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If you want to eat fewer calories it's probably helpful to have access to delicious, satisfying food that contains fewer calories.

That being said, I have never seen a diet cookbook that lives up to the general eG Forums standard of excellence in cookbooks. I get review copies of diet cookbooks all the time -- I probably got four of them this week -- and their shortcomings are always quite evident. I think one problem is that any collection of self-consciously dietetic recipes is going to be, in some way, lacking.

If your goal is to find recipes that produce food that is lower in fat and calories -- or carbs or whatever -- than what you're currently eating then the best thing to do, in my opinion, is go through the best cookbooks you can find and extract the recipes that naturally fit into your model of a good diet. If you're trying to cut out fat, you'll find that a lot of Mediterranean recipes are very good for that. If you're trying to cut out carbs, you'll find lots of protein-heavy recipes in most any classically oriented cookbook. You can also make some modifications to some recipes without breaking them.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Sally Schneiders A New Way to Cook is pretty good.

There is a thread on it somewhere. Also, its the Cookbook of the Month( Feb) on Chowhound. There will be lots of reviews.

The Sherry Vinegar chicken is wonderful.

Eta: I also like a lot of the recipes from Cooking Light( they have books, but mostly its a magazine). I use the website to find recipes too. I made a chicken tettrazzini for dinner tonight. It was pretty good and no fake or weird ingredients.

Edited by CaliPoutine (log)
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I have had to carefully manage my weight all my life, I was a crash test jockey. Diets do not work. More out than in is the only thing that works. I eat every single thing I want, in small amounts.

I hope it's ok to offer a non-cookbook tip. Get an electrical impedence scale. You can buy them pretty reasonably at any big box store. You stand on it in your bare feet, and it estimates your weight, body fat, and water weight. The reason this is a good thing is that it can help you figure out what's really happening with your bod... on the day when a normal scale tells you you've gained a pound, an electrical impedence scale might tell you you have actually gained water from your salty chips the night before, or, gained muscle mass, which weighs more than fat, so it's a pound you might be happy about.

Good luck. It's nice you can do this together and help each other out.

Edited by pax (log)
“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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If you do get an electrical impedence scale, make sure you read the directions carefully. There are certain conditions which would cause a reading to be wildly inaccurate (weighing yourself after exercising, drinking a lot of water, or a heavy meal, for example), so reading the directions is very important.

I say skip the cookbook, start exercising more, and start your "diet" by reducing your portions by a little, but you don't necessarily have to make huge changes immediately. Institute changes gradually rather than all at once, and they'll be more likely to stick.

If you really really want a "diet" cookbook, I'd go with one of the WW cookbooks. The newer ones, especially, tend to be more food-lover friendly. Doesn't the CIA have a WW cookbook out?

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As much as I agree with the advice above, it is hard to cut down on portions and specific books can be helpful. When I wanted to lose weight a few years ago and hit a brick wall, I got a lot of inspiration from a British book by Ruth Watson, Fat Girl Slim. Interesting recipes with advice on how to add and detract calories, plus lots of advice on how to snack sensibly etc. The snacking is important - stresses the necessity to eat small amounts, regularly, because that way you don't have drops in blood sugar levels and are less likely to feel hungry and have cravings. Anyway, it's truly a diet book for people who love food and love cooking.

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As much as I agree with the advice above, it is hard to cut down on portions and specific books can be helpful.  When I wanted to lose weight a few years ago and hit a brick wall, I got a lot of inspiration from a British book by Ruth Watson, Fat Girl Slim.  Interesting recipes with advice on how to add and detract calories, plus lots of advice on how to snack sensibly etc.  The snacking is important - stresses the necessity to eat small amounts, regularly, because that way you don't have drops in blood sugar levels and are less likely to feel hungry and have cravings.  Anyway, it's truly a diet book for people who love food and love cooking.

I couldn't agree more - this is an excellent book for just these reasons. The dieting principle used is calorie counting. The author is a restaurateur and food writer and I found the book incredibly helpful on the correct mental stance to be adopted by the interested cook on a diet. Several years on from my diet, I still have some of the recipes in my everyday repertoire.

Catherine

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Most of the recent Moosewood books have nutritional information for each recipe. If you don't mind vegetarian food, its a good way to go. But as others have said, exercise and portion control also play a roll.

Dan

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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Whether that's true or not, if you want to eat fewer calories it's probably helpful to have access to delicious, satisfying food that contains fewer calories.

That being said, I have never seen a diet cookbook that lives up to the general eG Forums standard of excellence in cookbooks. I get review copies of diet cookbooks all the time -- I probably got four of them this week -- and their shortcomings are always quite evident. I think one problem is that any collection of self-consciously dietetic recipes is going to be, in some way, lacking.

If your goal is to find recipes that produce food that is lower in fat and calories -- or carbs or whatever -- than what you're currently eating then the best thing to do, in my opinion, is go through the best cookbooks you can find and extract the recipes that naturally fit into your model of a good diet. If you're trying to cut out fat, you'll find that a lot of Mediterranean recipes are very good for that. If you're trying to cut out carbs, you'll find lots of protein-heavy recipes in most any classically oriented cookbook. You can also make some modifications to some recipes without breaking them.

This sounds like sound advice. I was hoping that one of you would be able to recommend one that has a good number of low cal recipes in one book but it looks like not.

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Moosewood Low-Fat

Otherwise, I've noticed that most of the cookbooks that focus on fruits/vegetables and seasonal cooking are naturally perfect cookbooks for dieters.

Are any of the Moosewood cookbooks for omnivores? I'm overweight but not enough so to give up delicious meat.

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Moosewood Low-Fat

Otherwise, I've noticed that most of the cookbooks that focus on fruits/vegetables and seasonal cooking are naturally perfect cookbooks for dieters.

Are any of the Moosewood cookbooks for omnivores? I'm overweight but not enough so to give up delicious meat.

That's not really a problem. Just use the Moosewood cookbooks for side dishes, and you can use other sources for meat.

As I suggested earlier (but it seems my suggestion was missed), the Weight Watchers cookbooks by the Culinary Institute of America would probably be good options for you.

Link if you don't want to take the time to find it on your own.

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The Food and Wine yearly compilations have lots of interesting, light recipes, and I believe most of them satisfy our EGullet centric cuisine requirements. The vast majority of my cooking is pretty healthy, and I get a lot of inspiration from those books. And yes, Cooking Light sometimes runs some rather tasty stuff, although you have to comb out a bit of "lite potato chip crusted tuna casserole" chaff from the wheat, so to speak.

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I'm a big fan of the Secrets of Fat Free...

Greek Cooking, Elaine Gavalas

Italian Cooking, Sandra Woodruff

Chinese Cooking, Ying Chang Compestine

Kosher, Deborah Bernstein

All these books have simple, easy to follow and very tasty recipes in them. Do an Amazon search and you can find used copies for next to nothing. The Turkey Bolognese sauce from the Italian book is a staple in my kitchen and has fooled even the most die hard Italian foodies for being the full fat version. All things in moderation of course, since I can relate to the problem being portion control more than calorie count. But it's way easier to "diet" when the recipes yield tasty results. Best of luck with it and please keep us posted with any resources you might find along the way.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Moosewood Low-Fat

Otherwise, I've noticed that most of the cookbooks that focus on fruits/vegetables and seasonal cooking are naturally perfect cookbooks for dieters.

Are any of the Moosewood cookbooks for omnivores? I'm overweight but not enough so to give up delicious meat.

That's not really a problem. Just use the Moosewood cookbooks for side dishes, and you can use other sources for meat.

As I suggested earlier (but it seems my suggestion was missed), the Weight Watchers cookbooks by the Culinary Institute of America would probably be good options for you.

Link if you don't want to take the time to find it on your own.

Thanks Rona. I did note your suggestion and will check them out.

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As much as I agree with the advice above, it is hard to cut down on portions and specific books can be helpful.  When I wanted to lose weight a few years ago and hit a brick wall, I got a lot of inspiration from a British book by Ruth Watson, Fat Girl Slim.  Interesting recipes with advice on how to add and detract calories, plus lots of advice on how to snack sensibly etc.  The snacking is important - stresses the necessity to eat small amounts, regularly, because that way you don't have drops in blood sugar levels and are less likely to feel hungry and have cravings.  Anyway, it's truly a diet book for people who love food and love cooking.

I haven't seen that book (it seems to be out-of-print now, too!), but it sounds like a good one. Is it intended to be more than just a cookbook? Like how South Beach is a diet book with some recipes, for example? Or is it primarily recipes with some extra information?

About cutting down on portions, I think it's actually quite easy, but I was thinking more along the lines of "Instead of taking three serving spoonfuls of mashed potatoes, just take two and a half," not, "Choose protein servings the size of a deck of cards."

I think for most people, it's most helpful to make very small changes to start--like reducing your serving by half a spoonful, or not taking that third piece of pizza when you really only have room for two. That way you don't feel too deprived, and you can segue more easily into eating those seemingly super-small portions later.

I also think that for people who are used to eating large meals, it will be very easy to get a "diet cookbook", but still eat large portions, thereby not really cutting calories. That's why to me, it's best to start with very small changes to what you're already doing. And while you're making those very small steps, you can start reading books to get ideas for further changes, then institute those changes slowly, as well.

That's the kind of thing that would work for me, but I'm an ISTJ, and therefore like to analyze every little thing I do. :biggrin: It may not work as well for others.

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Karen Barnaby Well Fatguy I think this book meets Egullet standards (I did not see anyone had mentioned this yet?)

very nice book and every recipe I have tried is true. Karen has a low carb board where there are lots of people who are really into food and cooking. She herself has lost quite a bit of weight and eats low carb. Also most of the recipes in her book are posted in her recipe site on the board so you do not even have to buy it!

I eat a very low carb diet and have managed to loose a lot of weight keep it off and only with one slide during a recent tragidy in my life did I have to stop and start low carb over

I (like many here) collect cookbooks like a maniac and have not found the need for a "diet cookbook" per se. I usually just recreate my own recipes from any cookbooks to low carb. it is part of the joy cooking to me.

I am all about low carb because I love rich fatty foods and not having cravings

I am way to stubborn to live in a land of deprivation when it comes to eating :smile:

ps if you google her name her site comes up and you can buy the book there I believe but today the site is down ( just checked seeing there was only one book left on Amazon)

Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)
why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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All 'diets' (in the sense of being only for a limited period of suffering) are ineffective in the long term, and like 'low carb diets', in essence, they are all fads.

However, they do sell books.

Year after year, by the truckload.

But to the same people! Those that believe that a short period of doing penance will atone for their sins.

The very fact that there are so many of these books is actually proof that - long-term - they are ineffective.

Doctors speak of 'yo-yo' dieting - the faster the weight loss, the faster it gets put back on after the 'diet' ends.

Therefore, instead of a 'dieting cookbook' I'd prefer to recommend something like the BBC paperback 'The Taste of Health' (Jenny Rogers), for guidance on a long-term sustainable style of eating for ordinary (non-feast) days, but its long out of print, and may be hard to find.

As Prasantrin says, such dietary habits are best adopted by making small, but 'sticky' changes. New habits for the long term. And to avoid 'bouncing off', go for the easiest first.

There's no virtue in suffering!

If it took years to pile on the pounds, don't even try to shift them in weeks.

Adopting 'sustainable' habits is the smart way to trim down, and stay trimmer.

HOWEVER, for those specifically wanting to learn some tricks for flavour, aroma and interesting texture, while minimising calorie intake, there was a glutton for butter and cream that underwent a Damascene conversion to become a low-calorie zealot - though still not wanting to miss out on the joys of his former sins.

Graham Kerr (the former 'Galloping Gourmet') wrote his "Smart Cooking" and "Minimax Cookbook" after his wife's stroke and heart attack. So, one should excuse his preaching.

Also restauranteur (and glutton) John Tovey wrote a nice little book called "Having a Binge on a Diet" with his suggestions as to making the penance enjoyable.

I do hope that this is recognised as responding the question posed, even if I have troubled to try and explain why I think its far from the best question to follow the statement in the first line of that initial post.

Edited by dougal (log)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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I have read a lot of contradicting articles over the last few years about weight loss, nutrition and health. The amount of information currently available to anyone who want to cook meals in a way that is conductive to weight loss and health is so massive and contradictory that I am trully unable to provide any suggestion for a decent cokbook. I too am in need of a culinary compass here.

I often think that anybook with the word "low" in its title does not start on the right track. I would love to find good books with words like "balanced", "nourishing" etc. in their title.

I have read good reviews of the new Bittman's book from a health and weight loss perspective. Any comments on this book or any other similar book?

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Doesn't Gordo have a new healthy-eating cookbook out? I haven't tried it, but I've seen it in shops.

Here it is.

ETA: Without having seen it or used it, this probably wasn't a very helpful suggestion. I suppose there's no reason why a Gordo "healthy eating" book should be any different from any other diet book.

There are times when it all seems so simple, when discipline is easy to come by, and the pounds can come off pretty quickly. Currently, my wife and I are on a very good run of eating healthily, with recipes gathered together from various sources, including weightwatchers cookbooks, but also from regular books. Personally, my real problem is always eating out, I simply can't control myself under such circumstances, and I have to limit my restaurant trips.

One other thing: while the whole "burn more calories" thing is obviously good advice, depending on the kind of eating you're doing currently, it's pretty much impossible to burn enough calories this way without making any dietary changes. I have so many well-meaning friends saying things like "just cycle to work -- that's all I do" but really they don't get it. Their relationship with food is different to mine. It would be a physical impossibility for me to work off the kind of calories I would take in if I left all such decisions to may mouth and stomach.

Best of luck in any case!

Edited by Simon_S (log)
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I wonder if anyone has thoughts they'd like to share on "Eat Right for Your Blood Type"? in relationship to dieting/nutrition. I don't remember it having actual recipes, but it did have a lot of interesting points about what suits people's body types, and why, and what's more likely to be healthy for them.

“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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I wonder if anyone has thoughts they'd like to share on "Eat Right for Your Blood Type"? in relationship to dieting/nutrition. I don't remember it having actual recipes, but it did have a lot of interesting points about what suits people's body types, and why, and what's more likely to be healthy for them.

I don't know if he has the answer, but I think he is on the right track.

We all have different make-ups. Some can eat anything they want and never gain a pound, others...well you know.

This might help

http://www.veg.ca/content/view/128/110/

Hope I'm not preaching :wink:

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All 'diets' (in the sense of being only for a limited period of suffering) are ineffective in the long term, and like 'low carb diets', in essence, they are all fads.

However, they do sell books.

Year after year, by the truckload.

But to the same people! Those that believe that a short period of doing penance will atone for their sins.

The very fact that there are so many of these books is actually proof that - long-term - they are ineffective.

Doctors speak of 'yo-yo' dieting - the faster the weight loss, the faster it gets put back on after the 'diet' ends.

Therefore, instead of a 'dieting cookbook' I'd prefer to recommend something like the BBC paperback 'The Taste of Health' (Jenny Rogers), for guidance on a long-term sustainable style of eating for ordinary (non-feast) days, but its long out of print, and may be hard to find. 

As Prasantrin says, such dietary habits are best adopted by making small, but 'sticky' changes. New habits for the long term. And to avoid 'bouncing off', go for the easiest first.

I've heard this argument before and I would tend to agree that this is true for many overweight people who have been overweight for a substantial period of time.

All of these things are situational; what might not work for someone who is chronically very overweight could work for me.

Personally, I'm about 15 pounds heavier than my lean muscley self when I was in college and I'm 2 inches bigger in the waist (32 from 30 inches). So, I would argue that I could successfully "diet" meaning that I modify my eating/exercise significantly for a relatively short period of time although I would have to make some longer-term, small magnitude changes to maintain the weight. I have a sense of what will be successful for myself and I think that eating less fat, sugar, and calories (coupled with exercise) for a relatively short period of time will benefit me sufficiently.

What I was looking for was one-stop shopping for recipe ideas that would result in my eating fewer calories. I thought that was clear enough in my OP; maybe it was not.

Edited by CDRFloppingham (log)
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