Book Review | 12 Steps to Raw Foods by Victoria Boutenko

I read this book based on a suggestion from a co-worker. She’s a new raw foodist, and she seemed extremely enthusiastic about the lifestyle. After I and a few other interns purchased her a raw food cookbook, she graciously made us a raw breakfast and a raw lunch the next day! She even brought in her Vita-Mix and a ton of supplies from Whole Foods.

I greatly enjoyed the spread that she prepared for us, so a couple of days later, I purchased 12 Steps to Raw Foods. My co-worker said that this was the first raw foods book that she and her daughter read. It started them off on their raw food journey. In effect, it started me off as well. (Though, I have not committed to the raw food lifestyle! I’m still experimenting. I was enthusiastic at first, but now…not so much.)

The author, Victoria Boutenko is very well known in the raw food world. She popularized the dynamic Green Smoothie (a smoothie made of veggies and fruit), and she and her family have published several raw food books. In 12 Steps, Boutenko describes how she and her family were suffering from various illnesses and ailments. Out of desperation, they went raw cold-turkey. Victoria and her family’s health improved immediately. They had more energy, no longer needed medicine, and they felt better than they had in years.

A large majority of the book is devoted to convincing the reader why the raw foods lifestyle is best. In the original text, Victoria takes somewhat of a fundamentalist approach, advocating a 100% raw food lifestyle. In the expanded, updated edition (the one I have), she softens her approach, admitting that a 100% raw food lifestyle may not be best for everyone. This change may be because, as of today, Victoria is not 100% herself. She is what is known as a high-raw foodist.

My main criticism of the book is the fantastical claims about the health benefits of raw foods. Of course, vegetables and fruits are full of essential nutrients that many are missing in the Standard American Diet (SAD). So, adding these items into one’s diet almost guarantees short-term physical improvements. I didn’t find myself convinced that raw is the reason for the improvements, versus a healthier diet in general.

There was also a lot of spiritual talk in the book. As someone of faith, I wasn’t completely bothered by it. I just don’t think that raw food should be so deeply linked with the raw food movement/diet.

Lastly, I was very disappointed with the recipes in this book. They were overly simplistic. For example, the “I Can’t Believe It’s Just Cabbage,” recipe was ridiculous. Basically, Victoria suggested tossing cabbage with oil and salt…wow, creative. I think anyone could have thought to toss a veggie with oil and salt. There are a lot of raw foods out there with really great recipes, but this is not one.

If you are looking to turn to raw foods as a completely lifestyle change, versus just a diet, then this is probably the book for you. If you are simply looking to loose a few pounds, you may want to try The Raw Food Detox Diet by Natalia Rose. If you want simple raw food recipes, I would suggest Raw Food: A Complete Guide to Every Meal of the Day by Erica Palmcratz and Irmela Lilja. A review of Palmcratz’s book will be posted soon!


Diet Book Review | The Calorie King 2009 Calorie, Fat, and Carbohydrate Counter 2009

Calorie King 2009Last week, I posted my review on The Writing Diet by Julia Cameron, in which Cameron encourages people to write down what they eat to aid in losing weight. Well, as I started utilizing the technique, I realized that I knew very little about the nutritional value, or lack of, in the foods that I was eating. I had seen Eat This, Not That at Target, so that is the book that I planned to pick up.

Instead, I ended up getting The Calorie King 2009 Calorie, Fat, and Carbohydrate counter 2009 (Large Print Edition). It’s pocket-sized, and includes more than just calorie counts. As the title indicates, it also has the overall nutritional content of foods at popular restaurants. The best part is that it includes thousands of grocery items and non-grocery items that you prepare at home. For instance, it’s hard to tell how many calories are in a sandwich that you make at home. However, by adding together the calorie count for a two slices of bread,  a slice of bacon, a piece of lettuce, and a teaspoon of mayo, you can calculate the nutritional content of your favorite BLT easily.

It’s full of graphics, too, which keep you from becoming bored with it too quickly. The Biggest Loser Complete Calorie Counter guide was a few dollars cheaper, but I went with this one because the BLCCC was black and white, while this one was glossy and full of color. Basically, I like shiny things.

I can’t say that I actually count all of my calories every single day. That would be a little too much for me, but I do grab the guide on my way out to eat. It has helped me make better choices at my favorite restaurants like Chilli’s where the fried chicken crispers, with corn and fries are a whopping 1880 calories! Needless to say, I haven’t ordered them since buying this book.

It works well as a handy guide to add up calories and nutritional content, and in the beginning of the book, it has practical advice on dieting, cutting down on sugar and saturated fat, and ways to effectively lose weight.

Unfortunately, not every single restaurant that I frequent is included – and for some restaurants, many of my favorite dishes are not listed. There is usually a way to work-around by using the grocery items as a comparison.

The biggest downside to this book is the price. If you don’t want to pay $10 or more for a little book, lots of the same information is available online for free, either directly at the restaurant’s website or on

What are some of your favorite free, online sources for nutrition information?