The Virgin Diet Cookbook: 150 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Lose Weight and Feel Better Fast by JJ Virgin
I've read JJ's book about a year ago & for the most part found I agree with the majority of what she says regarding food choices. My main interest in her book was not for weight loss but for digestive issues. Overall I liked the book but couldn't stand her constant self promotion & pushing of her overpriced "Virgin Shakes" which contain sugar as well as other undesirable ingredients. When I came across her cookbook I thought I'd be free of her dreaded shakes. Unfortunately this is not the case. She finds many ways to add her shake powder to many of her recipes. Like her book, this is my biggest peeve regarding her cookbook. If you are determined to use shakes in place of food I recommend NutriBiotic Organic Rice Protein & Amazing Grass Amazing Meal Powder. Please note that Amazing Grass contains gums which are known digestive irritants.
Some recipes are overly complicated. Like making almond butter. To make almond butter (or any other nut butter) all you need is a food processor. JJ has you add monk fruit extract (she adds this to a lot of recipes as she does with her shakes) as well as other ingredients. Almond butter is delicious on it's own. Just toss the nuts into your food processor & process until they butter is as smooth as you like it. It's that simple!
Thankfully not all the recipes utilize her shakes or monk fruit. I loosely follow a AIP type of diet & as a result am grateful for her Paleo Virgin Diet section of the book. There are plenty of tasty recipes with the sides being my favorite section which are quick & easy. Think of simple yet delicious snacks like Braised Kale (So good!), Butternut Squash Fries (seriously good stuff!), Easy Spinach & Garlic Saute (due to olive oils sensitivity to heat, I use Grassfed Organic Cultured Ghee or make your own ghee in place of the Olive Oil). I highly recommend Natural Value Organic Classic Coconut Milk or Natural Value Coconut Cream they are both free from thickeners, gums & additives. Whatever you do don't use SoDelicious. I swear she's getting paid to promote that crap. Natural Value is plenty good or you can make your own. If you want an amazing desert have berries with some coconut cream/milk. It is so good!
Her section on Sauces, Rubs, & Dressings has some good recipes but others I could do without. I love ketchup & was disappointed but not surprised to see she adds monk fruit. I've gotten so used to not using ketchup & using tomato paste in it's place that I think I'll continue to do so. I'm sure the ketchup recipe would be decent without the monk fruit as I find tomatoes to have their own sweetness. After being on the diet for a while (or if you are Paleo) you will find that things taste much much sweeter & for me anyway, those high sugar "treats" just don't taste as good or satisfy.
Besides having some really delicious recipes, I am very happy with how JJ breaks down the book to fit individual needs. She has a full menu plan for Fast Weight Loss, Vegan & Vegetarian, Diabetes & Pre-Diabetes, Paleo/Low Carb (in this section she provides the meal plan with the shakes & thankfully without them. For Paleo without the shakes JJ recommends eating any other recommended meal for breakfast), Family, On The Go, & On A Budget. All of her plans provide shopping lists as well as the recommended recipes to follow for breakfast, lunch, snacks & dinner.
Overall, I've lost some weight but haven't lost my digestive issues. Some are less severe while others are as persistent as ever. I haven't given up the fight & are determined to get better. If you want to rule out food intolerance's & loose weight healthily, I think you will get a lot out of this book. I also strongly recommend (JJ recommends these books & more) other books such as The Body Ecology Diet, The Specific Carbohydrate Diet, Nourishing Traditions, Digestive Health With REAL Food, & The Paleo Solution.
Edit 12/6/20: Since posting this review, I have learned that I have Endometriosis. It is part of my digestive problems & it explains why this books plan didn't "fix" my issues. I now follow a combination of an AIP/low FODMAPs diet along with specific supplements to help manage my symptoms.
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