SULLIVAN COLUMN: Books as diet aids

Food Light: The Quickest and Easiest Recipes All Under 500 Calories

By this time in January, our New Year's resolutions for better eating may have started to slip. These new books offer inspiration and encouragement.

"Food Light: The Quickest and Easiest Recipes All Under 500 Calories." The third in a series from Everyday Food magazine, this is a Martha Stewart product. It starts off with a very helpful 101 on best methods for light cooking, from poaching through grilling. The 250 recipes are divided by the four seasons. Examples in winter are Soy-Ginger Chicken (269 calories), Pork Tenderloin with Swiss Chard and Polenta (368), Baked Onion Rings (241), and Mini Mocha Cheesecakes (196). As in the magazine, each recipe has an enticing full color picture, plus the additional benefit of a nutritional analysis. Paperback. Clarkson Potter/Publishers. $24.99. (Also available in Ebook editions.)

"Light & Healthy 2012: The Year's Best Recipes Lightened Up." Here, too, we have a cookbook from a trusted source, in this case America's Test Kitchen. This is a 2,500-square-foot kitchen with three dozen test cooks, editors and cookware specialists.

That's why you get the books that are chock full of information. How to leave the fat out of the sauce for Chicken Pot Pie? Toast flour until nutty, then you can make the sauce without missing the butter.

How do they do it? "All the recipes had to pass multiple taste tests. Sometimes this means testing every low-fat and nonfat ingredient in every combination."

The recipes in "Light and Healthy 2012" are in chapters of Appetizers & Snacks; Soups & Stews; Poultry, Meat; Fish & Shellfish; Pizza & Pasta; Slow Cooker; Fire Up the Grill; Rice, Grains & Beans; Perfect Vegetables; Breakfast, Baked Goods & Breads; and Desserts.

That about covers every category, so if you're slipping, you're saved. Hardcover. America's Test Kitchen. $35.

Reach Marion Sullivan at mbscooks@gmail.com.