One of my childhood sports coaches had a common saying. He would yell out, "What's nuf spelled backwards?" Then my teammates and I would respond, "Fun!" And he would say, "That's right! Weren't not having nuf fun!"

Does life feel a bit like that for you these days? Has it taken on a serious tone and you're just not having enough fun? Maybe that's why I was so drawn to this new cookbook. It positively exudes fun! And who couldn't use more of that? 

The cookbook: The Virtuous Tart: Sinful but Saintly Recipes for Sweets, Treats, and Snacks

The author: Susan Jane White is a Dublin, Ireland-based cook, food columnist, former president of Oxford University's Gastronomy Society and a popular broadcaster on healthy eating. When she was twenty-five, Susan Jane developed a serious immune disorder. The first year of her illness saw twelves courses of antibiotics, steroids, anti-fungal colon treatment, many futile vaccinations--and a bad sense of humor. This marked the beginning of her nutritional pilgrimage. Jane discovered that her energy levels were intimately linked with the food she ate, so she avoided the foods that taxed her body, such as highly-processed and refined foods. And it worked! Two years later she was back to her bouncy, bionic self, much to the wonderment of the medical community. Her condition has not since returned, but this cookbook makes it obvious that her sense of humor has. Plus, it's fun to read this book to myself using (what I think sounds like) Susan's Irish accent in my own head. Now that's fun!

Initial impressions: What's the sinful side of this cookbook? Well, a quick flip through the pages makes it apparent that it's the recipes! There's everything from delicious-looking cocktails to gooey tarts to chocolatey treats. Hello! So what's the saintly side? Dig a little deeper and you discover that the recipes are made with super-clean sweeteners and sans gluten or dairy. Each cookie, truffle or latte is innovative, using ingredients you can feel good about eating, not guilty. And those delicious-looking cocktails? They're all virgin sips to make you naturally frisky without the side effects of alcohol. 

What’s cool: This is a high-quality book - it just feels fancy. The cover has an embossed, matte finish and the paper feels good. Just reading this book makes me feel saintly, but oddly sinful, too, as I drool over Hipster-Peanut Butter Chocolate Shake made with Medjool dates, almond milk and raw cacao, or dreaming of biting into a Secret Agent Gingerbread that features banana, chia seeds, molasses, coconut oil and a mix of holiday-channeling spices. Every single recipe in this book is gluten-free and dairy-free, which is how Susan cooks and bakes now. She set out to improve her health through food after developing a serious immune disorder, but I love that she didn't lose sight on the joy that eating yummy food can bring--and how that's important to an overall happy and healthy existence, too. These recipes look magical and prove that you don't have to sacrifice fun and flavor when you're making special-diet treats. 

Perfect for: People who love to bake / Someone avoiding gluten and dairy / Healthy eaters with a sweet tooth 

When/Where to get it: The Virtuous Tart is a brand-new release and available now on Amazon for $18. 

Sneak-peek recipe: Arm your body against aging with Susan's veggie- and nut-filled recipe for Strawberry and Basil Cheesecake (pictured below, and reprinted with permission from the publisher, Roost Books).

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