I’m deviating from my normal blogging style for several months to share brief information about books that have significantly helped me obtain better health.

To read the first post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 1: Introduction,” please click here.

To read the second post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 2: The First 20,” please click here.

To read the third post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 3: The Second 40,” please click here.

To read the fourth post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 4: The Final 40,” please click here.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a dietitian. I do not recommend or endorse a particular health regimen. My intention is to provide a few insights into what has worked for me at various times of my life. The information in these posts is no substitute for individual medical advice, and you use it at your own risk. These books, in the end, were not even enough for me. I lost the final 40 pounds by working with a registered dietitian. I talked about that in the fourth post of this series.


I’ve acquired many recipes over the years from multiple cooks and books, but in this post I will share the cookbooks that I have used the most in my health quest or anticipate using more in years to come. All but one of the books—which wasn’t designed to be a “diet” book—aim to provide lighter alternatives to common American foods. The techniques and ingredients they use to meet that goal, however, are often very different. I’ll confess that I dislike non-fat dairy foods and salad dressings and don’t use them, even when the recipe calls for them, which changes the nutritional statistics of many recipes for me. I do use reduced-fat items.

The first on the list is a companion book to the eating program designed by Dana Thornock, which I introduced in the second post of this series. As such, it provides low-fat recipes that emphasize fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, with small amounts of meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. Most of the recipes don’t contain much added sugar either, and when they do, many contain instructions for substituting fruit juice concentrates for the sugar. None of these recipes call for low-calorie sweeteners or items that contain them. They often use canned foods and other convenience items, and for that reason, most of them are simple and easy to make.

Dana's Cookbook

Dana’s Cookbook

Dana’s Cookbook, by Dana Thornock © 1995

“Your complete guide to healthy eating . . . even on a very busy schedule.”

As you gradually begin to increase your high-quality food calories and decrease your junk-food calories, your energy level may markedly increase as your metabolism quickens. You may experience an increase in lean muscle tissue, fat-burning enzymes, and body hydration. You may begin to look and feel vibrant, healthy, and full of vitality. . . .

You’ll be excited to know that as you live your new Lean & Free Lifestyle, your entire body chemistry will change, including your taste buds. Many people who used to absolutely relish junk food and hate veggies, experience a gradual and complete reversal of these preferences.

The nutritional statistics listed with each recipe in this book only contain the number of calories and fat grams per serving, plus the fat percentage. For many years I used the book more for the information it contains for putting meals together and altering recipes than for the recipes themselves. I ultimately found other cookbooks that contain recipes that I and my family like better. Continue reading