. More than 100 recipes for healthful tonics include both the familiar and the arcane, from chicken soup for colds to the antiviral properties of shiitake mushrooms. Sweet cabbage juice can soothe the stomach and a traditional Indian fennel tea recipe will help treat a sore throat. Home-brewed celery tonic, sold in New York delis for generations, contains natural ingredients that have been shown to lower blood pressure.

Not all tonics are in liquid form. Barnett recommends a little onion and chili pepper to clear sinuses, and a delicious red wine sorbet to ward off heart disease. A salad of baby artichokes dressed with extra-virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, capers and garlic stimulates bile secretions, lowers cholesterol, inhibits blood clotting and, when served with some crusty bread and goat cheese, makes a tasty main course.

From curing colds to lessening depression, your refrigerator and kitchen cabinets are full of simple ingredients whose restorative powers can improve your health and well-being today. No longer dismissed as mere folk wisdom, tonics are drawing increasing attention from medical professionals. So get out your blender and let Bob Barnett show you how to mix up a tall, cool and healthy one.

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Review:

Robert Barnett provides many definitions of tonic in this book, which is remarkably suitable to both New Age initiates and skeptical mainstream readers. The broadest definition describes tonic as something that improves your well-being by restoring balance to the body. Barnett, a journalist by trade, clearly researched his subject with care, investigating the many forms a tonic can take. He explains why breathing and walking qualify as much as Chinese herbs, such as atractylodes, or Japanese reishi mushrooms. Barnett also offers many ways of using herbs and other tonics, including inhaling the aroma of essential oils, taking hot baths, or using fragranced massage oil. His main emphasis, though, is on tonics that can be consumed. The more than 100 recipes run the gamut, from an almost mundane banana smoothie to a seemingly odd Chinese congee, or porridge. The smoothie is a tonic by virtue of including psyllium, a seed that is a laxative and also reduces blood cholesterol levels. Chinese Yam and Jujube Congee has dioscoria, which contains a form of natural progesterone that is absorbed through the skin when applied topically, but that acts as a blood-cholesterol reducer and an anti-inflammatory when consumed. Other recipes demonstrate how familiar foods such as grapefruit and olive oil have tonic effects.

About the Author:

Barbara Rolls, Ph.D, holds the endowed Guthrie Chair of Nutrition at Penn State, has been president of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity and the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, and has served on the advisory council of the National Institutes of Health's Institute of Diabetes and Digestion and Kidney Diseases.She is the author of three professional books on food and nutrition and more than 170 academic articles.

Coauthor Robert A. Barnett is an award-winning journalist who specializes in food and nutrition.He is the author of Tonics (HarperPerennial, 1997), coauthor ofThe Guilt-Free Comfort Food Cookbook(Thomas Nelson, 1996), and editor of The American Health Food Book (Dutton, 1991).

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