400 Calorie Fix: The Easy New Rule for Permanent Weight Loss! 400 Calorie Fix: The Easy New Rule for Permanent Weight Loss by Liz Vacariello and Mindy Hermann
Published by Rodale Books

Research shows that the best way to lose weight and keep it off is to control caloric intake while maintaining an overall healthy diet and exercise plan. 400 Calorie Fix has a new secret to controlling calories – keep all meals at or around 400 calories. By doing this, a person can eat anywhere from three to six meals each day depending on individual needs. This book explains the science behind this rule, explains how it can be applied to any person’s individual situation, and then gives tons of examples of 400 calorie meals, in terms of restaurant meals, frozen food type meals, and meals to cook.

I hesitated to review this book because I don’t actually believe in diets, nor am I actively trying to lose weight. But the reason I was attracted to the book in the first place was the beautiful color photographs and healthy-looking recipes, so I should at least talk about it for those reasons. The whole concept of eating 400 calorie meals does make sense to me, and I can see how it would be helpful if trying to control calories to keep 400 calories as a general rule. Personally, this approach means nothing to me because I typically don’t eat huge portions anyway and most of the suggestions they made for what really is in a 400 calorie meal is about what I would eat without thinking about it. So while I didn’t love the concept of the book, I did enjoy several things about it.

The section on fast food/restaurant food was helpful to me, but not overly so. I think it does have a lot of information that other readers might enjoy, though. Basically what this section does is explain what types of meals fit roughly within the 400 calorie framework at various restaurants and fast food places. Personally, I don’t eat much fast food and when I go out to a restaurant I’m looking to enjoy my food and not count calories, so I doubt I’ll be using this section. But for people who don’t do a lot of cooking, for whom eating out is the go-to meal option, this section looks to be very helpful. What is nice is that there are specific choices one can make from tons of restaurants, and this section is very detailed in that way.

The cooking section is what I found the most value in. I found several recipes to try, and it is always nice when I find a cookbook I know will include healthy, relatively easy recipes. The vast majority of the recipes in this book fit that criteria, which I loved. I would like to share with you one of the recipes I made, which was delicious (my hubby even liked this and he is the most picky eater I know) and fits in the 400 calorie framework for those interested in following this diet/lifestyle.

Oven-Baked Chicken Fingers

Ingredients:

1/4 cup lightly salted dry-roasted peanuts
1/2 cup panko
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 egg
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch thick strips

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
2. Chop the peanuts in a food processor until find. Place the peanuts, panko, and chili powder in a large resealable plastic bag or container. Shake to mix.
3. Whisk together the egg and mustard in a large bowl. Add the chicken and combine until all strips are covered. Place the strips in the plastic bag or container with the panko/peanut mixture. Seal and shake until all strips are well coated. Place the strips on the baking sheet. Bake until the coating is crisp and the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

The recipe suggests serving the chicken with baked sweet potatoes, which I did, giving this meal a total calorie count of 410. It was super easy to make, very quick, and I was able to whip it together without complaint after a long, exhausting day at work. It was delicious and filling and such a great alternative to regular chicken tenders. My husband and I both loved it. I love to dip my chicken into ranch, so I used a low-fat ranch dressing as my dipping sauce. Keep in mind if you are trying to count calories to add the calories for whatever you dip the chicken in and also whatever you add to the sweet potato! (I just use a little butter on mine.) But overall, I would recommend taking a glance at this book if you want to look into a more healthful, low-calorie eating and cooking philosophy. And definitely make this recipe if you like chicken tenders!