Top positive review
302 people found this helpful
A very unique cookbook with scores of great dishes. (The chocolate cake alone is worth 10 stars!)
on March 30, 2010
I have to start by saying I consider myself a pretty fine cook...we are a two chef household with strong culinary backgrounds. It's hard to impress me with new info. I'm also a weight loss coach...balance! Yin Yang!
Yet this book is very different than my other cookbooks. I actually read it cover-to-cover the day I got it. It's not just recipes. If you are totally new at learning how to cook healthy dishes, you will feel as though you've just had a crash course. Better yet, if you attended culinary school I swear there is enough "teach an old dog new tricks" info in here to continue learning...at least there was for us. While I already knew things like using pumpkin or applesauce in place of fat in cakes (it makes a spice cake BETTER and MOISTER and pumpkin is high fiber, high water, low glycemic so it takes as many calories as are in pumpkin to digest it so it's an amazing fat replacement in baked goods), I learned scores of new things...I now stock my cupboard, for example, with oat flour. After using it in her cake recipe I was floored. I have also been trying to create a low calorie and low fat hummus (yet yummy) for ages with no tahini. She beat me to it. I also hate the taste of low fat or no fat sour cream and her greek yogurt and lemon juice trick in the recipes has changed my Southwest dishes for good. The substitutions really do change your mind and the book is just as much about teaching the reader a lifestyle more than handing them some recipes.
That said, I wasn't happy not to find nutritional information in the book. Granted, I get the reasoning behind it since I read Bethenny's first book (if you didn't, you'll also get a good overview of it in here) and her mindset against dieting but, instead, enjoying good healthy food in moderation...however, statistically most of us eat 40% more calories than we think we do. For those of us who don't mind journaling our calories or who actually feel empowered by it, I hope that she adds a link to a website in which she lists them. This way, she takes away the obsession she is against in the caloric "food noise" in the book, but also allows those of us in control of our calories in vs. calories out to go that extra mile to get the info if we are gonna plug it in on the computer anyway...
...and that's exactly what I did this morning. I have been cooking from this book for days and I kid you not, I became convinced that the calorie count was left out because the food was TOO good and she had to be fooling us into thinking it was healthy. If you make the cake called "How Is This So Moist Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Glaze" as I did this morning, you'll understand. This is actually 1000% better than my fattest chocolate cake recipe laden with calories. I mean it is mind blowing good. And very filling. So I was positive I had to have eaten about 700 calories this morning until I actually plugged in the full recipe and included the peanut butter glaze (it makes more than enough glaze; you'll even have some leftover) and discovered the cake and pb glaze was just 150 calories/ serving. It is incredibly great without the peanut butter glaze too so I'm guessing that omission would even bring it down to 100 calories for something that tastes uber fattening and isn't! This recipe alone was worth the price of the book. In fact, Bethenny, the author, noted in the notes about this that the first time she made it she accused Jason, (her husband- according-to-the-front-page-news-as-of-yesterday), of throwing a stick of butter in it while she wasn't looking. I have no idea either how these ingredients make something that rich and low calorie but it's my new fave. I began plugging in the dishes I had made into my nutrional info converter and all were high in health and all natural, low in calories, low in fat, many high fiber...she should include the stats. It's a selling point, not a negative.
Try the lychee martini or skinnygirl cosmo (great tips on keeping drinks low cal!)
Try the guilt-free artichoke spinach cheese dip.
Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad
Spicy Chipotle Dip
The pasta with the mushroom sauce using truffle oil is good enough to serve at a dinner party. We fell over ourselves eating that one two days straight in my house
Goat Cheese Dip
Spanish Spiced Rubbed Chicken with Mustard Green Onion Sauce
Red Velvet Cupcakes
You get the idea. What's unique is she lists scores of substitutions with each recipe so you really get the idea how to use what you have, transform a dish, make it go further, or how to pick up substituting low fat and low calorie ingredients in all your other dishes in ways you might not think of.
Also, I add non-fat greek yogurt to her excellent hummus recipe and it makes it super creamy and even higher in protein.
Better yet, while most of my diet cookbooks use substitutions that make a dish a tad more artificial, these are all natural and that always boosts taste.
Know going in: There are no photos in the book. While that never bugs me, I also know it does bug some people and it may be important to you. Also I wish the pages had been glossy (easier to wipe clean) rather than the school-book style novel paper which also made the ingredient list hard to read since it was in a lighter grey. I did need my reading glasses because of that. I think it may have been fine if the font was bigger and maybe they made the font smaller to keep the book at 300 pages which is one of the cut-off points for books, but, if so, I wish when they'd decreased the size, they'd changed the color to black like the rest of the recipe.
Conclusion: In my perfect world, the pages and binding and font color would be more like a cookbook than a novel but I read it like a novel since it's full of information. The dishes, and I mean every dish I've made from it, has been 5 star and we never feel deprived cooking easy dishes with everyday ingredeints we have at home or can substitute with her suggestions. If nothing else, taste that dang addictive and decadent chocolate cake with peanut butter glaze. So I forgave throwing on my reading glasses after I tasted the dishes. Now get that nutritional info on a website somewhere and I'll be eternally grateful--That said, I still love it.