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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Medifast Lean & Green Meal Cookbook Review

Medifast recently published a new cookbook called "Medifast Lean & Green Meal Cookbook." They sent me a complimentary copy to review, and since I love to cook I decided to make a few dishes before writing this up. So far, I've made 4 recipes from the book. The results are below.

But first, let me say that this cookbook is *not* just for people who are on Medifast. In fact, the Lean & Green meal guidelines recommended by Medifast are great guidelines for anyone trying to eat healthier. All of the meals are low carb and include 5-7oz of lean protein and 3 servings of healthy vegetables, as well as enough healthy fat for your body without *too much* fat. All of the recipes include photographs of the finished meal and complete nutrition information including calories, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbs, fiber, and protein. Also, for Medifasters, each recipe includes a list of what exactly the recipe counts as (lean, green, healthy fats, condiments).

Now for the review:
The book itself is smallish and is spiral bound, with a soft cover and a cardboard "stand" back so that you can stand the book upright on the counter while you prepare the recipes (see photos below). The recipe sections are divided into "lean," "leaner," and "leanest" recipes, and there are helpful tips and success stories in between some recipes. There are 34 recipes, total.

Some examples of recipe titles are: Spicy Garlic Lime Shrimp, Carolina Greens with Baked Tilapia, Bruschetta Eggplant with Tofu, Tropical Chicken Medley, Zesty Pork Stir-Fry, and Steak with Portabella & Pepper Summer Salad.

First, I made this: Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms. It's a simple recipe involving Portabella caps brushed with a tasty soy sauce/olive oil mixture and stuffed with cheese, herbs, and tomatoes.

The result was very tasty and filling. I think I will make this one again, but with a twist: I'd use pizza seasonings for more of a mushroom pizza concept... although the rosemary garlic flavor was a nice change. I think a little Parmesan would be nice, too.

Next, I made Zucchini Fritters. I am a big fritter fan, so naturally this appealed to me. It's another simple recipe of grated veggies in an egg batter, fried in a small amount of olive oil in a skillet.

Well, these were good, BUT they were more like "eggs and zucchini" than fritters, to me. They were not very crispy, but more soft. The flavor was fine, and this was SO filling that I could only eat about 2/3 of it and then went back and finished the rest later. One of the meals I used to make often is scrambled eggs with grated zucchini in them, so this was not a huge difference for me. But for an inexperienced cook or someone who never tried zucchini and eggs, you may just love this! *However*, there IS a typo in the nutrition information on this recipe. It says that it counts as 3 vegetable servings, when in fact it only has TWO vegetable servings in the recipe (confirmed this with Medifast). Since every meal in this cookbook is supposed to be a FULL Lean & Green, some Medifasters may not notice this and they may short themselves a veg serving if they aren't careful.

Then, I made the Wasabi Tuna Asian Salad. I am a huge fan of seared ahi tuna in restaurants, but I've never tried to make this at home. I was excited for a delicious salad of bok choy, cucumbers, and dressing topped with 7 ounces of wasabi tuna. I went and got a good piece of tuna steak and started cooking.

I did not take a photograph of this dish, as it was not pretty like the recipe card showed. I also had my doubts whether I'd be sharing the results. The tuna in the cookbook is pretty and pink, seared like you get in a restaurant; however, the recipe says to cook on medium-high heat for 5 minutes per side. This would result in *very* well done tuna steak, with absolutely no pink in the center. So I did vary from the recipe and seared each side for a minute and a half so that the center was pink, as I like it.

I knew things were going south when I got to this part in the recipe: "toss bok choy and cucumbers with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste." Okay... I don't know about you, but salad tossed in *just oil* does NOT sound appetizing. Usually there should be some vinegar or lemon juice or some kind of acid to balance things out, and maybe something for flavor.. Well, I started eating this salad and about 1/3 way through I could not eat the rest. It was super bland and the oil-covered raw bok choy was just too much. The tuna was quite bland as well. Sorry, Medifast, this one gets a thumbs down.

Finally, I went with the Broccoli Chicken Dijon. This is another super-simple recipe of chicken breast strips, garlic, and broccoli in a light Dijon mustard sauce. Bingo! This one was pretty good! Medifast consented to my sharing this recipe here on my blog, so you can try it at home!

Broccoli Chicken Dijon
(this recipe makes TWO servings. I froze one.)
1 lb raw, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 cups fresh broccoli, trimmed and chopped
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced

Remove visible fat from chicken breast. Cut chicken into thin strips. In a bowl, coat chicken with soy sauce; set aside. (For increased flavor, marinate for 30 minutes).

Saute broccoli, garlic, and 1 tsp olive oil over medium heat until lightly browned. Remove from skillet and cover to keep warm. Add remaining olive oil to skillet. Stir-fry chicken 4-7 minutes or until cooked through. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then stir in mustard until blended. Return sauteed broccoli to skillet. Mix until heated through, stirring occasionally. Divide into two plates and serve.

Each serving: 400 calories, 12g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 145mg cholesterol, 500mg sodium, 14g carbs, 6g fiber, and 60g protein.

This recipe was mild and tasted very good and was quite filling. Once again slightly bland for me but really this is a great meal.

What do I think of this cookbook?
The recipes are simple. Easy. Anyone could make them. Good variety. Decent flavor. I like having the nutrition facts right there. Photos are nice. Easy to create a Lean & Green without worrying about getting everything in. The recipes are healthy... lots of protein and veggies.
If you are an experienced cook like I am, you may have to restrain yourself from tweaking the recipes. They are a little bland for my tastes, but that's because we count condiments on Medifast. If you're not on Medifast you could season it up a bit more. They might be TOO simple for some people, but even I enjoy having an easy, no-brainer recipe for dinner on busy days sometimes.

The price of this cookbook is $12.95. You can purchase one here. I have no idea what they charge for shipping.

But you can get one for free! I'll be giving away free copies of the Lean & Green cookbook to THREE lucky winners. To enter, just leave me a comment telling me how you'd use this cookbook and either 1) what you think of Medifast, or 2) what your favorite Lean option is (see Lean options here). I will choose 3 winners on Tuesday, May 18th. USA residents only for this giveaway. Good luck!

***edited to add: winners have now been announced on my weight loss blog (link above).***

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