Book Reviews: 400 Calorie Fix & 400 Calorie Fix Cookbook

Remember last week when I wrote that I was adding new advertising to my blog, but that I’d let you know when I was reviewing a product I also advertised? Well, I didn’t think it would happen so soon (if ever), but this is one of those times. There be affiliate links around here, just so you know.


I’m not sure how I missed this series of “diet books” from Rodale, but somehow they were under my radar until I found them recently at my local library. The 400 Calorie Fix Cookbook first caught my eye, and that sent me to look for the original 400 Calorie Fix. All I can say is, where were these books when I was first getting started?

Well, that’s not all I can say. :) I should probably share a few particulars of my smittenness with you. I’ll start with 400 Calorie Fix.


While it would benefit a wide-ranging audience, this book is geared toward people who want to lose or maintain their weight, but who may not know how or where to start. Maybe they’ve tried other, more restrictive, plans without success. Or maybe they’ve been overestimating portions and underestimating calories. Or maybe they fall into the ‘all of the above’ category, which is where I was five years ago.

Information is presented in an easy-to-read format with lots (and lots!) of pictures and includes 400-calorie meal options for dining out, special events, and convenience foods, as well as “real food” at-home recipes. Basically, they’re saying that we almost always have options and then demonstrate how to compose meals that fit within target. For nutritional decision-making help, a “4 Star Nutrition System” ranking good options of protein, fiber, good fats, or fruits/veggies is included with each meal idea.

The basic premise of this eating plan is fairly simple: eat meals of approximately 400 calories. Not just any calories (well, not very often), but a balanced and properly portioned combination of all food groups–fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats–with an occasional dose of something decadent to make it real. (You see why I like this book so much; it’s basically how I mostly live!)

The number of 400-calorie meals to eat each day depends on goals (lose/maintain), activity level (sedentary to very active), and other factors like gender, size, age, and so on. For example: when I’m consistently active, I could have up to five 400-calorie meals per day. For those times when I’m not getting as much exercise as I should, I would stick to four meals. This is pretty much what I do now, with one of those meals split among daily snacks.

Taking the info and photos all together, the reader should begin to view meals and options through, as the authors call it, a “400-calorie lens”. Learning proper portions and healthier meal options is a key part of the lifestyle-changing process, and this approach is a good one for helping folks make the transition sensibly and sustainably.

My Positives

* Balanced meals with all food groups included
* Realistic for folks who want or need to eat outside their own homes now and then
* Sustainable for a lifetime
* Real food recipes look yummy, especially “Quick Chick Parm Bites over Pasta” and “Chocolate Chocolate Cake”

My Negatives

* The obligatory quick start program. In this case, the “2 Week Quick Slim”. Not as bad as some, but not necessary either.
* The obligatory drop-X-pounds-in-X-weeks blurb on the cover. I’m so over those.

Bottom Line

I wish I’d had this book when I first started transitioning to healthier eating, and I’m glad I have it now. (Or will have it when my order arrives. Right now I’m still using the library copy.) It would have removed some of the trial-and-error of my early days. Not that those weren’t fun. :)

Oh, yeah, the cookbook!

The 400 Calorie Fix Cookbook offers more recipes and suggestions for 400-calorie meals. It’s organized like most cookbooks, with sections for appetizers, salads, meats, etc., and includes many different cuisines. I especially like that these are “real food” recipes as opposed to a bunch of “diet-y” products.

Alongside each recipe are suggestions for foods to pair it with to make a complete meal. A couple of recipes that caught my eye:
* Slow Cooker Chicken and Apple Stew
* Savory Black Bean Patties
* Pan Grilled Chicken Tacos with Corn and Black Bean Salsa (it took me longer to type that than it takes to make them)
* Strawberries Drizzled with Chocolate-Almond Sauce

Ooh, I’m getting hungry! I’d better wind this up.

My verdict on the cookbook is that it’s good, but I’m glad I checked it out at the library. Given my intermittent interest in cooking, I’m not sure I would have gotten the full value of it had I purchased it. For folks who like to cook, that mileage may vary.

Your turn now–have you recently found a cookbook or cooking website you wish you’d known about sooner?

14 thoughts on “Book Reviews: 400 Calorie Fix & 400 Calorie Fix Cookbook

  1. Thanks for the review! I’m always up for having new sources of culinary inspiration and when they’re 400 calories and under, even better! I might go to the book store and give it a peep for I commit. I have limited space in the cookbook cupboard these days.

    • With your culinary abilities, you might really enjoy the cookbook, Anele. If you don’t see it at the bookstore, check your local library. Mine had both books.

  2. Great review. I agree about the format. Why do so many good diet books think they need to use so much hype to explain their program?

  3. Cool! It kind of reminds me of that same book that we reviewed by Cynthia Sass with the 300-400 calorie meals – and the fast start thing.

  4. Thanks for the review. We are trying to eat healthier at our house too. I will have to pick this cookbook up. Another great cookbook is called, ” trim&TERRIFIC KITCHEN 101: Secrets to Cooking Confidence” by Holly Clegg. This a how to book on cooking, which includes tools, tips and recipes for anyone who wants to learn how to improve their cooking. Website:

  5. I am with you & Miz – that quick start always bugs me. It takes time & patience whether you quick start or not. If a person is going to quit after 2 weeks cause they did not lose 5-10 pounds – well, time for a reality adjustment!

    Thx for your reviews – always great! Me, not a cook so… 😉

  6. Thank you for that review. Lord knows I don’t need any more cookbooks but that doesn’t seem to stop me from collecting more. I recently got the Weight Watcher Slow Good slow cooker cookbook which I like.

    I like that concept of 400 calorie meals with healthy foods. I look forward to you sharing some recipes!

  7. Sounds like a good book. I’m going to check the library. Because I know that 300-400 calories is all it takes to fill me up good, if I choose the right stuff!

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