Book review: Eat, Shrink & Be Merry!

The first thing I realized when I took at look at Eat, Shrink, and Be Merry was that this wouldn’t be a book for guys. The tagline of the book reads “Great-tasting food that won’t go from you lips to your hips”. I mean please.

Then I realized that while my hips were fine, my belly can be in the shape of a pot at times, which was quickly followed with the idea that men usually die before women in part because many of us will eat whatever is put in front of us.

Now, I’m an avid cook. I’ve got about 30 cookbooks in all. And I’ve cooked for parties large and small. So I’ve come to appreciate how to put together good tasting meals and, while I think cooking is fun, I still want to learn.

The book was written by two telegenic Polish Canadian sisters, Janet & Greta Podleski. They certainly have a lot of enthusiasm. The two have their own TV show on Food Network Canada and their website is right here. Essentially, they’re creating their one little media empire in print, television, and the web.

The book is about 200 pages long with twelve reciped chapters such as “Hey, hey…We’re the Munchies!”, “Poultry in Motion”, “A Chorus Loin”, and “A Sweet Carb Named Desire”. Interspersed with the recipes are features such as “Return to Slender”, “Funky Factoid”, and “The E Files”. There’s not necessarily much difference between each feature, but they do give good advice on cooking, eating, and nutrition. And it seems as if each and every one was written carefully enough in a fun way to help the reader remember the content.

I tried four recipes from the book. Most of them are relatively simple. I say that as someone who’s whipped up some pretty extravagant meals. But simple make sense here. The spirit is fun, not formal; convenient, not complicated.

Bewedged, on p. 21, is baked whole wheat pita wedges with Parmesan and rosemary. They turned out pretty good, although some seemed to be more “well done” than the others. It’s a great snack that’s got only 1.4g of fat. Each wedge was 29 calories which quickly turned into 174 calories as I ate six of them. Made a meal out of it. Was watching football at the time. They’re good with beer.

I had to try the “Pizza for the Upper Crust”. Thin sliced pizza. I really liked it, but, perhaps being a guy, I saw it more as an appetizer. Football again. Easy to eat a lot while you’re sitting down. Sort of kills the idea behind the book, but, well, football was on. I definitely recommend using fresh tomatoes and herbs for this. The flavor comes out a lot better.

The third recipe I tried was “Dilly Beloved”. A chicken breast recipe that uses maple syrup, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar in the dill-based marinade. I really liked the marinade, but i think I did something wrong. I had never used maple syrup in a marinade before, so part of the marinade was thicker in some parts, thinner in others. I’ll try this one again. The marinade was tasty, but I want to do it right.

The last recipe I tried was “The Great Pretenderloin”. Wos. The seasoning rub, which called for ingredients such as brown sugar, lemon zest, dijon mustard, and streak sauce worked together perfectly. I managed to time everything just right and it was delicious. It said to cook it for 45 to 55 minutes and the roast I picked out must have been the perfect overall thickness, because it came out juicy, but cooked through. I had leftovers for days.

All and all, I’d say that it’s a great, fun book. Criticisms? They have a table under each recipe that shows calories, fat content, protein, carbs, etc. One thing that’s missing is “calories from fat”. That’s a mistake. It’s not the calories that will hurt you it’s where the calories are from. But at least they list the other attributes. Most cookbooks don’t. Probably because much of what you cook in them may be REALLY fattening.

If you’re a guy and can get past the fact that it seems as if it’s specifically written for women, and you like to cook and you’re conscious about what you eat, then I’d recommend the book. It may be a good buy because it is written in a fun style and you can use it to help teach your kids better nutrition. That’s essential. It’s handy to have around because most of the recipes are simple enough and don’t require 328 ingredients…some of which you may not be able to find at your local grocery store.

I’d say that I’d recommend this as a gift to a wife, a girlfriend, etc. But the problem there is that knowing the way many women are with their weight, I’d say some sort of clearance beforehand. Package the idea as health for the entire family. Subtle approaches like that can go along way. They won’t want to open up their gift to be greeted by the caption, “Return to Slender”.

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