Cooking Reviews | May 15, 2013

When I decided to devote this month’s column to health and diet cookbooks, I was apprehensive. What if the recipes tasted terrible? What if the health claims were ridiculous? To my delight, I found numerous titles that contained delicious recipes, varied perspectives, and credible, balanced advice. This genre has grown considerably, and even if you’re not on a diet, I encourage you to explore it.

Library Journal Reviews starred review Thomas, Cathy. 50 Best Plants on the Planet: The Most Nutrient-Dense Fruits and Vegetables, in 150 Delicious Recipes. Chronicle. 2013. 352p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781452102832. pap. $29.95. COOKING

Working alphabetically from arugula to watermelon, Orange County Register columnist Thomas explains how plants with a high ratio of nutrients to calories can benefit your health. As you sample outstanding recipes like shrimp and grapefruit salad (with a zippy ginger-infused vinaigrette), you’ll learn how cactus can soothe a hangover, how kiwis can improve digestion, and how snap peas can support heart health. The book includes nutritional analysis for each plant and recipe but lacks category indexing. Readers will need to judge whether recipes suit their diet (e.g., low-fat, gluten-free) or should be avoided. VERDICT Thomas’s simple, fresh dishes will appeal to farmers’ market lovers, meat-free Monday participants, vegetarians, and fans of substantial salads.

Library Journal Reviews starred review Foung, Jessica Goldman. Sodium Girl’s Limitless Low-Sodium Cookbook. Wiley. 2013. 256p. photogs. index.ISBN 9781118123775. pap. $25. COOKING

Foung, who was diagnosed with lupus in 2004, writes the popular Sodium Girl blog (, in which she documents her experiences living a low-sodium lifestyle. In her debut cookbook she shares adventurous, flavorful recipes (some new, some from her blog, and some from celebrity chefs) and useful advice, such as how to cut salt from your favorite recipes, including buffalo wings and Bloody Marys. Also provided is information on handling diet-challenging situations and environments (e.g., restaurant outings, trips abroad, college dining halls). She lists a sodium count for each dish, as well as her favorite salt-free cookbooks. Entertaining prose and stunning photographs offset a difficult-to-read typeface. VERDICT Foung’s cheerful, can-do attitude will inspire anyone struggling to adopt a low-sodium diet.

Lee, Edward. Smoke & Pickles: Recipes from a Southern Kitchen. Artisan: Workman. May 2013. 304p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781579654924. $29.95. COOKING

Korean American chef Lee, the three-time James Beard Award–nominated owner of 610 Magnolia in Louisville, KY, has appeared on Bravo’s Top Chef and Food Network’s Iron Chef America . His collection of contemporary, complex Southern favorites features strong Asian influences: darkly braised lamb shoulder simmers in a mix of bourbon, sorghum, black bean paste, and chocolate, for example, and chicken-fried pork steak gets breaded in crushed ramen noodles. Distinctive pickles, cocktails, sides, snacks, and desserts round out this meaty cookbook, which includes beautiful photographs and considered anecdotes. VERDICTAsian fusion cuisine is extremely popular right now, making this a good choice for most collections. Best for experienced cooks.

The following titles are reviewed in the May 15 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.

Danziger, Lucy. The Drop 10 Diet Cookbook: More than 100 Tasty, Easy Superfood Recipes That Effortlessly Peel Off the Pounds. Ballantine. 2013. 256p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780345531667. pap. $20. COOKING

Good Housekeeping Magazine Eds. Good Housekeeping 400 Calorie Chicken: Easy Mix-and-Match Recipes for a Skinnier You! Hearst: Sterling. 2013. 160p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781618370570. spiral-bound. $14.95. COOKING

Heller, Marla & Rick Rodgers. The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook: Over 150 Fresh and Delicious Recipes To Speed Weight Loss, Lower Blood Pressure, and Prevent Diabetes. Grand Central. Jun. 2013. 224p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781455528066. $25.99. COOKING

Lillien, Lisa. Hungry Girl 200 Under 200: Just Desserts. Griffin: St. Martin’s. May 2013. 400p. photogs. index.ISBN 9780312676742. pap. $19.99. COOKING

Moore, Michael. Blood Sugar: The Family. New Holland, dist. by Sterling. 2013. 240p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781742573090. $35. COOKING

Morris, Julie. Superfood Smoothies: 100 Delicious, Energizing, & Nutrient-Dense Recipes. Sterling. May 2013. 208p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781454905592. $16.95. COOKING

Weight Watchers International. Weight Watchers 50th Anniversary Cookbook: 250 Delicious Recipes for Every Meal. Weight Watchers Intl. May 2013. 320p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781250036407. $29.99. COOKING