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Is Cooking Light magazine worth it?

Was thinking of subscribing to it. Thanks, Richie

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  1. My wife subscribes to this, and I think it's mostly worth it.

    We've probably make on average one recipe per issue, but also get a lot of ideas for how to make our own favorites a little healthier. After subscribing for about 3 years, I can only remember 1 or 2 duds.

    1. maybe. ive not had a good dessert recipe out of cooking light, EVER. i reccommend avoiding those.

      1. I know a lot of people like Cooking Light, but I have to say that most of the recipes that I tried from my one year subscription were not good... I probably tried about 6 or 7 recipes throughout the year, and all of them were either just plain bad or just so-so.

        I've only tried one recipe so far, but I enjoy Eating Well so much more than Cooking Light. http://www.eatingwell.com/

        2 Replies
        1. re: Katie Nell

          I agree. I find myself using more recipes from Eating Well than Cooking Light. EW also has more info about health and nutrition in general.

          1. re: Katie Nell

            Same here, plus the servings for most of the recipes, even though they are tiny are for a large number of people...


          2. I love mine.

            My only complaint is you have to watch the serving sizes.

            I made the key lime tart last spring and it was fantastic. I was looking at the ingredients and thought wow this isn't that low fat. Then I realized it called to use a 8 inch pan and said the recipe served 8. So basically they were banking on the smallest servings ever. Since then I've had an eye on their dessert recipes and they've all been for small cakes, pies and tarts but that serve 6 to 8.

            However I realize maybe that's the size of servings one is supposed to eat and I'm just a dessert glutton.

            1 Reply
            1. re: shana

              No, you're not! I think ALL their servings are small. Most dinner entrees are around 300 calories a serving because they are tiny. They tend to use higher calorie ingredients, such as cream or cheese--because people like those things--and then cut calories by cutting down the serving size. That's sort of cheating, I think. However, I have used quite of few of their recipes and continue to subscribe.

            2. I've never cooked a single thing from this magazine. In fact, I don't really see how any of the recipes qualify as "light" from my POV, having done WW a few times. Every time I read through a recipe, I think to myself that I could concoct the same thing on my own in a far healthier manner or better yet - not bother eating it at all. Just nothing really intrigues me about it.

              1. Not for the recipes part but for the rest of the magazine, if you're looking for something on health. I've made some things for them, they don't taste like the real thing. If I'm going through the trouble of making a cake w/ frosting, I want it to taste good. I'd rather eat a little less of the real thing than to eat one w/ fat free cream cheese frosting.

                1. Keep in mind that the magazine name is a bit of a misnomer. Fully half of every issue is filled with "Self"-type articles on health, exercise, etc. Fine, if that's what you want, but I think the title is misleading.

                  1. I had a subscription for a couple years. I cooked a number of the recipes, mostly the desserts but didn't think any of them were worth making again. I finally cancelled my subscription.

                    1. I've been reading Cooking Light since the early 1990s. It used to have more of a strictly diet/health food slant, but now the recipes are more just what you would eat if you want a reasonably balanced diet. The recipes don't seem that "light" to me until I pick up Gourmet, in which half the recipes seem to contain an entire stick of butter. That reminds me what Cooking Light is reacting against.

                      Also, I have to respond to the comparison of the health and fitness articles to those in Self magazine. The Cooking Light articles tend to back up their claims with actual science, and the fitness articles usually focus on learning a new sport rather than losing weight or getting "your flexiest, sexiest body ever!" Take it from a magazine junkie--the Cooking Light articles are more substantive than most health and fitness magazine reporting.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Durm

                        Actually, Self's articles are also research-based--they all mention actual recent studies and quote serious medical experts, embarrassing flex-y, sexy coverlines notwithstanding. Self has actually won awards for its features on medical news and women's health. That's one problem I have with Cooking Light's non -cooking stuff--a magazine like Self can really delve into health/fitness more deeply, because the whole book is devoted to it. I find Cooking Light's health coverage more light and fluffy (expert quotes notwithstanding) and would rather get straight to the recipes, which is why I subscribe to the darn thing! (Otherwise I would just subscribe to Self, or Fitness, or Shape.)

                        As for the recipes, I was surprised at first by some of CL's reliance on pre-packaged materials in its recipes (i.e., a chocolate-chip cake recipe calling for...a package of yellow cake). But since I don't have time to make from-scratch meals every night, I decided I'm okay with that.

                      2. I agree with the Eating Well magazine suggestion. I cook from it regularly and other than finding I didn't care for a particular dish once tried, the recipes are well delivered, time conscience and highlight the use of produce which is why I subscribe.

                        1. I subscribed to cooking light after noticing I was buying them everytime I went to the store and got stuck in a long check-out line. The recipes are great and the nutrition info provided for each meal is very helpful. It's a great way to stick to healthy eating because they offer a huge variety of dishes that help a healthy life-stye without making you feel like you are missing out on anything. I love Cooking Light. I am a huge fan. THe meals I get the most compliments on are recipes from Cooking light. And I have LOVED all the deserts I have made. My husband loves them too and he's usually quite picky. They also cover nutrition, exercise, food preparation, storing, etc. I've purchased several cooking magazines and this is the only one I have ever used consistently. It's wonderful!

                          1. Over the years I've found several recipes in Cooking Light to be "keepers" - certainly enough to keep my subscription going. In particular I like a lot of the pastas they've featured, and their salads are usually winners. And the recipes that readers submit are often very good. I definitely find the magazine useful.

                            That said, I have a few criticisms. The magazine won't be of much use to South Beach/Atkins dieters, as a lot of the recipes are carb-heavy (served with rice or pasta). And they have WAY too many recipes calling for sauces thickened with flour, which I'm not crazy about. And, their summer issues get tiresome, with 3-4 in a row devoted almost entirely to grilling.

                            But these are small gripes. I find Cooking Light to be of far more value than Gourmet or Food & Wine, and will keep renewing my subscription.

                            1. I got a free subscription, but I'm a fairly novice cook, and I find their recipes intimidating and/or time consuming, with lots and lots of ingredients I don't normally have in my kitchen. I do see one or two per issue that I might try, but not enough to pay full price for the mag.

                              And yeah, too many articles about non-food-related stuff, which I can get more of (and better) elsewhere.

                              1. PEOPLE!!!! put your tax dollars to work and go to the library! Most have many cooking mags and a photocopier to makes copies of interesting recipies. Transfer stations usually have big pile of tossed out mags as well

                                1. When I was following the low-fat thing and gaining weight no matter, I subscribed to Eating Well. I never got into Cooking Light it seemed that they focused on desserts too much. Since our MD convinced us to cut out all simple carbs I don't use either. Both rely on a lot of pasta which we don't eat very much of.

                                  1. I manage to eat well and lose weight using Cooking Light recipes. I recommend the magazine to anyone wanting to get in shape and eat delicious food. One caveat: none of the recipes use enough salt. Unless you're on a low-salt diet, you'll need to season to taste, as you should with any recipe. Use their website, which subscribers have access to: recipes are rated, which should help avoid duds. You can even find good desserts. I increase the herbs and spices in most of their recipes. The protein/carb/fat ratio of their recipes is healthy. They rely heavily on fresh fruits and vegetables, which any chef who wants deeply flavorful food will do. The adjustments I make are minor, and it's much easier to slightly tweak a healthy recipe than to write one from scratch. The lower-fat techniques aren't standard, and recipe development isn't a sure thing. I like Cooking Light because the recipes are already worked out. By using the ratings online and upping the salt and seasonings, I get to prepare really delicious meals and stay healthy. I don't have to count calories or follow a contrived diet - I just use this (and Eating Well) as my recipe sources.

                                    1. I've been getting Cooking Light for years and I totally love it! I've made fantastic recipes, gotten lots of complements, and I love rating and reading the ratings of others on their website.

                                      It's been a worthwhile amount of money and I've overall been completely satisfied. Only once in a while do I get it and not make at least one of the recipes.

                                      I agree with what others have mentioned: it's not totally diet, but that's why I like it. The recipes have calorie and fat contents that go with a more healthy lifestyle. You'll really notice that if you compare them to the calories and fat in other magazine recipes. But the recipes are high quality and use good ingredients. If they were totally low fat/calorie, they wouldn't be good!

                                      1. Cooking Light is a huge waste of money.

                                        They replace flavorful elements with fat-free alternatives (read: taste free) and cut servings to tea party sizes tempting dinners to double and triple portions.

                                        Instead why not simplify recipes - drop the cream cheese and provolone and leave only the feta and parmesan (recent recipe a friend insisted I try had all 4!) And then there's the pages and pages of junk that precede the recipes. I RUN. And I ride a horse. That's folks, but if I wanted an exercise or beauty magazine I would have subscribed to one!

                                        Needless to say I let my subscription lapse!

                                        1. I didn't read all the comments but I would skip the subscription and pain of tearing out recipes and just go buy the book Cooking Light's Greatest 500. I bought it at Costco for about $25 and we use it all the time.

                                          1. I used to have a subscription, but let it lapse when I realized I barely used any of the recipes. A dessert someone made from CL this past Christmas was delicious--really, really good--but it certainly wasn't light. Cooking Lighter, perhaps, lol.

                                            1. I have to say that the January 2007 issue looks to be one of the best ones they've had in years. I've marked several recipes to make, and they've finally figured out that butter can be part of a healthful, low-fat diet. Plus, they've updated their famous Fettucine Alfredo recipe!

                                              1. I sometimes get a bound copy of all the Cooking Light Recipes in a year (Ocean State Job lot for $4). I find that the recipes fall generally into two categories: slimmed-down versions of high-fat,-calorie,-sodium favorites, and just lighter tasting food that is only trying to be itself. I ignore the former and go for the latter, knowing that the ethnic food is tamed down, approachable and not especially authentic for middle America. On the bright side, I know that I can easily find all the ingredients.