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Book Reviews
If you wish yourself well, read this book. If you wish to enhance the quality of your life, make its philosophy your own. Easy to understand and inspired by a deep love for food, Marika’s book is a unique life style bible that holds its own in the stormy developments and trends of world cuisine. The author has expertly united the healthiest and most valuable parts of world cuisine with Nordic and Estonian sensibilities.
Dimitri Demjanov, Estonian Culinary Institute, Tallinn, Estonia
Health food doesn't need to taste like health food. "Essential Nourishment: Recipes from my Estonian Farm" is a book of natural and health-driven recipes that will taste like anything but. Marika Blossfeldt uses life's expertise to encourage readers to choose their food well, use their diet to deal with diabetes, and embrace a more natural weight loss plan. For those who seek better health but hate health food, "Essential Nourishment" proves an excellent cookbook that is in full color and organized well to prepare for any ingredient, highly recommended.

Midwest Book Review, Oregon, WI

Holistic Health and Wellness has a new and gentle voice. Marika Blossfeldt shares her extensive knowledge on how to nourish the body and soul starting with the inside. Essential Nourishment delivers from the start, with a detailed look at how the foods around you affect your overall health and mood, from cravings, illness to balancing the body. She will teach her reader to get back to basics and I don't mean with ingredients but with a generous dose of love. After leading numerous groups on holistic retreats with success and results, Ms. Blossfeldt brings the Estonian countryside and spa into the kitchen with wholesome dishes like the curried red lentil and a chanterelle quiche that was truly exquisite and pure. We love the Yogi Tea recipe as well. If you are looking for a simple and delicious way to get your balance back, then look no further.

Penelope Barcelo, Kepler's Bookstore, Menlo Park, CA

Marika Blossfeldt is a holistic health coach and yoga teacher who divides her time between Beacon and Estonia. After studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, in 2006 she began offering summer wellness workshops at her farm in Estonia. Eventually, with the help of her niece, she wrote down the recipes that retreat participants had been enjoying and asking for. In 2009, the first edition was self-published in Estonian, and promptly became a bestseller in that country. The proceeds from that book funded the publishing this year of the English version, Essential Nourishment (Delicious Nutrition). It’s a cookbook, but with substantial sections on nutrition and wellness that make it a practical guide for clean living and eating. In an age of countless fad diets and media hype, this is a calm, balanced alternative that is worth seeking out. Where Italian and Indian foods carry the weight of certain expectations, Blossfeldt’s food is simply food, made from the best seasonal ingredients available, without any particular regional accent besides the climate in which the produce is grown. As such, it offers a potent inspiration for anyone seeking to let the produce speak for itself, especially during our fecund summers.

Peter Barrett for Chronogram Magazine, August issue

Essential Nourishment is a book to cherish. Graced with gorgeous photos and abundant knowledge, it is more than a cookbook – it is a holistic lifestyle companion that informs as well as inspires. Marika Blossfeldt’s recipes are healthy, delicious and beautiful. Her approach to the art of eating will nourish the reader with her words and nourish the belly with naturally prepared goodness.  Essential Nourishment encourages awareness of not only the foods we eat but of the “food-mood connection,” food energies and even discusses the importance of physical activity and relationships to support a lifestyle filled with conscious intention.

Ashley Ess for Bamboo Magazine, Conscious Family Living, Los Angeles CA

Ask ten people what their favorite ethnic cuisine is and the answers would likely be predictable: Italian, Greek, Soul, Asian fusion, whatever. Your money would be safe if you bet no one would say “Estonian”. To be honest, Marika Blossfeldt’s self-published cookbook, Essential Nourishment: Recipes from My Estonian Farm (Beacon: Delicious Nutrition, 2011; $34.99 softcover) is not exactly an ethnic cookbook, despite the subtitle, but we‘re getting ahead of ourselves.
Blossfeldt, an artist and former dancer, is a Kundalini yoga teacher who spends about half of the year teaching and cooking in Beacon; the other part of the year she presides over the Polli Talu Arts Center, a farm-turned-wellness retreat she founded in her native Estonia, and which was the inspiration for the book.
While many of the recipes in Essential Nourishment contain ethnic elements, their more central character belongs in the health spa—yoga retreat category. Some are openly derivative (the barley salad recipe is from Peter Berley’s The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, for example); others are hardly Estonian but do have a personal touch (Spaghetti aglio e olio a là Polli); and others could be from handouts at a health spa (the Chanterelle quiche recipe fits that bill).
What is captivating on the pages, however, are Blossfeldt's sincerity, compassion, gentleness and good humor. The recipes are clean, wholesome and simple; the introductory essays are positive and instructive. The photographs are uniformly excellent - and what's not to like about a cookbook that dares include pictures of cats?
The Valley Table, Newburgh, NY

What sort of formula can fall under the rubric of "recipe"? We typically think of a list of foodstuff ingredients, followed by directions for combining, then cooking them to prepare some sort of "food." But the commonly used phrase "recipe for success" suggests that we can cook up a lot more than a meal, and it is perfectly true. Marika Blossfeldt's Essential Nourishment: Recipes from My Estonian Farm offers up a lot of the sort of recipes you can cook up in your kitchen, all of them quite easy and delicious. But the book itself is a sort of recipe for nothing less than a better life.

The first thing you'll notice when you pick up Essential Nourishment is how heavy it is. This is a beautifully produced book printed on thick, glossy stock, and once you open it up, the reasons will become quite clear. It's filled with gorgeous, spacious art and photography. Even if you're not at all interested in the recipes or the food and lifestyle suggestions, the photos and paintings are well worth the price of the ticket. Moreover, the book's design seems essential to the message and the impact it has. It says that life and food can and should be beautiful. Browsing the pages is a relaxing experience.

Once you get to the text, you'll find the book is divided into two sections. The first part consists of what I would call recipes for life. This is further divided into "Nutrition and Nourishment" and "Lifestyle." "Nutrition and Nourishment" is a well-written and concise summary of what we know and need to know about the food we eat. There's a bit of Michael Pollan here, a bit of Mollie Katzen there, and a smooth, straightforward prose style that gives readers an executive summary on matters such as food labels, blood sugar, oils, food cravings and even water. It's easily read and helpful advice that informs your shopping decisions. The section on oils was particularly concise and informative.

Lifestyle advice comes from all over the ethnological map. Blossfeldt is a certified kundalini yoga teacher, so you'll find advice from that perspective here, as well as thoughts about relationships, eating out, working and exercising. Blossfeldt's brevity serves her purpose perfectly. The expansive layout and beautiful art direction do so as well.

The bulk of the book consists of recipes, organized by type. Blossfeldt doesn't overdo it. There are a number of sections, and each section contains a few recipes — not too many, just enough. The recipes themselves are generally quite simple, sometimes alarmingly so. But don’t let that fool you. "Roasted Root Vegetables," for example, looks delicious in the photo, and is as easy to make as the five simple steps suggest. It's also a hearty meal, full of flavor, but not heavy. "Chilean Bean Stew with Corn" is equally easy, and just as good.

For my money, the "Russian Kale with Raisins and Roasted Pine Nuts" is a favorite. It looks great and works well as an entrée. The recipe as given is a perfect dinner for two. While the preponderance of recipes here are vegetarian, there are recipes for chicken, salmon and shrimp. The book finishes with desserts, drinks, teas, berries and yes, even cacao — chocolate —gets a page.

Given the beautiful paintings and design, Essential Nourishment can serve as both coffee table book and cookbook. You can dip in for a brief primer on oils, then breeze through to an easy recipe (4 steps) for "Black Bean Soup." You could easily live out of the recipes in this book for a month; Blossfeldt includes breakfast in the mix. If you are looking for a cookbook that satisfies on a number of levels, a book that itself is a recipe, then Essential Nourishment is an essential choice.

Rick Kleffel, Independent Producer, National Public Radio, Capitola, CA

The first Estonian edition of the book Essential Nourishment, by Marika Blossfeldt, came out in 2009. The first English edition appeared in 2011. It is chock-a-block full of wholesome and visually appealing recipes as well as gorgeous photographs of food and European country scenery. Scenery of Marika’s beautiful Estonian farm, to be exact. This “life book” (so much more than a cookbook) is better than plane fare. It is a window into a world where time has slowed to a healing pace, where living in the present is all there is, and there is time to live in gratitude. Cooking is done in a mindful and seasonal way, with fresh food from the gardens and foraged ingredients. I love the way the text in this book is punctuated by frequent bits of information divided into “Essence” and “Action”. These are very real tools for affecting change.

Making life a work of art seems to come naturally to Estonian born Marika Blossfeldt. But tracing her roots, the journey back to her kitchen has been a full and interesting one. A globe trotting dancer and painter, early on in the 1970s and 80s she worked and performed in Berlin and later, New York. Eventually her career in performing arts took her all over the world. Some seventeen years ago, she fulfilled a lifelong dream of owning and restoring an old farm.

Now an international art and wellness center called Polli Talu Arts Center, this farm in Estonia is where Marika welcomes visitors, practices and teaches yoga, cooking, wellness, and tends her gardens. Her culinary skills were honed by a course of study at New York’s Institute for Integrative Nutrition and her life direction illuminated by the realization that body, spirit, and mind are one.

Good vibrations and lifestyle suggestions abound in these recipes; the balance of her food and presentation is palpable. Marika’s food is beautiful, delicious, nutritious, and fun. Regionally sourced, Estonian style!

Laura Cabot, Laura Cabot Catering in Waldoboro ME
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