The Enlightened Kitchen: Eat Your Way to Better Health


"The very best in healthful vegetarian cooking."

-John McDougall, M.D., internist, author, and lecturer

"With her detailed knowledge of nutrition combined with unequaled expertise in the kitchen, Marie Oser has compiled a sensible guide for health that is also a treasury of delicious recipes."

?Neal Barnard, M.D., President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

"For the sake of your palate, I highly recommend Marie Oser's book."

?T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry, Cornell

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2002 Trade paperback New. No dust jacket as issued. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 320 p. Audience: General/trade. Brand new book, light shelf wear only. Over 175 ... delicious recipes included. Read more Show Less

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"The very best in healthful vegetarian cooking."

-John McDougall, M.D., internist, author, and lecturer

"With her detailed knowledge of nutrition combined with unequaled expertise in the kitchen, Marie Oser has compiled a sensible guide for health that is also a treasury of delicious recipes."

—Neal Barnard, M.D., President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

"For the sake of your palate, I highly recommend Marie Oser's book."

—T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry, Cornell University

"Oser knows her stuff . . . [She is] the vegan Martha Stewart."

—Gerald Etter, Food Editor, Philadelphia Inquirer

Enjoy the health benefits of richly flavorful plant-based cuisine with 175 sure-to-satisfy recipes found in The Enlightened Kitchen, based on the newspaper column of the same name. In this, her fourth book, Marie Oser helps you discover how to convert traditional favorites normally high in saturated fat, calories, and cholesterol into healthy, wholesome, and satisfying meals. These enlightened dishes are absolutely delicious, having all of the flavor, texture, and eye appeal you expect from gourmet fare-but without the unhealthy baggage that often comes with traditional ingredients.

Enjoy dishes that are good-tasting and good for you! Making food choices that lead to optimal health and well-being has never been easier- or tastier.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471089292
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/16/2002
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 7.54 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

MARIE OSER is a bestselling author and newspaper columnist with a focus on health, nutrition, and the plant-based diet. She hosts a popular discussion board, Soy Talk, at, a site with well over one million visitors per month, and is the on-camera chef at, which produces streaming videos with a focus on food and health. Oser is the bestselling author of Soy of Cooking and More Soy Cooking, both from Wiley.

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Read an Excerpt

The Enlightened Kitchen

Eat Your Way to Better Health
By Marie Oser

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-471-08929-X

Chapter One

Good Food, Good Health

Have a Heart

Food is essential to life. And what we choose to eat will affect the way we look, feel, and function. Enlightened medical counsel recommends that Americans adopt a menu that is low in fat, high in fiber, and rich in phytochemicals. It seems as though a new study is released every day that emphasizes the need to reassess the meat-centered diet that has been the gold standard for most of the last century. Medical and nutrition professionals are saying that the key to good health lies in the plant kingdom, and that a healthy plant-based diet can help protect against heart disease. There are a number of reasons for this.

Plant-based diets are cholesterol-free and lower in total fat, especially saturated fat, than meat-based diets. They are higher in fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Animal products are the primary source of saturated fats, which cause the liver to produce more cholesterol, raising LDL ("bad" cholesterol) levels dramatically. Saturated fat does not occur in the plant kingdom in any significant amount, except in tropical oils, such as coconut and palm oil, and in cocoa butter. Animal products contain no fiber, whereas a plant-based diet is high in fiber, which carries excess hormones and cholesterol out of the body.

Consuming the conventional Americandiet over time will cause excess fats and cholesterol to build in the bloodstream, scarring the inner lining of the arteries. These scars collect fat and cholesterol and begin to swell, forming growths called "plaque." Plaque prevents the artery wall from remaining flexible, and as plaque increases in size, it will cause the arteries to narrow, reducing the flow of blood to the heart. This condition, called ischemia, can progress to angina, marked by mild to severe pains in the center of the chest due to diminished blood flow. Over time, this deadly buildup will cause arteries to become more fragile. Any increase in pressure can rupture the arterial wall. Should these plaque deposits break off, a clot can travel into the heart, leading to a heart attack, or to the brain, resulting in a stroke.

Yet when a patient presents with coronary heart disease, the remedy offered by the medical community at large is overwhelmingly either coronary bypass surgery, or angioplasty combined with cholesterol-lowering drugs. This is because Western medicine continues to be more focused on treating the symptoms rather than the cause. Therefore, generally a surgeon is called in to reroute the veins around the blockage (bypass surgery) or inflate a balloon inside the offending arteries (angioplasty) in order to "clear the blockage." And what is the composition of the blockage? The lab results always come back with the same analysis: cholesterol and saturated fat.

Bestselling author John Robbins, in his brilliantly provocative book, The Food Revolution, points out that in patients who undergo bypass surgery and angioplasty, the likelihood that their arteries will become blocked again within six months, can be as much as 50 percent-if they continue to eat a meat-based diet. Additionally, it is best to avoid these kinds of procedures as there is a risk of sustaining permanent brain damage as a result of bypass surgery. And while the risks of complications or death during angioplasty are much less, studies have shown that the number of heart attacks prevented, or lives prolonged by angioplasty, to be zero.

Coronary heart disease does not materialize without cause, and the answer does not lie in the surgeon's hand. We have become a nation so caught up in searching for the "magic bullet" that we have forgotten that we are the masters of our fate, and that we ourselves hold the key to good health and longevity!

The Framingham Heart Study, conducted over four decades with thousands of participants, determined that if an individual's cholesterol level remained below 150, the probability of a heart attack was very unlikely. The typical American diet is high in animal products, which contribute to the buildup of dietary cholesterol in the bloodstream. All flesh foods, including beef, pork products, poultry, and seafood, as well as eggs and dairy products, are the only source of dietary cholesterol, and the leading source of saturated fat.

Chicken consumption has almost doubled in the past 20 years, with North Americans eating more than 50 pounds of chicken per capita annually. This is due, in part, to a concentrated marketing campaign by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which promotes chicken as a low-fat and wholesome food choice.

While the USDA has evolved into a government agency that sets nutrition standards and guidelines, its primary purpose at the outset was to support agriculture and promote farming interests. No matter how you view this agency, promoting the interests of consumers while acting as an advocate for agribusiness produces an obvious conflict of interest. As a result, consumers are often given selective information regarding issues surrounding food choices. For instance, you might be surprised to learn that beef and chicken have the same amount of cholesterol: 25 milligrams per ounce. And that 4 ounces of beef or chicken, half an egg, or 3 cups of milk all contain an equal amount of cholesterol: 100 milligrams. How about the fact that cholesterol is located primarily in the lean portion of meat?

Every 100 milligrams of dietary cholesterol increases cholesterol levels in your blood by about 5 points. Conversely, clinical studies have demonstrated that a one-third reduction in the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream, say from 300 milligrams per deciliter to 200, can reduce the risk of a heart attack by as much as two-thirds. Adopting The Enlightened Kitchen style of cooking will enable you to eliminate unhealthy foods and help maintain a healthy heart.

An Ounce of Prevention ...

One in four individuals in North America will likely die of cancer. It's the second most common cause of death in the United States. Cancers that are most often associated with diet are cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, liver, pancreas, lung, breast, uterus, and prostate.

There are many risk factors for cancer, and diet seems to account for the dramatic differences in the occurrence of the disease around the world. In fact, scientific evaluation of the typical Western diet strongly suggests a direct correlation between nutrition and disease prevention. Indeed, population studies have provided some of the most compelling evidence establishing the link between nutrition and cancer. The best-known is the highly regarded China-Cornell-Oxford Project, conducted in 1983 by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, the former senior science advisor to the American Institute for Cancer Research.

This landmark study investigated chronic degenerative disease, including a variety of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. It was found that degenerative diseases tended to cluster in the more urbanized, industrialized counties, while communicable diseases were primarily found in the more agricultural counties. The dietary and lifestyle factors chiefly associated with those counties where degenerative diseases were clustered included diets richer in animal products and higher in total fat. In fact, disease patterns suggested strongly that the intake of much larger quantities of animal-based foods was the major dietary factor responsible. Dr. Campbell wrote, at the conclusion of the study, "We found a significant association between the consumption of even small amounts of animal-based foods and the increasing prevalence of heart disease, cancer, and similar diseases."

An important study, released in 1997 was the result of the collaboration of the American Institute for Cancer Research, (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund. The resulting 660-page report, called Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective, was based on more than 4,500 research studies reviewed by contributors and peer-reviewers from the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Agency on Research in Cancer, and the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

The key message of this comprehensive scientific analysis? Cancer is a preventable disease, and as many as 375,000 cases of cancer (at current cancer rates) could be prevented each year in the United States alone through healthy dietary choices. The recommendations include adopting a predominantly plant-based diet, rich in a variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes, maintaining a healthy weight, and performing at least one hour of vigorous exercise each week. According to the National Cancer Institute, 80 percent of cancers are due to factors that have been identified and can potentially be prevented. Lifestyle choices are the most significant contributor, with 30 percent due to tobacco use, and as much as 50 percent due to food choices.

Let's examine several kinds of cancer that are closely linked to diet. Cancer of the colon is defined as an abnormal and malignant mass of rapidly multiplying cells originating in the inner lining of the large intestine. The colon is the part of the large intestine that extends from the end of the small intestine to the rectum and people have an increasing risk for this type of cancer starting at the age of 40. One of the most striking features of colon cancer is the marked difference in the rate of incidence around the world. In less developed countries, such as parts of Asia, Africa, and Central and South America, this type of cancer is very rare; in developed countries such as Europe and North America, the incidence can be as much as 10 times greater. This has been attributed to, for the most part, differences in diet.

The human intestine is lengthy and is coiled inside the abdomen, so it requires a good deal of fiber to help move things along. The high levels of fat and lack of fiber that characterize all flesh foods foster the growth of bacteria that combine with certain bile acids to form carcinogenic substances. A diet high in fiber and low in fat is believed protective in that it speeds the movement of food through the body, actually reducing the production of carcinogenic substances in the intestine.

Diets high in fat also may have a negative effect on breast cancer survival rates. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, one reason is that foods affect the action of hormones in the body, as well as the strength of the immune system. For instance, several of the more common types of cancer, such as cancer of the breast, ovary, uterus, and prostate, are linked to sex hormones. In large part, the amount of hormones in our bodies and their actions are determined by the foods we eat.

High-fat diets can set you up for an increased risk of breast cancer, because fats increase the amount of estrogen in the blood. Estrogen stimulates breast cells in such a way that cancer is more likely to occur and is more aggressive. Plus, diets high in fatty foods lead to obesity, which also causes higher estrogen levels in the blood. However, if you ask any doctor what you should do in order to prevent breast cancer, the response will most likely be to get an annual mammogram, beginning at age 40 or 50. But mammograms do not prevent cancer ... they only find cancer. Enlightened medical counsel recommend eating a low-fat, plant-based diet to eliminate foods that raise hormones in the blood. Additionally, vegetables and other healthful plant foods are rich in fiber, which helps reduce the risk of breast cancer by naturally decreasing estrogen levels. Add soy to the low-fat, plant-based diet, and you have an opportunity to downgrade the amount of estrogen in the blood even more radically. Soy products contain phytoestrogens. These phytochemicals are very weak plant estrogens that reduce human estrogens' ability to attach to your cells. This results in a marked reduction of estrogen in the blood and less estrogen stimulation of cells.

And what about prostate cancer? A recent study at the University of California at Los Angeles has shown that men who go on a low-fat, high-fiber diet and simultaneously exercise can favorably affect the hormones and serum growth factors that influence prostate cancer growth. The subjects adhered to a diet regimen that contained less than 10 percent of calories from fat, and lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. The exercise component involved walking 30 to 60 minutes, at a quick pace, 4 to 5 days a week. The results suggested that exercise and a low-fat, high-fiber diet significantly reduced the growth of prostate cancer cells.

The scientific evidence is compelling. The recommendations are clear: replacing animal products with vegetables and other health-supporting plant foods and reducing overall fat should be your first line of defense against heart disease and many forms of cancer. As Dr. William Harris, in his classic book, The Scientific Basis of Vegetarianism, states, "The vegan (plant-based) diet, extolled by its advocates for at least 150 years as a cancer preventive strategy, is the logical end point of the dietary recommendations, now made by scientific organizations, to reduce animal food consumption."

Dairy ... What's Up with That?

Got Osteoporosis?

If you were to believe the advertising associated with the "Milk Mustache" campaign, you would be concerned if you didn't get three glasses of milk a day. Consumers have been deluged with "Got Milk?" ads for years. This highly successful crusade features well-known celebrities (and even government officials!) sporting milk mustaches. Yet this campaign has been greeted with criticism from many medical and nutrition professionals. Why? Because of misleading information.

In July 2000, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a nonprofit health advocacy and research organization, filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission. In September of 2001, the U.S. Department of Agriculture expert panel responded to the complaint with a report largely supporting the physicians' complaints, finding that many of the milk ads make "untruthful health claims."

In fact, a significant amount of scientific research has prompted serious concerns regarding the health risks associated with consuming dairy products. Cow's milk and the majority of products made from it are high in fat (particularly saturated fat) and cholesterol, and contain excess protein and contaminants, from pesticides to drugs.


Excerpted from The Enlightened Kitchen by Marie Oser Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents




Good Food, Good Health.

Plant Protein.

Permanent Weight Control.

Plant-Based Cuisine: The Shift Starts Here.

The Enlightened Pantry: What to Have on Hand.

Notes On Enlightened Ingredients.

The Recipes.

Resource Guide.

Internet Resources.

Recommended Reading.



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