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Substitute Yourself Skinny - Cookbook Review

The Bikini Chef Tells us How to Keep Flavor While Cutting Calories

by Susan Irby
(Adams Media, 2010)

Substitute Yourself Skinny by Susan Irby

Whenever I've seen Susan Irby in person, I've always wondered: How does she keep that "bikini" figure? She is a professional chef while I am a professional food critic, so we both know the dilemma: Do we sacrifice taste for fewer calories to keep ourselves in shape? With her fourth book, Substitute Yourself Skinny, she lets us in on her secrets to having the best of both worlds.

As I flipped through the 230 pages — packed with 175 recipes — I found the book easy and pleasant to use, with some photos that really whetted my appetite. Next to each recipe, Irby lists the number of calories that can be saved by making a few changes to the original full-fat dish. The savings can be quite significant: for "Saucy Sausage Biscuits" (page 14), Irby's readers save a whopping 762 calories! Along with a short introduction, list of ingredients and preparation directions, she's also indicated at the bottom the number of servings, calories per serving and nutritional breakdown (fat, carbohydrates, protein, sodium), making meal-planning and calorie-counting a cinch. Most of the recipes also have what Irby likes to call a "Skinny Secret" — I won't give any away, you'll have to look them up in the book yourself.

Her sense of humor is apparent in recipe names like the "Ham it Down Breakfast Casserole" (page 30), "It's Greek to Me Greek Salad" (page 41), "Join My Club Sandwich" (page 60) and "Don't Lay it on Me Four-Layer Dessert" (page 202). Laughing burns calories, so feel free to let out a chuckle at a pun or two.

Substitute Yourself Skinny is not a book of diet recipes. It's all about enjoying your favorite foods at a lower calorie-count by using low-fat or fat-free products, sweeteners with fewer calories than sugar, more vegetables, and fresh herbs for flavor. For breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides, desserts and even snacks, the book is full of advice for forming daily healthy eating habits.

Reviewed by Sophie Gayot

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