Pros: Family friendly. Small portions.
Cons: Limited on types of food. Recipes are very similar. Mostly assembling pre-made foods.
I was looking for some quick breakfast recipes and found this book. As the cover suggests, these are ridiculously easy recipes. So very easy that at first glance I thought it was almost a waste of time because I really did not need the directions to boil and egg. Yes, a recipe listed in the book. However, after giving it a chance I realized some of these no-brainer dishes are less expensive, less time consuming and healthier than I am currently eating. The author’s personal comments about the dish make me understand the concept better. Her ideas on what to put on top of the boiled egg, how long they last in the fridge, and how little calories are in the whites made the age-old recipe a new favorite.
The author of this book, Devin Alexander, is a chef on The Biggest Loser and one of the authors of The Biggest Loser cookbooks. She tells a little of her personal story with weight struggles in the beginning of the book then her personality shows with every recipe as she adds a couple sentences about her experience with the dish, or what the reader may be surprised to know. I really like this concept. In this book, she has taken food that we “crave” and make them somewhat healthier so that we can make small changes that add up over the course of the year. Pizza, wings, burgers, chips, brownies…it’s all in here.
I was eager to get some fresh ideas for breakfast because I was stuck in an egg or oatmeal rut. I’m working my way through the 22 recipes in the breakfast section and have enjoyed them all so far. I had most of the ingredients on hand so I was able to start trying the recipes right away.
The recipes are super simple and common sense, but I’ve never thought to put the combinations together. These recipes have more flavor and less calories than I usually come up with on my own. The recipes can also be completed in 10 minutes or less. Many of the ones that feature yogurt are in the 3-4 minute range. My breakfasts are still all about omelets and oatmeal, but with a wider variety.
Burgers, Sandwiches, and Wraps
The recipes for sandwiches are pretty common. The majority contains either chicken, lean turkey or 96% lean ground beef and can be prepared in about 10 minutes or less. I’ve never been a fan of lean meat but Devin cooks the meat quickly and packs the flavor back in.
It has been difficult to find super lean meat at my local stores. The extra lean cuts tend to cost a little more but the price seems to be offset by eating less overall, I think. So far I’ve tried several sandwiches with lean meat and haven't been disappointed.
After many successful dishes I tackled my most-feared sandwich made with 99% lean ground turkey breast. When it was time to make lunch I noticed the package had 20 ounces of meat, so that’s enough for 5 burgers from the recipe book. I figured I’d make one turkey burger and if I didn’t like it I would have a pound left for a different dish. It took me 10 minutes to create and cook the turkey burger. It was delicious.
Appetizers and Snacks
Normally recipe books have appetizers sized for a family reunion. We all know who eats it if company isn’t coming. This may be my first book that has single serving size recipes for appetizers. The recipes are very quick to whip up in a 5-10 minute time frame and have 150-250 calories per serving. These are like little mini meals so the snack fills me up for awhile. A lot of recipes use mozzarella cheese, turkey pepperoni or lean ground beef, and tortillas. Devin points out to check the packages for tortillas and she was right; there’s a huge difference between nutritional values in tortillas on the shelves.
The whole family is home for supper so it makes it a little more difficult to eat low calorie dishes at dinner. There is a variety of recipes that include London broil, pork tenderloin, chicken and more chicken, turkey, and seafood. Some recipes in the dinner section are just the meat. There are 36 total recipes in this section, 7 are meatless. The family enjoyed the dishes that I’ve made. However, they can seem too similar if made closely together.
Sides and Salads
I’m glad to see the author approves of potatoes because they are “mandatory” around our house. There are a few recipes for potatoes and a few other starchy sides. There’s not a whole lot to the remaining recipes; maybe a pinch of flavor. Like the other sections, I enjoy the author’s comments on the dishes. The recipes have around 30 calories to up to 243 for the starchy ones. There are 22 sides, 3 side salads, and 2 salads as a meal.
Desserts and Sweet Snacks
I really haven’t had a dessert I didn’t like, so I don’t suspect these will be any different. The recipes are very simple to make and it was clever to keep it a single size portion. Calories in this section are in the 150-200 calorie range and certainly more worth it to me than something that comes out of a bag. The recipes only take 3-4 minutes to put together. There are 24 recipes in this section. Many of them are shakes or smoothies. I’ve been running some of these by my kids and they approve.
It is really helpful to have the nutritional value at the bottom of each recipe for the following: calories, protein, carbohydrates, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, fiber, and sodium. I like to track sugar and wish that would have been included, but there’s not many sweet dishes in this book to worry about anyway.
The book has the nice quality glossy pages. The preparation time, list of ingredients and nutritional information are in color so it seems a little easier and more interesting to read.
There are around 40 full-page pictures of the recipes to tantalize the reader. Looking at pictures of chips and dip, meatballs, pizzas and chicken Parmesan makes my mind overlook the fact that the recipes are low-fat versions.
The only challenge I’ve noticed is keeping the recipe page open on the counter. The recipes are pretty simple so I can remember the ingredients without looking most of the time.
Who would eat this food?
There are barely any fruits or vegetables in the recipes. It’s really a collection of recipes that would make a person fluffy if they eat the full-calorie version on a regular basis. It works out to be a wonderful solution for people who don’t want to say no to the tempting choices.
Usually I only find a handful of recipes in a cookbook that I can serve to the overall picky family. Most of the recipes seem to be a familiar recipe with a lower calorie alternative still unique and delicious. I think most of these recipes are kid friendly. In fact, the majority are simple enough that a child could help make the dishes.
This would also be great for those cooking for one. Many of the recipes just make one serving. I find this extremely helpful for lunch. It’s also a perfect solution for managing serving sizes…especially in the dessert section.
I don’t think this is a diet book. However, they are satisfying dishes that have fewer calories than a traditional version. Some recipes also have high sodium count but the author points out the recipes that should not be eaten on a regular basis.
A lot of processed or bottled things are used so it can be fast. It's easy to make a substitute or homemade version if desired.
Some readers may be disappointed that the recipes are so obvious. They are “easy” recipes. Really easy. If you don’t want a lot of recipes for putting a piece of meat on a piece of bread, this book may not be the right choice.
I grabbed this book because “Not Fattening” in the moment meant low in calories in my mind. When I got home I realized that “Not Fattening” might mean low in fat content because many of the recipes call for low or reduced-fat products. There’s no real explanation, but the majority of the dishes use lean meat. All recipes are different, but most are in the 3-8 grams of fat range. The calorie counts are perfect for my personal needs. I did notice that I was not getting as much fruits and vegetables as I wanted by only choosing recipes for the day from this book.
I was most impressed that I could start making the recipes right away from the ingredients I already had on hand. The author uses common ingredients and will even list the name brands. One trip to the grocery store and I had enough to make a large selection of recipes. Many recipes use the same ingredients which just makes it more sensible when trying to design a meal plan and grocery shop. In reflection, I found I was creating less expensive dishes and barely spending time in the kitchen.