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Good "diet" cookbook?

I finally decided to stop deluding myself that my knee issues weren't at least exacerbated -- if not caused -- by the extra pounds I'm carrying around.

I don't believe in "diets" per se -- I believe any diet that prescribes certain foods and forbids others is going to fail, eventually. So what I'm doing is reducing fats (especially added fats in cooking) and sweets and exercising careful portion control, and shooting for 1500 calories a day.

I actually have one cookbook I like: the Nutri/System Flavor Setpoint Cookbook. I like it because the recipes are flavorful (the premise of the book is that people eat more because they're trying to satisfy their need for taste and texture), and because it doesn't rely on a lot of "fake" foods. But one cookbook isn't going to do it for me for the long haul, so does anyone have any recommendations for a book with similar attributes?

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  1. Most of the Weight Watcher books are good, but my favorite source of lighter/healthier meal ideas come from Cooking Light magazine.

    1. I don't know how many people you're cooking for, but a good everyday book is "healthy cooking for two, or just for you."

      3 Replies
        1. re: ElissaInPlaya

          This is a great book; I've cooked from it a lot, and everything is tasty. Eating Well Magazine is good, as is "The Perfect Light Recipe." Any "healthy" cookbook or mag you're thinking of buying, flip through it first. Lots of these recipe use weird, fake ingredients, or unrealistically small portions. Basically, I think that if you don't eat processed or fast food, get a grip on portion size, exercise some every day, save sweets for rare treats, you can eat just about anything and maintain a healthy weight.

          When I was a kid, nobody I knew dieted, and fat folks were uncommon.

          On the "knee" note: My knees are problematic, and I find that just walking as much as possible helps a great deal. Good luck!

          1. re: pikawicca

            Yup. That's the plan. I already avoid processed foods, and I agree completely about the "fake" ingredients, which is why I posted this specific question. You're so right about the walking, too. There's definitely a "use it or lose it" factor, especially with arthritis. I have a dog who keeps me on top of the walking issue, and I'm also going to commit to some gym time (as soon as I get this current knee flare-up under control).

            Oh, and I bought a more precise kitchen scale -- portion size is really the key.

            I ordered the "healthy cooking for two, or just for you."
            cookbook, and I'll revisit this thread when I need fresh inspiration.

        2. I like the EatingWell cookbooks - also have an emphasis on real foods, whole grains, interesting flavors.

          1. I like the South Beach cookbooks - with the caveat that don't like to use artificial sweeteners and some of the recipes recommend them.

            1. Mayo Clinic has a cookbook, maybe two. Flavorful, healthy recipes. They have some sort of system for their menu planner that helps you get in all your food groups or keeps tab of total carbs/sugar, something like that.

              1. I started a thread on healthy cooking, and here are responses Ruth

                In addition I have found the following cookbooks that look appealing:
                Cleveland Clinic Healthy Heart Lifestyle Guide And Cookbook : Featuring More Than 150 Tempting Recipes
                by Cleveland Clinic Heart Center Polin, Bonnie S. Giedt, Frances Towner Nissen, Steven

                A spoonful of ginger : irresistible, health-giving recipes from Asian kitchens
                by Simonds, Nina.

                Mediterranean light : delicious diet recipes from the world's healthiest cuisine
                by Shulman, Martha Rose.

                Saved by soup : more than 100 low-fat soup recipes to eat and enjoy every day
                by Barrett, Judith, 1948-

                The feel-good diet : the weight-loss plan that boosts serotonin, improves your mood, and keeps the pounds off for good
                by Hart, Cheryle R., Grossman, Mary Kay.

                Whole grains every day, every way by Sass, Lorna J.

                The improvisational cook by Schneider, Sally (new – 2006


                A new way to cook by Schneider, Sally.

                1. I've been cooking a lot from Donna Hay's "The Instant Cook" It wasn't designed to be a diet cookbook per se, but since her recipies rely heavily on cooking unprocessed foods quickly, almost everything I've made from it has been ok with my WW programme and uses lots of veggies and lean meats.

                  Actually, the WW cookbooks really are quite good. My favourites are the Ultimate Flex/Core and New Complete cookbooks.

                  1. ElissaInPlaya and Ruth, could you let us know what recipes you really enjoy? I just ordered it for a friend!

                    1. There's a related thread, "Lite but Tasty Cookbook", that might have some more suggestions.


                      Ditto the recommendation for Sally Schnieder's "A New Way To Cook" - I just got it, and I love it!


                      1. It's a little older, but is the book I ALWAYS go back to - Great Good Food by Julee Rosso - she and Sheila Lukins wrote the Silver Palate & The New Basics cookbooks.
                        The book is arranged 'seasonally' and has good tips for reducing calories/fats/sugars in general.

                        1. A New Way to Cook by Sally Schneider, The Complete Cooking Light (there are two of these and both are great), and The Best Light Recipe by the folks at America's Test Kitchen. All are wonderful

                          1. I LOVE the Weight Watchers Take-Out Tonight. If you like ethnic food, it's the one to use. It has "light" versions of so many popular dishes. Greek, Thai, Mexican, Chinese, Italian & Indian. The Avgolemono is wonderful! Everything I've made from it is very very good. I used to do the WW thing, so I may be biased. You don't have to use the points they have listed. They've also got nutritional facts as well (calories, carbs, etc.)

                            1. I've tried most of the above mentioned books. WW are very good. I've been doing WW points plan since New Years and find the recommended recipes online to be really good.
                              You can find whole meals and recipes on a daily basis. Cooking light online is great, as well as, Martha Stewart online. So many recipes I can't begin to tell you. Good luck to you, my knees are comiserating with yours.

                              1. I used to do WW too, and found the cookbooks/recipes to be pretty good, however the portion sizes were always a little on the small side. I love both Cooking Light and Eating Well magazines. I have subscriptions to both, and its nice to keep fresh, seasonal inspiration coming all year long.

                                As far as the portion sizes are concerned, I too am trying to shed a few pounds. However, I have found that a gradual reduction in portion size works better than a drastic one. This is why the portions at WW seemed so small and left me hungry all the time. Not a good way to diet.

                                Good luck, and thanks for the thread.