Books: Recent Recommended Reads

Books | The Life Delicious | Catherine Roscoe Barr Books are such a gift. It's such a gift to be inspired, to be informed and to be swept away by a story.

Here’s the best of what I’ve been reading lately. Click on their titles for more information.

1. All In: You, Your Business, Your Life

by Arlene Dickinson

2. Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself

byAlejandro Junger

3. Clean Gut: The Breakthrough Plan for Eliminating the Root Cause of Disease and Revolutionizing your Health

by Alejandro Junger

4. Joyous Health: Eat and Live Well Without Dieting

by Joy McCarthy

5. Listen to the Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What's a Daughter To Do? A Memoir (Sort Of) 

by Elaine Lui

6. Maximize your Potential: Grow your Expertise, Take Bold Risks and Build An Incredible Career

by Jocelyn K Glei

7. Meals That Heal Inflammation: Embrace Healthy Living and Eliminate Pain, One Meal at A Time

by Julie Daniluk

8. Money: A Love Story

by Kate Northrup

9. Off the Beaten Path: A Hiking Guide to Vancouver's North Shore

by Norm Watt

10. Relaxation Revolution: Enhancing your Personal Health through the Science and Genetics of Mind Body Healing

by Herbert Benson

11. Running With Nature: Stepping Into the Life You Were Meant to Live

by Mariel Hemingway and Bobby Williams

12. Super Rich: A Guide to Having It All

by Russell Simmons

13. The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love your Amazing Body

by Cameron Diaz

14. The Better Mother

by Jen Sookfong Lee

15. The Body Ecology Diet: Recovering your Health and Rebuilding your Immunity

by Donna Gates

16. The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph From the Frontiers of Brain Science

by Norman  Doidge

17. The Great Canadian Bucket List: One-of-a-Kind Travel Experiences

by Robin Esrock

18. The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-free Living

by Amit Sood

19. The Signature of All Things

by Elizabeth Gilbert

20. Thrive Energy Cookbook: 150 Functional, Plant-based Whole Food Recipes

by Brendan Brazier

Books: Recent Recommended Reads

Books | The Life DeliciousBooks are the best, three cheers for books!

I'm a huge library junkie, I'm there at least once a week. It never ceases to amaze and delight me that you can get so much life-changing and enriching information for free.

I hope you'll find some of these titles that I've had out from the library (and often ended up buying because they're so awesome) as inspiring, informative and eye-opening as I have.

Here’s the best of what I’ve been reading the past few months. Click on their titles for more information.

1. Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence

by Daniel Goleman

2. Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook

by Del Sroufe

3. Hollyhock: Garden to Table

by Moreka Jolar and Heidi Scheifley

4. Living Yoga: Creating a Life Practice

by Christy Turlington

5. Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind

edited by Jocelyn Glei

6. Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation

by Daniel Siegel

7. Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation

by Sharon Salzberg

8. The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter, and Miracles

by Bruce Lipton

9. The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are

by Daniel Siegel

10. The Magic of Thinking Big

by David Joseph Schwartz

11. The Mind's Own Physician: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama on the Healing Power of Meditation

edited by Jon Kabat-Zinn and Richard Davidson

12. The Parisian Diet: How To Reach Your Right Weight And Stay There

by Jean-Michel Cohen

13. The Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods

by Sara Forte

14. Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers: An Updated Guide to Stress, Stress-related Diseases, and Coping

by Robert Sapolsky

15. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

by Therese Anne Fowler


Cocktail and Appetizer Recipes: Girls’ Night In

Clockwise, from bottom left: fig and olive tapenade, blue cheese and caramelized onion dip, oat and seed Raincoast Oat Crisps, and oat and rosemary raisin Raincoast Oat Crisps

I am so blessed to have the most beautiful, brilliant girlfriends, and many of them live in the same city as I do. Once a month, one group of gals I lovingly refer to as the GNOs (for Girls Night Out) gets together somewhere around town or at one of our residences for some good-old-girl-talk over food and drinks.

October’s event was at my place and I made a signature cocktail and two fabulous appetizers.

For the cocktail, I tried to replicate one I had at an event at Reflections in the Rosewood Hotel Georgia. It was amazing, a revelation – Disaronno amaretto, pear nectar, lemon juice and cardamom. The cardamom was surprising and totally delicious.

Since then, the hotel has kindly shared the real recipe (I used ground cardamom, which I don’t recommend because although still very tasty, it’s a bit gritty), which you’ll find below.

For the appetizers, I made two dips from The Lesley Stowe Fine Foods Cookbook, an awesome cookbook and one of my favourites (her black bean linguine with prawns has become a staple of my kitchen repertoire).

I served both dips with Stowe’s new Raincoast Oat Crisps, the gluten-free version of her famous Raincoast Crisps, which currently come in two flavours: oat and seed, and oat and rosemary raisin.

This was the first time I made Stowe’s blue cheese and caramelized onion dip and it turned out incredibly good. The stinky cheese and sweet onions were a lovely match.

I love Bleu Bénédictin Cheese, which is made by Benedictine monks at the Fromagerie de L’Abbaye Saint-Benoît in Quebec, Farmhouse Natural Cheeses’ Castle Blue Cheese, made in Agassiz, and Moonstruck Organic Cheese’s Beddis Blue, made on Salt Spring Island.

The olive and fig tapenade is one of my go-tos for entertaining, it’s always a hit with its combination of sweet and salty.

Hope you enjoy!

Pear and Cardamom Coupe Cocktail

The cocktail menu at the Disaronno Contemporary Terrace event at Reflections Lounge (left), and my homemade version of the Pear and Cardamom Coupe cocktail. 


  • 2 oz Disaronno amaretto
  • 2 oz pear nectar (I used Triple Jim's Organic Pear Juice, made in Chilliwack, purchased at Urban Fare)
  • 3 cardamom pods, muddled
  • 1/2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice


  1. Combine all ingredients in a pitcher, stirring well.
  2. Strain into an old fashioned glass, over ice, and garnish with a slice of pear.

Olive and Fig Tapenade


  • 1 cup Mission figs, quartered
  • 1 cup pitted nicoise olives or other brined black olives
  • 1 tbsp capers, drained
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


  1. In food processor, roughly chop figs.
  2. Add olives, capers, garlic, and thyme, pulsing until combined and slightly coarse.
  3. Add oil and lemon juice, pulsing to combine.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.

Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onion Dip


  • 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 oz blue cheese
  • 6 oz cream cheese
  • 4 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in small frying pan over medium-low heat.
  2. Add onion, cover and cook until deep golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Whisk together mayonnaise and sour cream in a medium bowl.
  4. Add blue cheese and cream cheese and mash with rubber spatula until smooth.
  5. Stir in caramelized onion.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


A Few of My Favourite Things: Cookbook Roundup

I read cookbooks in bed like they were fiction. I also love trying new recipes (and eating them) and regularly contribute to’s What I made for dinner blog. Here’s a list of some of the cookbooks I’ve enjoyed nibbling my way through:

1. American Grown: the story of the White House kitchen garden and gardens across America by Michelle Obama

2. Araxi: seasonal recipes from the celebrated Whistler restaurant by James Walt

3. Blue Water Cafe Cookbook by Frank Pabst

4. C Food by Robert Clark and Harry Kambolis

5. Cindy's Supper Club: meals from around the world to share with family and friends by Cindy Pawlcyn

6. Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr

7. Edible: a celebration of local foods by Tracey Ryder and Carole Topali

8. Fabbrica: great Italian recipes made easy for home by Mark McEwan

9. Fresh: seasonal recipes made with local ingredients by John Bishop

10. How It All Vegan: irresistible recipes for an animal-free diet by Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard

11. Memphis Blues Barbecue House: bringin' southern BBQ home by George Siu and Park Heffelfinger

12. Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights: recipes for every season, mood and appetite by Sophie Dahl

13. My Father's Daughter: delicious, easy recipes celebrating family and togetherness by Gwyneth Paltrow

14. New World Provence: modern French cooking for friends and family by Alessandra Quaglia and Jean-Francis Quaglia

15. Rebar Modern Food Cookbook by Audrey Alsterberg

16. Rob Feenie's Casual Classics by Rob Feenie

17. That’s Amore: from Ricardo Scebba's Mediterranean Kitchen by Ricardo Scebba

18. The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook: great-tasting recipes that keep you lean by Tosca Reno

19. The 5-factor World Diet: weight-loss secrets from the healthiest nations on the planet by Harley Pasternak

20. The Hip Chick's Guide to Macrobiotics: a philosophy for achieving a radiant mind and a fabulous body by Jessica Porter

21. The Kind Diet: a simple guide to feeling great, losing weight, and saving the planet by Alicia Silverstone

22. The Lesley Stowe Fine Foods Cookbook by Lesley Stowe

23. The Ocean Wise Cookbook: seafood recipes that are good for the planet by Jane Mundy

24. The Thrive Diet: the whole food way to losing weight, reducing stress, and staying healthy for life by Brendan Brazier

25. Vancouver Cooks 2 by Andrew Morrison, Joan Cross and Jamie Maw

26. Whitewater Cooks by Shelley Adams

Books On My Night Stand


I love books, that's no secret! Often, when I hear about books I'd like to read, I put them on hold at the library and they usually trickle in at a reasonable pace.

But sometimes they pile up, as they've done now. If only I could steal away to a deserted cabin in the woods – with good lighting – and spend a few days disconnected from the world and surrounded by books.

Spatopia by Amy Rosen

I got this book for a little writing inspiration. I had the pleasure of meeting Amy on a press trip last year, and she's hysterically funny and an excellent writer.

She's the acting food editor at Chatelaine, the former food editor at House & Home, and a very successful freelance writer. Check out this long list of awards on her website. Wow.

­ Discover Italy by Lonely Planet

My wonderful friend Caralyn gave me this book after learning that I wanted to go to Italy for my tenth wedding anniversary this summer.

Sadly, it looks like that might not pan out, but at least I can plan my dream trip so I'll be ready to jump into action when the time comes. For now, just keeping this book by my bed makes Italy feel a little bit closer.

­ The Sunshine Coast Trail, 3rd Edition by Eagle Walz

Eagle Walz is one of those people who leaves his mark on your heart. He's a gentle and passionate wilderness crusader and, through the Powell River Parks and Wilderness Society (an organization he founded), has saved countless acres of old growth trees by building the 180-kilometre-long Sunshine Coast Trail.

­ A Dream of Giants: The Story of the Sunshine Coast Trail by Emma Levez Larocque

This is a beautiful and inspiring picture book that "tells the fascinating story of the land the Sunshine Coast Trail passes through, as well as that of the people who have worked to protect the giants of our forests for future generations."

­ Us: Transforming Ourselves and the Relationships That Matter Most by Lisa Oz

From left to right: Brian Mullins, Catherine Roscoe Barr, Lisa Oz, and Corin Mullins.

I got to meet Lisa Oz, co-author of You: The Owner's Manual along with her husband Dr Mehmet Oz, at a press conference following her keynote address at CHFA West (the annual Canadian Health Food Association conference), where she was promoting her new book, which I got a signed copy of.

Her appearance was sponsored by Holy Crap Cereal, a local company started by husband and wife team Corin and Brian Mullins (who appeared on CBC's TV show Dragon's Den with their gluten-free, vegan, and certified organic cereal).

­ Contents May Have Shifted by Pam Houston

I haven't dug into this one yet and can't remember who recommended it but it sounds like a good story and I like the cover. Here's a snippet from the publisher's synopsis:

"Stuck in a dead-end relationship, this fearless narrator leaves her metaphorical baggage behind and finds a comfort zone in the air, feeling safest with one plane ticket in her hand and another in her underwear drawer."

­ The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron

This is another one I haven't started reading yet but it sounded totally up my alley – I love self-help stuff. It's written in the form of a 12-week guide and activity book. Here's a snippet from the publisher's synopsis:

"The Artist's Way is the seminal book on the subject of creativity. An international bestseller, millions of readers have found it to be an invaluable guide to living the artist's life."

­ Foundation: Redefine Your Core, Conquer Back Pain, and Move With Confidence by Eric Goodman and Peter Park

This is a book that absolutely everyone should read. Here's what the publisher says: "Foundation training shifts the focus from the front of your body to the back. By strengthening the full posterior chain and correcting poor movement patterns, you will maximize power, flexibility, and endurance and say goodbye to back pain."

The video above is co-author Eric Goodman talking about Foundation Training and the video below is co-author Peter Park (Lance Armstrong's strength and conditioning coach) showing four awesome core exercises.

­ Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr

I test drove this book at the library and loved it so much that I bought it. Kris Carr is one heck of an inspiring woman! Here's what Carr's website says about the book:

"Crazy Sexy Diet comes on the heels of Kris Carr’s best-selling cancer survival guidebooks and her acclaimed TLC documentary. Infused with her signature sass, wit and advice-from-the-trenches style, Crazy Sexy Diet is a beautifully illustrated resource that puts you on the fast track to vibrant health, happiness and a great ass!

"Along with help from her posse of experts, Carr lays out the fundamentals of her Crazy Sexy Diet: a low-glycemic, vegetarian program that emphasizes balancing the pH of the body with lush whole and raw foods, nourishing organic green drinks, and scrumptious smoothies. Plus, she shares the steps of her own twenty-one-day cleanse, and simple but delectable sample recipes."

­ The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer by Gretchen Reynolds

This is another book that everyone should read. I have this out from the library but have already ordered my own copy because it's so darn good. Seriously, who doesn't want to know how they can exercise better, train smarter and live long? And in only 20 minutes? Awesome!

Here's a snippet from the publisher's synopsis:

"With the latest findings about the mental and physical benefits of exercise, personal stories from scientists and laypeople alike, as well as researched-based prescriptions for readers, Gretchen Reynolds shows what kind of exercise – and how much – is necessary to stay healthy, get fit, and attain a smaller jeans size.

"Inspired by Reynolds's wildly popular 'Phys Ed' column for The New York Times, this book explains how exercise affects the body in distinct ways and provides the tools readers need to achieve their fitness goals, whether that's a faster 5K or staying trim."

­ Weeknights With Giada by Giada De Laurentiis

This is a great cookbook and I have a long list of recipes I'd like to try from it. I've already made one, the Mediterranean halibut sandwiches, and they were divine.

Stay tuned for the recipe, it will be up on the recipe blog I contribute to at, called What I Made For Dinner, late next week.

Eagerly Awaited Books

Tina Fey talks to Google's Eric Schmidt about her new book, Bossypants.

I generally never buy a book without first test driving it through the public library. I adore the library so much, I want to write it a love song. Can you believe that you can read nearly any book for free? I’m not sure if I’ll ever get over that exciting fact, or the fact that with a little, or sometimes a lot, of patience you can get your hands on nearly any new book, and it arrives for pick-up on a special shelf and has your name on it. It gives me warm fuzzies just thinking about it. Following are a few books that I have on hold and am eagerly waiting to read.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

The cover alone is enough to make me want to read this book. Currently at position 163 in the Vancouver Public Library hold queue, I’m not alone in wanting to read Tina Fey’s allegedly hilarious new memoir. Click here to read an interview with Tina Fey that appeared in the Vancouver Sun and includes a clip from her appearance on Oprah promoting the book.

My Father's Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family and Togetherness by Gwyneth Paltrow

This quote from a Vancouver Sun article by Randy Shore nicely sums up how I initially felt about Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook: “I was fully prepared to hate Gwyneth Paltrow's cook book, My Father's Daughter. But I can't. It's really quite good.” I’ve only flipped through it at the bookstore and heard reviews from friends but it looks beautiful and sounds good so I’m really looking forward to reading it and trying out some of her recipes. See below for a funny video of Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld talking to Paltrow about the book for Jessica’s website, Do It Delicious.

From This Moment On by Shania Twain

How do you get through finding out that your best friend and husband are having an affair? I have no idea, but Shania Twain shares her experience with such a scenario in her new memoir – which I know ends with marrying her best friend’s hunky husband, having her own TV show, and coming out with her first new song since releasing her 2002 album Up. See the video for Today Is Your Day below. I love this song. Go Shania!

Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi, by Yotam Ottolenghi

Vegetarianism has been on my radar a lot lately. From my brother’s new adventures in veganism to my interview with vegan athlete and author Brendan Brazier, and the amount of information I’m learning about the environmental impact of animal-based food production, I am trying to make small changes towards a more plant-based diet. After reading a Globe and Mail article about this new cookbook, which calls it “one of the greatest vegetarian cookbooks of all time”, I am keen to read it and try out some of the recipes for the food blog that I contribute to at See below for a video of the author making the recipe that appears on the cover, Aubergine with Buttermilk Sauce. Yum.

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer

When you hear about someone twice in one day from different sources it’s enough to pique your interest. So when my husband sent me an article called Developing Your Creative Practice that mentions Lehrer, and a newsletter from Publication Coach Daphne Gray-Grant called Putting a Dollar Figure to Stories, which also mentions Lehrer, appeared in my inbox I was curious to learn more about this young neuroscientist and his new book which, according to the publisher, seeks "to answer two questions that are of interest to just about anyone, from CEOs to firefighters: How does the human mind make decisions? And how can we make those decisions better?" See below for a CBS interview with Lehrer about this book.

From Circadian Larks to Sleepyheads, Everyone Needs a Good Night's Sleep

Charlie the Labradoodle is ready for bed.

Sleep, or a lack of it, has been on my radar lately. And when something is at the forefront of your consciousness, your reticular activating system serves to make you aware of information relating to that something. For me, the information has come in the form of some Globe and Mail articles, a vegan cookbook, and a TED talk. It’s so interesting when different angles on the same subject come together.

Brendan Brazier on Nutrition’s Influence on Sleep

I recently interviewed Brendan Brazier for, and have been fascinated by what he has to say about sleep in his new book, Whole Foods to Thrive – part vegan cookbook, part healthy living guide, and part environmental action plan.

Brazier mentions how numerous studies emphasize how much sleep we need, but he argues that the quality of sleep is what we should be most concerned about, and that quality of sleep is directly related to our diet. One major source of stress is nutritional stress – up to 40% of overall stress, says Brazier – brought on by a diet that includes empty calories, processed foods, and other nasties.

High stress levels result in high cortisol levels, a hormone with many effects, including disrupting our delta-phase sleep – “the phase in which growth hormone is released, naturally triggering cellular repair and regeneration.” So one major way to improve sleep is to improve diet. Read more about Brazier's take diet and nutritional stress here.

Arianna Huffington Encourages Women to Sleep Their Way to the Top

Below is a great TED talk on sleep with Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington. My favourite quote from the video:

“The way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting enough sleep. And we women are going to lead the way in this new revolution, this new feminist issue – we are literally going to sleep our way to the top. Literally.”

Sleep Deprivation is a National Epidemic. And It’s Killing Us, Says The Globe and Mail

“Because sleep is when the body and especially the brain regenerate and repair themselves, sleeplessness has been identified as a factor in an endless list of afflictions, including hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, memory loss, bipolar disorder, reduced immunity, mood swings, impaired carbohydrate metabolism and increased heart-rate variability. Not to mention depression and substance abuse and the impairment of memory, self-expression and the ability to read emotions in others. Oh, and a hundred thousand motor-vehicle accidents a year” Read the whole Globe and Mail article here.

Another Globe and Mail article, by Toronto-based dietitian Leslie Beck, offers “Eight ways to get a better sleep.”

Sleep Well, Fellow Insomniacs

If you, like me, struggle with getting enough sleep, I hope you’ll find this information helpful. I’ve never been a good sleeper but there are a few rules I follow that usually have me counting more, and better quality, sheep.

Number one is not eating less than three hours before I got to bed. Sleeping is for repair and regeneration, not digestion, so it’s important that processing the food in your gut is not on your body’s night time to-do list.

Number two is reducing external stimulation as it gets closer to bed time. Bright lights, lively music, TV screens and computer monitors are things that should be avoided in at least the hour before hitting the sack.

And lastly, I like to do some easy reading once I’m all tucked in. By easy reading, I mean nothing too heavy or disturbing, and without any calls to action (I’ve restricted self-help books from my night time repertoire as they’re likely to have me itching to get out of bed and put their advice into action).