It’s that time again! According to USA.gov, the most popular New Year’s resolution is (drum roll please)… lose weight! What a surprise.
If, like me, you make this same resolution every year, three books may turn things around, and then maybe next year we can all resolve to reduce carbon emissions and promote world peace.
In the latest installment in the Kosher by Design series, “Kosher by Design Lightens Up” (Artscroll, $35.99), the ebullient, wildly popular Susie Fishbein teams up with certified nutritional expert Bonnie Taub-Dix, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, to bring over 145 new recipes and dozens of tips and entertaining ideas to jumpstart your plan for a healthier, trimmer you in 2009.
“Bonnie commented on every single recipe,” says Fishbein, “pointing out areas that could be lightened up. She confirmed to me that the philosophy of this book was the right one – forget diets, learn what is good for your body, work change in slowly, and eat what you love.”
Pass on the cottage cheese and Melba toast – this is “health food” with pizzazz! Steamed Veal Dumplings, Japanese Udon Noodle Soup, Mile-High Chinese Chicken Salad, Ratatouille Polenta Pie, Chicken Skewers with Ponzu Dipping Sauce, Grilled Reuben Sandwiches, Huevos Rancheros, Pumpkin Barley Risotto and oh, those desserts.
The only one she could not lighten was the chocolate chip cookie. “It just could not be done,” Fishbein laments. “I tried eight times, but there was no getting over the need for butter or margarine. I sadly accepted defeat.”
No worries. Here’s your consolation prize: Coconut-Lime Tart, Fudge Brownie Torte, Banana Chocolate Strudel, Pistachio-Cherry Biscotti…23 luscious desserts in all. And every recipe is photographed in that signature mouthwatering, Kosher by Design style by John Uher. Never did wholesome foods and healthy ingredients look so good!
“These nutritious recipes are easy to integrate into your everyday menus,” Fishbein notes. “Anyone looking to migrate into a better way of eating and living will find delicious options here.”
In “The Portion Plan: How to Eat the Foods You Love & Still Lose Weight” (DK, $17.95) TV and radio personality (and upcoming OU food columnist) Linda Gassenheimer says the key to losing weight and keeping it off may lie in the palm of your hand. Love that burger? A healthy portion is palm sized. Your baked potato should be the size of your fist. And you don’t have to give up French fries if you eat what will fit in two cupped hands (about 20).
“The portions of foods we are eating have ballooned,” writes Gassenheimer. “Restaurants serve extra-large amounts of food, yet we still clean our plates, just as we were told to do when we were children.” This “portion distortion” has completely perverted our sense of normalcy.
Take the bagel, for instance. “Originally the size of a hockey puck, bagels now have the circumference of a CD,” she says. Stick to a palm-size portion and use reduced-fat cream cheese and save 382 calories.
Seeing is believing, and “The Portion Plan” offers dozens of life-size food photos of ideal and not-so-ideal portions of common foods so we can make wise food choices. And learning to distinguish between what Gassenheimer calls “the good, the bad, and the ugly” (choices to savor, choices to watch and choices to avoid) will assure we’re not only losing weight, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle as well.
The book also includes a seven-day eating plan with recipes, an eating-out guide and oodles of tips for delicious alternatives to calorie-laden foods.
“Food that’s good for you should taste good,” says Norene Gilletz, whose latest cookbook “Norene’s Healthy Kitchen” (Whitecap, $29.95) contains over 600 recipes that prove that we don’t have to sacrifice flavor for nutrition. “My recipes are heart-healthy and weight-loss friendly, offer low glycemic index values (GI) and are suitable for people with diabetes,” she writes.
A lengthy introduction give tips on everything from meal-planning for diabetics to choosing healthier sweets, shaking the salt habit, storing food, cooking and baking substitutions, and even food safety. And like her popular “Healthy Helpings” (originally titled “MealLeaniYumm,”) the book is kosher and includes a Passover chapter.
But you needn’t be diabetic to appreciate these healthful and tasty recipes that are short on deprivation and long on flavor. Confetti Vegetable Strudel, Spanikopita Roll-Ups, Chimichurri Chicken, Luscious Lemon Berry Mousse.
Gilletz is in the kitchen with you, encouraging you with tips and advice. “Did you know that if you eat a bowl of vegetable soup, you will feel full for a longer period of time than if you drink a glass of water and eat the vegetables separately?”
This “multivitamin in a bowl” is a dieter’s friend. Follow Gilletz’s tips: Cut the fat by using a mere tablespoon of olive or canola oil to sauté three to four cups of vegetables. Use nonstick cookware or cooking spray, or even chicken or vegetable broth instead of oil.
Judy Bart Kancigor is the author of “Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family” and can be found on the web at www.cookingjewish.com.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.