Summary: For Valentine’s Day weekend and American Heart Month, I thought it was time to check out the latest book that the American Heart Association has about weight loss. As Rose Marie Robertson, MD, points out in the preface:
The fact is that obesity is the fastest-growing health issue that Americans currently face. As the nation’s premier authority on heart health, we know that being overweight contributes to the risk of heart disease by greatly increasing the likelihood of high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and type 2 diabetes. Each of these conditions alone raises the risk of cardiovascular disease; together they are a serious medical problem.
This book begins with a short introduction about how to lose weight, identifying three “circles of success:” Think Smart, Eat Well, and Move More. Two more introductory chapters discuss maintaining weight loss and helping others (meaning, primarily, your children) develop healthy habits to sustain healthy weights.
A big middle section has menu plans (2 weeks each at 1200, 1600, and 2000 calories) and recipes. Part III in many books would be called an Appendix, but, here, they label it the No-Fad Toolkit. It’s filled with forms for setting goals and keeping track of things plus charts like “Switch and Swap Food Substitutions” and “Snack Ideas: 50 Calories and Under.”
Thoughts: There’s nothing ground-breaking in the dietary approaches in this book, but then I don’t expect that from the American Heart Association. Expect, in No-Fad Diet, a good run-down of currently accepted practices. What this book is missing in personality, it gains in clarity of presentation. If you’re feeling motivated and inspired to lose weight while improving heart health, this is a quickly read and easily understood approach with just enough flexibility to feel in control of your own journey. If you need some inspiration, look elsewhere — but there are lots of websites, books, and support groups to help with that aspect.
The recipes have more canned, frozen, and artificially-created low-fat products than I normally use, but many of them look fast and tasty. Since we’ve discovered a source for really good balsamic vinegar, I decided to try the red cabbage braised with balsamic vinegar on page 361. I substituted a locally-made berry jam for the all-fruit spread and some cider that I’ve let go hard in the refrigerator for the apple juice. So, my version is probably a touch higher in sugar.
We normally eat cabbage raw because I enjoy making cabbage salads, like this Fresh Citrus and Ginger Coleslaw but this was a nice variation. It’s good to have another cooked vegetable in my repertoire.
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 medium leeks (white part only), thinly sliced
1/2 medium red cabbage (about 1 pound), thinly sliced
1/4 cup unsweetened apple juice
2 tablespoons all-fruit seedless blackberry spread
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon pepper
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the leeks for 2 to 3 minutes, or until tender-crisp, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the cabbage. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until tender-crisp, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the remaining ingredients. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender, stirring occasionally.
Appeal: No-Fad Diet is a good basic diet book. It’s not the most inspiring I’ve ever read, but it’s authoritative, reasoned, and touches on all the points that seem necessary to make a diet work long term. Sometimes the inspiring books mess up in those other areas, making this one a good player in the field. I suspect it will be most motivating to those who have one or more of the risk factors for heart disease and, thus, want a book that most directly addresses weight loss as a preventative to ever having to utter the words “my cardiologist.”
Challenges: This is book 4 of the 19 I’m committed to reading for the Foodies Read 2 challenge.
Be sure to visit Beth Fish Reads today for her post and the links to the other participants in Weekend Cooking this week.