Book Review: The New Orleans Program

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When The New Orleans Program: Eat Exercise, and Enjoy Life arrived on my doorstep, I was a bit skeptical. I'm all for promoting the Gulf region in light of Hurricane Katrina, and I am willing to acknowledge the wonderful food heritage the city of New Orleans is known for. But a book about health, using New Orleans as its inspiring theme seemed like a stretch.

And in some cases it is, but in others, it works. Co-written by David Newsome, a Columbia-educated MD and nutritionist, and John Besh, a local restaurateur and "Iron Chef" winner, the book, they say is not a diet book. Rather, it is a plan based on life in New Orleans, with healthy versions of recipes and anecdotes about holidays from Mardi Gras to Jazz Fest. I know, not what jumps to mind when you think "healthy," but these two are so inspired by the city's love for food and family, that they somehow manage to pull off the concept.

The book is organized a bit haphazardly, but readers looking for inspiration, and who perhaps have some other connection to the Gulf region, may find it to be just what they needed to get on a healthy program. In addition to the 100 or so recipes ("Fake Fried Chicken" and "Low Fat Red Beans and Rice" are just two examples of the re-vamped style the book uses), they will find information about meditation, yoga, massage and both traditional and nontraditional medicine.

By the end, it's clearer that it is the restorative nature of the city of New Orleans itself that we can learn from. So for those whose body has not been ravaged, Katrina-style, by poor eating and lack of exercise, this may not be the book for you. However, for those looking to learn about common-sense approaches to diet, especially, it's definitely worth a read.

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