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on February 23, 2008
**Edited, 3 years after original review. I am still cooking from this cookbook several times weekly. And I am always finding new recipes to try. Here are some of my faves: crustless quiche, creamy tomato soup, biscotti, all the roasted veggies, granola, creamy parmesean salad dressing. If you are looking for fabulous, everyday, healthy recipes, this is the cookbook for you!***

I have been a huge fan of Pam Anderson's other "Perfect" cookbooks. Especially "Perfect Recipes for Having People Over," and "How to Cook Without a Book." She is just a great chef and writer. Her insight is always invaluable. However, it is not really practical for me (or anyone) to eat most of these foods on a daily basis because many of them are high in fat and calories.

In her new book, Pam shows you how you can eat really good food, but cook recipes that are not too caloric or fat laden. The recipes are really do-able for everyday cooking and eating, even if you have a busy schedule. And, in typical Pam fashion, she gives variations on almost every recipe to suit your tastebuds and the ingredients you have on hand. A calorie count is also given for every recipe.

Just as valuable as the recipes, is the information Pam gives you about how she lost almost 50 pounds. Her biggest tip is that she changed her lifestyle. She added exercise and created kind of a meal plan and guidelines that she feels (and I feel) are liveable. She has a nice breakfast, a nice lunch, teatime with a sweet, a before dinner "nibble" with a glass of wine and a reasonable dinner. And the truth is, if you eat like this day in-day out, you will slowly lose weight (or stay the same). What makes most of us gain weight is the over-indulgent stuff, eating too much on a daily basis, and constant yo-yo dieting.

I am not doing her writing justice, please get it and read it. I am so excited to implement her strategies and recipes in to my life. I love to cook, and I love to eat, but I hate being fat!
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on May 16, 2008
I've used Pam Anderson's recipes for years with confidence and learned a lot from her about technique and the reasoning behind great recipes. She's taught me to consider what I like to eat and why, and how to make recipes work. So it is no surprise that this book continues this way. It is a blueprint for BALANCED LIVING: "What do you need in life to be happy?" "What foods satisfy you? -- and thereby must be incorporated in your life?" This is NOT a DIET. This is a LIFESTYLE CHANGE. She says what is common sense but so few women act apon: If YOU are exhausted from always giving and doing for others, then eventually you will break down emotionally, physically, etc. If your life is full of resentment and stress, YOU must do something to address this and deal with it constructively. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!!!

The recipes are designed so that you can easily adapt them to whatever is more your style. Use your own ingredients and other recipes to fill in! Her message is to STOP obsessing about fat, carbs, etc and focus more on fulfillment within reason, and taking care of yourself.

I am a busy mom with 3 kids. I am a 'diet/lifestyle change' group leader. I participate in exercise classes as student or leader 3-4 times a week. But I still struggle with weight/food because I focus on food as reward/sacrifice/vice/ETC. That isn't what it's about!

I bought this book when it came out and just went to a cooking demo/class with Pam (I admit with some skepticism) and was inspired by both. She says precisely what is in my mind: Why sacrifice, go on a diet with strict rules and lose weight only to gain it all back when I just go back to my real life? What's the use? This is a guide to living a happy life. Shed the emotional baggage, stop worrying about what everyone else might think! Communicate with your loved ones and develop solid, loving relationships! Find a way of exercising that you enjoy, and DO IT regularly! Eat and ENJOY food without guilt or excess -- not as a vice but as a basic part of a happy life!

BTW, all of the book's recipes I've tried -- at the cooking demo and on my own -- are delicious, pretty, and quite simple to prepare. (She also deliberately makes them a little difficult to simply chow down on-- part of her message is to nibble and savor your food.)

Her 'program' is spreading 6 nice meals and snacks throughout the day. Instead of cramming fast junk down your craw twice a day, take the time to prepare and eat 3 healthy delicious balanced pretty meals three times, also 3 times stop to relax and put up your feet for 5-10 minutes and savor a cup of tea and fruit/1-2 little cookies/etc. What a lovely thought and YES YOU DESERVE THIS and can do it!!! By thinking about when and what you really need to eat --instead of reflexively saying "Noon--it's lunchtime, I must eat something" listen to your body's rhythms and find what works for you to make you happy. OK, so I won't pick a glass of wine and a fancy cracker/cheese; a glass of milk (btw not in a REAL glass not the kids meal plastic cup) with pretzels will do if done in the right attitude. And yes, teach your kids that this 5 minutes is a peaceful quiet time-- they probably need a nice snack then too, sit down and cuddle and talk or read a book with them. What a cherished time and happy memory that will become!

I've read through the negative reviews of this book and basically these people are not 'getting it'. 1) No, she doesn't include exchanges and fat counts, because that's not the type of person she is-- neither am I and that sort of diet is just frustrating to me. She knows how many calories to eat per day and sticks to it, but chooses foods she enjoys to cook and eat--and encourages you to do the same. Know your calorie limits and stick to them. 2)Yes, some of these items are high-end or high in fat or whatever, but if that's not your style then don't use them. She is a cookbook writer and gourmand, so she uses sundried tomatoes, olive oil, and yet ramen noodles. I don't use any of those but can easily substitute something else. Have some basics in your pantry that you can toss together in different variations, being aware that this is @___ calories and addresses this or that food group, etc. 3)She has a flexible time schedule so she was able to take 3 walks a day, etc. That may not work for you, BUT there is a way for you to manage your life and include regular exercise-- not because you HAVE to, because it recharges you and you WANT to do it.

If you truly, truly do NOT have the time and energy to adapt make simple changes, then something is wrong with your life -- and maybe it's time for you to examine your choices and do a little "JUST SAY NO" here and there. Stop making excuses and use your talent and creativity to make a better life for yourself and the people around you!!!

I encourage you to incorporate Pam's ideas into your life, using her structure to guide you to your own balance. Take charge and take responsibility (if YOU don't take care of you, who will?), find what is right for YOU and do it! PLAN AHEAD and have some treats you love on hand, whether it's homemade and in the freezer or a 100-calorie pack of cookies. And savor the food, make it pretty because YOU DESERVE IT, go for a walk with your spouse or a friend, live life fully and happily!

Good luck and best wishes to you!
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VINE VOICEon April 13, 2008
I bought this book because I've been a fan of Pam Anderson's for a long time. Many of her recipes have become staples in my household. Ever since I found out that she'd lost a considerable amount of weight, I've been waiting for her to write a book about it. She has, and the recipes look so delicious that it's hard to believe they are weight-loss fare. Indeed some of the 500+ calorie pastas really are not, unless you plan the rest of the day accordingly.

And that is the main problem with the book: There is no plan to follow. Given that, I wish she'd included the standard nutritional info, such as protein, fat, carbs, and fiber, along with the calories to help readers create their own plan using the recipes.

The key to the book is in the title. The recipe for losing weight is exercise, and the actual food recipes are for eating great. The problem is, if you choose her breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes on the higher calorie end, you will not lose weight unless you engage in the hour or so of running every day that she prescribes. To maintain her weight loss, she says she's cut her runs down to 45 minutes a day.

I don't think this book will be useful to very many as a weight-loss book, unless you stick to the lower calorie recipes and don't go for all the extras and add-ins that are Anderson's trademarks. I think the recipes are probably most helpful for maintaining weight loss. And I'm sure it is very a delicious way to do so.
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on March 16, 2008
Organized beautifully, reads like you're chatting with your best friend. Today is Sunday, and I've just made the absolutely delicious Crustless Quiche with bacon, leeks and goat cheese, for lunch today and pre-portioned breakfast the rest of the week -- I can decide each morning whether to eat at home or at my desk at work! The recipes offer tons of flexibility, and the encouragement, sprinkled throughout, offers a real plan for real people in their very real and busy lives.
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on April 9, 2008
I just took Pam's class based on this book the other day. She served a recipe from each of her daily meal categories and they were all fantastic -- delicious, colorful, and texturally satisfying. We had the open-face omelet (almost like a crepe with a healthy, vibrant filling mixture), Asian chicken soup made in a surprisingly quick and easy manner, apricot-cherry bars (so satisfying!), pre-dinner wine biscuits (easy to make ahead), and flatbread pizza that was so easy and deliciously crunchy. No bland diet food here! For many of the recipes, she offers several variations (e.g., different fillings, toppings, or flavorings). This is a lifestyle you can live with, which is her point -- if a "diet" makes you give something up, you better be prepared to do it for the rest of your life. I can't give up wine and desserts, so Pam's ideas make so much sense. She looks great in a realistic way--not Hollywood skinny, but very healthy and, even more important, happy and satisfied in her own skin. She's a great inspiration and has given those of us who love to cook and eat a wonderful guidebook!
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on April 2, 2008
I have been a subscriber to Cooking Light and Eating Well magazines but have always felt the recipes were lacking something. I am so impressed with the recipes I have tried in this book because they don't sacrifice flavor, are satisfying and quite easy to prepare (although they look quite elegant on the plate). I also like her idea of treating yourself each day with a treat/cup of tea. I have been having her fruit bar made with lemon curd and coconut with tea this week and I have not felt the need to splurge on calorie laden desserts (my weakness)! My husband has been showering me with compliments on my cooking since I've been making Pam Anderson's recipes. I haven't clued him in that he is actually eating healthier, that would spoil his fun:)
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on April 7, 2008
I do not own any other of Pam Anderson's books yet, but after this one, I will be getting more. I saw her on the cover of this, and noticed the great amount of weight that she has lost and was curious to find out how. The words that I read throughout the entire book could have been about myself! I am having the same physical and emotional problems that she had, and was not taking the time to care for myself. She tells about each step of her weight-loss and life changes that she made, and shares even small steps that she took to make these changes work. The recipes and variations are very "real-life" and very do-able for the average person on a daily basis. I have now started eating breakfast daily (which I wasn't before), and have much more energy and am less starved at lunchtime. I have implemented small snacks and "me" time during the day and evening as well. The recipes are delicious and simple to follow. This is a wonderful book for anyone trying to make simple, healthy changes to their lives. I already have more energy from exercising and eating her recipes. Give this a try! It's easy and fun!
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on May 15, 2008
No cookbook or weight loss guidebook is going to be perfect for everyone. Each individual will have different reasons for buying the book, and different tastes, amounts of time to commit to cooking, budgets, etc.. I bought the book because I am a fan of 'healthy eating' and like the cooks illustrated tested-to-death style of recipe-writing which helps you better understand the process and be sure that a recipe won't be a clunker. Although Pam Anderson started with Cooks Illustrated and sticks to the similar "perfect recipe" language, you won't find a lot of description of the recipe-creation process in her books (not just this one), which I, for one, find a little disappointing. I would especially have liked to hear more about her general strategies for making recipes healthier or reducing fat/calories. There is useful information here, but a lot of it is well- buried in overly breezy and basic instruction.

Anderson tends to emphasize basic techniques and ideas that will, hopefully, direct the reader to adapt recipes to their own tastes. In keeping with that style, many recipes here are followed by voluminous variations. I think this is most helpful if you are either a kitchen novice or someone with a very limited repertoire that happens to be quite different from hers. And as an accomplished cook, I find many of these recipes too basic, and uninspiring. I already know how to make a smoothie, roast vegetables, and lower the fat in an omelet by substituting egg whites, so the 15+ pages spent on these three topics are not very helpful to me. Similarly, I doubt many health-conscious eaters need to be told that a big salad is a healthy lunch choice. There are probably some helpful tips buried within, but the 8+ pages of basic instruction on making a lunch salad [start with greens, and add vegetables, protein and dressing] focussed so much attention on the ridiculously obvious it led me to roll my eyes and quickly turn the page.

Also, the cooking represented here is modern American home cooking. A few reviewers have complained that recipes are too gourmet; I have the opposite complaint. Personally, I would also have preferred more emphasis on 'natural foods' like whole grains, more vegetarian meals, and less semi-processed foods like light vanilla soymilk, store-bought salsa or pasta sauce and low-sugar jam. As a vegetarian, her meat-centric american fare is not always adaptable to my kitchen, and there is a lot of emphasis on quick, familiar, family-friendly cooking, not novelty. All of which probably means it is perfect for the 'average american.' Though I agree with the complaints to the effect that, especially if you already have a good basic healthy cooking repertoire, and/or have certain specific food restrictions regarding, for example, meat, sugar, or saturated fat, the recipe content here is a bit too slim.

The recipes provided are mostly in the middle-of-the-road from a nutritional perspective. These are definitely NOT your standard fatty fare, but neither are they punishing, fat-banishing, recipes only those on a strict diet regimen would eat. They tend to be more of the 'reduced-fat' style; an improvement over standard versions of similar foods, but not so lean that one doesn't need to exercise portion control. Still, I think the recipes are very reliable. I tested her granola recipe against 3 other highly touted ones (some of which were considerably fattier; some less); it came in second for me and first for my husband. I found the multiple 'variations' and serving suggestions in this case to be quite helpful and inspiring.

Her own weight loss story is interesting, and I find her advice in this vein very reasonable, but I didn't find much that was novel, or even particularly inspiring. She clearly lost a great deal of the weight by exercising vigorously and using real portion control in her eating, as well as finding a nutritional middle ground where recipes were concerned. This is very much a lifestyle and not a diet, and will be much more useful to those seeking to make small, health-inducing changes than those looking to drop pounds immediately.

In summary, I'd say this book is most appropriate for a relative novice in the kitchen looking for inspiration for relatively healthy american fare and/or someone looking for the inspiration to make small lifestyle changes to keep their weight in check.
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on February 28, 2008
You might think it's strange that I'm writing a review for a book that I don't yet own (I just placed an order for it!), but I have been waiting for this book since I read somewhere last fall that Pam was writing a book about losing weight.

We have a great cooking school here in San Antonio and I've been to Pam's classes three times over the last few years. I nearly fell over when she walked into the classroom last year to teach from Perfect Recipes for Having People Over - she looked fantastic! I had seen her twice before and she was quite heavy. After that class I went home and looked at her picture on the flap of How to Cook Without a Book and could not believe the difference. She looks 20 years older in that photo.

I own all of her cookbooks and love each one so I feel comfortable giving this one five stars after "witnessing" the change in her. I can't wait to devour every word and piece of advice in this book!
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on January 18, 2014
After twenty years of marriage, I have collected dozens of cookbooks. I like several of them, but this is becoming my favorite. It was clearly written by someone who seriously enjoys food AND has a busy family life AND wants to keep her weight in check. It's super practical, and I have learned a lot about just changing a few ingredients to alter a recipe (using the same staples ingredients and techniques) rather than reinventing the wheel with each menu. The recipes are simple and good. I find her way of thinking about food to be very relaxing and healthy without being diet-minded/obsessed (this is definitely NOT a diet book, thankfully). I find I can maintain my perfect weight of 120-125 while still enjoying real food when I apply her "plan" -- which is really just common sense: eat a light breakfast, a quick, hearty lunch, stop for midafternoon tea and a small treat, snack on a very small 100-150 calorie nibble before cooking dinner to curb hunger, and a quick, light, but satisfying dinner with desserts every now and then. This has all the elements I was looking for in an everyday cookbook. I really like her fast recipes. They work beautifully, and my family (even my picky eater) likes them. Well done!
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