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I have found this book a really useful way to remain angelic whilst eating naughty things! The TV show was enjoyable to watch and the book is full of delicious treats and comfort food which will not ruin your waistline!
My personal favourite is the Spaghetti Carbonara - usually a fattening over indulgent treat which leaves me feeling guilty, sick and fat... when cooked using the 'Cook yourself thin' method it's still indulgent, lovely and enjoyable, but not sickly and I don't feel guilty so I actually enjoy my food! The book contains other favourites like chocolate cake, steak and Kidney pie and Lasagne. There are also chocolate truffles!
The book has breakfasts, snacks, soups, lunches, dinners, desserts, and cocktails to try. The girls write honestly and are all quite funny! They share their diet experiences and their food weaknesses. The book also has general diet advice and a calorie counter in it.
I plan to try the chocolate cake at the weekend... it ha beetroot in it (yes beetroot) to make it all squidgy and fudgy... I'll let you know how it turns out!
'Cook Yourself Thin' was a TV series aired on Channel 4 a few years ago. The basic premise of this series was that making a few tweaks to your every day diet could help you lose weight. These 'tweaks' are the things that deep down we know we 'should' be doing - things like switching from full-fat to semi-skimmed milk, eating less cheese and more vegetables, watching your fat intake - not exactly rocket-science, but I know I need a little reminder every now and then. I bought the book when embarking on yet another weight loss mission - I can't even remember which one it was one, but I can never resist a cook book and I always start off my diets with fabulous intentions, even though I don't stick to them for very long.
The book starts with a lot of information and a few very scary facts. OK, so a little part of me knew that my Starbucks addiction wasn't really good for me, but is a large latte and a blueberry muffin really 765 calories? And I was choosing the blueberry muffin because it wasn't chocolate and therefore it couldn't be 'that' bad for me... it's now skinny lattes and NO muffins all the way for me! Apart from those days where I really need a little treat of course... The book encourages you to make a list of everything you eat in a day - and they really do mean everything. Again, this was a scary concept for me and made me realise the full extent of my snacking habit - a biscuit here, a few bites of my toddler's leftovers there, a handful of crisps leftover from client lunches at work - it all adds up. There is also a Food Personality Quiz - apparently I am a 'Sweet Toothed Fairy', so that would explain the chocolate obsession then.
Once the book has finished freaking you out about the calories that you didn't realise you were eating, there is a great list of essentials to transform your junk-filled kitchen cupboards into a healthy, balanced store cupboard with all the ingredients to enable you to create the food that you 'should' be eating. I really liked this section of the book - the list is very comprehensive and, although some of the ingredients are expensive and difficult to find in my local Tesco, it's good for giving you an idea of the things that you should have in your cupboards. There is also a section on the kitchen equipment you should and shouldn't have - as a kitchen-gadget obsessive I had most of it already, but there's always the temptation to add to my collection!
The next section is all about food swaps - this concentrates on how to replace the things that you usually eat with healthier alternatives, and how many calories you would save by doing that. A lot of the suggestions that they make are recipes which are featured later in the book and some are really obvious - i.e. swapping a can of full-fat Coke for a can of Diet Coke! They also suggest some healthy alternatives for each of the Food Personality types identified earlier in the book - apparently I need to ditch the biscuits! Following this, there is a short section on Exercise outlining how long you need to do various forms of exercise to burn 100 calories - 10 minutes for swimming breaststroke, 15 minutes of jogging, 30 minutes for walking and 20 minutes for having sex!
Finally, we move on to the Recipes section of the book. Obviously, as this is a cook book, the recipes are the important bit. The opening sections, interesting as they may be, are things that we all either know for ourselves or are accessible in other places. The Recipes section is split into nine sections - these are Breakfasts; Light Lunches; Lunch on the Go; Soups; Main Meals; Food for Friends; Super Sides; Desserts and Drinks. I haven't actually cooked a huge amount of the recipes from this book - I have a few personal favourites, but mostly I've just used it for ideas and inspiration. Therefore, this part of the review will focus on my impressions of the recipes, rather than actual recommendations.
The recipes in the Breakfast section mostly look very appetising. There is a healthier take on the traditional fried breakfast, featuring Parma ham instead of bacon which I'm definitely planning to try at some point, some delicious looking smoothie recipes and a few suggestions for egg-based meals. I wasn't that impressed with the Light Lunches section - most of the recipes just didn't appeal to me that much, although that is probably just because I'm not really a salad lover. 'Lunch on the Run' is a better section, although I'm not entirely sure I need a recipe to make an egg mayonnaise sandwich! I have tried the Tuna Nicoise Wrap and the Lentil Salad with Mediterranean Vegetables and Goats Cheese though and they are both delicious.
Moving on to the Soups section, I have only made the Tomato, Chilli and Basil soup which had a good flavour but ended up being a very watery texture. After that, I got put off and didn't try any more of the Soup Recipes. My favourite section is the Main Meals section. This focuses mainly on healthier versions of favourite dishes, such as Fish and Chips with Mushy Peas, Chicken Tikka Masala, Roast Dinner, Lasagne, Carbonara and Risotto. I don't think any of the recipes are as diet-friendly as they claim - when I was doing Weight Watchers the points content was higher than I wanted it to be, but if you're just trying to reduce your calorie intake and make sensible choices then this section is really good. My absolute favourite recipe in the book is the Risotto with Prawn, Lemon, Spring Onion and Basil which has become something I make frequently and always enjoy eating.
The Food for Friends section is also good - I can recommend the Luxury Fish Pie and the Lamb and Butternut Squash Tagine. I haven't cooked anything from the 'Super Sides' section or, more surprisingly, the Desserts. Actually, maybe that isn't so suprising - there's something kind of scary about a Chocolate Fudge Cake containing beetroot and, if I'm having dessert, it tends to be the full-fat version anyway.
Overall, this is a relatively good cookery book but it might not be something that you use all the time. I have a lot of books that I use much more often - 'Nigella Express' and 'Jamie's Ministry of Food' spring immediately to mind, and I don't pick this one up much. I do make the risotto a lot but it's not a book that I find myself flicking through in search of inspiration that often. I think it's because the recipes mostly have long lists of ingredients and it always ends up costing me a lot of money to make them - maybe my store cupboards aren't as well-stocked as they need to be, but unless I'm actually cooking to impress, I do get a bit put off by long ingredient lists.
I don't think the recipes are as healthy as they claim to be either - if you're looking for diet food, you'd be better off buying a book that is specifically focused on low-fat cookery. This is good to give you ideas about lower fat alternatives but I don't think it will help you lose significant amounts of weight. It's more aimed at maintaining an already healthy weight or shedding about half a stone than proper weight loss. I'm even thinking of selling this because I should rationalise my cook book collection a bit before the precariously sagging shelf in the kitchen does what it's been threatening to do and falls down!
Cook yourself thin was an excellent series on channel 4 a while back, showing you how to make your favourite meals without piling on the pounds my using substitute ingredients and different cooking methods. This book has all the recipes and tips from the series, the first half is about how you should think about food differently, the second half is recipes.
This is extremely good for strict dieters looking to indulge but I personally think that the calorie differences (between their skinny versions and normal) are not substantial enough to mean that you wouldn't have to be wary of portion sizes if you are on a diet, the portions they allow are often very small and unless your an extremely good dieter, you would be very tempted to overindulge one the morish dishes! Throughout the book there's also no mention of fat, so you never really know what your eating.
Despite all the downsides all the recipes look delicious and indeed i couldn't help trying a few of them, especially the chocolate cake and fish and chips! Although you can find quite a few of these recipes on the channel 4 website anyway.
I would recommend this book more to people that are not worries about losing weight, but to people who are looking to substitute things in their diets to be a little bit healthier. On the show people did lose weight, but i imagine they stuck to the book rigidly.
At the moment there are a whole host of programmes on telly trying to get us to eat healthier and look better, 10 Years Younger, You Are What You Eat and Cook Yourself Thin is the newest edition to channel 4's lifestyle programming. I myself never got to see the series, I wanted to watch it but my other half was always watching football or something else when it was on.
When I saw the team had bought out a book to accompany the series I had to have it. The promise of eating good food and being able to loose weight too, what girl could resist?
What's It All About?
Firstly this is not a diet book and it doesn't make any promises to the reader. What the writers have done have offered us delicious, healthier alternatives to fattening foods that aren't bland like the food I usually eat while dieting. What the book does claim is that if you do swap all your usual junk for their alternantives it is possible to drop a dress size.
Meet The Team
The book has been written and compiled by the same team team who present the TV show; Harry Eastwood (who is a food stylist and food writer), Gizzi Erskine (a food stylist, chef and food writer), Sal Henly ( a food consultant and home economist) and Sophie Mitchell (chef and food writer).
The girls each get a proper full page introduction in the book which tells you about each girl's background and also what dishes they would choose for their last supper.
What's Your Food Personality?
This is a multiple choice quiz, each question has four possible answers (a,b,c or d), the quiz is completed the reader will be able to see whether they are a convenience queen, a sweet-toothed fairy, a party animal or a comfort eater. This helps the reader to identify their dieting downfalls and tells us why the info in the book will help us.
To be honest I did the quiz but found with some questions a couple of the answers could've applied to me so after muh deliberation I came out as a comfort eater, this wasn't much of a surprise and to be honest I already knew my dieting downfalls.
So You Want to Drop A Dress Size?
Rather than keep banging on about the benefits of the book and bore us all with do's and don'ts this part of the book looks at why many people try diets but eventually fall off the wagon, it also looks at the idea of keeping a food diary before stating a diet so we can see how much or little we really eat and pin point problems. What I found really interesting is that it recognises chocolate as a pick-me-up food rather than it being a big no no.
A Quick Guide To Calories
This chapter focuses on what calories exactly are and the many mistakes people make when reading food packaging and labels.
This is really informative and teaches us the evils of processed foods.
The Big Offenders
This is just a very handy list of high calorie everyday foods and I have to say al lot of them a regulars in my diet.
The Surprise Offenders
This One is a handy list of surprisingly high calorie foods, although it doesn't tell you how many calories is in each offender it tells you what to watch out for on the labels, for example extra fat is often used in veggie burgers to boost flavour.
Ingredients For Success
This is a great chapter for people like me who don't have a lot of time to slave away in the kitchen, this chapter contains lists of foods to always try and keep in the house so you can whip up a decent healthy meal rather than ordering takeaway or eating convience foods.
The problem with this chapter is that a lot of these basic foods will be quite expensive if like me you are on a budget and secondly I don't recall seeing all the stuff in my local supermarket.
This chapter is pretty self explanatory. It's still handy to have in the book though.
Where Did All The Calories Go?
This chapter looks at the methods we use to cook and how we can reduce calorie content of food by changing the method we cook them.
This contains some good tips but if you'd have to be a real dummy not to know that grilling is better than frying.
Cunning Calorie Swaps
I've got to say this (apart from the recipes) is the best chapter in the book. Some of the swaps mentioned here are obvious but others are really helpful to know and it doesn't just cover breakfasts, luches and snacks but also takeaway foods, sweet stuff and drinks.
I suppose this is quite a handy chapter for those doing some or thinking about it. It's the shortest chapter in the book (well the book is more about food) and just tells the reader how many calories exercises can burn (30 mins of walking burns 105 calories)
Obivously the recipes is the largest part of this book and therefore has been categorised. The catergories include Breakfasts, Light Lunches, Lunch On The Go, Soups, Main Meals, Food For Friends, Super Sides, Desserts and Drinks. Each of the recipes is a full page (except for some of the sides) and the degree of info is great, it tell you which of the girls submitted the recipe, preparation time, cooking time, how many servings and calories per serving. Some of the recipes also have top tips to make preparation easier.
Quick Calorie Guide
This is just a list of everyday foods and how many calories they contain for reference.
Overall I've got to say I was really impressed with the book, I was expecting just a recipe book it's so much more and the degree of info is exceptional. The book has a modern funky feel with great pictures and glossy pages.
Although I'm not actively dieting (no point before christmas) I couldn't wait to get started and so far have made Mexican Burgers and Pepperoni and Parmesan Pitta Pizzas, which were delicious.
I don't often cook desserts but the Beetroot Chocolate Fudge Cake sounds intriguing to say the least.
I'm pretty sure when New Year comes around and I want to loose a few pounds I will find this book really handy.
There is however a few negative points to this book. There are a lot of fish recipes and I'm not into fish at all. As a family of five on a strict budget eating from this book everyday could prove to be expensive and some ingredients might prove hard to get hold of (wasabi powder - I don't think the ASDA near me stocks it), also relating to the family thing again, I'm pretty sure I would struggle getting the kids to eat a lot of the things in here.
I would recommend Cook Yourself Thin, it's got to be better than deprivation and how often do we come across healthy foods that also taste great.
Price: RRP £14.99 but I paid £8.99 from amazon