Reimagining the 100-Calorie Pack

One of the very fun things about being a former food blogger and current fitness and lifestyle coach is that I get offered the opportunity to meld my two loves, food & fitness, all the time. Recently, I was contacted and offered an advance copy of The Perfect Portion Cookbook, by Anson Williams (yes, you recognize that name, “Potsie” from Happy Days!?), Bob Warden and Mona Dolgov. It arrived the other day, and now that I’ve had time to look it over, I wanted to let you know about it.

This lovely paperback has great illustrations and you can actually OPEN IT to lie flat on your counter (user-friendly cookbooks are always appreciated by this cook). The book has 150 family-friendly, comfort-food-y recipes like French toast, lemon bars, chili and lasagna, but they’ve swapped in better-for-you ingredients that bulk up the portions, increase things like fiber so they’re more filling and don’t sacrifice taste or flavor.

So what’s the 100-calorie thing about? You know I think calorie counting can be vital to weight loss and maintenance success, right? Apparently, Anson Williams does too and was inspired to write this cookbook after seeing all those “100-calorie packs” at the supermarket. So often, those are filled with nutrient-free foods that don’t even taste good – the fats are removed, sugars are added and there’s really nothing satisfying or nutritionally redeeming about them. Williams set out to write a cookbook where all the real-food recipes are divisible by 100-calorie portions – genius. So you can eat what you love in 100-, 200-, 300- or 400-calorie portions – each recipe spells it out for you.

The recipes look terrific, and many of them contain interesting tips – some things even this kitchen pro hadn’t thought of: For instance, when making chicken salad, their recipe uses all breast meat, to save on fat and calories. But to give the salad the mouth feel of more traditional deli chicken salad, they suggest you chop half of the breast meat and pull the other half, thus recreating the texture of meat from a whole chicken. Love this idea!

There are recipes for entertaining (sweet & sour meatballs, pork potsticksers, gauc-stuffed cherry tomatoes, anyone?) that’d be so great if you’re counting your calories but hosting or attending a party – I always tell clients to bring something to the party that they know they can eat . . . these apps are not “weird diet food” and will appeal to everyone – and you can gauge how much to enjoy, based on your calorie budget for the day. A win-win! Same goes for the desserts. These are mainstream, crowd-pleasing favs: Lemon bars, chocolate chip cookies, brownie bites, cheesecake minis . . . Good to have on hand if you need a “little something,” or to wheel out for guests and/or your family while sticking to your goals.

Criticisms of the book? They’re few. I’d like to have full nutritional information for each recipe (you know, protein, fiber, fat) instead of just the 100-calorie portion information. And some of the 100-calorie portions are far-fetched. Honestly? Who will eat a mere 1/3 grilled cheese sandwich or 1/2 chicken thigh?

Notwithstanding that tiny critique, the photos are great, the recipes are solid, and this would make a super addition to your cookbook shelf. Give it a go and see if you can cook up some goodies your ENTIRE FAMILY can eat for a change! The book will be published on February 23rd, and you can pre-order it on Amazon if you're ready.

Check these guys out on Facebook, and on Twitter and Instagram (@100calportions) too! More information on The Perfect Portion site.


*NB I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review, but the opinions I express in this review are entirely my own.