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Chia Vitality—a great read

Janie Hoffman, founder and CEO of Mamma Chia, wrote Chia Vitality: 30 Days to Better Health, Greater Vibrancy, and a More Meaningful and Purposeful Life. If you’ve ever had Mamma Chia, that’s your first clue that the book is probably going to be good. It is. I thought this would be a book about chia’s health benefits, with some recipes included. It’s actually much more than that. It’s an encounter with Janie Hoffman in which she reveals her story, her insights, and the knowledge she’s gained about living a healthy and satisfied life. It includes the kind of information you can actually use, tips and insights you wish you’d known before, and Janie’s heartfelt answers for some of the everyday life problems that can erode your health and well-being.

Before she discovered the benefits of chia seeds, Janie struggled with serious immune disorders that were not responding to traditional therapy. The average person in Janie’s situation probably would have continued going from one doctor to the next, never finding any real answers, and being chronically ill from then on. That’s not what Janie did, though. Instead, she researched health and healthy foods and made some changes in her diet and lifestyle. Today she is completely well. She is an example and ambassador for a life worth living.

One of the smallest yet most revolutionary changes she made was to start eating chia seeds. The chia, coupled with other dietary and health-related changes, did an amazing job of completely eradicating her immune problems and restoring her vitality. This was what led her to create Mamma Chia, which if you’ve never tried it, is a remarkably delicious vitality drink that contains health-restoring chia seeds. But the book is not really about her products, as you might think. It’s about living a healthy life, and Janie shares a variety of tips, insights, and “Seeds of Wisdom,” from her own experience and from other perceptive thinkers.

Janie has a conversational writing style, so you feel like a member of her inner circle as she explains not just the benefits of chia seeds but also other factors that can contribute to or erode health. I read health-related material often, and there was quite a bit of information in Janie’s book that I’d never read before. Her book is also an enjoyable read, and it’s because she shares herself with the reader. She clues you in on the things she’s discovered, what she’s found that works, and how she maintains her vitality. And she communicates her irrepressible joy and gratitude—the hallmarks of her personality.

In the book, Janie offers a 30-day chia vitality plan that includes quick-to-make recipes that you can throw together easily with no fuss. Many of them are really just a list of two or three ingredients, but she also adds some really great full recipes for when you want to make something delicious and don’t have to make your entire meal in under three minutes.

The first recipe I tried was the California Frittata, which reminded me of an unforgettable frittata I had once in France many years ago. I still remember that frittata fondly for its fresh baby vegetables and lovely, lightly browned top crust.

I made Janie’s recipe mostly as written except for substituting fresh chives for the basil, which the store was out of. I also added some freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top and finished it under the broiler, serving it without the avocado. It was so good! It makes four modest servings or two generous servings. I ate half for lunch and saved the other half for later and had it cold with the sliced avocado on top. Oh, wow! It was the best frittata I’ve ever made—savory and delectable.

I wanted to make that recipe again today, but Kroger’s was out of organic spinach and all good substitutes for it. If you have your own organic garden, though, any number of fresh vegetables would work in place of the spinach. My frittata in France had baby asparagus and baby corn, but this would be equally good with other organic vegetables in season. I plan to try it with leeks and scallions sometime. In the meantime, I want to try the Chicken Chia Chili, the Mexican Breakfast Scramble, and the Chia Oat Apple Crisp, among others. You’ll find some raw recipes in here, although for the most part Janie focuses on whole foods rather than strictly raw ones, a strategy that many formerly avid raw foodists are beginning to come around to because the evidence suggests that it is actually more healthful.

Besides the great recipes, the book included information I was glad to learn. Here are just a few gems you’ll find in this book:
• How to stop heartburn
• How to reduce food cravings
• How to lose weight
• How to improve your well-being
• How to reduce inflammation
• How to reduce loneliness
• How to improve your health
• And many more...

Oh, and this book has an index! So many books these days do not. Having done professional indexing for a number of years, I understand that one reason writers omit indexes in their books is that proper indexing is expensive. You have to find an indexer who really understands your book and the topics your readers will be interested in looking up and who will then read every word in your book to identify the most important topics so that the index is really useful to the reader. This is why good indexers do not come cheap. But Janie did not cut corners there, so you will likely be able to find most or all of the topics you’re looking for in her book.

Reading Chia Vitality is not so much like reading a health book as it is like having an interesting conversation with an engaging friend. Who Janie is comes through, and she is authentic and fascinating. Many health writers—myself included at times—skip past the body of knowledge that has led them to the conclusions they've reached and just tell the reader what to do, as a shortcut. While there is a benefit in this because the reader does not have to read all the same research or learn through experience, it can also leave the reader having to trust the writer blindly rather than knowing for him/herself why making the prescribed changes will work.

Instead of peppering her book with endless lists of do’s and don’ts, though, Janie explains the whys and how-to’s that research has shown her, and she shares how she incorporated what she learned in her own daily routine. I find this imminently more motivating than being told what to do. I want to know the facts so I can make up my own mind, and Janie gives her reader the latitude to do just that. She shares who she is and what she knows, out of a desire to help others transform their lives.

Chia Vitality is a very personal book, because Janie not only discloses what she has learned and experienced but also communicates the kinds of things a close friend would tell you—her favorite relaxation trick when she’s traveling, how she lives a mindful life, and how to fall in love with exercise. You can "look inside" the book on to get a better idea of what you'll find. There is a wealth of wisdom and helpful information in this book. But don’t just read it for that. Read it to get to know Janie. That will add sunshine to your day and inspire you to enrich your life by making it more meaningful and enjoyable in ways that matter to you as an individual. A life well lived is an incalculable treasure.

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