I have to admit, when I was asked to review The Perfect Portion Cookbook, I was a bit hesitant. As a registered dietitian I’ve read countless “healthy” cookbooks in which the authors were more concerned with eliminating all the fat, or sugar, or getting the lowest calorie content possible without much concern about how the foods actually tasted. But when I learned who the authors are, I thought, hmmm, this might be something different. I’ve been familiar with Bob Warden for years thanks to my Mom’s love of QVC–he’s a frequent guest. Then, Anson Williams, I mean come on–Potsie Weber was always my favorite on Happy Days (after Fonzie, of course). So I decided to check it out.
The premise of the book is, of course healthy foods and fresh ingredients, but in addition, for each recipe there’s an example of what 100 calories would be. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to eat only the 100 calorie portion, in fact, in most cases the portions are more than 100 calories. But, if you know how much of a food consists of 100 calories, its much easier to create meal plans within your body’s calorie requirements. This feature also makes it easier to sneak in some extras. For example, say you’re usual daily calorie intake is right around where it needs to be but sometimes you want an extra snack or sweet treat–knowing how many cookies or how many “hot cocoa pretzels” constitutes 100 calories can make fitting that extra in.
The book itself is beautiful with full color pictures as well as graphics of the 100-calorie portion for each recipe. I have to admit, all of the foods look so good, it was hard to choose what to try first. I sat down with my daughter too look through the book and we decided to start the day with Steel-Cut Oatmeal on page 39 with a few of the mix-ins on the following page. It was so delicious and creamy, she had two servings before heading to school. Here initial serving was less than that suggested in the book.
The next day we tried the New England Clam Chowder, on page 53, for dinner and it was yummy, and quick and easy to make. It was flavorful, but not overly rich like some chowders made with lots of butter and heavy cream. My son enjoyed it so much he drank every last drop out of his bowl.
We paired the chowder with the BLT Tossed Salad, on page 59. I’ve tried BLT salads in the past, but the technique of pureeing some of the grape tomatoes into the dressing really made this salad stand out. Instead of just having a bowl of BLT ingredients mixed together, the dressing (especially on the croutons) really created that classic BLT flavor of the tomato juice and mayo combination.
And of course we couldn’t end the day without a sweet treat. We thought about several before finally deciding on the Cheesecake Minis on page 295. They were creamy and delicious without being overly dense. I couldn’t make the raspberry sauce described in the helpful tip (another great addition to the book) because my daughter ate too many of the berries, but at least we had enough to top a few with a fresh berry.
There’s a lot to be said for quick and easy recipes, at least for me. And I should tell you that on the night I made the chowder, salad, and cheesecakes my kids and I didn’t get home until about 5:30 and I still had dinner on the table at a very reasonable time–before 6:30.
The book usually retails for $29.95 but is available for pre-order now on Amazon $21.61 . But, it officially launches this Sunday, February 7th on QVC with a special pre-order price of $19.95. That would be a great opportunity to actually see many of the recipes in the book brought to life.