Reviewed by Jen K.
Author Susan Irby is known as The Bikini Chef because her recipes capitalize on fresh herbs and citrus flavors, which are referred to as “figure flattering flavors”. Her aim with this book is to teach us how to make simple substitutions with ingredients to make the same great tasting dishes that contain fewer calories.
To be totally honest, the title of the book had me a little worried that her calorie cutting recommendations would be things like replacing full fat mayo with reduced fat mayo, coupled with a heavy reliance on fat free cheeses. Honestly, those substitutions seem pretty self evident and I’m fairly sure most people could work those out on their own. Sure, this book does make use of those common sense recommendations, but I was relieved to find that Susan takes it much further. She puts an emphasis on healthy cooking, while also reducing the fat content of the dishes. The recipes call for whole wheat breads, pastas and tortillas, lean meats, and of course, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
I think the best part of Substitute Yourself Skinny is that is teaches how to make dishes that feel as though they are more indulgent than they really are. You can eat lighter without feeling like you’re depriving yourself of the treats! Feeling snacky? Grab a handful of baked tortillas chips and take your pick of Queso Dip, Three Cheese Dip, or Blue Cheese Dip. Need something to soothe a savage sweet tooth? Choose from a full chapter of desserts that include tweaked classics like Peanutty Butter Cookies and Apple Pie to the more decadent Mud Pie or Chocolate Torte.
It’s very helpful that calorie counts are provided for each dish, but I think it’s silly that she claims how many calories you are “saving” from the original dish. The “Calorie Savings” figures even show up in a highlighted box at the top of each page. Since the original, higher calorie recipe is not provided, hopefully readers won’t rely on these numbers as accurate. That one paltry annoyance is easy to overlook compared to the positive aspects of the book.
I love how she depends on a wide variety of spices and juices to add so much flavor that you don’t even realize the calorie reduction when you sit down to eat. There are plenty of full page, full color photos scattered through the book, and great written intros for each recipe. Plus, extras called “Skinny Secrets” show up in the outside columns – little useful tips from the author. I appreciate that that the book includes a full range of recipes from simple soups and salads to company worthy entrees and accompanying sides. Make yourself an easy lunch of Summer Savoring Mac n’ Cheese, whip out Chuck Wagon Chili on a cooler day, and save Bavarian Cornish Hens for company. Overall, a very useful cookbook for people who need just a bit of help lightening up their cooking.
Jen lives in Michigan with her husband and five year old son. She writes reviews of children’s book on her blog, FIRR-Kids. She enjoys trying new recipes and using her baking as an excuse to add more cookbooks to her collection.
This book was provided free of any obligation by FSB Associates. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.