Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health by James Lake MD – ISBN: 0393709949

  • Full Title: Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health: A Complete Guide to the Food-Mood Connection
  • Autor: James Lake MD
  • Print Length: 464 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition
  • Publication Date: January 11, 2016
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393709949
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393709940
  • Download File Format | Size: azw3 | 662,76 Kb
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Exploring the connection between nutrition and mental wellness so therapists can provide more effective, integrated treatment.

Diet is an essential component of a client’s clinical profile. Few therapists, however, have any nutritional training, and many don’t know where to begin. In Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health, Leslie Korn provides clinicians with a practical guide to the complex relationship between what we eat and the way we think, feel, and interact with the world.

Where there is mental illness there is frequently a history of digestive and nutritional problems. Digestive problems in turn exacerbate mental distress, all of which can be improved by nutritional changes. It’s not unusual for a deficit or excess of certain nutrients to disguise itself as a mood disorder. Indeed, nutritional deficiencies factor into most mental illness―from anxiety and depression to schizophrenia and PTSD―and dietary changes can work alongside or even replace medications to alleviate symptoms and support mental wellness.

Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health offers the mental health clinician the principles and practices necessary to provide clients with nutritional counseling to improve mood and mental health. Integrating clinical evidence with the author’s extensive clinical experience, it takes clinicians step-by-step through
the essentials for integrating nutritional therapies into mental health treatment. Throughout, brief clinical vignettes illustrate commonly encountered obstacles and how to overcome them.

Readers will learn:
• Why nutrition matters in mental health
• The role of various nutrients in nourishing both the brain and the gut, the “second brain”
• Typical nutritional culprits that underlie or exacerbate specific mental disorders
• Assessment techniques for evaluating a client’s unique nutritional needs, and counseling methods for the challenging but rewarding process of nutritional change.
• Leading-edge protocols for the use of various macro- and micronutrients, vitamins, and supplements to improve mental health
• Considerations for food allergies, sensitivities, and other special diets
• The effects of foods and nutrients on DSM-5 categories of illness, and alternatives to pharmaceuticals for treatment
• Comprehensive, stage-based approaches to coaching clients about dietary plans, nutritional supplements, and other resources
• Ideas for practical, affordable, and individualized diets, along with optimal cooking methods and recipes
• Nutritional strategies to help with withdrawal from drugs, alcohol and pharmaceuticals

And much more. With this resource in hand, clinicians can enhance the efficacy of all their methods and be prepared to support clients’ mental health with more effective, integrated treatment.


Editorial Reviews


Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health is a textbook, a protocol guide, a cookbook, and a resource guide all-in-one, with many appendices and charts that will easily become a go-to reference for integrative health practitioners of all disciplines treating clients with mental health conditions. . . . Korn has done a tremendous job of assimilating medical nutritional information from across many cultures and traditional practices. All ages are covered, with many suggestions on how to make nutrition fun for children and adults alike. . . . Her approach is gentle and encouraging . . . without being overwhelming or discouraging to the client.”
The Townsend Letter

“[A] complete and highly usable guide to the landscape of nutrition and the mind-body connection that the student, clinician and patient alike can connect to and learn from. . . . [A]s a patient who suffered from the nutritional deficiencies and medical issues as well as the mental health concerns described, I would have greatly benefited from this book during my illness. . . . As compared to other texts, [this book] is written in a more accessible tone for those without an extensive background in medicine and psychology; it also strikes me as a more beneficial resource due to the appendices, which are packed with recipes, charts of nutrients and their impacts, and the detailed examples of treatment plans that show the harmony of nutritional therapy when treating everything from seasonal affective disorder to schizophrenia.”

“To say this book is a complete guide is an understatement . . . Dr. Korn manages to offer every imaginable support one needs from peer-reviewed data validating her assertions to sample dialogues, case vignettes, goal setting procedures and essential outcomes. . . . The Appendices are a treasure trove in themselves with comprehensive resources, guidelines, recipes, a sample client intake form, food-mood diary, and lists of foods containing gluten, lactose, casein, dairy, corn and oh so much more. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is the go-to textbook for clinicians wanting to bring awareness to food and its impact on their clients’ mental health. . . . [T]his isn’t the kind of book you read once and set on the shelf; rather, it’s a companion to reference throughout the day working with clients, listening to friends and hearing your own body speak.”
Somatic Psychotherapy Today

“There are excellent case scenarios, question/answer sections, recipes, and activities throughout the book . . . . [A]ny healthcare professional with a thorough understanding of anatomy and physiology will benefit from reading the book and learning how food and nutritional deficiencies can negatively affect a person’s mood, mental health, and physical health.”
Metapsychology Online Reviews

“[A] much needed addition to the field of mental health. . . . Though the book is written by and for clinicians, clients and those interested in nutrition will also find this book accessible. Chapter three is particularly helpful for therapists, as it includes a clinician checklist, food journals, and sample dialogue with a client for those new to addressing nutrition in a clinical counseling session. This easy-to-read guide is an invaluable resource for mental health professionals and is highly recommended.”
American Reference Books Annual

“If there is one book that I would recommend for mental health professionals to use when discussing dietary changes with their clients, this is it. It covers every conceivable aspect of the interaction between diet and mental health, and synthesizes all of the leading research into a highly readable text.”
Lila Elizabeth Massoumi, MD, ABIHM, Chair of the APA Caucus on Complementary, Alternative, & Integrative Medicine

Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health is an absolute must-read for all mental health professionals, and highly recommended for anyone wanting to understand the connection between what we eat and how our minds function. Dr. Korn brings two crucial concepts to the table: the importance of the diet of our ancestors and the significance of biochemical individuality. This book will change lives!”
Gray L. Graham, BA, NTP, President and Founder of the Nutritional Therapy Association

“I highly recommend this book to any professional or clinician working in the mental health field, as it will provide an invaluable resource for their patients. Korn’s unique ability to articulate a collaborative approach toward compassionate mental health care is refreshing. With years of clinical experience supported by decades of evidence-based research, her book enables clinicians to help their patients understand the underlying biological processes driving their mood and behavior and make the necessary changes to restore balance.”
James M. Greenblatt, MD, Integrative Psychiatrist, Editor of Integrative Therapies for Depression

“Leslie Korn has written the essential book for mental health care providers. As I read Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health, I was astonished at the level of detail. It is engagingly written and fascinatingly encyclopedic in its reach. The delicious recipes alone provide a pathway to health. This book should be a bible for the mental health field.”
Peggy Knickerbocker, James Beard Award-winning cookbook author

“A must-read guidebook for patients and practitioners. This comprehensive mental health care resource illuminates the landscape of nutrition, including the latest research on the gut-brain connection, the role food intolerances can play in disrupting the nervous system, supplement guidelines, and powerful food-as-medicine strategies.”
Kathie Madonna Swift, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND, author of The Swift Diet

About the Author

Leslie Korn, PhD, is a clinician specializing in mental health nutrition and integrative medicine. A core faculty member of Capella University’s Mental Health Counseling Program, she served as a Fulbright scholar on traditional medicine, a Clinical Fellow at Harvard Medical School, and a National
Institutes of Health-funded research scientist in mind/body medicine. In 1975, she founded the Center for Traditional Medicine, a public health clinic in rural indigenous Mexico that she directed for over 25 years. Author of six books, she teaches and consults internationally for mental health professionals and tribal communities.

James Lake, MD, is on the clinical faculty at the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. He practices in Central California.



— Tim Spector —

What should we eat to stay healthy and slim? It’s a simple question that still bewilders us, despite a seemingly infinite amount of available information. Most diet plans prove to be only short-term solutions, and few strategies work for everyone. Why can one person eat a certain meal and gain weight, while another eating the same meal drops pounds? Part of the truth lies in genetics, but more and more, scientists are finding that the answer isn’t so much what we put into our stomachs, but rather the essential digestive microbes already in them.

Drawing on the latest science and his team’s own pioneering research, The Diet Myth breaks down common misconceptions that fuel weight-loss fads by exploring the hidden world of the microbiome. World-class geneticist Tim Spector demystifies the latest information on fat, calories, vitamins, and nutrients. Mixing cutting-edge discoveries, illuminating science, and his own pioneering research on the genetics of twins, Spector reveals why we should abandon fads and instead embrace a diverse diet in order to lose weight, keep a healthy stomach, and nourish our bodies.

By the Same Author

Identically Different

Your Genes Unzipped


This edition first published in hardcover in the United States in 2015 by

The Overlook Press, Peter Mayer Publishers, Inc.

141 Wooster Street

New York, NY 10012

For bulk and special sales, please contact [email protected],

or write us at the above address.

Copyright © Tim Spector 2015

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review written for inclusion in a magazine, newspaper, or broadcast.

ISBN: 978-1-4683-1284-3

To my family and other microbes


By the Same Author



Introduction: A Bad Taste

1 Not on the Label: Microbes

2 Energy and Calories

3 Fats: Total

4 Fats: Saturated

5 Fats: Unsaturated

6 Trans Fats

7 Protein: Animal

8 Protein: Non-animal

9 Protein: Milk Products

10 Carbohydrates: of which Sugars

11 Carbohydrates: Non-sugars

12 Fibre

13 Artificial Sweeteners and Preservatives

14 Contains Cocoa and Caffeine

15 Contains Alcohol

16 Vitamins

17 Warning: May Contain Antibiotics

18 Warning: May Contain Nuts

19 Best-before Date

Conclusion: The Checkout





About the Author

A Bad Taste

It had been a tough climb: six hours walking up 1,200 metres to the summit on touring skis with artificial sealskins to stop us sliding backwards on the snow.

Like my five companions I was feeling tired and a bit light-headed but I still wanted to check out the spectacular view at 3,100 metres over Bormio on the Italian–Austrian border. We had been ski-touring in the area for the past six days, staying in high-altitude mountain lodges, enjoying plenty of exercise and good Italian food. We took our skis off to walk the ten metres to the top but I felt unsteady and didn’t go all the way to look over the edge, thinking my mild vertigo was kicking in. As we turned to ski down, the weather deteriorated, clouds descended and light snow began to fall. I had trouble seeing the tracks ahead of me but assumed it was my old goggles misting up. Usually skiing down is the easy relaxing part, but I was strangely tired and relieved an hour later when we reached the bottom.

When I caught up with our French mountain guide, he pointed out a large tree fifty metres away with two alpine squirrels in it. I could see the squirrels, but I could see four of them – two diagonally above the others – and realised I was seeing double. From my days as a junior doctor in neurology I knew the three likely causes at my age, none of them good: multiple sclerosis, brain tumour or stroke.

After a stressful few days back in London when I managed to organise an MRI brain scan, which, luckily, didn’t show anything that suggested the two other unpleasant causes, I was still left with the possibility that I’d suffered a small stroke.

Eventually, an ophthalmologist colleague was able to diagnose me over the phone with a fourth cranial nerve occlusion. I had only vaguely heard of it, but the good news was that it usually improved within a few months without treatment. The exact cause is unknown but it involves a spasm and constriction and micro-blockage of the artery supplying this nerve, which in turn controls some of the eye movements. It was a great relief. I just had
chia pudding, fast food pizza, shanghai best, filling low calorie snacks, best homemade bread recipe,
tion for maintenance, repair, and regeneration.

I believe there is absolutely something to be said about Sally’s being Korean. My husband is Korean American and truthfully, one of the qualities I loved about him from the beginning was his beautiful skin! And as Sally explains, her grandmother’s recipes for beauty truly involved recipes for food! Koreans (just like my fellow Filipinos and other Asian cultures) incorporate varying and rich sources of collagen in their native dishes, which were historically born out of necessity and poverty. Most Korean soup bases are broths made from boiling bones and marrow for hours—without the cooks usually thinking about the fact that these are all great sources of collagen. I believe that years of regular ingestion of collagen-rich foods, such as these, naturally increase the levels of biopeptides and amino acids that circulate in the bloodstream and, just like in the studies, end up concentrated in the dermis for days after eating the meal! So no wonder Sally found her grandmother’s recipes healing not only in a spiritual sense but also on a biochemical and biomolecular level. She uses her culture and background to highlight the intrinsic beauty and skin benefits of a Korean diet. Not all of us have grandmas who can cook these amazing soups and dishes for us, but with today’s technology, we can all have access to ingestible collagen, ingestible precursors to essential components to our skin’s health and beauty. Throughout her book, Sally shows us an innovative, modern, and unconventional way to achieve our best! Who doesn’t love food, recipes, and cookbooks?

The skin is the largest organ of the body, and as a dermatologist I am fully aware that it also has the most psychological impact to our overall well-being. Our skin is made up of the epidermis: the outermost layer; and the dermis: the innermost layer. Although what our eyes see is the epidermis, the dermis is where it all begins. Collagen plays a huge role in the health of this crucial layer. The structure of the dermis, the collagen, must be maintained so as to provide the proper structural support to the epidermis and allow the skin to function normally and appear healthy and youthful.

Speaking of optimization and dare I say it, biohacking, I am all for it. I love the results of optimizing my mind, body, and soul, and I love that when I tell people how old I am, they are usually shocked. Sally was amazed when I sent her my twentieth wedding anniversary family photo. Of course, I attribute some of my youthful looks to the cutting-edge cosmetic dermatology and regenerative aesthetic procedures now available in my clinics, which I take advantage of. But I also get this a lot: “Of course you look young, you are Asian!”

* Publisher’s note: Dr. Mauricio is a co-founder of Liveli, a nutritional supplement company



You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that what you put into your body directly translates into how you look and feel. But despite knowing this all my life, I admit that I didn’t realize just how true this was until I seriously burned myself in a cooking accident. That incident led me to initiate a deep dive into finding a cure—spoiler alert: it turned out to be ingesting collagen—turned me into something of a true believer on this topic. I also figured out that my Korean grandmother, my halmuni, with her bone broths and fish dinners, had been right all along about the importance of collagen for a healthy skin and body.

After my accident, I tried to fix the burns from the outside in. I bought every lotion, patch, and prescription ointment I could find. Nothing worked. I kept at it, researching everything I could find about skin, and how to heal and regenerate it as quickly as possible. I discovered a treatment using the skin of fish. Researchers in Brazil determined that tilapia contains a very high level of collagen proteins, and that by placing the fish skin directly onto the burned area, the collagen helped relieve pain and showed signs of helping to prevent scarring. Could this be the answer? Of course, I wasn’t going to put fish skin all over my body, and I was already past the point of preventing initial scars. I decided to start taking collagen supplements, just to see what would happen. Less than a month of consuming 20 grams of collagen a day, I saw incredible changes. I have to add here that what I took is twice the recommended dose, so I’m not telling you to reproduce this experiment! But it did work for me. Not only were the burns on my arms starting to fade, but everywhere from head to toe, even my nails and hair, had started to look better. Everyone began asking me what eye cream I was using—and that’s when I realized that ingesting collagen was making my skin the healthiest it had ever been since I was a kid, back when I was enjoying my grandmother’s traditional cooking. She served every meal with
protein, tea test, gourmet cupcake recipes, cake mix, fall baking recipes,
reas. It also contributes to chronic inflammation, which in itself is a risk factor for diabetes, among other conditions. As if that weren’t enough, visceral fat can elevate LDL cholesterol, the unhealthy kind that can set the stage for heart disease.

When the eight members of our DTOUR test panel took the plan for a test run, they lost between 3 and 10 inches from their waistlines in just 6 weeks. Their results are even more impressive when you consider that they didn’t make any changes to their activity levels. Eating DTOUR-style did the trick!

If you’re just starting out on DTOUR, we suggest taking a measure of your waist-line, just above your midsection. Then check again about every 2 to 4 weeks. You should notice that as your waistline shrinks, your blood sugar becomes more stable.

Keep in mind, too, that a steady blood sugar reading can help with weight loss and maintenance. That’s because you’re less likely to experience the cravings and hunger pangs that can happen as your blood sugar spikes and dips.


DTOUR is all about the right foods, in the right amounts, at the right times of day. That last part is important. Studies confirm that eating smaller meals (and snacks!) at regular intervals is good for your blood sugar as well as your waistline. We suspect you’ll feel a whole lot better, too, because you’ll have more energy throughout the day.

Now, don’t let the phrase “smaller meals” fool you. While our DTOUR recipes follow very specific guidelines for calories (as well as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats), they definitely don’t skimp on flavor or satisfaction. In fact, several of our DTOUR test panelists were pleasantly surprised by how full they felt, even though they were eating less than they had been accustomed to. That’s because we make ample use of calorie-dense ingredients that pack a heaping helping of nutrition into few calories per serving.

On DTOUR, you’ll be eating three meals plus two snacks a day. All of our “meal” recipes provide between 350 and 400 calories per serving, while the “snack” recipes deliver 150 to 200 calories. The similar calorie values mean that you can mix and match to create a new menu virtually every day. We haven’t done the math, but we’re pretty sure that the potential combinations are almost endless!


Eating at regular intervals is more important for losing weight than you may realize. Research has shown that people who get too hungry between meals-perhaps because they skipped breakfast or they delay dinner-are more likely to grab high-calorie junk food for a quick blast of energy.

What’s more, those who cram a day’s worth of eating into just a few meals tend to weigh more than people who spread out their mealtimes, even if the overall calorie counts are similar. When you provide your body with adequate fuel on a regular basis, your fat-burning metabolism hums along at a steadier rate.

You will need to set a daily calorie budget for yourself; Chapter 3 explains how. Basically, the DTOUR recipes support both a 1,400-and a 1,600-calorie-a-day plan. We don’t recommend going below this range, but you may be able to go a bit higher, depending on your starting and goal weights, activity level, and gender.

And let’s not forget portion sizes! It’s essential to pay attention to these. If you eat more than a serving of any particular food, you need to account for the extra calories accordingly. Using measuring cups and spoons, as well as a scale, can keep you on track until you’re able to eyeball servings accurately.


Just by diversifying your mealtimes and practicing portion control, you’ll notice a difference on the scale and in your blood sugar levels. But DTOUR gives you a little something extra as insurance for achieving optimal results. We call them the Fat-Fighting 4: fiber, calcium, vitamin D, and omega-3s. Each of them has physiological effects that make slimming down and stabilizing your blood sugar a little bit easier. So imagine what they can do together!

Because the Fat-Fighting 4 are so important to the success of DTOUR, we’ll spend some time here exploring what they do and how much of each you need. They’re built right into the DTOUR recipes, so you’re sure to get enough.


If the word fiber conjures a mental image of the powdery supplement on display in the digestive health section of your drugstore, what you’re about to read may change your mind. As you’ll see, dietary fiber is outstanding as a natural weight loss and blood sugar aid.

Fiber’s benefits come from its ability to pass through your digestive system more or less intact. As it does, it reduces the amount of carbohydrate that your body absorbs from the foods you eat. As a result, your postmeal blood sugar level doesn’t rise and fall as
custard ice cream, texes login, prime rib steak, tandoori naan, gateau,
emplies de mets de toutes sortes, trônent sur les comptoirs des osterie.

Chaque endroit a ses spécialités, aussi en fait-on généralement plusieurs pour pouvoir manger de tout.

On trouve du poulpe, des sardines marinées, des bulots, des petits crabes, des cigales de mer, des boulettes, de la rate, du museau vinaigrette, des patates au persil, des haricots blancs, de l’omelette, des artichauts, des escargots de mer, tout ce qu’offre le marché du Rialto préparé selon l’imagination du cuisinier, c’est-à-dire une infinité de plats.

Naturellement, le tout doit être arrosé d’une « ombre » de vin blanc ou rouge.

En théorie, ces délices sont censés ouvrir l’appétit avant un bon repas, mais dans les faits on sort le plus souvent des osterie rassasiés et un peu pompette.

À la maison, quand nous invitons quelqu’un à déjeuner ou à dîner, nous préparons toujours un hors-d’œuvre, pour mettre notre hôte à l’aise et pour aiguiser l’appétit. Ils sont habituellement très simples, comme des tartines ou des canapés, mais il peut s’agir de recettes plus sophistiquées, toujours faciles à réaliser et bonnes à manger.

Roberta Pianaro

1 Les osterie, sorte de bistrots qui proposent une cuisine simple, sont un peu l’équivalent des brasseries françaises. (N.d. T.)



Beignets savoureux au maïs

Fritelle gustose al mais

Boulettes de pois chiches

Palline di ceci

Tartines aux aubergines

Crostoni alle melanzane

Omelette aux courgettes au four

Frittata al forno con zucchine

Escargots de mer


Hors-d’œuvre de la mer

Antipasto di mare

Crevettes, melon et roquette

Gamberetti, melone e rucola

Œufs de seiche

Latticini di sepia

Sardines marinées

Sardine in saor

Salade de calamars

Insalata di calamari

Petits chaussons aux langoustines

Fagottini agli scampi

Beignets savoureux au maïs

Fritelle gustose al mais

Pour 4 personnes

140 g de jambon cuit

140 g de poivron rouge

140 g de maïs en boîte

2 œufs

4 cuil. à soupe de lait

120 g de farine

1 pincée de paprika fort

2 cuil. à soupe d’huile d’olive extra-vierge

Huile de tournesol pour la friture, en grande quantité

1 pincée de sel

Coupez le poivron dans sa longueur, lavez-le, séchez-le et détaillez-le en petits dés. Hachez le jambon. Rincez le maïs à l’eau tiède, égouttez-le, mêlez le tout et réservez.

Dans une terrine, battez les œufs avec le lait, le sel et le paprika, puis ajoutez la farine et l’huile d’olive. Remuez jusqu’à obtenir une pâte lisse sans grumeaux. Ensuite, ajoutez le mélange poivron, jambon, maïs et mélangez à nouveau.

Faites chauffer l’huile de tournesol dans une casserole pas trop grande à bord haut ou dans une friteuse et versez-y des cuillerées de pâte, deux ou trois à la fois.

Les beignets cuisent très vite. Quand ils sont prêts, disposez-les sur du papier absorbant et servez immédiatement.

Boulettes de pois chiches

Palline di ceci

Pour 4 personnes

250 g de pois chiches en boîte

1 bouquet de persil

1 gousse d’ail écrasée, sans le germe

1 œuf

4 cuil. de chapelure

1 cuil. à soupe de levure en poudre

1 cuil. à soupe d’huile d’olive extra-vierge

Huile de tournesol pour la friture, en grande quantité

1 pincée de sel

1 pincée de poivre

Lavez les pois chiches dans de l’eau chaude et égouttez-les. Mixez-les avec le persil.

Versez la pâte obtenue dans une terrine et ajoutez les autres ingrédients : l’œuf, le sel, le poivre, l’ail, la chapelure, la levure et l’huile d’olive. Mélangez jusqu’à l’obtention d’une pâte lisse et compacte.

Avec la pointe des doigts un peu humide, formez des petites boules de la taille d’une noix.

Utilisez une friteuse ou dans une casserole à bord haut mettez l’huile de tournesol à chauffer. Quand elle est à bonne température, plongez-y les boulettes, quelques-unes à la fois, faites-les blondir en les tournant puis disposez-les sur du papier absorbant. Servez chaud.

Tartines aux aubergines

Crostoni alle melanzane

Pour 4 personnes

8 tranches d’aubergines grillées

400 g de tomates pelées égouttées

130 g de mozzarella

8 tranches de pain de mie sans la croûte

1 pincée d’origan

Huile d’olive extra-vierge

1 pincée de sel

Sur chaque tranche de pain, placez une tranche d’aubergine, un morceau de tomate, un de mozzarella, du sel, de l’origan et un filet d’huile.

Disposez les tartines dans une lèchefrite recouverte d’aluminium, enfournez.

Elles sont prêtes quand le pain a grillé, il faut donc régler le four en fonction.

Omelette aux courgettes au four

Frittata al forno con zucchine

Pour 4 p
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ty (SNP) politician calls for Scotch whisky to be made with only home-produced ingredients.

Barley being turned in a traditional floor maltings. Barley malted in this way, on a wooden floor, is said to provide better flavour for whisky.


Yeast is the great unknown in whisky, rarely talked or written about, or fully understood. A living micro-organism, yeast can lay for years in a dormant state, but in the right wet and warm conditions and with the right food – sugar – it will multiply rapidly, feed ravenously and produce carbon dioxide and alcohol. This fermentation process can be an impressively aggressive and violent one, and can make a huge and sturdy washback (fermentation vessel) rock with the force.

Thousands of yeasts occur naturally, which is why some fermentation can take place without any yeast being added, and when a successful strain is created artificially it must be stored carefully to avoid contamination. Exactly what effect yeast has on flavour is the subject of fierce debate and the degree of attention given to yeast production varies from one distiller to another. Most yeasts used in whisky production are a combination of brewers’ yeasts and yeasts created in the lab, and in some cases – particularly in the United States – brewers and distillers fiercely guard details about the exact nature of their yeasts.


Single-malt whisky may be made only with malted barley, yeast and water. Apart from supposedly flavourless caramel for colouring, nothing else may be added. That said, though, there are two other major influences on the flavour of a single malt – peat and oak – and for a full appreciation of single malt it is essential to understand their role in the overall flavour of the finished whisky.


Peat is made up of decaying vegetation and grasses that has formed over centuries in boggy and wet marshland areas. It has been used as a burning fuel in communities across the world for centuries. In Scotland, in particular, peat has played a central role in the drying of barley for Scotch whisky making. When the Industrial Revolution brought trains and they in turn carried coal across the country, many distilleries abandoned peat as a fuel, but it remained in use in the islands – and it is on the islands that it is still most widely used today.

Most of the big phenolic, smoky-flavoured whiskies derive their taste from this process, and not from the water that has travelled through peat bogs. Peat in Scotland is graded into three categories. The deepest layer looks like dark-chocolate fudge cake when it is wet, and dries in to a hard fuel that resembles coal and burns slowly. The top layer, made up of the least decayed or suppressed vegetation, crumbles in the hand when dry and burns rapidly, but produces high quantities of peat smoke. The three layers are cut from the ground in spring and dried naturally during the summer, before being collected in the autumn; Highland Park on Orkney will cut just enough peat to see it through the ensuing year.

Peat differs from place to place because it is made up of vegetation. This is significant because the vegetation in a country such as Australia will be vastly different than that found in Scotland, so while the raw ingredients would seem to be the same they have different effects on the whisky. In Sweden, some of the peat was submerged under the Baltic Sea at one time, and is therefore very salty. Furthermore, the rules governing malt whisky production do not dictate what exactly barley should be dried over, so in Sweden Mackmyra has incorporated the traditional drying method of using juniper twigs in the drying of malted barley. This process makes a further distinction from the usual whiskies produced in Scotland.


If geographical differences affect the flavours that peat gives to malt, then oak from different parts of the world results in even greater variations. The differences between oak from Europe and its cousin in America is so pronounced that you can see it with the naked eye. Even within Europe there is variance, with Swedish and Spanish oak imparting different flavours to spirit.

It takes 100 years or more to grow an oak big enough to turn in to a cask and, while some environmentalists are critical of an industry that fells trees for whisky making, more oak is being planted in the second decade of the new millennium than at any time in the last 1000 years, and most distillers are keenly aware of their environmental responsibilities and the need for sustainability. Certainly few countries face the acute shortages of oak that resulted in the Middle Ages after the great warring nations had felled the trees for ships, fortifications and weapons in the desire to build empires.

Oak is in such demand because it is very strong but still malleable, waterproof yet porous and able t
ations, which we ran out and bought that afternoon. Then we wrapped my daughter in some sari fabric, and we gathered over our meal of mulligatawny, chicken coconut korma, rice, and roti.

music to set the scene:

Synergy, by Shahid Parvez and Kumar Bose

Rehnuma: A Tribute to My Father, by Shahid Parvez

get creative:

Watch a foreign film together such as The Red Balloon (Le Ballon Rouge), Ponyo, or A Town Called Panic (Panique au Village)

For your own World Traveler Party, you can make your celebration as elaborate or as simple as you like. You could highlight India as we did, or you could choose another country your family is interested in. You might even pick a place with ancestral ties. Children’s sections of good libraries are filled with nonfiction on locations that you may not find as easily at the bookstore. Ask your librarian for suggestions on reading material related to the country you’ve chosen. Once you’ve collected your information, celebrate with food and decorations typical of the locale.

Mango Lassis

Kamran Siddiqi, the author of The Sophisticated Gourmet blog (, is one of my favorite people. This is his Mango Lassi recipe, which I’ve adapted slightly.

3 cups milk

2 cups plain yogurt

1⁄4 cup agave nectar

2 ripe mangoes, peeled and cut into chunks

Juice and zest of 1 lime

2 cups crushed ice

Blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into fancy glasses and serve.

books to inspire:

Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne

How I Learned Geography, by Uri Shulevitz

While You Are Sleeping: A Lift-the-Flap Book of Time Around the World, by Durga Bernhard


Mulligatawny, which means “pepper water” in Tamil, is not authentic Indian cuisine, but we love it anyway. My son and I agree it’s like eating the best part of a good curry, without the rice or the meat. It’s simply all the flavor in a bowl.

I use canned chicken stock or chicken broth when I make this, but you could also use a good vegetable stock to make it vegan. You can also make this soup ahead and freeze it. Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, finely diced

Pinch of kosher salt

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon Madras curry powder

1 large tomato, chopped

1⁄2 cup red lentils

1⁄4 cup tomato paste

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch chunks

2 (14.5-ounce) cans chicken broth, or 4 cups chicken stock

Juice of 1⁄2 lemon

Cilantro, chopped or left in sprigs, for garnish

Heat the oil in a large pot set over medium heat. Add onions and salt, and cook until translucent and starting to brown, about 10 minutes.

Stir in garlic, spices, and tomato, and sauté until spices are fragrant and tomato is heated through. Add lentils, tomato paste, ginger, and apple chunks, and cook 1 minute more.

Stir in chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and let simmer for 30 minutes, or until apple chunks are tender to the point of a knife.

Use an immersion blender to puree soup until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, place about 2 cups of soup at a time in a traditional blender, cover with the lid and a kitchen towel, and blend until smooth. Repeat with remaining soup. Return to the pot. Add water if necessary to achieve desired consistency. Stir in lemon juice, and simmer on low until ready to serve. Garnish with cilantro.

variations on a theme:

Can’t decide on just one country? Have each child pick a country he or she is interested in, look it up at the library or in an online encyclopedia, and find out basic information about each place. Then for the party, make a sampling of foods from each, such as souvlaki from Greece, miso soup from Japan, and gelato from Italy. You’ll all learn, and laugh, a lot.

Chicken Coconut Korma

I pieced this recipe together from multiple versions I found on the Internet, along with the suggestions of Kamran Siddiqi and his Grandmum. Once I took the first bite, I felt like singing for joy.

I learned that the secret to this recipe is the onion puree, which, when cooked right, lends a sweetness to the dish without adding fruit or sugar. It’s a tear-jerking job, though, so if anyone in the family wears contacts, you might want to put them in charge. They just might have an easier go of it. Serves 4–6

1 pound chicken breast, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 me


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