Publisher & Pub Date: Rodale 2009
Source of Review Copy: purchased at Joseph-Beth Booksellers
Every single January, I make the delusional resolution that I'm going to lose weight. This year, I decided to start early by using the program that works, with awesome results. I've watched The Biggest Loser since the beginning, usually falling in love with a player/team within the first show (this year, it's the Yellow Team - I can't wait for them to come back!). Their success makes me want my own and The Biggest Loser: Simple Swaps has put me on the right path.
The premise of the program is to swap out 100 of the foods you eat with healthier alternatives, adding in a workout program and calorie counting. I started keeping a food journal, listing everything I ate, along with their caloric content. I'll admit I've strayed from the journal, but I keep a running tab in my head. I've also started paying attention to how much fat is in a serving - but that doesn't mean I'm giving up peanut butter any time soon!
While the book is broken down into chapters like "The Power of Protein" and "Creating a Game Plan," the most helpful sections are the swap boxes on every page. They suggest everything from "swap lettuce for spinach" to "swap a donut for a phone call" to "swap a dinner plate for a salad plate". The swap boxes explain why each swap is a better alternative and are rather convincing. I now have a can of chickpeas in my cupboard - I hate chickpeas. But they are loaded with protein and the recipe for Spicy, Crunchy Chickpeas was too tempting to pass up.
The recipes are easy to follow and don't require a lot of super-fancy, super-expensive ingredients found in a lot of weight-loss and diet cookbooks. The recipes focus on fresh ingredients found in the perimeter of grocery stores -- lots of fresh produce, meat, and dairy. Everything is lean, fat-free, low-sodium, whole wheat, but not missing in taste when combined in the right portions with the right ingredients. In my last shopping trip, in which I had a Swaps Only grocery list with ingredients for six recipes, I spent $80 & ran out of room in my fridge. And it's full of color!
The first recipe I tried was the Sweet Grilled Cheese Sandwich (pg 108). If you know me, you know I'm very particular about my grilled cheese. It is sacred; my temple is Melt. So, provolone on cinnamon raisin bread raised my eyebrows but encouraged my tastebuds. I burnt the hell out of the first sandwich (heat was on too high). But the second sandwich...oh boy...I'll never eat American on white again.
Last night, I made Veggie Lasagna (pg 63). I never made "regular" lasagna so I was a little daunted. There's no pasta in this recipe -- the layers are made up of a sauce (red pepper, onion, lean turkey Italian sausage), thin sliced zucchini, and a seasoned ricotta mixture. It took me about 30 minutes to prep, cook, and assemble the pan. After baking, it looks nothing like the picture, and doesn't hold together like regular lasagna, and the 1/2 tsp of pepper was too much, but it was very very good. And filling but not in an "I'm so stuffed I'll never eat again." I was full but I had energy & wasn't craving sweets. The meat sauce will also taste amazing over pasta.
Since I started the swaps, I've saved myself $20 a week in groceries. I've gone from a size 14 to a 10/12. I snack on things like snap peas, green beas, and peppers instead of crackers or candy. I get full but not stuffed and I have more energy. I haven't been able to get into a steady workout routine & I'm debating joining a gym. I've joined a hiking group and am looking into the Field Trip program at the Museum of Natural History. Slowly, but surely, the weight will come off. Simple Swaps really lives up to its name.