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I love a good cookbook that touts being able to eat things that taste “bad” for you but aren’t really, or at least not nearly as much as the real thing. It helps to have recipes to go to during the week when you’re trying to eat healthy at least 5 our of the 7 days of the week. I was hoping to find lots of go-to meals for during the week so splurging on the weekend would be so much more fun.

As a fanatic of nutrition and eating (mostly) healthy without sacrificing good food, I like the concept of this book. Diets may work for a period of time, but usually sooner rather than later there’s a birthday party with cake, a celebratory dinner with drinks and dessert, a difficult time where emotional eating seems like a good idea, or, worst of all for the waistline, all of the above.

The Introduction is a short summary of how Andie Mitchell came to write this cookbook, her weight loss journey, and how she lives her life and maintains her weight.

Let me start off by saying the pictures are lovely to look at. There’s a photo for every recipe which is quite useful when trying to recreate it yourself. The nutritional information is listed for each recipe as well. This makes it especially easy for you to log meals into your weight loss app or count your calories for the day, or whatever it is that you do with your meals. If you don’t do any of those things, just ignore that part.

In the breakfast section, there aren’t too many novel dishes, but the ingredients lend a unique aspect to them. For instance, we all know granola, oatmeal, and muffins are staples so no big deal. But adding lots of veggies, or swapping out for healthier ingredients make small but hopefully meaningful changes in the way we start our days.

The lunch section includes, you guessed it, lots of salads. Salads are your best friend for weight loss because they fill you up without a bunch of calories, unless you drown it in dressing…okay yes, I like dressing. The salads do sound delicious, especially the Italian chopped salad. There are heartier options like a black bean burger or petite/mini lasagne. You can surely find a great option that will fill you up without weighing you down. The salads could be prepared a la mason jar style if you wanted to take it to work too. Just pack the dressing separately and shake it all together when you’re ready to eat.

Vegetables and Sides have some great options it you’re trying to fill up on the “good” stuff instead of the really good stuff like junk food. Roasted broccoli, kale chips, smashed potatoes, and a variety of salads round out this section. Basically, if you don’t think your lunch or dinner is going to be sufficient enough to keep you out of the refrigerator at 10pm or stop you from reaching for that pint of ice cream, add one of these dishes to your meal. You’ll be glad you ate the vegetables.

Ah, dinnertime. It’s probably my favorite time that involves nutritious food. I’m pretty sure dessert isn’t a meal, at least to most of the world. There is a variety of protein with the emphasis being on chicken and then fish. Obviously both are lower calorie options so it makes sense. This section has about twice as many recipes as the others, but it’s the one meal we all mostly eat at home so I’m happy that more time was put into making this part beefier. There are also a couple vegetarian options that could also be used as sides to another dish.

Each recipe is pretty light when it comes down to it. There aren’t a lot of dense and heavy carb dishes or heavily sauced items. Dinner should really be the smallest meal of the day anyway. All the meals are family-friendly too so you can avoid the short order cook mentality in your home, especially if you have children. Everyone will love these recipes.

The For Sharing section is a family-style take on some recipes, but they really could have just been included in other sections.

Finally, my favorite section of all, All Things Sweet. Dessert is the best part of a meal, but also the hardest to say no to, the hardest to portion control (as I sit here eating a whole roll of Thin Mints that I’ve been keeping in the freezer), and probably the worst things to end your day with, at least if you’re trying to lose weight. It’s also the “meal” that people love eating when they know that it’s “healthier” than it would have been had they not made wiser substitutions.

With an average of 500 calories for each serving of dessert, it’s a bit on the high side. The cookies range around 150 calories per cookie, but that’s pretty average. When it comes down to it, you need sugar, usually some sort of flour, and eggs and/or oil to make most recipes work. It’s really hard to get away from all those things and still maintain a dessert that’s worth it, especially in taste. I’d say to use these recipes sparingly and still for special occasions, but they do all sound delicious. Peanut butter pie, apple crips, cream-filled donuts…yes please!

Overall, if you’re in need of maintenance meal recipes and you’ve done most of the hard work already, this book is for you. There are some great options for every time of the day and you can mix and match recipes depending upon your caloric needs. Again, I’d probably stay away from the dessert section most days, especially if you’re like me and cannot resist the slightest temptation of sweets, but there are some great recipes that you could use for a weekend splurge or birthday treat.

What was promised from the beginning was delivered upon and I’ll definitely be adding some of these easy recipes to my repertoire. Summer’s coming soon and there is no reason to be weighed down by food when I’d rather be enjoying everything life has to offer.

Eating in the Middle at Penguin Random House

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.