Most helpful critical review
310 of 393 people found the following review helpful
Lo-Cal Doesn't Always Mean Healthy
on March 30, 2011
This is actually my first HG book. I'd heard alot of hype about the website/show/books, but didn't know much about them until I happened across the show one evening. I liked that the recipes she was making seemed quick and easy, but appealed to the not-so-healthy cravings we all get sometimes. I signed up for the mailing list and friended on FB...hence how I found out about the new cookbook. I preordered it for the Nook the day before release and got the download early yesterday morning.
Having spent a good portion of yesterday and this morning perusing the recipes, I have mixed feelings about this cookbook. While I love that they are all under 300 calories and many look like they would be tasty, alot of them don't seem all that healthy. Artificial sweeteners are used ALOT (as a caveat, she does add as a tip more than once that you can use Truvia or regular sugar instead), and while the calories are low, the sodium and carb levels on several recipes I saw were pretty dang high.
Another little nit-picky thing that bugs me in cookbooks that is also in this one is brand-name dropping. There's alot of brand names used and in a good majority of the recipes (Laughing Cow, Pillsbury, Fiber One, etc). I realize that the author is probably getting kickbacks to endorse particular brands in their cookbook, but if I wanted constant advertisements for brands, I'd buy that brand's cookbook or a magazine. There is a "Recommended Products" list at the back of the book and I like that...just wish all the name-dropping could have been confined to there.
On the plus side, there is good website support for the book. The ebook version doesn't include any pictures, but there are pictures of every dish on the website, along with WW point values for those using the WW system. The WW points doesn't matter to me, but any cookbook I buy absolutely has to have pictures. Not having them right there on my ereader with the recipe is kind of a bummer, but there are very few cookbooks that have pictures for every single recipe...so it comes out a win. Also the sheer volume of recipes insures that there is something here for everyone. There are also lots of good tips scattered throughout the book.
Overall, I think this looks to be a pretty decent cookbook. I'll probably tweak some of the recipes to suit my own tastes/standards, but most of them look pretty tasty...and the fact that they're lo-cal is a bonus.
***EDIT*** Having perused the entire book now, I'm not too impressed. Way too many processed foods used and, due to that fact, a huge portion of the recipes were also super-high in sodium...NOT healthy at all. What's the point of going lo-cal if you're going to be bloated and have clogged arteries? Also, so many of the dishes seem very "heavy"...as in multiple types of sugary (or "Splenda-y" as the case usually was) ingredients layered into one dish, or "faux-fried" covered in sauce, topped with cheese. So many look like those odd "family" dinners you'd find in a 1940s cookbook, but with the high-calorie (but real) ingredients subbed out with 21st century "better living through chemicals" processed "fat-free"/"lo-cal" fake foods. I suppose it's good and well for the occasional craving, but for a truly healthy lifestyle (and not a lo-cal "diet" that might drop the pounds in the short-term but is detrimental in the long run), I wouldn't use this cookbook regularly without doing alot of subbing of ingredients. Still giving it 3 stars because there are some decent dishes as well as some that aren't so great in their published form, but could be good with some tweaking. It's inspired me to start cooking more, so I have to give it credit for that.
Having read reviews for the previous HG cookbooks, I've seen the same complaints. A pity because the concept might be good, but sad that so many people are fooled into thinking that these dishes are healthy just because they're "lo-cal" and/or "low fat". I'd hope that Lisa would start trending more away from the processed foods...but with so many people who don't care about that (and so many manufacturers of processed foods who are sponsoring her), I guess she has no reason to change.