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I purchased this book a year or so ago on Amazon. I bought it for the purpose, at the time, I was into a Mediterranean diet. After all, pasta and wine are two of my favourite things! And I thought hey why not go on a diet I enjoy! And actually drinking a small glass of wine with my meal stopped me fancying something sweet to eat after dinner.
Out of the recipes I have tried, all have been a hit in our house. A particular favourite of mine is his "light spicy meatballs" these are served with rice, rather than spaghetti as you would expect! Which I was wasn't convinced was going to work, but actually I much prefer it! It was far less stodgy and felt more healthy, and full of flavour too. My next favourite is the "pork loin with white wine and sage pesto" which again was bursting with flavour. I have never been big on pork, but the sage pesto appealed to me, as I find it hard to feed my husband anything green, unless it has been thrown in the blender!
A brilliant book, well worth the money.
Gino D'Acampo brought this book out in 2010 shortly after his victory in the ITV programme I'm a Celebrity Get me Out of Here. The idea of this book is that it is a collection of healthy Italian recipes which will enable you to lose weight (The I Diet stands for The Italian Diet).
The book has over 100 recipes for you to try alongside a lot of diet and nutritional advice and facts. At the start of the book there is a section where they cover the basics of what an Italian diet consists of as well as the benefits of following a diet like this. They list a lot of basic essential ingredients and discuss the nutritional advantages of including them in your everyday diet. There is also a weekly diet plan which you can follow which breaks down the meals you will have each day of the week by following all of the recipes included in the book.
There are different sections in the book like breakfasts, pizza/pasta, soups and salads etc and Gino writes a small introduction to each recipe. Against each recipe there is a little diagram showing the exact nutritional details of the dish. The recipes have all been written in a very straightforward manner and are clear to understand. I have found that I've easily followed them and not been struggling to understand certain steps like I am with some cookbooks.
There is one HUGE drawback of this book for me though and that is the absence of pictures. Not every single recipe has a picture against it! I may sound childish wanting a little picture to entice me into making the dish but that is one of the most exciting bits for me, looking at how pretty and tasty the dish looks in the picture! I don't really understand why they wouldn't pictures against all the recipes but maybe there's some reason?!
It's a great book if you want to start cooking some healthier dishes but I would struggle to use just these recipes as I'm not very good at sticking to a healthy diet 100% of the time. I have zero willpower and need naughty foods on a regular basis!
This book is available from Amazon for £8.44 but you would also be able to find it in places like Waterstones.
I can't say I am much of a fan of Gino D'Acampo, but I love both Italian food and new cookbooks. The Book People come into where I work once a month with a range of discounted books, and when I saw this one a few months ago, I decided to buy it.
I must confess that I love to buy cookbooks; I love to pore through the recipes and colourful photographs; I love the look of them on my kitchen shelf... but I'm not very good at actually getting around to making anything from them!
THE IDEA BEHIND THE BOOK
The Italian Diet (or 'iDiet') is based around the fact that the Mediterranean diet is full of fresh fish, fruit, vegetables, pulses, olive oil and lean meat, and therefore healthy and very nutritious. For the book, D'Acampo has worked with a dietician named Juliette Kellow, who has analysed each recipe to ensure it has the best nutritional value possible. She also writes an introduction to the book, discussing how while the general impression of Italian food is of cheese, pizza, and tiramisu; in fact the meals cooked in 'normal' Italian homes are nothing like this. The introduction also includes information on Italian health statistics.
Also in the introduction is a list of 'must-have Italian ingredients', such as fresh garlic, pulses, good olive oil, fresh herbs, balsamic vinegar and tomatoes... all pretty obvious ingredients that anyone would associate with Italy, I should think. Recommended portion sizes are given, along with information on how much calories, fat etc a person should consume daily for weight maintenance.
There is a very good part called 'The iDiet in a nutshell' which gives the basic points of this 'diet', and 'eating like an Italian'. These include:
Swap oil-based salad dressings for fresh lemon juice or good-quality balsamic vinegar,
Use less meat in dishes like stews, soups and casseroles and add beans and lots of extra veggies to make it go further,
Don't add butter to bread - instead mix a little olive oil with balsamic vinegar and dip your bread into this.
I liked these handy little tips, as it gave me some good ideas of how to adapt recipes to be lower in fat when I was cooking, and make it more Meditteraean.
Finally, a weekly meal plan is suggested for both women (based on 1,500 calories a day) and men (based on 2,000 calories a day).
The introduction to this book is quite detailed, and I can't pretend to have read it anything but quickly - I just wanted to get to the food bit! But it is very good for explaining exactly what the 'iDiet' entails, and why each recipe has been chosen or tailored the way it has been.
RECIPES IN EACH CHAPTER
There are 9 chapters with recipes. I will just give a few of the recipes that are in each of these chapters to give you a general idea.
Colazione (Breakfast): eg. Strawberries and melon with pistachio nuts; Grilled tomatoes stuffed with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon; baked eggs with ham in tomato and garlic sauce.
Antipasti: eg. Grilled marinated peppers with garlic and parma ham; Broad beans and fresh mint bruschetta; Spinach and red pepper terrine.
Pranzo da viaggio (Lunch to go): eg. Aubergines with tomatoes, garlic and thyme; Tuna and anchovy cakes; Light spicy meatballs.
Zuppe e insalate (Soups and salads): eg. Spicy fish soup; Onion and pancetta soup; Feta, watermelon and basil salad; beef carpaccio with mustard and almond dressing.
Pasta, pizza e risotto: eg. Mixed seafood linguine with chilli and cherry tomatoes; little shell pasta with peas, ham and eggs; focaccia with cherry tomatoes and pesto; chicken and pea risotto.
Pesce (fish): eg. Salmon with pine kernels and lemon thyme crust; fillet of cod with a spicy red pesto; baked whole sea bass with tomatoes, olive and fennel.
Carne (meat): eg. Chicken breast with parmesan, tomatoes and mozzarella; pork loin with white wine and sage pesto; spicy beef and wild mushroom stew.
Dolci (desserts): eg. Fresh lemon sorbet; hot chocolate cups with pears and amaretto; chestnut and chocolate cake.
'Naughty corner' (which is recipes with slightly more calories): eg. Baked pasta with minced beef and bechamel sauce; limoncello and ricotta cheesecake; party punch.
PUTTING THE RECIPES INTO PRACTICE
I have tried mainly the pasta and chicken recipes in this book and have found them very easy to follow. Because the recipes in this book are rather rustic, some people might find some of the recipes a tad too simplistic at times - for example, I think everyone has a fairly good idea how to throw the likes of prawns, cherry tomatoes and linguine together! I personally don't mind that some recipes are simple - they make great mid-week meals that can be cooked quickly.
The ingredients are more often than not things you will pick up easily in your local supermarket, and it's great if you want to cook with fresh, low fat, tasty ingredients. Most of the recipes have a reasonable and realistic amount of ingredients that won't break the budget - a lot of cookbooks have recipes that have a list of ingredients the length of your arm, and I personally can't afford this, nor can I ever be bothered wasting my time. Similarly, as the recipes all have a common theme, if you have to buy an ingredient you have never had before, there's a good chance it will pop up in a recipe somewhere else, so you will not waste your money buying an ingredient you will never use again.
The majority of the recipes are for 4 or 6 people, but there are a few for 2 people. It's a bit of a pain for me as I live alone, so I have to adapt the amounts to suit my needs, but I guess most cookbooks are the same.
As you can see from the recipe examples I have given above, these recipes are based around ingredients like tomatoes, pasta, fresh vegetables, fish and lean cuts of meat. Therefore I know I am stating the obvious when I say that if you don't like Italian food, don't waste your time with this book. Having been in Italy a few years ago, I absolutely love the look and flavours of Italian food, so I do like the majority of recipes in this book.
THE LOOK OF THE BOOK
:Like the recipes themselves, the book is laid out very simply into the chapters described above. At the beginning of each chapter is a black and white photograph of a 'typical' Italian scene, such as a woman on a Vespa and a couple eating outside a restaurant. All a bit cliched perhaps, but I like the retro photos.
Sadly there isn't a photo for every recipe, which is a shame, but the photos that there are are bright and colourful, and all look lovely.
The amount of calories, fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt is given for every recipe, which is really convenient if you want to stick to the recommended daily guidelines.
CAN THIS REALLY HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT?
When I bought this book, I did so purely for the simple Italian recipes; not because it was based on healthy eating. Therefore I can't say. However, I am currently on WeightWatchers and I have definitely found that these recipes are low fat, and the main meals in particular fit into my daily WeightWatchers propoints no problem.
These recipes will teach you about portion sizes and how to make the most of healthy, low calorie ingredients, so they would definitely be good if you are already following a balanced, low fat diet. I mean, you're not going to make these recipes and then suddenly lose weight - but they will fit into a healthy lifestyle.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS?
I would recommend this book if you enjoy simple, rustic Italian food, and would perhaps like some new ideas. I bought this for £5 because I got it from The Book People, but I don't think I would have been unhappy with the book whatsoever at the proper price of £12.99.
It's good for quick meals made with fresh ingredients that won't break the bank. By eating them you know you are having something low fat and nutritionally balanced, and I am looking forward to making some of the recipes that I have not yet tried.
I am giving this 5 stars - but if the recipes are too simplistic for you, change that to 4.
Diet? Me? Well I know I should keep a better watch on my diet but I do love food and a few salad leaves and no bread or pasta would drive me to over indulging in things I shouldn't - like cake and chocolate! The solution? I was given a super book at Christmas by Gino D'Acampo called the Italian Diet and it is full of recipes that are healthy and will help you lose weight by reducing your calorie intake.
The recipes are easy to prepare, full of flavour and you don't think you are calorie counting so ideal if you are cooking for a family. His motto is...Minimum Effort, Maximum Satisfaction.
There is an introduction explaining the "I" diet, it is about pleasure in shopping, preparing and eating. Based on a traditional Italian diet, using fresh produce which is in season and easy to buy plus you can indulge in a glass of wine with meals! The first 20 or so pages are full of information and I actually did read it all, usually I would just flick through and look at the recipes, but it was interesting to see if I needed to lose weight (YES!) plus lots about the ingredients that will be used. How to eat your five a day the Italian way and how much you can safely drink, which makes interesting reading! Even a list of various activities showing what calories you may burn off - did you know half an hour of sex burns off more calories than shopping for groceries but fast dancing burns off twice as much! There are plans for a weeks menu for a 1,500 calorie plan and for a 2,000 plan.
The book itself is divided into sections and I'll give you a little information on each one.
Each recipe has a little information which is worth reading and the amount of calories, fat, saturates, sugars and salt. Then the recipe follows and the method and how many portions it serves. One of the breakfast recipes I actually like for dinner too as it is peaches baked with blueberries and raspberries, with a little honey and orange juice and served with plain yogurt. For people who don't eat breakfast there is bound to be something to tempt you.
Some of these recipes can be used for lunch too, especially the Grilled marinated peppers with garlic and Parma ham as this has 356 calories a portion! But grilled prawns with Baby leeks and asparagus has only 147 calories and is delicious.
Lunch to Go
Being on a diet can be really difficult if you are working and usually get a sandwich for lunch as they nearly always have mayonnaise and are high calories. A lovely pasta salad with baby mozzarella balls with have your colleagues wishing they were on a diet too!
Soups and Salads
A lovely butternut squash soup which can be taken to work and reheated or eaten at home is my favourite but there is a good choice of recipes. A seafood salad is delicious and only 274 calories a portion, although I miss out the squid!
Pasta, Pizza and Risotto
I expect you're thinking you can't eat pasta and pizza on a diet, but Italians have always eaten this kind of food at least once a day and still maintain good figures, you just have to watch portions and what you have on top!
One of my favourites in this section is Linguine with Garlic, Prawns and Spinach. You must use raw prawns to although the flavour to be absorbed, it's so quick to cook, the linguine needs to go on first and then you cook the rest at the same time and within 15 minutes, hey presto a fabulous dinner and under 450 calories.
Gino came from Naples and loves fish so found this his easiest chapter. A simple dish is Salmon cooked in a tomato, garlic and thyme sauce and served with some vegetables is another really quick meal to cook. I bought a whole Sea Bass from Tesco recently just so I could try out a recipe in the book baked with tomatoes, potatoes and fennel, wine, olives and capers give it a really Italian twist.
Chicken breasts are on sale in all the supermarkets these days but we all know that they can be dry if you're not careful but stuffing them with a mixture blitzed in a food processor with tomatoes, mushrooms, carrot, herbs etc helps keep it moist and delicious and is only 124 calories a portion. There are some unusual pork recipes which we enjoy, one is pork loin with white wine and sage pesto and another is using pork steaks which is half the calories and is cooked with mushrooms, orange, rosemary and a little chilli flakes, but a really simple one is using minced pork cooked with tinned tomatoes and sage and then used to fill pancakes or crepes and baked with sliced tomatoes and parmesan on top. They can be prepared and kept in the fridge for 24 hours and just take 15 minutes in the oven to heat through served with salad they make a tasty supper or lunch.
Does this section come as surprise? Lots of people love desserts and find diets without something sweet too hard to follow. Try a simple dessert wine set with gelatine and some summer berries added, grilled peaches with a butterscotch sauce, or a really low calorie lemon sorbet. And you can even have a slice of chestnut and chocolate cake.
These recipes have more calories, but Gino suggests being good for the rest of the week if you eat these or walk it off for 30 minutes or a naughtier suggestion! So it means you can indulge in a version of Spaghetti carbonara, Lasagne or even Limoncello cheesecake or Tiramisu. Not many diets allow that do they?
The book costs £12.99 and I think it is well worth it as there are lots of recipes I use and like as well as information that is useful and interesting. It can be bought for just over £7 at Amazon so worth shopping around for. There are lots of full page size coloured photos as well as some smaller ones, so you don't have to guess what the dish will look like! I admit I haven't stuck to a full week of eating the Italian diet, but I have used a lot of the recipes and have lost a little and then maintained my weight. It is a book I like to pick up and read as I love his easy way of writing and one I would recommend if you like Italian food, even if you don't want to diet.
'The i Diet' Recipe Book by Gino D'Acampo has 100 recipes which are really easy, cheap, quick and healthy, but most importantly, they are absolutely delicious!
All the recipes are for classic Italian dishes, and divided up into nine categories; Calazione (Breakfast), Antipasti, Pranzo da Viaggio (Lunch To Go), Zuppe e Insalate (Soup and Salads), Pasta, Pizza e Risotto, Pesce (Fish), Carne (Meat), Dolci (Desserts), and the Naughty Corner. In these categories, you can choose to make anything from a simple 'Classic Italian Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil', to risottos or meat and fish dishes, and there are even a few desserts at the end to keep you sweet.
The idea of a diet recipe book filled to the brim with pasta and carbohydrates may fill you with horror, but as it says on the back of the book, 'The Italians enjoy good health and slim bodies whilst still savouring delicious food'. It's true - Italians fill their diets with these kinds of food, but they're certainly not suffering from the same obesity crisis which we are! And, believe it or not, this diet book can help you lose weight. Even after trying the recipes for just two weeks you will begin to feel healthier and better about yourself. If you follow the recipes in the book, after regular use for a few weeks Gino can definitely help you lose weight.
All the recipes have really clear instructions and are really easy to follow. There aren't massive lists of ingredients, and most of the ingredients which are there are either things you will probably have in your cupboards at home, or things which won't be hard to find in the supermarkets. Throughout the book, there are extra little hints and tips to help your cooking, but Gino also gives ideas for replacement ingredients if you want to try something a bit different or don't have some of the ingredients. Plus, he has teamed up with a nutritionist to give you extra advice on your diet and lifestyle, which is an extremely helpful little touch. Believe me when I say that the meals are really quick and easy to make, so they're brilliant for mid-week meals, even if you're busy with work and normally don't have time to cook a big meal. At first, the portion sizes look a little on the small side, but by the time you've finished eating, you will realise that actually, the portion sizes are perfect and don't leave you feeling too full or bloated, but you certainly won't be hungry anymore. Importantly, the dishes end up looking like the pictures, which is reassuring as you know you can create such beautiful looking food and get it right every time! What's more, everything is really tasty, with the subtle way in which Italians manage to mix and blend big flavours to create a delicious meal.
The only thing I can find wrong with 'The i Diet' is that not every recipe has a picture. Sometimes you want to see what you'll be making before you try it, and sometimes it's nice to know that you're along the right lines by comparing your finished result to the picture. However, the pictures which are there are full of colour and look delicious and appetising. In any case, the recipes are so easy that you won't always need a picture to see what you're doing.
All in all, this is a fantastic book, which I think every home should have. The recipes are very yummy and even the pictures are mouth-watering! They're some of the simplest but most delicious meals I've come across, and they really can help you to lose weight and maintain a healthier lifestyle.