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We bought this book because my wife is already a huge fan of Lorraine Pascal's but more so she loves baking and does it every weekend - but is trying to keep her calories in check.

My wife already uses the Hairy Bikers / dieters cook books and loves that they don't compromise on taste, and Lorraine's philosophy behind this book seems to be very much the same message.

We have baked three of the recipes from those released in the Daily Mail, if you're unsure about buying this book I would highly recommend you try out at least a couple of these recipes (a quick search online will bring these up).

We have been surprised by how many of the recipes are savoury, we were anticipating it to be primarily sweet baking (such as cakes and cupcakes), but it's nice to have a mix (I have put a full recipe list at the end of my review as I personally find these useful).

There are 100 recipes in total; split into the following sections:

Breakfast and Brunch
Bread
Savoury Bakes
Puddings and Desserts
Cakes
Cookies and Traybakes
Teatime Treats
Special Occasions and Entertaining
Pastry and Basics

Each recipe page has a nice introduction from Lorraine about the recipe, and a full colour image (for almost all recipes, very few don't have an image). I have picked a few random recipe pages and uploaded them on this product page above if you'd like to see.

Each page also has the nutritional information (kcals, fat, sat fat, sugar, protein and salt) for the standard recipes as well as Lorraine's alternative so you know exactly how many calories you are cutting by making the recipe.

The three recipes we tried were very successful and tasty although we had issues with one recipe that were our own fault as we tried to substitute a key ingredient - lesson learnt here...

The first time my wife tried the Skinny caffe latte butterfly cakes they didn't work and tasted far too strong like coffee bombs, almost a burnt bitter taste - the recipe called for 2tbsp instant coffee granules, we only had espresso granules... so I would recommend NOT using these as a substitute.

Second time around with normal coffee granules bought and the butterfly cakes were wonderful and very moist too. The icing made from low far crème fraiche, icing sugar and baileys gave that nice sweet hit, without the calories - and we think the flavours could be changed and adapted for different cakes too so this will come in handy for future bakes.

Cauliflower cheese was our next trial recipe as this is an indulgent dish that we love in our household. With no butter in the recipe, only mustard powder, cheddar, parmesan and chives for any real flavour, we were sceptical. But it came out an absolute treat, and perhaps even tastier than our regular cauliflower cheese (no offence Delia!).

Finally we tried the `blooming brownies' as traditional brownies are one of my wife's best bakes.
The brownies were nice, and good if you are trying to cut down on the calories but they didn't come out as dense or as gooey as my wife's regular brownies. As much as I'd love to say these were a close second, they just aren't, but we understand that's not what this book is about and if you would like a treat like brownies on a more regular basis then this is great.

All in all is has been nice doing these recipes and they've been good for my wife to have a new technical challenge in the kitchen - e.g. using a denser wholemeal flour in cakes and lots of eggs to try and replace the calories in sugar and white flour.

In short our first impressions of this book are excellent and the recipes we trialled were too. Tonight we are making Lorraine's mac and cheese (another firm family favourite), so an update will follow very shortly.

We really truly hope this book means my wife can continue her hobby of baking, but now has some new ideas on how to help with watching the calories which is a hard balance to strike.

She is strictly monitoring her calorie intake at the moment to try and shed some holiday pounds, so we will post back yet again in a couple of weeks after a couple more baking sessions to report back on progress and tastiness (or otherwise!?) of more recipes from the book as some look very exciting.

*Update 12/10/2013*

My wife made Lorraine's skinny mac and cheese last night and it was also very tasty (have uploaded an image... sadly not quite up to Lorraine's standard in terms of presentation).

Now it's admittedly not quite as skinny as Lorraine's true recipe since we had to include bacon, but otherwise we did stay true. I think what was great is that even with any additions you can still work out the calories of the dish.

Compared to the usual mac and cheese, it was kind of like the brownies, you can tell it's not as rich but you don't mind at all if it means you can have mac and cheese more frequently! And great to see how the recipe turns out without including butter in the white sauce. I loved the inclusion of thyme in the crispy topping. Will certainly be making again... but will certainly be including bacon every time too

*Update 20/10/2013*

10 days on and things are all on track, my wife has baked a couple of dishes from Lorraine's book plus she has managed to keep on track with her weight loss.

Mid week she made the Apple and maple syrup upside down cupcakes (they were meant to include brandy but we didn't have any and didn't want any more substitution disasters!). Now these have been the best thing she's baked out of this book so far - wonderfully moist and light sponge, very tasty caramelised apples. This did not feel like a trade off in taste at all. Versus the comparison recipe you save 61 cals per cupcake and almost 17g of sugar... which is a huge saving when your guideline daily allowance of sugar is 90g.

Note the cupcakes took a little longer to cook than the book stated for us - approx. 30 minutes instead of 20. Thank goodness for skewers.

This weekend she has made the crème fraiche potato dauphinoise with thyme and sage (to go with Jamie O's Mothership Sunday Roast Pork from Save with Jamie... cook books open galore in our house this weekend!). The dauphinoise was lovely, again here you can tell it's not made with double cream as it lacks a slight richness but it still was lovely and the calorie / fat saving (418kcal vs 767kcal and 16.6g vs 53.5g of fat) really makes you think twice before making the `real thing' again.

I note a couple of comments re calories and the difference between Lorraine's and the comparison recipe not being that huge a saving. I would agree however those recipes tend to have a `saving' elsewhere, either with saturated fat or most notably sugar content. Another good example is the Hasselback Apple and Cinnamon Cake - Lorraine's recipe per serving is 282cal, but the sugar content is 12.1g, compared to 286cal and 23.7g.

I think all in all it is wonderful is to have another cookbook that lists nutritional content so you can still cook at home and not have to spend a long time working out the calories in the dish. And from what my wife says this is the hardest part of her diet, cooking a lot of varied meals from scratch and knowing the exact nutritional content, without having to dedicate 20 minutes to finding all the values and adding them together. Other books we have that are fantastic for this are: Save with Jamie, and The Hairy Dieters Eat for Life.

Full recipe list:

Breakfast and Brunch

Raspberry and banana no knead breakfast loaf
Beautiful boiled then baked breakfast bagels
Extra bananery banana loaf
Apple and apricot spiced hot cross muffinskis
Sweet potato, butternut squash, apple and sage muffins
Banana and honey muffins
Double chocolate chip cupcake muffins
Cappuccino, cinnamon and pecan muffins
Mixed berry and cinnamon muffins

Bread

Honey and oat bread
Spring onion, sage and thyme rolls
All grain, nutty, seedy soda bread loaf
Anchovy, olive, onion and rosemary focaccia
Oregano and thyme grissini
Sesame pretzel buns

Savoury Bakes

Moroccan chicken pot pies with cumin and coriander and a crisp filo top
Lovely lighter herbed lasagne with courgette pasta
Herbed baked chicken strips with honey and mustard dipping sauce
Baked store cupboard chicken with lime, honey and soy
Chicken, leek, bacon and tarragon pie
Baked salmon and thyme fish fingers and home made tartare sauce
Quickish thai fish pie
Baked coconut shrimp salad with honey dressing and spicy mango and coriander salsa
Crème fraiche potato dauphinoise with thyme and sage
Baked lentil and bean cottage pie
Skinner mac and cheese with thyme
Baked cauliflower cheese with a creamy gratin sauce
Butternut squash naked bean burger with apple, mango and chilli salsa
Butternut squash, basil and onion quiche
Baked potato crispies
Cauliflower couscous with chilli and sesame

Puddings and Desserts

Plum and almond frangipane tarts with a sticky amaretto glaze
Key lime and lemon cheesecake load
Strawberry open tart with lemon and vanilla cream
Victoria meringue sponge with mango and lime and a vanilla cream filling
Coffee and pecan swiss roll with irish cream filling
Raspberry and rhubarb and cardamom galette with a hazelnut and vanilla cream
Lemon and vanilla crème brulee with fresh mango topping
Tarte au citron
No bake mango, passion fruit and lime cheesecake bars
Chocolate, chocolate torte
Low fat lemon yogurt ice cream

Cakes

Blueberry and limoncello drizzle cake
Lemon yogurt pound cake with a tangy citrus glaze
White chocolate and cherry torte with a crème fraiche Chantilly
Apricot and ginger chiffon cake
Really tasty chocolate fudgy orange beetroot cake
Walnut honey and white chocolate cakes
Carrot and apple cake
Coconut and lime loaf
Hasselback apple and cinnamon cake
Victoria sponge

Cookies and Traybakes

Lemon, raspberry and blueberry thumbprint cookes
Chocolate and almond cookies
Peanut butter cookies
White pistachio and sponge blondies
Oatmeal and ginger cookies
Blooming brownies
White chocolate chunk cookies
Soft choc chip cookies
Parsnip and pecan traybake cake with stem ginger topping
Cardamom and ginger shortbread
Sticky date, maple and cinnamon traybake bites
Black pepper and rosemary oatcakes

Teatime Treats

Pumpkin and spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
Skinny caffe latte butterfly cakes
Apple, calvados and maple syrup upside down cupcakes
Almond, blackberry and peach friand
Moist, moreish spiced pumpkin tea cake
Chewy coconut macaroons with a cheeky touch of lime
Peaches and creams eclairs with white chocolate and raspberries
Sticky pear and amaretto madeleines
Brown sugar espresso chocolate dipped meringue kisses
Toasted coconut and almond pastry thins
Heavenly honey scones
Bite sized pinwheel snacks
Cheddar cheese scones with spring onions and paprika

Special Occasions and Entertaining

Petite filo quiche Lorraine (Pascal) with red onion bacon and thyme
Wild mushroom tart with sherry and onions
Gruyere and thyme soufflé
Beef, Guinness and porcini puff pie
Raspberry, vanilla and white chocolate cake with almond flowers
Chocolate and Guinness blackcurrant cake
Raspberry pistachio napoleons with vanilla crème fraiche Chantilly
`Let them eat more cake' with blueberries and white chocolate icing
Crispy filo mince pies with pear and apple mincemeat
Pecan and maple Christmas cake with a cheeky dash of port
Decoration for the Christmas cake
Lighter Christmas pudding with ground almonds and spice
Christmas chocky Yule log
Chocolate and gingerbread Christmas tree
Cashew cranberry and spice biscotti

Pastry and Basics

Sweet honey shortcrust pastry
Oaty almond and vanilla pastry
Rich, sweet wholemeal shortcrust
Sweet shortcrust spelt pastry
Lower fat spread wholemeal shortcrust pastry
Thyme wholemeal pastry
Yumsters wholemeal choux pastry
Garlic and chive mayo
Crème anglaise or really posh custard
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1212 comments|202 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 October 2013
My daughter is 8 years old and an avid fan of Lorraine. Each Saturday, she picks a meal for us to cook together and we go shopping and make it and curl up on the sofa to watch Strictly Come Dancing - bliss! Lorraine's recipes are delicious and easy to make and it's a huge bonus that this latest book has some healthier versions. Her skinny mac cheese is a winner. From her earlier book we also regularly make her easy Sri Lankan curry.
I particularly like her step-by-step instructions - it's really clear and easy to follow. I also love the little life sayings she includes in her book - not to mention, the book is beautifully photographed and laid out. It makes a great Christmas present.
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on 22 October 2013
Got this book as a gift and used it for the first time this weekend. Absolutely loved the recipes and will definitely be buying this as a gift for my friends and family for christmas! Cannot wait to try out more.
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on 23 October 2013
As usual Lorraine has come up with good recipes. Like the way there is a calorie and fat content on each recipe. As usual tasty dishes and great tips and detail. Got all her books now. Great.
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on 3 November 2013
A Lighter Way To Cook does exactly what the title suggests. Great for anyone watching calories without compromising taste or appearance of dishes.
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on 2 November 2013
Cooked a few from this book now.... The banana bread/loaf/cake..mm mm mm just yummy & a great way to use up over ripe bananas...
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on 29 December 2013
Don't get me wrong I'm not out to have a go at Lorraine. I own her other books and have cooked with success from them. In fact her Lasagne is certainly sufficient to wow friends and others with! Hairy dieters first book amazing and was hoping that Lorraine was jumping on low fat/cal bandwagon too- was looking forward to great recipes with less fat and calories but tasting as good or nearly as ! What a disappointment to discover her recipes were not that much less in sat fat and calories than original recipes. There is also a lot of baking in the book which if you're trying to be careful is not the way to go. Occasional treats yes but still think the Hairy Dieters/bikers beat her hands down. If you're interested in cutting down then try them first!
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on 9 March 2014
In some recipes the "lighter version" is only a few calories lower than the original recipe, I have all of Lorraine's books so when I heard about this one I was super excited but I am truly disappointed!
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on 6 November 2013
I love this book as everything looks so tasty and is easy to make. Two bakes a week till I've made them all and then I'll start again knowing its not calorie overload.
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on 16 November 2013
Good book easy to follow and very nicely produced. Photographs are excellent. Lots and lots of variety. One to keep handy
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