For as long as I can remember, I’ve always always always wanted to join a Book Club. In fact, I wanted to be in a Book Club before I even knew what one was. Yes, I was the nerd that at a Seventh Grade Sleepover Birthday Party suggested that we each tell the group (Book Report Style) about our favorite books. Everyone played along, but if she had a birthday party the following year, I wasn’t invited. (True Story.)
Now, at long last, I finally belong to a Book Club! – one started by a group of Healthy Living Bloggers in Chicago. Not only am I loving the books and the company, one of the best things about this Book Club is the FOOD! Not only is everyone in the group very health-minded, we also have a number of members that are Gluten or Dairy intolerant, Vegetarian, and/or Vegan. I love how everyone is so mindful of accommodating each other’s dietary needs (lots of vegetarian & vegan options for ME!), and I especially love how adventurous everyone is with their recipes. Most of us bravely bring along recipe creations that we’ve never tried before and we’ve never had the same dish twice.
Here’s a recap of the past few books we’ve read and the best dishes we’ve eaten at Book Club:
SEPTEMBER BOOK CLUB:
The Book: MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche
Synopsis/Review: This is a memoir about making friends in Chicago. Author Rachel Bertsche moved to Chicago for love, leaving most of her friends and family behind on the East Coast. Seeking a close-knit group of friends in her new city, she vowed to go on 52 “girl-dates” in search of friendship. I loved this book. As an out-of-state-er now living in Chicago myself, I found her search really relate-able, plus it was a light, fun read. By highlighting the importance of friendship, the book inspired me to make more efforts towards friendship in my own life – reaching out to old friends, smiling at strangers on the train platform, and yes, attending my very first Book Club event, which I admit I was pretty nervous to do!
Event Host: Erin of LoopLooks
My Dish: A batch of Gluten-Free, Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies using Purely Elizabeth‘s Mix. I’ve had better cookies before, but never ones with purer ingredients (including millet flour, coconut sugar, almond flour, garbanzo flour, and chia seeds!).
(Book Club Photos by Kelsey of ReadySetFeast)
My Favorite Dishes: This month’s food didn’t have an official theme, but our eats totally reminded me of “Back to School” – think lots of cookies, hummus & veggies, and plenty of other hand-held snacks.
Pumpkin & Potato Empanadas (from Viva Vegan) by Jeni of Hungry Vegan Runner – These were incredible. They were picture-perfect, very healthy (baked-not-fried, Gluten-Free, and Vegan), and Jeni also made a delicious Green Salsa that paired so perfectly with them.
Peanut Butter, Jam, & Banana Breakfast Pizza (from Oh She Glows) by Lindsay of Running the Windy City – This recipe is a definite crowd-pleaser and I shamelessly went back for seconds. If you’re thinking of making this, just note that it’s really sweet and rich – much more of a “Dessert Pizza” than a Breakfast Pizza as it’s named.
OCTOBER BOOK CLUB:
The Book: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Synopsis/Review: While this is also a book by a Chicago-area author, it couldn’t be more different than September’s read. This was a very dark (true to it’s title) and disturbing story, which thankfully is Fiction. I don’t normally read ‘scary’ books, but made an exception in the spirit of Halloween. The book simultaneously tells the story of a murder both forwards and backwards – alternating chapters between the events the day of the murder and an investigation 20 years later, culminating with the crime itself, when we finally found out “Who Dunnit” – the ending did not disappoint. However, while the story was very well woven, I wouldn’t say I enjoyed reading it. The characters were very unlikable and living in incredibly depressing circumstances, and the book had themes involving Devil Worship and even Animal Sacrifice – not my cup of tea.
Event Host: Me!
My Dish: A bowl of Healthful Pursuit’s Pumpkin Gingersnap Chia Pudding, which I am obsessed with (though I prefer the recipe with a cup or so of Oats mixed in & soaked overnight). On the side, I had some Mi-Del Gluten-Free Gingersnap Cookies (delicious!) for mixing in, and some Dandies Vegan Marshmallows for the group to try. There was also a pot of hot apple cider on the stove!
My Favorite Dishes: This was tough! Our Fall-themed spread of foods had so many delicious items, including homemade apple butter, and grain salads featuring Butternut Squash.
(Noodles Photo by Sierra of PoshMeetsPavement)
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER BOOK CLUB:
The Book: The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebowitz
Synopsis/Review: David Lebowitz, a pastry chef and cookbook author, moved to Paris to start a new life. This is his take on what Paris is really like – including the good (the chocolate! the markets!), the bad (apparently, Parisians like to push and cut in line), and the completely ridiculous (the Painter that never leaves his apartment). I enjoyed his witty and sarcastic take on Paris – he clearly loves the city but he doesn’t sugar-coat it either. Each short chapter covers a single topic – “Water, Water Everywhere…but You Can’t Have Any”, “Lines are for Other People”, French Supermarkets, Worker Strikes, Healthcare, etc. – making it read like a collection of short stories. It was the perfect format for Mike and I to read a chapter or two aloud together every evening, which I’ve never done before with a book. And as a bonus, each chapter concludes with a recipe or two, which occasionally, I read aloud as well
Event Host: Sierra of Posh Meets Pavement
My Dish: Fig & Olive Tapenade (from Sweet Life in Paris), plus a wedge of Ste Martaen Vegan Nut-Cheese
My Favorite Dishes: This month’s French-themed potluck was sinfully delicious. Yes, even Healthy-Living Bloggers (like the French!) enjoy the occasional indulgence!
Total Insanity Bars by Erin of LoopLooks – Actually, I don’t know what the real name is for these bars but the name is exactly how I’d describe them. No, these were not Vegan, not Gluten-Free, and not at all Low-fat or Low-Cal! These bars were well worth the splurge though, boasting several layers of Peanut-Butter Cookie Dough, Cheesecake, and Reese’s PB Cups.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Apricot Trawffles by Irina of ChocolaTeaTime – These were so beautiful I couldn’t believe they were homemade! Seriously flawless.
(Chocolate Photo by Irina of ChocolaTeaTime)
Even more fun, in honor of the Holidays we held a “White Elephant” Gift Exchange with most of us bringing in items that we already had at home. I’m not posting any pictures of our winnings since there was some serious re-gifting going on (though the Eco-friendly aspect of re-gifting should totally be praised), but I was very excited to take home a beautiful scarf!
I’m looking forward to more great Book Club events next year!
I’d love to hear from you!
What Book would you recommend for our Book Club?
What recipes would you suggest bringing along? Links appreciated!