Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Daniel Fast Made Delicious by John & Ann Marie Cavazos - the book you want if you're in the mood to get healthy without a stomachache

The Daniel Fast Made Delicious: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, & Vegan Recipes That Are Healthy and Taste Great
By John and Ann Marie Cavazos
Copyright 2011
Siloam - Cooking/Health
200 pages

Let's get this out of the way, first . . . the title is weird. "Fast" and "diet" do not mean the same thing, in my mind. The free chapter of The Daniel Fast Made Delicious explains the reasoning behind the use of the word "fast" which, briefly, is simply a usage that a particular church came up with when its members sought out a way to set aside a time in which they weren't necessarily doing the regular starving-fast/prayer thing but were focused on God and eating in a way that would please Him. The idea came from Daniel's diet from the Bible (Daniel 1: 8-21) in which Daniel and his little gang said they'd stay with the king but only if they didn't have to eat the king's food, eating only vegetables and water, instead.

As that particular church made its "Daniel fast" a regular event, the authors of this book tried to find ways to make the food they were limited to more palatable. It took several years and a lot of trial and error (their family and church members were apparently the guinea pigs) but they eventually created enough recipes to make not only a temporary diet but a lifestyle change as they discovered that the general church population was losing weight and having fewer health issues (particularly stomach and intestinal), to boot.

There are two sections in The Daniel Fast. The first contains recipes that fit the diet strictly and the second has recipes that are healthy, gluten- and dairy-free, and vegan but not quite as strict in that they add a few things that are restricted in the "fast" portion of the book.

I haven't read the entire cookbook, cover to cover, but I read quite a few of the recipes and we tried two of them. When I say, "we", I'm saying it with a bit of a lopsided grin. My part was exhausting -- I wrote down the ingredients husband needed to purchase and then went to bed and moaned because I had a stomach virus while he bought, chopped and put together everything.

Before we got our spanking new Kroger, I'm pretty sure a good portion of the special ingredients like egg-free mayonnaise (we didn't have the brand mentioned in our store, but husband found something similar) would have been unobtainable and there are still plenty that can't be found in our area. If you don't have easy access to such things and aren't willing to order ingredients, drive out of your way or alter the recipes a bit, this book is probably not for you.

Things like gluten-free tortillas and rice cheeses (which, actually, we could make -- it's just cheese made from rice milk rather than cow milk) are among those we'd have to hunt down in the Big City -- that means a 50-60 mile drive, which isn't worth it for regular, everyday meals but at least it's within reach. And, there's a fruit salad recipe that contains about 15 different fruits. On the best of days, a lot of the berries mentioned go straight to mold when they get to us (because they travel so far) and are outrageously expensive, anyway, so that one's just not possible, period.

But, veggies are abundant in variety and readily available -- and they're the main ingredients comprising most of the recipes included in The Daniel Fast, so we were able to give a couple recipes a trial run and will make more in the future. The two we chose were "Annie's Pumpkin Lasagna" and "Brown Rice Tortilla Vegetable Wraps". There were no gluten-free tortillas to be found, so we just used the healthiest tortillas available (who knows whether they are what they claim) and there was some other minor tweaking but the end results were spectacular. I was shocked at how flavorful both recipes tasted.

Here's the really interesting part, though. On Sunday, I was still having some lingering after-effects from my stomach virus, so my husband offered to make me some rice. If you've got kids, you probably know why -- the B.R.A.T. diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) is well-known as a gentle way to ease kids back into eating after intestinal illness. Well, guess what? Rice didn't go over well at all and I ended up napping with a heating pad on my sore belly. Later in the day, though, husband finished cooking the pumpkin lasagna and I was able to eat it with no problem, whatsoever. Wow, that was a surprise. Later that night, I was feeling a bit better and by then he'd thrown together the wrap recipe, so that was next. Again, no problem.

Then, I ate something typical on Monday morning and went into total relapse. Right now, I'm eating leftover pumpkin lasagna and veggie wraps -- and pretty much nothing else. I'll stick with what works, thank you very much.

The bottom line:

Stunningly flavorful recipes and tips for how to adapt after the initial diet make this gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan cookbook a winner but some ingredients may be hard to find. There are lots of explanatory notes and additions ("What's a quinoa?" "After-the-Fast" tips, and "Optional Mint Sauce" are a few examples) that I found really helpful. Not being much of a cook, I found that I had a lot of questions but 90% of the time they were answered before I moved to the next recipe.

There are some photographs -- not every recipe has a photo, but many of them do. Since they tend to be pretty basic, with fresh foods and lots of chopping, I don't think absolutely every recipe needs a photo. My husband agrees with me on that and was also pleased with the results. We have not yet talked Kiddo into trying either recipe, unfortunately. But, we'll keep working on him. He's been in a gummy worm mood, today. Um, yeah. Healthy.

So . . . speaking of rice . . . were we speaking of rice? It was mentioned, I guess, and that made me think of something totally cool that I think is worth sharing. You know the site where you can go click on various buttons to donate food and books, feed shelter animals, etc.? I go there daily to do my clicking and one day I gazed into the sidebar, where they have their little market, and saw a tote bag made with cloth from an old sari was advertised. They looked pretty and were reasonably priced (plus, your purchase buys 50 cups of rice for a hungry child) and I occasionally buy a new tote bag for my Bible-study toting, so I got one.

Ohmygosh, the embroidery is amazing. Here's a picture of it:

Isn't that gorgeous? The bag is mostly black satin with one side made up of reclaimed sari fabric. I'm so in love with mine that I ordered another one for a friend who has admired my current Bible study tote, which is sequined (we both love shiny things) and kind of funky. I just thought I'd share that with you. You might see books posed on that bag, in the future.

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. What a great review, and one right up my alley lately. I'm sorry that the bug got you. I HATE the stomach bugs!!! With a passion! I will do most anything to avoid having one, including not eating for three days if I think one is around!! I hope you're feeling like you are on the mend.

    This book actually looks like one that would parallel one we read for my book group this month. It is called Fat Cat by Robin Brande (who happens to be my step sister.) It is a YA novel that profiles a teenage girl who takes herself on as a science fair project. She goes back to a 'cave-man' or primitive man diet to see if she could live on that diet as well as become healthier. And boy does she. It was really a good book and we were very impressed and more than motivated. Of course whole grains were plentiful but I had never thought that dairy would have not been in the diet as domesticated cows didn't come along until much later. As a dietitian I found the idea pretty cool and as a mom I recognize what too much dairy can do to so many of my kiddos. I have lots of friends who are gluten intolerant as well. I think this book would be something I could bring up and share with many of them as well as my book group friends. I'm going to check it out on the review of pumpkin lasagna as well!! Now that sounds yummy even at 6 am!!

    I hope you feel better soon!

  2. Inside a Book,

    Thanks! Ha! I'd never thought of avoiding food because a stomach bug is around! Interesting idea. Kind of wish I'd done that, now. I was a mess. I'm much better now, thank you. :)

    I'll have to look up Fat Cat. It sounds excellent and I did think the most fascinating aspect of this particular cookbook was the unexpected improvements in health that came with the diet. I didn't realize dairy products cause trouble for so many people, but I know we need to eat more vegetables and so far the recipes in this book have been so good that even my anti-veggie husband is softening to the idea of going vegan. He's proclaimed that he'll have to have the occasional cheeseburger, though, even if we go mostly-vegan. Well, okay. Just don't try to make me eat one.

    And, oh yeah, the gluten intolerance thing -- I know sooo many people who've found that they're gluten intolerant, in recent years. These books are really timely. We're apparently a nation that needs to rethink our entire way of cooking and eating.

  3. First of all--thanks for stopping by my blog--so sweet of you :) I am COMPLETELY out of the book blogging world these days, which is good and bad. I'm starting to figure out my new life as a Stay at home was a HUGE adjustment for me. Anyways...blah blah blah...

    About your bro-in-law actually did the Daniel Diet for a couple of weeks. I think he had a pretty difficult time with it (and I can see why!) The pictures on the front cover sure look delicious. So sorry you were sick! I'll have to check back more frequently--I miss your humor and reviews :)

  4. Laura,

    Yay! It's so nice to "see" you! :) Thanks back at you for stopping by. I noticed there wasn't even a link to your old book blog in your profile but I kind of figured you'd given it up for good. Yay, I'm glad you're a stay-at-home mom! It is definitely a rough adjustment but well worth it. I just couldn't have lived with myself if I'd missed out on my kids' younger years, in particular.

    I can see why someone would have trouble with the really strict Daniel diet. There's no fat in it, so a normal person probably gets really hungry and wants to eat all the time on a diet like that. Since I've been sick and it's gentle on stomachs, I've appreciated it, but I would definitely make some alterations to it for permanent eating. Everything has been really delicious, so far. We're looking forward to trying more of the recipes.

  5. Nancy that bag is beautiful! Would love to see a full pic of it.

  6. Paula,

    Okay, I'll take some more pics when I get my card emptied. I loaded everything to the computer but I'm so dim I decided to wait to get husband to back things up. I need to take some classes or something. I've fallen far behind the modern world.

  7. Pumpkin lasagna has long been known to cure stomach bugs.

    No? Whatever works!! Sounds delicious.

    That sari bag is fabulously exotic looking.

  8. Carrie,

    Of course. I should have known. Or, maybe not. Yes, whatever works -- definitely! My stomach is happy, this week, and I am happy with it.

    Isn't that sari bag amazing? The bag I ordered for my friend in Bible study arrived, today, and it's lovely too, but not as heavily decorated. They're all beautiful, though.


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