By Jennifer Iserloh
Photographs by Mitch Mandel
Rodale -- 2010
Buy it on Amazon
My winter diet weighs heavy on me... in every respect. I've allowed myself to eat as I please knowing that my down winter coat hides a multitude of sins. With the first buds of spring come the guilt.
So I turn to Secrets of a Skinny Chef. Initially I'm skeptical. Who wouldn't be? The cover says the recipes are decadent and guilt free. I expect there to be a contract with the devil in the appendix. Instead, there is the most unassuming bible of healthy, good eating.
See what we tested and whether it's worth buying after the jump.
Takeaway tips: Iserloh shares her secrets which (spoiler alert!) include smart advice, like getting to a healthy weight is not about deprivation. It's about knowing right from wrong, like limiting the naughty fats, embracing vegetables and whole grains and reading labels. A small preach backed up with a collection of satisfying recipes written with a positive but never overly perky, can-do attitude.
I was wary of "healthy" recipes because often they seem to be an amalgamation of intensely processed foods. Iserloh's recipes aren't about those imitation, wannabe ingredients. It's wholesome stuff.
Quality of pictures: The food looks luscious and I wondered if there was mischief afoot in the food styling. I decided to branch out into investigative journalism and cook some of the photographed recipes. The food is luscious.
What we tested: I may not know about which wine to drink with an artichoke, but I'm a serious aficionado in a couple of areas. Two of these happen to be meatballs and fudgesicles.
The meatball sandwiches proved to be quite the hero. The turkey meatballs, stretched with vegetables, whole wheat crumbs and fat-free milk, sounded like a meatball abomination. I damn near wept when I saw how little oil I had to work with... turkey takes and it doesn't give back... but they browned and my pores didn't clog from wafting grease. The recipe totally hit the meatball spot. The sandwich was tasty, generous and part-skim cheesy. I coveted the leftovers.
The chocolate pudding pops blew my mind. They're made with a base of carrot juice and fat-free milk. Who thinks up this stuff... crazy and crazy good. I fed them to unsuspecting friends and they scarfed them down. I fessed up to the carrot juice and they just asked for the recipe.
Worth the investment: I'm a professional cook and I know how to eat well, but I'm not sure I know how to eat better. Iserloh is my new guru of good eating. In the back of the book is a list of online resources, but it's not about hard to find ingredients because Iserloh doesn't use them. It's a compilation of free, yup free, resources like videos, reference charts and shopping guides to help get you and keep you on the path.
Another section suggests how to use fridge odds and ends as well as leftovers. There's even a section on what to cook when you don't feel like cooking. Plus, and now I realize I'm raving like the new convert that I am... an index by category that is so user friendly, I want to marry it.
I'm not ready to give up all my evil ways, but I've had my eyes opened and I'm learning that good food doesn't equal pain.