I love a good success story, don't you? And I can't wait to tell you about the latest I've found! Filled with inspiration and motivation Vanessa Chamberlin's book, The Fire Driven Life, is one of those success stories that sticks with you. Exuding health and a penchant for living life, Vanessa's book has the potential to be life changing as it creates a simple foundation for igniting health and happiness in your own life.
With The Fire Driven Life, Vanessa lays out a way of eating, not what I would call a diet perse, but more of a lifestyle paving the way to passion for a healthier life. Mixing a recipe of science, common sense and culinary creativity, Vanessa shows how living a plant-based lifestyle is not only easy to do, but also budget friendly.
For anyone on your holiday list thinking of moving to a healthier lifestyle, this book is what they are looking for. Jumping right in, the first chapter lays a foundation to help you figure out why you would want to eat a plant-based diet in the first place (Food over pills, anyone??). From simply feeling better and more energetic to reversing heart disease and diabetes, a plant-based lifestyle has been proven beneficial and life saving for many people.
Moving on, Vanessa's next chapters help you understand that eating plants is more than just salad. Identifying the best foods for health, Vanessa calls them "Green Fire Foods", she's splashed the pages with lists of go-to foods and ingredients that you can (and should) eat to your heart's content.
From there Vanessa takes you through "Yellow Fire" and "Red Fire" Foods (foods to be consumed in moderation and those that should be avoided), and then she helps you revamp and set up ingredients and pantry staples in your own kitchen. Seriously, it's all there and figured out for you.
Once you are ready to start Vanessa brings a support section where she coaches you through some of the challenges in transforming your diet. Being plant-based myself I understand how difficult change can be, but once you begin down the plant path it gets easier and easier and then simply becomes a preferred way of life where you will hopefully feel better than you ever have.
Next Vanessa completes the whole lifestyle by including exercise and stress management along with a frequently asked Q and A section. For example... did you know that you don't need dairy products for calcium? (Actually the most usable sources of calcium are found in plant based foods like many greens and other veggies).
And then, of course, my favorite part of the book... the recipes!! Featuring delectable entrees along with sides, appetizers and snacks (including smoothies and juices) , soups and salads, condiments (and sauces and spreads) and a collection of tempting Happy Endings (how about a few Chai Spiced Cookies or Cocoa Cupcakes?), Vanessa's recipes are clearly written and easy to follow.
With beautiful photography her recipes tempt and motivate you into the kitchen to create a little bit of awesomeness for yourself. And that's just what we did!
First off, Liv picked the Chocolate Monkey Shake featuring a few of her favorite ingredients (bananas, peanut butter and chocolate) and we had an immediate new favorite recipe (she even loved that it added spinach so she didn't have to eat it later!). Moving on to the Mexican Spaghetti (super popular with the men in our family) and then the Smashed Pea Soup with Barley, I'm thrilled with everything we've tried.
Only a few books on my shelf do I reach for over and over again, and The Fire Driven Life has quickly become one of them. This book will be on my holiday list of gifts to give for friends who are looking for health in the new year.
More than a cookbook, I love the inspiration jumping from every page, and after following Vanessa on Instagram I'm loving the motivation from her frequent posts as well.
Vanessa, thanks for sharing your story with the world, but more importantly for inspiring us and for igniting a passion for health in your readers!
Smashed Pea Soup with Barley
Smooth and so flavorful, this soup goes together easily with ingredients you mostly likely already have in your pantry. Low in fat and high in protein the barley adds a delightful texture.
Recipe courtesy Vanessa Chamberlin - The Fire Driven Life pg. 161 (my notes in parenthesis)
2 cups split peas
4 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp maple syrup (didn't use)
1 tsp fresh parsley, minced (we added a bit extra!)
1/4 tsp ground white pepper (we used black... all I had on hand)
1/8 tsp fresh thyme, minced (we used dried)
1/2 cup pearl barley
2 medium carrots, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
sea salt to taste
sipped green onions for garnish
Rinse the split peas. Add them to a large pot with 6 cups of water, veggie broth, onion, garlic, lemon juice, salt, maple syrup, parsley, pepper and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until peas are soft.
While peas are cooking, combine the barley with 6 cups of water in a saucepan (or follow your package directions). Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the barley is soft and most of the water has been absorbed. When the split pea mixture has become a thick soup, use a hand blender to puree the peas until the mixture is smooth. A blender or food processor may also be used to puree the soup in batches. (Liv preferred her soup chunky... as such we pureed half and "smashed" half with the back of a spoon for additional texture)
Drain excess water from the barley and add the barley to the split pea mixture. Add the carrots and celery and continue to simmer the soup for 20 minutes or until the carrots are tender, stirring occasionally. Pour into bowls and season with salt. Garnish each bowl with green onions or fresh parsley sprigs.
Liv Life Note: I received a copy of The Fire Driven Life from Vanessa Chamberlain for review purposes, and my review was not promised or guaranteed to her. I have not been paid to write this review and simply want to share it with you because I feel it is a wonderful book and completely worth sharing! All opinions and thoughts are my own.
Liv Life Note 2: This post contain links to Amazon where Liv Life receives a small (very small!) commission through their affiliate program if you should purchase through our link. Thank you!