New book takes common-sense approach to eating well

"The Food Lover's Healthy Habits Cookbook" By Janet Helm and Cooking Light editors

Oxmoor House, $24.95


There are a zillion diet books on this planet. A new book from Cooking Light magazine is not one of them.

Instead, "The Food Lover's Healthy Habits Cookbook," by nutrition pro Janet Helm and Cooking Light's editors, is a common-sense approach to eating well.


The book, which grew out of the magazine's Healthy Habits program, is more than a compilation of recipes. It's also a nutrition coach, cooking teacher and personal trainer — or at least as much solid advice as these experts, tapped by Helm, were able to pack into the book's 350 pages.

It was Helm, a registered dietitian and author of the blog "Nutrition Unplugged," who culled Cooking Light's wealth of recipes for the book's 150-plus recipes, including (honest) salted caramel brownies, bacon mac, and blackberry margaritas.

She interviews experts and writes of the science behind habits, then takes readers beyond the whys to explain the how, via concrete ideas, to diet. Says Helms, "It's about real behavioral changes and measurable goals."

The book offers 12 Healthy Habits ("Reduce the amount of sodium you eat every day." "Eat three servings of veggies a day"), then shows you how in related chapters, such as Eat Breakfast Daily, Be Portion-Aware and Get Moving.

What's especially helpful? The tips in each chapter. In Get Cooking, they include common cooking mistakes, suggestions for simplifying meals (premade pizza dough, rotisserie chicken) and 20 foods a savvy cook has on hand (boil-in-the-bag brown rice, frozen corn, etc.).

Strong visuals are a plus, especially when it comes to nutrition topics. Example: "Avoid the Imposters: What Isn't a Whole Grain" (think: grits, wheat germ).

A terrific resource for those whose weight is perfect and those who need to lose pounds, the focus is habits not food.

"The emphasis is on health, not weight. No foods are forbidden," Helm writes, "and eating is revered as a source of pleasure, not guilt or regret."

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