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Low-Fat Cookbook Recommendations

Hi all,

With the start of the new year, I'm looking to cook and bake in a healthier manner!

Do any of you have any recommendations for low-fat cookbooks (both cooking and baking?). I've heard Moosewood's is pretty good. Any thoughts?

The one thing I do require, is that the ingredients are mostly (or all) natural. I want to cook healthy with real ingredients, not make something low-fat because I'm using all artificial ingredients (like all non-fat cheese, etc). I don't mind a few, but I've seen some recipies, where all they've done is replace the full-fat ingredient, with a non-fat alternative, and that isn't very appealing to me.


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  1. I'm a fan of Cook's Illustrated cookbooks and they have a Best Light Recipes cookbook.

    I haven't looked through it, but I trust the CI team to try the best combination of lower-fat items to produce a tasty dish.

    1. the "cooking light" annual collections are good. i also like:

      "the new american plate" [published by the american institute for cancer research]
      "healthy in a hurry" and "the essential eating well cookbook" [both from the publishers of "eating well" magazine]
      "the new american heart association cookbook" [published, obviously, by the AHA]

      1. I just starting using "Super Natural Cooking" by Heidi Swanson. My friend recommended it to me, and I really like it thus far. I'm hoping to try a new recipe each week.


        Also, I'm really enjoying my Eating Well magazines. I've been a long time subscriber to Cooking Light, but the Eating Well recipes seem fresher for some reason...maybe I just needed something new.

        1. I love the The Best of Cooking Light over 500 recipes. I think its about 5 years old, but it has great recipes for Salad/Mains/Appetizers, you name it. Any of their books would be great for low-fat.

          1. I love Sally Schneider's "A New Way to Cook". The recipes aren't just low fat - they're high vegetable, whole grain, and healthy foods (olive oil, dark chocolate, leafy greens, etc.) And they use real food - no fake cheese in this book.

            See this related thread for more info and ideas:

            Cookbooks with healthy AND delicious recipes?


            1. Oh wow - thanks everyone for your input.

              I had forgotten CI had a light cookbook - I'll look into that. I will also check out the cooking light cookbooks, Sally Schneider's book and the others listed here. Also - thanks for reminding me about Heidi Swanson's book - I had completely forgotten about that one.

              Thanks for the related thread! I searched for low-fat, but not much came up.

              1 Reply
              1. re: virtualfrolic

                i can't believe i neglected to list sally schneider in my recs - i've suggested her books in other similar threads. in addition to "a new way to cook," check out her latest, "the improvisational cook."

                1. I love the Moosewood Low-fat cookbook (in fact, I made the mac and cheese recipe tonight for dinner). The new version of the Enchanted Broccoli is Forest is also good (but not all low-fat). I also like Eating Well magazine (I think they have a cookbook now too), they are good about using real food.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: firecooked

                    Thanks for the Moosewood "review". I've been looking at it for awhile - so I think I'll definetly give it a try.

                    Everyone has been mentioning Eating Well magazine. I actually hadn't heard about it before. Their website has a pretty good amt of recipies, so I think I'm going to start there with them.

                    Thanks all for all your help!

                    1. re: virtualfrolic

                      I am half-way through Micheal Pollon's new book In Defense of Food, which talks about flawed science on the benefits on low fat diets, and the data which is showing that replacing fat with refined carbs (sugar, white flour, high-fructose corn syrup, etc) is clearly not healthy! It's scarey how much of our diet is influeneced by marketing and the government.

                  2. All - I just wanted to report back. I decided to purchase Sally Schneider's A New Way to Cook, and I LOVE it so far. I've made the meat loaf with wild mushrooms (very good) and the turkey burgers with apples, onions and sage (also very good). That's all I've tried so far, but I can already tell that this cookbook is definitely a keeper. It's a great book to read as well..lots of interesting information.

                    I've also purchased the Moosewood book and am looking forward to trying some of the recipes in there.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: virtualfrolic

                      My husband and I are both crazy about the Sally Schneider cookbook. You may also want to check out Patricia Wells' Vegetable Heaven.

                      Also, if you are interested in low fat desserts Alice Medrich has a low fat cookbook as does Nick Malgieri. I have used both and been super happy with the results. Somes of their recipes use "low fat" products but others just focus on recipes that are inherently lighter.

                      1. re: The Cookbook Addict

                        Vegetable Heaven - it certainly is low fat, though not billed that way, as many of us found out when it was cookbook of the month. Unfortunately, a lot (though not all) of the dishes that posters tried were misses. Strangely, some of my favorites were non-vegetable dishes (salmon and duck). You might want to check out some of the links in here before you buy the book:


                        There are also a lot of links to online recipes in this thread:


                        1. re: The Cookbook Addict

                          I love trying new cookbooks. I too have loved A New Way to Cook. The focus is on making good food and it's done with natural ingredients.

                          I tried one recipe from Nick Malgieri's book Perfect Light Desserts and didn't like it. I made the Raspberry Mousse Cake which looked beautiful but didn't taste good. Any thing you would recommend from the book in particular? Right now, it is in my "get rid of" pile.

                          I've found Alice Medrich's older books really complex. I think I have her low fat book. Anything in there you would recommend?

                          I do have her new Pure Dessert book and have a good feeling about that. (It is definitely not low fat though.) I made the almond cake with crunchy top from that book for a party (recommended on this board) and people really loved it.

                          1. re: karykat

                            From Light Desserts, we liked the chocolate orange tart (tastes much better the day after it is made) and the milk chocolate ice milk. The almond tuiles and apple tart were also decent for a low fat cookbook. (The rosemary apple tart from the sally scheider book was yummier, we thought, though).

                            From vegetable heaven -- I think we mainly used it in the summer. We made the leeks vinaigrette, which was delicious, a tomato and avocado salad, and a wonderful dish of thinly sliced zuchini and avocado. The heartier dishes have been less impressive (but still better than most cookbooks with nutritional information and low fat recipes, I think).

                            I love Pure Dessert and reviewed it at length on my blog...but sadly as you point out not a low fat cookbook. From her low fat book, my family loves the New Chocolate Decadence - very chocolatey but not a particularly interesting dessert.

                            The sally schneider cookbook also has a lovely recipe for a sponge cake flavored with chocolate and nuts -- it is one of the variations listed at the end -- which I would love even if it weren't light.

                            Another cookbook that I have occasionally used for lighter recipes is the Nobu cookbook. Of course it's not a light cookbook overall but there are a few recipes (like the New Style Sashimi salad) which we love to eat as a light dinner.

                            I am always looking for healthy cookbooks that will pass muster with my foodie husband. Anyone have any other recommendations?

                            1. re: The Cookbook Addict

                              Sorry I must be getting tired! I meant to refer to Vegetable Harvest by Patricia Wells, not Vegetable Heaven in my posts above. Argh, too many darn cookbooks...

                              1. re: The Cookbook Addict

                                I kept accidentally typing "Vegetable Heaven" instead of Harvest and couldn't figure out why! I have read good things about that zucchini/avocado dish. Part of our problem is that we come from a decidedly non-low fat way of cooking, and so maybe it was just too much of an adjustment for us. But I just didn't expect some of the recipes to plain taste bad. I have had "failures" with recipes in other books, but those are usually more an issue of things not turning out the way they were supposed to, but somehow still managing to taste good.

                            2. re: karykat

                              From Medrich's Chocolate and the Art of Low Fat Desserts, I like the fallen chocolate souffle cake (fairly elegant served with a fruit compote and Fage yogurt whisked until very smooth with a bit of powdered sugar and vanilla or liqueur - your guests won't know it's low fat if you don't tell them), brownies, bittersweet chocolate mousse, and lemon curd (nice and tart, made with no butter). The tart shell didn't work at all for me, though it tasted good. I haven't tried much more. There are lots of fancy cakes, but also plenty of simple sweets.

                        2. I ended up buying "A New Way to Cook" by Sally Schneider and LOVE the book. So far, I've made the meatloaf (absolutely delicious) and also the turkey burgers (also very good). I highly recommend this book!

                          I also got the Moosewood low-fat book, and although it's good too - it's doesn't quite compare to A New Way to Cook.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: virtualfrolic

                            OKay, I checked "A new way to cook" out from the library and, though I like the idea of it, have found it absolutely uninspiring. I just don't feel like cooking from it. I guess maybe part of the problem is that it starts with a thick section on roasting vegetables--which is a pretty standard preparation in my house. I was going to fast forward to the meats section, but it's kind of a frustrating book to navigate, because it's so thick. Now, thick=lots of info=good, but it just left me blah.

                            Also, I find it annoying that none of the recipes seem to say how many servings are in a dish... and I suppose that's because she's having you prepare these recipes as foundations, but then you're supposed to go on and do something else with them. Anyone have any practical recommendations for how to approach "serving sizes" when cooking with this book?

                            But, maybe I should try the meatloaf and the turkey burgers. Are there any other recipes (aside from spongecake recommended above) that I should try from this book that might make me love it as much as the rest of you? I know I must be missing something!


                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              Hey there - I DO agree that the book isn't the most user-friendly. It's bound in a way that makes it a smidge difficult to use. I agree that it does cover some simple stuff - like roasting veggies - but I just skipped those sections.

                              In terms of serving sizes, I don't have it in front of me, but I believe she has a small comment towards the right column that says serves 4-6 or whatever. She doesn't use the typical "serving" terminology, I can't remember what it is, but she does mention serving sizes. They are pretty general though. Also, like me, if you're looking for nutritional info, unlike most "healthy" cookbooks, the nutritional info is not with the recipe, there's a specific section in the back that covers the details for all the recipes in the book.

                              Try the meatloaf, I really loved it. Instead of using dried porcini, which is annoying to find (atleast for me), I just used more fresh shiitake. If you have a food processor, I recommend you use it. There's a bunch of chopping involved which took me forever, as I didn't have a food processor at the time. Also, in terms of cooking time, I had found a review of this recipe somewhere (cant' remember where) and it mentioned that all the recipes in A New Way to Cook were a smidge off. Again, I don't have the original recipe in front of me, so I don't remember how much cooking time I added, but I think I added about 10 mins?

                              Image, with additional comments on the recipe available on my blog, in case you're interested.

                              I haven't posted re: the turkey burgers yet. I liked these, as the apples were a nice touch. Very moist and had a stuffing-esque flavor with the sage.

                              1. re: virtualfrolic

                                Thanks for these tips. I'll have another look for the serving sizes...

                                Question--do you really think you're learning "new" and flexible cooking techniques as Sally Schneider intends, or, is it turning out to be "just a recipe book." If the former, I was thinking I should maybe systematically go through and try all of her "foundation"recipes (or whatever she calls them) so I get all the techniques down. Or, should I just use it as a recipe book?

                                Also, other healthy cookbooks I like are the Mayo Clinic Cookbook, as well as one Mayo Clinic did with Williams Sonoma. If you're looking at weight loss specifically, Weight Watchers did a pretty nice one with the CIA a few years back. A bit more sophisticated than the regular WW cookbooks.

                                I think I'm going to check out some of the Eating Well cookbooks--they've either won or been nominated for James Beard awards in the past few years, and get high ratings on Amazon.

                                I like Heidi Swanson's website 101cookbooks.com and have her book Supernatural cooking, but confess, I haven't cooked anything from it yet.


                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  That's interesting you say that - I've enjoyed the book in two ways. I like to actually sit and read the book to see what she has to say about different kinds of ingredients and methods of cooking but when I'm actually cooking, I use it like any other recipe book. Once you're in the general recipe sections, it's like any other book - no specific techniques or anything involved. I think her book's innovative in the way she's brought together various ingredients together to make a really flavorful and healthy meal.

                                  I'll look into the Mayo Clinic one - many have mentioned that - and I'll see the CIA/WW one..that might be interesting!

                                  If you're trying out Eating Well - I suggest trying some stuff on their website, they have a pretty significant amt of recipes on their website.

                                  I follow Heidi's website and I've heard rave reviews about her book - but I find that I like looking at them, but am not often insipried to make anything. I think some people mentioned that she uses a bunch of non-standard ingredients - and honestly, I am too lazy to track them down =) I have yet to buy real edible pepermint oil to make the thin mints that were the craze on chowhound (and I think from Heidi's website) early last year...

                                  1. re: virtualfrolic

                                    Funny, I just checked out "The Essential Eating Well Cookbook" from the Library and picked out a few recipes that appeal to me...then went to check to see if they are on their website. And they are. So, you can do well on their website, too. What I really like about the cookbook, though, are their "seasonal" and "holiday" menus where they round up some recipes that all sound delicious together. I'll probably take a few notes on the menus before I return the book. They have some nice little cooking tips here and there throughout the book, too.