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I’ll admit it. I’ve been bingeing lately. Not on chocolate or cookies (not that there’s anything wrong with that, lol). But on books. Young adult books. Works of fiction. I can’t help myself.

In another installment of Books I Love on my Stressipes® blog, I thought I’d share my thoughts about a few recent reads. Warning: Most are about love and relationships, and other things that lend urgency and drama to childhood. I’m a sucker for it all. If you’re not, stop right now. If you might be or are, read on.

While most of these titles are aimed at teens, I know each of them resonated with me. My guess is that they’ll appeal to people of all ages who enjoy realistic fiction with all the drama typical of adolescence.

So without further ado, here are seven titles I think are worth talking about. Some are new, while others have been around for a while. (No spoilers, I promise!)

1. Milkweed, by Jerry Spinelli. This was the first book I read during my current binge. Although it’s not considered a young adult book, I read it to my husband husband over the course of a few drives last summer as our 12-year-old read it as part of his summer reading for school. Milkweed is about a little orphan boy who flies (mostly solo) through Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II the best way he knew how. The book simultaneously devastated me while filling my heart with love and hope. The book got under my skin, probably because I had family members who survived or were killed in the Holocaust. To this day, I think of the protagonist, Misha Pilsudsky. And my husband, son and I still bring him up in conversation from time to time. He inspires all of us. I loved the story so much but could not read the last page aloud without crying. Not just a drip or two, but a full out cry. It was that brilliant and moving.

Favorite lines: pages 207-208

“My daughter does not pester me with questions. She knows everything that I told her mother, which means everything but Janina. All those years of talking, all those street corners—I kept my sister to myself.

One time Katherine said to me, “Are you ever going to tell me why you named her Janina?”

“Someday,” I said.”

2. Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell. I hope that Rowell (who doesn’t know me, by the way) doesn’t think I’m a stalker because I’m always posting tweets about her/this book. What can I say? A) I loved this book SO much, and B) We authors need to support one another (not that Rowell needs my help, lol). But back to the book: As a girl who grew up in suburbia the mid 1980’s, I could relate to Eleanor and Park in so many ways. The school bus. The mixtapes. the music. The neighborhood. I related especially to the story of young love and of falling in love. The characters are so beautifully written—I could see each of them in my mind. They are fully formed. And not just the main characters, but ALL of them including their parents and school friends (and enemies). I cannot wait to see this book on the big screen (thankfully, Rowell is writing the screenplay).

Favorite lines: pages 113 and 132

Eleanor: “Are you sure you want them to meet me?”

Park: “Yes,” he said. “I want everyone to meet you. You’re my favorite person of all time.”

“But Park’s face was like art. And not weird, ugly art either. Park had the sort of face you painted because you didn’t want history to forget it.”

3. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. I hadn’t even heard of this extremely successful author until I saw this movie last spring. I loved so much about the book including the unfolding of a love story between two teens (one struck with terminal cancer) and thoughtful discussions about the meaning of life e.g. is it better to be loved (but not really known) by many or deeply loved by a few? The unique story and endearing characters made this book so appealing to me. And it made me want to learn how to write in a way that also moves people. It really moved me. I hope to someday be in touch with him to personally thank him for inspiring me to carve a new professional path for myself!

Favorite lines: pages 31-32:

“I liked Augustus Waters. I really really really liked him. I liked the way his story ended with someone else. I liked his voice. I liked that he took existentially fraught free throws. I liked that he was a tenured professor in the Department of Slightly Crooked Smiles with a dual appointment in the Department of Having a Voice That Made My Skin Feel More Like Skin.”

4. I’ll Give You The Sun, by Jandy Nelson. I’m sure like Rowell, Nelson (who also does not know me) doesn’t think I’m a stalker because I tweet to/about her so much. But I can’t help but share my love for this unbelievable book. I might otherwise burst! The book tells the story of Noah and Jude, twins, and the story unfolds going back and forth between Noah, at age 13, and Jude, at age 16. Everything about this book is EXTRAORDINARY and BRILLIANT. I can’t say enough about it. It’s like a gigantic poem with the most interesting and imaginative characters. Nelson does an unbelievable job allowing the reader to picture every movement in the main characters’ lives and every thought in their minds. The book lives on my bookshelf and I sometimes pick it up just to reread a few pages just because. It makes me feel a million different emotions all at once. The only real problem with the book is that it sets the bar SO high for all other YA books—or all other books, for that matter. It is simply BEYOND.

Favorite lines: pages 7 and 215

(told from Noah’s perspective): “Mom smiles at Jude and puts her hands on the table. I put mine on the table too, then realize I’m being a Mom-mirror and hide my hands in my lap. Mom’s contagious.”

(told from Jude’s perspective): “He’s looking at me in that way of his that should be illegal or patented and it’s affecting my ability to remember things like my name or my species and all the reasons a girl might go on a boy strike.”

5.     Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins. This book was delightful. I really loved the story about Anna, a 17-year-old who’s forced by her parents to spend her senior year of high school in Paris. Sounds ideal, I know, but Anna was not on board with leaving her school, her life, her friends, and her hot crush to go somewhere where she knew no one. That is until she falls for someone. I won’t give the story away, but I will say that I love Perkins’ writing style. It’s rich, sweet and satisfying like a warm cup of hot chocolate with extra whipped cream.

Favorite lines: page 42

“I spend the rest of lunch in a stall. I miss home so much that it physically hurts. My head throbs, my stomach is nauseous, and it’s all so unfair. I never asked to be sent here. I had my own friends and my own inside jokes and my own stolen kisses. I wish my parents had offered me the choice: “Would you like to spend your senior year in Atlanta or Paris?”

Who knows, maybe I would have picked Paris.

What my parents never considered is that I just wanted a choice.”

6.     Isla and the Happily Ever After, by Stephanie Perkins. I finished this book today and loved it. It’s so engaging and so enjoyable, and I had trouble putting it down—especially after reading Anna and the French Kiss (see 5!) in which Isla and Josh, the main characters in this book, are introduced). Isla goes to private school in France and spends summers in New York City. When her crush who recently broke up with his girlfriend enters the picture, things change—sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. Perkins does a great job fleshing out each character and crafting an enticing and believable story. And the cameos by Josh’s friends (some of whom star in Anna and the French Kiss) are an amazing and welcome element in this story about love, romance, and possibilities.

Favorite lines, page 45

“I think he likes me. I don’t even know how that’s possible, but I do know that it doesn’t matter anymore. It can’t matter. In physics, I feel his stare—a string as delicate and gossamer as a spider’s web, gently tugging at the back of my skull. I imagine snipping it loose with a pair of sharp scizzors. I don’t know if he’ll try to talk to me after class, and I don’t know what I should say if he does.”

7. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han. This book was very very sweet and I loved how unsent love letters to crushes are the story’s thread. Han writes in a best-friend kind of way that makes you want to continue on. She paints a vivid picture of The Song sisters and the love and complexity of such relationships. I never had a sister but I imagine Han’s portrayal of the Song sisters would resonate with many. Another reason I love the book? Josh…

Favorite lines: page 87

“Who’s the guy?”

“What guy?”

“The guy you’re dating?”

That’s when I see him. Peter Kavinsky, walking down the hallway. Like magic. Beautiful, dark-haired Peter. He deserves background music, he looks so good. “Peter. Kavinsky. Peter Kavinsky!” The bell rings, and I sail past Josh. “I’ve gotta go! Talk later, Josh!””

What are your favorite young adult books?

Thanks for indulging me! Coming soon: another 7 recent YA reads I’ve loved.

If you have a published young adult book and would like to share it with me for possible mention/review on my blog, please email me at elisa@elisazied.com.

About me: I’m a registered dietitian nutritionist and author of 4 nutrition books. I’m also a speaker, spokesperson, and freelance writer and have my own Parents.com blog called The Scoop on Food. Currently trying my hand at fiction, I’m writing my first young adult novel. Let’s connect about all things nutrition, food, and books at @elisazied and @ezwriternyc on Twitter and at Elisa Zied on Facebook. I’m also on Instagram (Elisa Zied).

 

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Posted on December 15, 2014

I’ll admit it. I’ve been bingeing lately. Not on chocolate or cookies (not that there’s anything wrong with that, lol). But on books. Young adult books. Works of fiction. I can’t help myself. In another installment of Books I Love on my Stressipes® blog, I thought I’d share my thoughts about a few recent reads. Warning: Most are about love and relationships, and other things that lend urgency and drama to childhood. I’m a sucker for it all.

While most of these titles are aimed at teens, I know each of them resonated with me. My guess is that they’ll appeal to people of all ages who enjoy realistic fiction with all the drama typical of adolescence.

So without further ado, here are seven titles I think are worth talking about. Some are new, while others have been around for a while. (No spoilers, I promise!)

1. Milkweed, by Jerry Spinelli. This was the first book I read during my current binge. Although it’s not considered a young adult book, I read it to my husband husband over the course of a few drives last summer as our 12-year-old read it as part of his summer reading for school. Milkweed is about a little orphan boy who flies (mostly solo) through Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II the best way he knew how. The book simultaneously devastated me while filling my heart with love and hope. The book got under my skin, probably because I had family members who survived or were killed in the Holocaust. To this day, I think of the protagonist, Misha Pilsudsky. And my husband, son and I still bring him up in conversation from time to time. He inspires all of us. I loved the story so much but could not read the last page aloud without crying. Not just a drip or two, but a full out cry. It was that brilliant and moving.

Favorite lines: pages 207-208

“My daughter does not pester me with questions. She knows everything that I told her mother, which means everything but Janina. All those years of talking, all those street corners—I kept my sister to myself.

One time Katherine said to me, “Are you ever going to tell me why you named her Janina?”

“Someday,” I said.”

2. Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell. I hope that Rowell (who doesn’t know me, by the way) doesn’t think I’m a stalker because I’m always posting tweets about her/this book. What can I say? A) I loved this book SO much, and B) We authors need to support one another (not that Rowell needs my help, lol). But back to the book: As a girl who grew up in suburbia the mid 1980’s, I could relate to many elements of the book. Especially to the story of young love and of falling in love. The characters are so beautifully written—I could see each of them in my mind. They are fully formed. And not just the main characters, but ALL of them including their parents and school friends (and enemies). I cannot wait to see this book on the big screen (thankfully, Rowell is writing the screenplay).

Favorite lines: pages 113 and 132

Eleanor: “Are you sure you want them to meet me?”

Park: “Yes,” he said. “I want everyone to meet you. You’re my favorite person of all time.”

“But Park’s face was like art. And not weird, ugly art either. Park had the sort of face you painted because you didn’t want history to forget it.”

3. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. I hadn’t even heard of this extremely successful author until I saw this movie last spring. I loved so much about the book including the unfolding of a love story between two teens (one struck with terminal cancer) and thoughtful discussions about the meaning of life e.g. is it better to be loved (but not really known) by many or deeply loved by a few? The unique story and endearing characters made this book so appealing to me. And it made me want to learn how to write in a way that also moves people. It really moved me. I hope to someday be in touch with him to personally thank him for inspiring me to carve a new professional path for myself!

Favorite lines: pages 31-32:

“I liked Augustus Waters. I really really really liked him. I liked the way his story ended with someone else. I liked his voice. I liked that he took existentially fraught free throws. I liked that he was a tenured professor in the Department of Slightly Crooked Smiles with a dual appointment in the Department of Having a Voice That Made My Skin Feel More Like Skin.”

4. I’ll Give You The Sun, by Jandy Nelson. I’m sure like Rowell, Nelson (who also does not know me) doesn’t think I’m a stalker because I tweet to/about her so much. But I can’t help but share my love for this unbelievable book. I might otherwise burst! The book tells the story of Noah and Jude, twins, and the story unfolds going back and forth between Noah, at age 13, and Jude, at age 16. Everything about this book is EXTRAORDINARY and BRILLIANT. I can’t say enough about it. It’s like a gigantic poem with the most interesting and imaginative characters. Nelson does an unbelievable job allowing the reader to picture every movement in the main characters’ lives and every thought in their minds. The book lives on my bookshelf and I sometimes pick it up just to reread a few pages just because. It makes me feel a million different emotions all at once. The only real problem with the book is that it sets the bar SO high for all other YA books—or all other books, for that matter. It is simply BEYOND.

Favorite lines: pages 7 and 215

(told from Noah’s perspective): “Mom smiles at Jude and puts her hands on the table. I put mine on the table too, then realize I’m being a Mom-mirror and hide my hands in my lap. Mom’s contagious.”

(told from Jude’s perspective): “He’s looking at me in that way of his that should be illegal or patented and it’s affecting my ability to remember things like my name or my species and all the reasons a girl might go on a boy strike.”

5.     Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins. This book was delightful. I really loved the story about Anna, a 17-year-old who’s forced by her parents to spend her senior year of high school in Paris. Sounds ideal, I know, but Anna was not on board with leaving her school, her life, her friends, and her hot crush to go somewhere where she knew no one. That is until she falls for someone. I won’t give the story away, but I will say that I love Perkins’ writing style is rich, sweet and satisfying like a warm cup of hot chocolate with extra whipped cream.

 

Favorite lines: page 42

“I spend the rest of lunch in a stall. I miss home so much that it physically hurts. My head throbs, my stomach is nauseous, and it’s all so unfair. I never asked to be sent here. I had my own friends and my own inside jokes and my own stolen kisses. I wish my parents had offered me the choice: “Would you like to spend your senior year in Atlanta or Paris?”

Who knows, maybe I would have picked Paris.

What my parents never considered is that I just wanted a choice.”

 

  1. 6.     Isla and the Happily Ever After, by Stephanie Perkins. I finished this book today and loved it. It’s so engaging, so enjoyable, and I had trouble putting it down—especially after reading Anna and the French Kiss (another Perkins book that I finished last week in which Isla and Josh, the main characters in this book, are introduced). Isla goes to private school in France and spends summers in New York City. When her crush who recently broke up with his girlfriend enters the picture, things change—sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. Perkins does a great job fleshing out each character and unfolding the story. And the cameos by Josh’s friends (many of whom are main characters in Anna and the French Kiss) are an amazing and welcome element in this story about love, romance, and possibilities.

 

Favorite lines, page 45

“I think he likes me. I don’t even know how that’s possible, but I do know that it doesn’t matter anymore. It can’t matter. In physics, I feel his stare.—a string as delicate and gossamer as a spider’s web, gently tugging at the back of my skull. I imagine snipping it loose with a pair of sharp scizzors. I don’t know if he’ll try to talk to me after class, and I don’t know what I should say if he does.”

 

7. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han. This book was very sweet and I loved how unsent love letters to crushes are the story’s thread. Han writes in a best-friend kind of way that makes you want to continue on. She painted a vivid picture of The Song sisters and the love and complexity of such relationships. I never had a sister but I imagine Han’s portrayal of the Song sisters would resonate with many. And then there’s Josh…

 

Favorite lines: page 87

“Who’s the guy?”

“What guy?”

“The guy you’re dating?”

That’s when I see him. Peter Kavinsky, walking down the hallway. Like magic. Beautiful, dark-haired Peter. He deserves background music, he looks so good. “Peter. Kavinsky. Peter Kavinsky!” The bell rings, and I sail past Josh. “I’ve gotta go! Talk later, Josh!””

What are your favorite young adult books?

Thanks for indulging me! Coming soon: another 7 titles of my recent YA reads.

If you have a published young adult book and would like to share it with me for possible mention/review on my blog, please email me at elisa@elisazied.com.

 

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Here’s a segment on new menu labeling on CBS.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has just released final menu labeling rules. But will they help kids eat better? My latest Scoop on Food post for Parents Magazine.

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roasted brussels sprouts chips | the 52 new foods challenge | cook with kids

Check out my latest Scoop on Food post for Parents Magazine with this great interview (and recipe) from the new book, The 52 New Foods Challenge.

Image via Chris Chowaniec.

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IMG_7433

I’m admittedly new to reading and (sort of) critiquing young adult fiction. Except for reading (and loving) the Hunger Games trilogy a few years ago, before any of the films came out, and skimming a few of my kids’ books to explain something or help with a school assignment, I had been spending most of my professional time reading and writing about food, fitness, and nutrition—a career I’ve enjoyed for 18 years. Recreational enjoyment of books was the best I could hope for or make time for.

After my mother’s illness last February (you can read all about it here in a post I wrote for U.S. News, Eat + Run –she’s fortunately doing really great now, knock on wood), I lost a little mojo to do what I had been doing and (mostly) really enjoying for almost two decades. (You can check out my BIO here). But after seeing The Fault in Our Stars (frankly, I had no idea who John Green was, nor did I know the movie was based on a bestselling young adult (YA) book), the clouds parted and a bright ray of sunshine came through. I knew I had to try to do something new, to try to do something to affect others in the same way that the movie had affected me. (A girl, or should I say a 45-year-old mother of two, can dream, can’t she?!) Could I try my hand at fiction? Perhaps write a young adult novel? Maybe a screenplay? I became inspired and decided I had to at least entertain the idea of following a new passion.

After reading John Green’s beautiful book, I search for other similar titles to read. I’ve also gone back to school, learning all I can about fiction and am currently working on my first YA novel. And I am SO excited! To add to my learning, I’m reading tons of YA books. Over the last few months, I’ve read more than a dozen of them and I’m fascinated by how different, unique, smart, funny, engrossing many of them are. I’ve chosen them from bestseller lists and recommendations from friends and readers of YA books. (I’m always happy to hear about books you or your teens have loved, so feel free to share your recommendations below if you wish.) I haven’t felt so emotionally invigorated in years, and have decided to share some of my favorite reads in my Stressipes® blog. Eleanor and Park is the first book I’ll cover, so without any spoilers, here goes.

The book is written by the uber talented and prolific Rainbow Rowell (doesn’t her name alone evoke sunshine and happiness?). It was, in a word, WONDERFUL. It starts during the summer of 1986, the time period in which I grew up, which made it extremely relatable, and tells the tale of two teens—Eleanor, described physically as big and awkward, with crazy, curly, bright red hair who was part of a poor, broken family, and Park, a cute, part Asian boy, described (eventually) by Eleanor as “the sun.” They unexpectedly find one another on the school bus, of all places, and learn a lot about themselves in the process during their often turbulent and always challenging teen years.

Anyone who has experienced or has yet to feel the bliss and angst of young and/or first love will likely find this beautifully written story extremely engaging. I know I did! Rowell intertwines her love of comic books and mixtapes to subtly propel and drive this sweet, satisfying, engrossing story that I didn’t want to put down. (I lost sleep for a few days reading it!) Recommended to me by a friend, Eleanor and Park AND Eleanor and Park have stayed with me and I plan to reread it next summer cover to cover because I miss it so much!

In his New York Times Book Review, John Green hit the nail on the head. He said, “Eleanor and Park reminded me just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.” And I couldn’t agree more. It’s that good.

You can learn more about this book and her other work by checking out Rowell’s fantastic website (I enjoyed Fan Girl as well, and plan to read Landline soon). And if you have read Eleanor and Park, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it below.

Hope to connect on twitter (@elisazied and @ezwriternyc) and on Facebook or my Facebook fan page here.

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Do you feel like stress or simply the back-to-school-or-back-to-fall rigors are sapping your vitality? Learn how to use food, fitness and other tools to reclaim what should be yours, no matter how busy or stressful life gets.

On Thursday, September 18th, I’ll share my secrets for vitality at the 92nd Street Y. In my talk, I’ll cover some of the principles outlined in my new book, Younger Next Week, and share some new research and info to help you age better in body and mind and look and feel your very best.

For tickets and information about The Vitality Plan: Embracing the Anti-Aging Power of Food, click here.  And to see six Stressipes®, click here.

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05.08.13-19

This delicious recipe for mini fish sticks will help you and your kids get in a key food we don’t eat enough of. Reposted with permission from Living a Real Life with Real Food from Beth Warren, MS, RD, CDN, the recipe packs in plenty of protein, a good dose of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and little saturated fat and sodium. It also packs in plenty of “real food,” defined by Beth as “Less processed, God given foods, meant to be manipulated into delicious meals and snacks in our own kitchens and not by the food industry.”

Paired with vegetables, it makes a crunchy and satisfying dinner the whole family can enjoy.

Mini Fish Sticks

Yields 10 servings

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon low fat (1%) milk

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 pound cod fillets, cut into 20 (1-inch) strips

1 cup whole grain panko (i.e. “Ians” Japanese breadcrumbs)

¼ cup flaxmeal

3/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

3/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

3/8 teaspoon garlic powder

3/8 teaspoon onion powder

2 tablespoons canola oil, divided

Directions:

1. Combine milk and eggs in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add fish, and toss gently to coat. Place flaxmeal, panko, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large zip-top bag. Add fish to panko mixture; seal bag. Shake bag gently to coat fish.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add half of fish; cook 4 minutes or until done, turning occasionally to brown all sides. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and remaining fish. Serve with tarter dipping sauce if desired.

Nutrition Information (per serving):

Calories 143.5; Fat 6.0 g (Saturated 0.7 g); Cholesterol 56.7 mg; Sodium 68.8 mg; Carbohydrate 5.8 g; Fiber 1.6 g; Protein 15.2 g

Full disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Living a Real Food Life With Real Food by the publisher.
Photo credit: Meir Pliskin

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Want to keep your hair looking its best, inject a little more laughter into your day, get motivated to move despite the obstacles or eat well and enjoyably? Check out my Spring into Summer Stressipes® EZine. Thanks to experts Ted Gibson, Heather Frey, Stone & Stone, Sally Kuzemchak and Toby Amidor for their excellent input.

You can sign up for my bi-monthly Stressipes® EZine on the home page of elisazied.com.

 

 

 

 

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Do you eat soy? Read all about it on Shape.com.

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