Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Art of Racing in the Rain Book Review

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein is a heartwarming story written from a pet dog's viewpoint. Enzo's master Dennis, whom he adores, is a race car driver who demonstrates his mastery of the sport in his life off the track, too.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

"Your car goes where your eyes go," says Dennis in a conversation, with Enzo listening in. "No race has ever been won in the first corner," he adds, "but many have been lost there." Enzo observes that Dennis is emotionally intelligent and in control of himself despite the pressures of making decisions at high-speeds. When Dennis has victory within his grasp in an important race but loses because another driver has rammed into his wheels, he only blames himself.

"Getting angry at another driver for a driving incident is pointless," Dennis says. "You need to watch the drivers around you, understand their skill, confidence, and aggression levels, and drive with them accordingly." Dennis believes that any problems he encounters on the track are ultimately caused by himself because he is responsible for where he is and for what he is doing. Thus Dennis takes responsibility for his devastating loss because of his vulnerable position to a lesser experienced driver, and then he emotionally moves on.

Dennis faces obstacles of many kinds beyond the dangers of his career, like his wife's cancer, resentful in-laws and the custody battle over his daughter. He maintains his wits to survive and conquer based on the skills he's acquired from high-speed racing. Enzo is his faithful companion, frustrated because he can't speak human words to communicate his loyalty, love and friendship, but Dennis seems to know it anyway.

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Anyone who has observed their beloved pets uncannily communicate feelings through body language and facial expressions will relate to this novel. Enzo is a loyal and beloved companion many can identify with, and the lessons he's gleaned from Dennis are artfully passed on to the reader. The Art of Racing in the Rain would be an excellent choice of a book for teenage boys to read.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Peanut Butter Protein Balls

Peanut Butter Protein Balls
photo by Kitchen Goddess

Looking for a healthy snack recipe that is easy to make? Try Peanut Butter Protein Balls, and keep them on hand for a better alternative when sugar cravings strike.

Recipe for Peanut Butter Protein Balls

This concoction was devised by my health-conscious and very beautiful sister-in-law, who wanted a tasty snack at mid-afternoon or before bedime that wouldn't be too caloric. She loves peanut butter and honey, and when she combined it with protein powder and flax seed, found a real winner of a recipe.


  • 1 cup (240 mL) organic peanut butter (the natural kind where the oil separates and needs to be stirred)
  • 1/4 cup (59 mL) honey
  • 1/2 cup (118 mL) protein powder or whey powder, preferably vanilla-flavored (use one that is 80 calories for a 1 scoop/20 g serving)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons (30 mL+) ground flax seed
  • 1 heaping tablespoon (15 mL+) of nonfat powdered milk or the protein or whey powder (the reason for adding the powdered milk is because it is more economical and doesn't change the flavor, especially when making this recipe in bulk)
  • 1/4 cup (59 mL) Rice Krispies cereal, uncrushed (optional)
  • 1/4 cup (59 mL) finely chopped nuts (optional)
  • 2 oz. (57 g) of dark chocolate (optional)
  • 1/4 cup (59 mL) of unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
  1. Mix the peanut butter, honey, protein or whey powder, flax seed and nonfat powdered milk (all the ingredients except the optional ones) together slowly with an electric mixer; the consistency should be like Play-doh. Note: Raw almond butter has been substituted for the peanut butter, but the consistency of the balls were drier.
  2. Add the Rice Krispies and then by hand, form the dough into 12 round balls. The Rice Krispies add a nice texture and also stretch the dough.
  3. Place the balls on a plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. Melt the chocolate over low heat in a very small bowl.
  5. Put the chopped nuts and the coconut in two other very small bowls.
  6. One by one, dip the balls in the melted chocolate, nuts or coconut and return them to the plate. 
  7. Refrigerate them for another 30 minutes before eating or transferring to another container. The balls should be stored in the refrigerator and last a couple of weeks. This recipe makes 12 balls, each about 100 calories with 9 grams of protein. 
Some of the protein, energy and meal replacement bars sold in stores offer only an illusion of nutrition because they contain too much sugar, sodium or chemicals. Why not make your own snacks at home without the unhealthy additives? Peanut Butter Protein Balls are easy to make, taste great and are sure to become a family favorite.

Read more: How to Make an Attractive Fruit Platter