10.   Recommended Books


“The Fast diet” by Dr Michael Mosley 

This is the updated version of the book which explains how to implement the 5:2 Fast Diet in practice.  Loads of background information explaining how the diet works and its potential health benefits as well as calorie counted recipes to support your Fast Day eating.


“The 8-week blood sugar diet” by Dr Michael Mosley

Some years after the 5:2 Fast Diet phenomenon Mosley produced this book which is based on the ground breaking work by Professor Roy Taylor of Newcastle University which showed that diabetes and pre-diabetic high blood sugar levels could be reversed through rapid weight loss on a Mediterranean style pattern of eating.  Although this book is specifically designed to implement an 8-week rapid weight loss program, the diet principles it contains can be used in any healthy Mediterranean style diet to control blood sugar levels.


“The clever guts diet” by Dr Michael Mosley

In recent years it has become apparent that the microbes in our guts play a much more major role in determining our health than we previously thought.  These microbes can be adversely affected by medical interventions such as antibiotics but also by the food we eat on a regular daily basis.  You will not be surprised to learn that our modern lifestyle and fast food are very bad news for our guts.  This book explains the role our guts play in keeping us healthy and how we, in turn, can support our microbes through healthy food choices.


“Fast exercise” by Dr Michael Mosley

This book gives practical details of how to implement the relatively simple but high impact exercise regime called High Intensity Training first seen in his original documentary “Eat, fast, and live longer”.  In addition to HIT this book shows how a relatively simple and non time consuming set of exercises can complement the 5:2 Fast Diet with significant health benefits.


“The Doctor’s kitchen” by Dr Rupi Aujla

To date I have cooked over 50% of the recipes in this book, which makes it the most successful cookbook I’ve ever bought.  Written by a doctor who firmly believes that we can reduce the burden on the NHS by eating more healthily, he explains the benefits of a diet that is essenetially Mediterranean in style, that does not fear fat, and which provides most of its protein intake from vegetables not animals.  It is not however a vegetarian cookbook and probably more than a third of the recipes contain protein from meat or fish, which is still the easiest or only way of obtaining some key nutrients.  However the main point about the this book is that the recipes are just wonderfully tasty as well as being very healthy.   This was the book that gradually converted me to eating vegetables exclusively on about four days a week, not because of a specific decision to go veggie but because the recipes are just so tasty that adding meat or fish became completely superfluous.  If you only buy one book to help with a change to a Mediterranean style diet then make it this one.


“The food medic” by Dr Hazel Wallace

This is another book by a doctor who aims to improve our health through a better diet that avoids fast or highly processed foods in favour of real foods.  Like Dr Rupi she provides an objective view of the evidence that underpins her dietary recommendations, she does not fear fat and her ingredients are wholesome and as natural as possible.  Also, as with the recipes in Dr Rupi’s book, you can ignore the “healthy eating” label as the recipes are just superb.


“Food rules - an eater's manual” by Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan has written several books about why the typical Western Diet which contains lots of processed foods with high levels of added fat and sugar, refined carbohydrates, and minimal fresh fruit and vegetable is fundamentally unhealthy and driving the growth in obesity and type 2 diabetes.  He coined the now famous phrase to describe how to eat more healthily :  “Eat food.  Mostly plants.  Not much”.  This book aims to augment that simple statement with a set of rules to make it easier for you to avoid processed foods and eat more healthily.  It’s humorous and fun, e.g. : “Don’t eat any food your great grandmother would not recognize” yet with a very serious underlying message.  The cookbooks by Dr Rupi Aujla and Dr Hazel Wallace conform very much to Michael Pollan’s approach to food.


"How to eat better" by James Wong

This is a fascinating book which unpicks the urban myths about food to help you turn everyday foods into "superfoods" through judicious shopping, storage, and cooking.  It is based on the latest scientific knowledge and every page contains information that challenges what you might think about your food.   For example, is your expensive organic cocoa powder really "organic" and does it really provide all the heart healthy polyphenols you might expect?  Check the label to see if it contains an acidity regulator called Potassium Carbonate which is routinely added to chocolate to reduce bitterness, even in so called "organic" products, and which reduces the beneficial polyphenols by more than 80%.  Not only does this book provide an easily understood scientific background for his suggestions but the recipes it contains are also excellent.  His "Ultimate Beet Burgers" are simple outstanding and a match for any beef burger.


“Carb and calorie counter” by Chris Cheyette and Yello Balolia

Before I started my weight loss program I needed to establish how many calories I was eating every day and this was one of the resources I found very helpful.  Although I eventually created my own database with the 500 or so foodstuffs that I use regularly, I found that the visual approach in this book using pictures of real food with small/medium/large portions got me off to a great start.  It has been produced in association with Diabetes UK and is very useful as part of an education process to understand how calorie dense are some foods, which makes it easier to maintain your daily calorie intake during the weight loss phase as well as the normal post diet “maintenance” phase.


“Pure and simple - a natural food way of life” by Pascale Naessens

This is a book where the lifestyle and philosophy it espouses are almost as important as the recipes themselves which are, nevertheless,  fabulous.  The recipes are based on the principles of using real (unprocessed food), food combinations, and avoiding starchy processed carbohydrates.  I do not particularly follow the approach of food combinations but the recipes she describes are quintessentially real food and Mediterranean, and simply wonderful.


“Much more veg” by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

I have always considered Hugh as the epitome of the omnivore and carnivore who will eat every part of an animal, but in recent years he has become much more focused on vegetables.   I have gradually become vegetarian for about four days a week because I discovered that when you cook a dish where the vegetables are the main focus rather than being relegated to the sidelines as a mere accompaniment to a slab of meat or fish, then the tastes and textures can become elevated to the point where the slab of meat or fish becomes completely redundant.  This book has a huge range of recipes that provide tremendous inspiration if you are a cook, or you can equally well just implement them as described.  If you always think of vegetables and pulses as just an side dish to meat or fish then this book may well make you rethink that approach.


“Oklava - recipes from a Turkish-Cypriot kitchen” by Selin Kiazim

I started reading this book of Turkish-Cypriot recipes in The Ceilidh Place in Ullapool and found it a compelling page turner.  So much so that by the time I had finished a leisurely flat white or two I had read it from end to end and it was destined for a place on my bookshelves.  The recipes are of course pure Mediterranean so, like most real recipes from that region, use huge quantities of olive oil and I mean huge!  I like olive oil but have not yet become acclimatized to the quantities she uses, no matter how healthy they are, so I cut back on the quantity of oil to suit my palate.  The recipes however are wonderful with simple natural ingredients that are combined to produce amazing tastes and textures.  This book also introduced me to the pleasure of preserved lemons and Turkish hot pepper paste, both of which are very easy to make and last a long time in the refrigerator.


“Ottolenghi – the cookbook” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Yotam Ottolenghi is the Israeli chef who introduced the UK to the delights of Sumac and Za’atar in another take on the Mediterranean style of eating.  The recipes are quite superb but possibly more suitable for special occasions than everyday eating because they can take a little more effort to produce. 


"Bowls of Goodness" by Nina Olsson

This is a vegetarian cookbook that esposues the philosophy of eating real food based on plants and not stressing too much about the specifics.  The recipes are uncomplicated but the combinations of ingredients are inspiring and produce food that not only looks superb but tastes superb too.  This is yet another vegetarian cookbook that completely overturns my former belief that while I liked vegetables a lot, I would find a completely vegetarian diet too boring.  When food looks and tastes this good then the word to use is "spectacular" not "boring".    You forget that the dish contains only vegetables, but of course you can always add some meat or fish protein as a side dish if you get withdrawal symptoms.