Customer Reviews: Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast: Over 280 Incredibly Flavorful 5-Ingredient 15-Minute Recipes
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you are in need of a book for quick meals, Fresh Food Fast by Cooking Light is a nice choice.

I am going to give a quick overview of this book for anyone interested in knowing what to expect from it to help you decide if you want to look into FRESH FOOD FAST by COOKING LIGHT.

The sections are:

LOTS of choices from unique cold soups like Creamy Avocado Soup with Tomato Lump Crab Relish to Sweet Potato Leek and Ham Soup. All soups have a salad recipe with them that the authors suggest serving with it on the same page- I found this handy.

Unique ideas like Pear Walnut Sandwiches and Grilled Grouper Sandwiches with Tartar sauce are nice in this section. There are also some standbys like Sloppy Beef Skillet Sandwiches and Grilled Pork Sliders with BBQ Sauce. Many sandwich recipes in this book have an accompanying recipe on the same page for a soup or salad to go with the sandwich you are preparing. Examples of these recipes are Sweet Broccoli Slaw with Cranberries and Minted Pea Hummus

Some examples are Taco Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinagarette, Cous cous, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad, and Grilled Salmon and Grapefruit with Blood Orange Vinagarette. Again in this section many salad recipe also have recipes on the same page you can make to go with it, such as Tomato Basil Soup, Greek Style Pita chips. Most recipes, though, have just the dressing recipes on the same page.

This is my favorite section of this book.


Examples from this section are Grape, Blue Cheese, and Walnut Pizza, Mediterranean Style Frittata, Creamy Butternut Squash Risotto, and Southwestern Rice and Veggie Cakes. In this section, some of the recipes have side dishes appearing on the same page with them to make with the main meal.......such as....Spicy Tricolor Pepper Stir Fry, Creamy Chipolte Wedge Salad, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Glaze, and Lemon Balsamic Broccoli.

MEATLESS MAIN is my second favorite section of the book (well, tied with Fish).

Look at some of these recipes- Catfish with Cilantro- Chipolte Rice, Baked Flounder with Dill and Caper Cream, Pistachio Crusted Grouper with Lavender Honey Sauce, Lemon Artichoke Halibut en Papillote and Sunflower Seed-Crusted Orange Roughy. A few side dishes appear with the entrees to accompany them (on the same page again) such as Minted Sweet Snap Peas and Balsamic Grilled Peaches (made to go with Peach-Glazed Salmon with Raspberries).

This is actually tied with Meatless Main as my 2nd favorite section. There are many different fish recipes in here which I enjoy very much.

Smothered Pepper Steak, Ginger Lime Beef Stir Fry, and Mustard Molasses Flank Steak are some examples of the beef recipes in this section. Lemon Herb Skillet Pork Chops, Curried Pork and Chai Rice, and Asiago Crusted Pork Chops are some pork recipes in the MEAT section. There is only one ham and two lamb recipes in this book, which was disappointing to me. I would have liked to see a few more lamb recipes, and even some venison or other game meats.

Chicken Tortilla Pie, Fried Panko Chicken Tenders,Cumin Spiced Chicken with Chunky Tomato Sauce and Kalamata Balsamic Chicken with Feta are a few examples of the recipes in this section. The only turkey recipe in this section is Turkey Basil Rolls, and there are two sausage recipes.

Super short cuts
15 minute pantry (how to prepare your pantry to cook quickly)
Speedy Side dishes
Side Staples to have on hand
4 Fail-Safe Sauces
Metric Equivalents


I found this book to have a wonderful assortment of recipes for quick yet appealing meals in many categories. Many dishes are unique and interesting. The photos are lovely. Each recipe has a photo next to it which is well laid out and very attractive.

The recipes are not for those who like very plain and unspicy foods. Most recipes in here are flavorful and you can leave out the spices if you like, but it might be disappointing.

I really like the recipes in this book. They are fresh, delicious, and easy to make. I usually find that they take 1/2 hour to 45 minutes to prepare, but that is including prep time. I am sure that the 15 minutes is not including prep time.

This is a great book for when you are too tired to think of what to make for dinner and need someone to hold your hand and tell you what to make. Anything I don't want to make exactly as is, I can easily substitute without much thought.

I really like this book.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've had this book for a little over a month, and I've had the opportunity to try several recipes. So far, every recipe has been very tasty, and fast and easy to prepare.

Yes, some of the recipes do call for "convenience" products: canned diced tomatoes with Italian flavorings; pre-chopped fresh onions/carrots/celery; bottled minced garlic; and so on. And yes, you could make your own versions of these -- but the additional prep time would extend the total preparation time well beyond the 15 minutes (and yes, a number of recipes already exceed that limit, although not by a huge amount).

But for me, these recipes work. AND they taste good. AND they're generally lower in fat and calories. As someone with minimal spare time who wants to eat as sensibly as possible, this book is a great addition to my cookbook collection.

Each recipe includes a full color photo, and most include a "serve with" side dish, beverage, or dessert. Most recipes make 4 servings, so if you're single, you'll have some leftovers, or you can reduce the amount of ingredients.

A few of my favorites:

Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Onion-Fig Relish (uses prechopped onions, available in my small-town local supermarket produce section, along with dried figs, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar), served with Acorn Squash with Butter Sauce (total yum!) -- total per serving calories for the combination: 376.

Five-Spice Grilled Chicken Thighs with Blackberry Glaze (incredible flavor!) served with Yellow Rice with Spring Peas (uses frozen petite peas) -- total per serving calories for the combination: 339

Smoked Sausage and Corn Frittata served with Sweet Lemon-Splashed Melon -- total per serving calories for the combination: 228

Beefy Corn and Black Bean Chili (uses frozen corn and black beans, and canned seasoned tomato sauce) served with Cheesy Cheddar Corn Bread (I now make this a LOT) -- total per serving calories for the combination: 344

I've made all of these along with at least a dozen more, and I haven't found a dud in the bunch. I don't think anyone would guess that these dishes are "light" unless you tell them.

This book is now on my "most used" shelf.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have been a Cooking Light reader for years and own two Cooking Light Cookbooks (Cooking Light Complete Cookbook: A Fresh New Way to Cook (Book & CD-ROM) and Cooking Light Desserts) so I was very excited to receive this book. Typically I am the kind of cook that loves spending hours in the kitchen, but occasionally I need a quick meal so I knew I could put this book to good use.

My first impression was that it matches the quality I have come to expect from Cooking Light. It is an extremely visual cookbook with beautiful food photography and lots of great sidebars about ingredients and techniques. I love a lot of photos in healthy cookbooks because it serves as a reminder that healthy food can be delicious and often gets me to try recipes I might have otherwise overlooked.

I also appreciate that there are a lot of unique recipes. Even if you have other healthy cookbooks you are sure to find recipes here that are new and different. The variety of the recipes is similar to what you find in the magazine so if you like that selection you are sure to enjoy this one as well.

Another plus is that it does not seem to simply be a pickup of the recipes in the `Dinner Tonight' section of the magazine and website, which features the magazine's quick recipes. I searched on the site for quite a few recipes in the book and they didn't come up, which leads me to believe most if not all recipes are new, which subscribers will appreciate. I have also had good experiences with the recipes I have tried thus far like a BLT chicken salad with a creamy horned melon avocado dressing, pork tenderloin with balsamic onion-fig relish, and orange chipotle shrimp. All recipes made thus far have been flavorful and easy to prepare. They do rely on some prepared, frozen, and canned ingredients but less so than other `quick fix' cookbooks I have picked up.

My only quibble with this book is that I wish they provided more details for some of the more `exotic' ingredients. Even though the cookbook suggested horned melon would not be difficult to find, I couldn't locate it despite visiting 5 stores including a specialty produce and large ethnic grocery store and looking in the fresh produce, canned fruits, and frozen fruits sections. I understand this happens but would have appreciated substitution information (I eventually Googled this on my own and substituted Chayote) or information on seasonality of the product. I don't mind making a few trips to the grocery store, but imagine if someone is truly trying to cook a quick meal this would not be appreciated.

Overall I think this is a solid cookbook for preparing healthy and fast food. It lives up to the standards set by Cooking Light and would be a welcome addition to any healthy cook's shelf.
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on August 6, 2010
I was so excited to receive this in the mail, and was completely crestfallen after flipping through it. Yes, crestfallen is really the only way to describe it. And this is coming from someone who generally likes Cooking Light publications.

The recipes in this book are built largely on processed, prepackaged foods. In order to cull the recipes down to 5 ingredients, the editors have cleverly suggested that we use supermarket staples such as bottled dressing and other processed foods. If I want to make a salad with bottled ranch dressing, I don't need a cookbook to tell me how to add it to greens and toss.

Similarly, I find the sandwich section insulting. There was literally a recipe for a sandwich that called for ham, swiss cheese, bread, and Dijon mustard. The recipe explained how to layer them all together to make the sandwich. What a waste of paper and ink (and money, for the unassuming purchaser).

Maybe the recipes would be appropriate for a tween learning their away around a kitchen, but for full-blown adults with any sense of pride in what you make in the kitchen, stay away!
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This cookbook tries to provide recipes that either only have 5 ingredients and/or only take 15 minutes to prepare. It covers your basic meals - soups, sandwiches, salads, meatless main dishes, fish and shellfish, meats, and poultry.

As others have mentioned, the 5 ingredient and/or 15 minute preparation time mentioned in the title for this cookbook is a stretch. Some of the ingredients that they mention I have yet to find in my frozen food aisle. And yes, there are brand names mentioned occaisionally in a recipe as suggestions, which didn't bother me too much but seemed odd at times (do I need a brand suggestion for sliced roast beef from the deli??).

I loved the layout of the recipes - on one page is a great photo and on the other page is the recipe. I also liked the "Serve with" suggestions - side dishes, drinks, or desserts. The information regarding calories, fat, protein, fiber and so on was helpful, with the serving size mentioned at the end of every recipe. Some recipes included more information about a specific ingredient (i.e. the best season and how to store cherries).

Most of these recipes are original creations (as opposed to light versions of some everyday recipes). For example, you'll find recipes for pan-seared snapper with fennel-olive topping or pistachio-crusted grouper with lavender honey sauce.

If you're interested in trying recipes for light different dishes, this cookbook is for you. Personally, while I liked the look of this cookbook, those different dishes didn't appeal to me and this book won't be one for my keeper shelf.
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VINE VOICEon May 2, 2009
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
There's just one small flaw (at least for me), and that's the five ingredients you have to have on hand at all times in order to prepare these entrees. That's one incredibly well stocked (and expensive!) pantry, let alone all the prep time needed to have those pre-chopped veggies immediately on hand. If you can stock and maintain a pantry of this scale I'd say this cookbook is a viable option and worth considering. If you're a lazy cook like me who just wants to steam the veggies in the microwave and sauté a chicken breast for dinner I'd pass.
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on April 12, 2009
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The least you need to know: Finally, a cookbook for a health-conscious newbie cook!

Full Review: I was actually excited about this book. I'm trying to lose weight (who isn't, these days, except for you thin [...]) and Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast seems a godsend. The boast on the title is alluring, 15 minutes using just 5 ingredients? No way!

Well, the proof of the pudding, as they say ... I have so far cooked three meals and wow. The book itself is sturdy yet pleasant to use. Clear, bright pictures of what your food should look like is an important part of any cookbook I'd use and this one's super. The recipes were easy to follow and really did take as long as promised although some of the side dishes added more time overall.

The best compliment I can give and the reason this book is getting its full complement of stars is that I actually cooked dinner for my wife and me. She tentatively tasted and went into rave mode. I'd never done anything like this, and believe me, the instructions are clear enough that anyone can as well.

Highly recommended.
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on October 2, 2009
I'm a collector of cookbooks, and let me tell you............I've got some good ones too. Not just a collector of cookbooks, but I use the bejabbers out of them. I've been told I'm a great cook. I can pretty much so recreate anything I've ever eaten and I know the anatomy of most dishes, most of the time I tweak the recipes that come out of my books, but in this book, I NEVER DO. Frankly that alone astonishes me. What I love about this book is the way they've put together the ingredients. The flavors are layered perfectly and the receipes are nearly fool proof. I also like the fact you don't have to bring out the entire pantry to prepare the dishes. This has become my favorite cookbook, my only problem now is trying to keep the book together. As to the 15 minutes so much. LOL.
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on June 20, 2013
In no uncertain terms, I am not a cook. Yet, I aspire to eat healthy foods, and now that I'm a mother my lazy ways must be rectified. Heating up frozen meals simply does not suffice, any more. So I went in search for a cookbook that would meet all of my criteria: 1) It must be healthy 2) It must be FAST to prepare 3) It must be simple to shop for (because I also dislike spending time in a grocery store) 4) It must be food that my toddler (and somewhat picky husband!) will eat and 5) It must not leave me disgusted with the entire cooking process, causing me to lose my appetite for the very food I have just prepared.

A pretty tall order, no? Suffice it to say I had a long and fruitless search with cookbooks that were almost perfect. And then I stumbled upon "Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast: Over 280 Incredibly Flavorful 5-Ingredient 15-Minute Recipes." And I fell in love. Why? Well, let me tell you:

1) As is usual with cookbooks the meals are categorized together under "Meat", "Soups", "Poultry", "Non-Meat Meals", etc. But what is different from many cookbooks I have encountered is that each recipe is put on its own page, with the picture of the meal on the opposite page. And below the recipe is a recipe for a suggested complimentary side dish. Which is also extremely quick to prepare, and healthy. As an anti-cook, I am thrilled that I can use pictures to help me choose my recipe.
2) The recipes have just a few ingredients, and so far nothing too exotic or strange, causing me to stumble all over town trying to find that specific obscure ingredient. Everything can be scooped up in a typical grocery store, and many ingredients are ones most people have in their pantries already.
3) These recipes are truly quick to prepare. They are flavorful AND healthy! This is a rather tough requirement to meet, usually, when trying to satisfy a toddler's need for simple fare, and a hubby's need for mouth-watering fare.

On my first attempt I selected Salmon with a garlic-chili glaze, and the side dish was sauteed snap peas with mint and grated orange peel. WOW! I had both dishes prepared in less than 20 minutes. We sat down for a nice family meal around the table, and it was an instant hit; my son was shoveling the salmon into his mouth quicker than a frog to a fly. And my husband ate everything, pronouncing it a Grand Slam, and he can be quite leery of green vegetables usually! So we had three happy campers, all in such a short amount of time! I actually teared up with happiness at seeing my family nourished with a healthful meal that I made all by myself, and without any post-cooking resentment or exhaustion!!

Since the first successful attempt there have been many more successful meals including almond-crusted tilapia, asiago-crusted pork chops, cumin chicken...

Who knows, this magical cookbook just might cause a professed Anti-Cook to become one of those Pro-Cooking people. I would not have believed it possible before buying this cookbook...
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on March 26, 2009
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It's not just that it uses a lot of prepackaged ingredients--I was expecting that. After all, it's tough to make 250 menus with only 5 ingredients apiece. I fully expected the tradeoff for "fast and convenient" to be "prepackaged"... No, the problem for me is that these recipes call for WEIRD pre-packaged stuff. Stuff we don't usually keep in our kitchen (and I think our kitchen is well stocked--our cupboard regularly contains four kinds of rice, sherry vinegar, oyster sauce, etc., our fridge regularly hosts fennel, leeks, prosciutto, buttermilk, etc., and on the countertop is sherry vinegar, balsamic, rice wine vinegar, EVOO and regular olive oil...) I guess that when I saw the title and subtitle--Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast: 250 Incredibly Flavorful 5-Ingredient 15-Minute Recipes--I was expecting dishes where I'd buy all fresh ingredients and cook them, or dishes where I could just grab something out of the cupboard and go... not dishes where I have to go shop for a pre-packaged ingredient!

The recipes almost all consist of instructions like "open this package of stuff, throw in that other stuff, add protein, cook until done." Well, obviously I paraphrase, but you get the idea. "Minimal" is the operative word here. As a fan of The New Best Recipe and other Cooks Illustrated cookbooks, I found this one light on information.

On the plus side, the nutrient breakdowns are useful, and the presentations are quite appealing. In fact, I suspect that the "eye candy" aspect of this cookbook is its best feature. I recognize that not everyone is into the detailed explanations of the ATK/CI books, but I dunno, it just didn't click for me. After searching the book for a couple of recipes that seemed appealing, and finding them merely okay, I've relegated this one to the back of the cabinet. I'd recommend The Best Light Recipe instead.
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