Book Review: Prevention’s Stop Dieting and Lose Weight Cookbook

Title: Prevention’s Stop Dieting & Lose Weight Cookbook

Author: Prevention magazine staff, edited by Mary Jo Plutt

Date: 1994

Publisher: Rodale

ISBN: 0-87596-198-3

Length: 436 pages including index and appendices

Illustrations: full-color photos

Quote: “[E]ating foods low in fat will do more than just make you look better. It’ll make you feel better, too…”

But extreme-low-fat diets are Out, you say, and high-fat, low-carb diets are In? Er um, for one thing, remember what happened to Dr. Atkins? Actually, the difference between viable low-fat and low-carb diets is not nearly as big as the difference between faddy ones. People who stay trim and healthy eat reasonably balanced diets that include some fat–only less than the unbalanced diets fat people eat–and some carbs–only more complex and fewer simple carbs than the unbalanced diets fat people eat. So low-carb people can use this book; the majority of the recipes are, in fact, lean protein and fiber-rich fruit and veg, and they recommend using enough oil to lubricate pans and ward off the depression some people develop on extreme-low-fat diets.

Will you lose weight, look better, and feel better? Gentle Readers, I got this book from a friend who likes to be mistaken for one of (her daughter’s and my) schoolmates, and often is. With her straight shoulders, trim top-heavy figure, and long blonde hair (it wasn’t always blonde), she looks and acts like a well-preserved forty-or-fifty-something. If you didn’t know her oldest child was fifty you wouldn’t believe she’s seventy. Of course, she’s also into exercise and all the other habits of people who enjoy very long healthy lives, and she also comes from a long line of ancestors who were blessed with similar tastes, habits, and longevity. And cheekbones.

Can you use these recipes if your diet needs to be “free” from some specific food? More of the recipes are gluten-free than are dairy-free, but a lot of them are the kind where it’s easy just to substitute water or stock for milk, or omit the cheese. Most of them are sugar-free and low-carb. Many are grain-free.

Do they taste delicious? Some of the recipes do have that old familiar 1970s health-food-store flavor. Most do not. The ones that appeal to me really depend on the quality of the fruit and vegetables you use. If you use store-brand canned veg, they might come out on the boring side. If you use fresh garden produce, they’ll be delicious.

And, for a timely bonus…I didn’t plan ahead to post this review just before the Winter Holidays, but this book actually contains flavorful, healthy, tradition-inspired recipes for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s feasts.

Since this book is a collection from a magazine’s archives, it’s not a Fair Trade Book. As usual, to buy it from this site, send $5 per book + $5 per package to either address in the lower left-hand corner of this screen. (This is a good-sized book–I’d like to promise that you could get two copies into a package for a total price of $15, but that depends on the packages the post office has in stock that day. However, you could get four skinny little Pocket-Book-type paperbacks into the package alongside this book, for a total price of $30.)

blogjob cat

Book Review: American Heart Association Low Fat Low Cholesterol Cookbook

A Fair Trade Book

Title: American Heart Association Low-Fat Low-Cholesterol Cookbook

Author: Scott M. Grundy

Date: 1989

Publisher: Random House

ISBN: 0-812-91982-3

Length: 328 pages with index

Illustrations: drawings of foods and utensils by Regina Scudellari

Quote: “Since most cases of high blood cholesterol are caused by diet, it stands to reason that most cases can be reversed by diet. Most of the time, that logic holds true.”

First, you need to know that a new edition of this book is available. I’ve not seen the new edition. It might be better than the old one. This review is about the 1989 edition.

The recipes in this book were planned not to seduce people away from the whole idea of greasy, high-carb, meat-based cuisine, but to offer those people substitutes that resemble that kind of food. It follows from this observation that a lot of the recipes are for things I personally don’t like…but possibly you do.

I usually flavor split pea soup with savory vegetables, herbs, and salt, not salt pork, so I don’t care for a version of split pea soup flavored with ham.

I usually dress cucumbers with a dash of salt, so I see no reason to bury them in a mixture of cottage cheese,yogurt, and sugar.

I’ve been known to add ground flaxseed or sesame seed to salads, or top them with nuts or cooked meat, and I don’t really mind adding lemon juice, but I’ve never seen any reason at all to drown a perfectly good salad in oil and vinegar. (Note to cooks: if you want children to eat more salad, try chopping and tossing the solid ingredients of your salads and putting the “dressings” on the table in separate dishes. Nearly all children will leave the oil and vinegar alone, but eat the healthy stuff and like it.)

I don’t usually bother with desserts, but when I do I like the real thing. Fresh blackberries don’t need any sugar; frozen blackberries ground up with a teaspoon of frozen orange juice are not my idea of a sherbet, or even a sorbet.

I could happily get through the rest of my life without adding whipped cream or “whipped topping” to anything, so the point of mixing powdered nonfat milk with gelatin and oil to produce “mock whipped cream” is lost on me.

So, when cooking for people with cardiovascular concerns—whose ranks I expect to join, some time in the next ten years, because after age fifty women are as vulnerable as men—I like the Sinatra Program recipes or the ones in the McDougall cookbook series. Their recipes don’t pretend to substitute for the creamy, cheesy, buttery foods with processed veg and elementary chemistry projects. They celebrate healthy food the way it is.

Some of the recipes in the A.H.A. Low-Fat Low-Cholesterol Cookbook also celebrate healthy food the way it is. The hummus recipe revels in garbanzo-ness, the potato salad is a delicious mix of vegetables that don’t need any dressing, the allegedly Chinese chicken stir-fry may never have been made in China before but it probably will be, the shepherd’s pie is gluten-free and vegetable-rich, the vegetable-beef burgers are moist and lean, the chili bean soup would probably be enjoyed even in Texas if you didn’t confuse it with Real Chili, the “vegetarian sauce” for pasta is nice for rice too…but on the whole, this book was written for people whose tastes are different from mine.

If reduced-fat pork, cheese, cream, yogurt, mayonnaise, pasta, and pastry interest you, then you are the person for whom this book was written. Recommended.

Dr. Grundy is still alive and teaching, so this is a Fair Trade Book. $5 per book + $5 per package = $10, out of which we’ll send 10%, or $1, to Grundy or a charity of his choice for each book ordered from either address at the lower left-hand corner of the screen.

blogjob cat