Food & Fitness

Book Review and Giveaway: The Flat Belly Diet Cookbook

Giveaway Winner

And the winner of the Taza Chocolate Giveaway is… VeggieGirl! Email me with your mailing address and I’ll make sure you receive your vegan, soy-free, gluten-free, delicious dark chocolate to enjoy.

The Flat Belly Diet Cookbook Review

This book was sent to me by Rodale Books to review. Any time I see a book with a title like this one, I assume that it’s going to be along the lines of a fad diet. Thankfully, the title is misleading in that sense: this is not a fad diet cookbook. Hurray!

The cookbook and diet plan were designed by the editors of Prevention. The premise of this diet (and you know I use the term loosely) is to include healthy fats with every meal: specifically, MUFA’s (monunsaturated fatty acids). The Flat Belly Diet Cookbook explains what constitutes a MUFA, how best to incorporate them into our meals, and the value of the Mediterranean diet. Fact: when I was living in Spain for three months, the only exercise I did was lifestyle activities (lots of walking and chasing after the girls that I was au pair to), and I did not count calories or watch my food intake at all. Fact: The food that I ate was whatever my house mother cooked, which included an abundance of olive oil and other MUFA’s (dark chocolate with every meal, not even kidding). Fact: I felt fabulous, had bundles of energy, and lost several pounds over that time period without even trying. That was also the period in my life when I had the best body image and, looking back at pictures over the years, I definitely think that I looked the best at the time and was more comfortable in my skin than I’ve been at any other point in my life. The classic Mediterranean diet is, I believe, an incredibly healthy way to eat.

The Flat Belly Diet also goes on to explain the health benefits of MUFA’s and their role in reducing type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, chronic inflammation, breast cancer, and Alzheimer’s. MUFA’s are vital for proper functioning and this book really focuses on improving our health while still enjoying ourselves.

They begin with a Four-Day Anti-Bloat Jumpstart meal plan, which includes a meal-building formula. For example, lunch might be “1 protein + 1 dairy + 1 veggie + 1 glass Sassy Water. “Sassy water” is their combination of water with ginger, cucumber, lemon, and spearmint leaves to help with digestion.

The book includes meal plans and grocery shopping lists with vegetarian and vegan options. It looks at what foods to include regularly and substitutions for various kinds of food in case of allergies or dislikes. It also advises what foods to avoid and how to make every recipe in the cookbook a well-rounded meal.

The interesting thing that I found about this book is that it appears to be a healthy cookbook disguised as a fad diet cookbook. It has a few “success stories” throughout, which I’m never a big fan of, yet it stresses the importance of eating regularly and encourages the reader to not be afraid of healthy fats.

The Flat Belly Diet Cookbook has a beautiful layout with colour photographs, nutritional information for every recipe, and a broad range of different kinds of foods: breakfast, soup and sandwiches, salads and sides, vegetarian, seafood, poultry, meats, snacks, desserts. The ingredients in all of these recipes are real ingredients (no artificial sweeteners or pudding mixes that so many cookbooks, sadly, make use of with a heavy hand). At the back of the book is a serving chart with the different MUFA’s, such as almonds, Brazil nuts, flaxseed oil, pesto, soybeans and so forth, along with the recommended serving size and the corresponding number of calories per serving. There is also a conversion chart to make measuring easier for everyone.

I’ve tried a couple of the recipes, such as a dairy-free Creamy Broccoli Soup and the thin crust pizza, and both were delicious. Personally, my body doesn’t always enjoy a lot of high-fat foods; however this book will be perfect for the sisterroommate. We already agreed that when she returns from her travels in the spring, we will follow the meal plan included in this book and try it out: her major stumbling block when trying to eat healthy is that her body craves fattier foods, so this cookbook was basically designed for her.

I also received a Flat Belly Diet Pocket Guide, which has now taken a permanent spot in my purse. It’s fun to peruse and it includes shopping lists, calorie counters, meal plans, and really solid advice for eating out.

This is hands down one of the best cookbooks I’ve ever received. It is equally as valuable to me now as my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook is!

Rodale Books has kindly agreed to giveaway not one, but TWO copies of this cookbook to two lucky readers! To enter to win, ask any one or combination of the following questions: what is your favourite MUFA? How often do you tend to eat MUFA’s? What do you think of this kind of diet plan? What type of diet do you find works best for YOU?

You know the drill: it’ll be a random number generator unless someone makes me smile 🙂 You’ve got a week before I announce the winner!


  1. Hil

    Thank you for the review! I was put off by the title of the book and never read it, assuming it was some crazy fad, but based on your review I will have to give it another look. I adore MUFAs and have actually never lost weight without eating them with every meal. Mediterranean all the way for me.

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  3. The Candid RD

    Thanks so much for this post. Like you, I’ve always assumed this book was a “fad diet” book, filled with testimonials and gimmicks and mumbo-jumbo. Apparently not? I’m a fan of MUFAs and I think they play a major role in a healthy diet plan, and in the body. IT’s important to note, however, there should be a limit on MUFAs, as too much of anything isn’t good, and I know I’ve read studies about some negative effects of MUFAs (breast cancer? insulin resistance?) But there are studies that show ANYTHING can have a bad effect when consumed too often. I’m sure the cookbook isn’t only about monounsaturated fat though, so I think it’s giving the right message.

    Favorite source: OLIVES!! And olive oil. I love green AND black olives, so much!

  4. Sagan Morrow

    Hil- they’re perfect for upping the richness of a dish.

    Burpexcuzme- I’m not! 🙁 I wish I were. I need to get hooked up with Foodbuzz one of these days…

    Coco- mmmmm nuts!

    VeggieGirl- anytime, dear 🙂

    Gina- there’s a few testimonials so I just glossed over them, but it’s gimmick/mumbo-jumbo-free! And you make a good point which I should have stated more clearly: MUFA’s are good IN MODERATION. A very small amount goes a long way! The cookbook does talk about all kinds of different nutrients.

  5. Pubsgal

    Oh, this made me chuckle! I would have thought it was a fad diet book, too, and said, “No thanks!” Now I’m curious. Very clever of them to trick the fad diet crowd into healthy living, eh? 😉

    My favorite MUFAs are nuts. Avocado is a close second, especially in a good guacamole. Although I suppose guacamole is only as healthy as what one uses for dipping–veggies work for me, thank goodness–and whether one accompanies that guacamole with a margarita… 😉

  6. Sagan Morrow

    Cathy- I tend to just take advantage of recipes, too, rather than follow the actual diet itself.

    Pubsgal- I am ALL ABOUT tricking people into healthy living 😉

    Kristi- I adore almonds. Great great great snack.

    Eve- I have yet to get into the avocados… dark chocolate, on the other hand, is a beautiful food 😀

    Leslie- oh gosh I adore salmon. SO GOOD!

  7. Ibu

    My favorite MUFAs are nuts. I eat almonds every day. I put them in my oatmeal for breakfast to get the crunch and also in my daily yogurt. I buy the prepackaged 100 calorie packs to watch my portion..

  8. Sagan Morrow

    Ibu- I have almonds just about every day too. Delicious.

    Diane- oh chocolate chip cookies are the exception 😉 We could make them with nuts, olive oil, AND dark chocolate… do they count then? hehe.

    Lowercase v- I really liked that this diet is super accommodating for everyone’s food preferences. There’s a lot of healthy flexibility.

    JavaChick- I’m thinking chocolate would be really tasty right about… now!

    Westwood- Unfortunately, I do have morals to some degree 😉 No worries, I should be getting applesauce and pomegranates in the mail any day now, some of which will be pawned off on you. Will they work as an exchange for Justin if you decide to take him hostage? 😀

  9. Danielle

    I’ve read into this diet plan and I am not thrilled about the way it presents itself. Still, the foundations are definitely are positive. I know that I personally l-o-v-e my monosaturated fats: Almonds, walnuts, avocados, and salmon galore! I believe I’d very much benefit from and enjoy from this book. Pick me, pick me 😉

  10. Laura

    This book sounds interesting. Normally, I wouldn’t pick it up in a bookstore because of the title.. I tend to stay away from “fad” books. I guess that is what book reviews are for though! I love your blog and look forward to your posts! Also,that is so interesting about your life in Spain. I would love to hear more about the types of food you ate.

  11. Maggie

    My favorite MUFAs are sesame seeds and peanut butter. I’m trying to think of something clever to say so that I’ll make you smile and win the book. MUFAs = Maggie’s Ultimate Favorite Aliments. I used a thesaurus for that one.

  12. ~Mary

    My absolute faves are avocado and “raw” almonds. I say “raw” because it is becoming harder and harder to find truly sweet, chewy raw almonds. In a pinch, I will buy almonds labeled raw knowing that they have been pasteurized, but they are still delicious!! Some companies heat their almonds to a much lower temperature so look around!

  13. Mimi (Damn the Freshman 15)

    Wow, I want this cookbook! I loooove my MUFAs.

    My favorite MUFAs, by far, are NUTS! Almonds, cashews, peanuts–any nut! They are so versatile–eat ’em raw, roasted, plain, mixed into stuff, sweet, savory…wow, drool time! They also do wonders for adding texture to food, which is an incredibly important part of the eating experience. And best of all, they make NUT BUTTER! A nut butter can save anything–burnt toast, dry noodles…the list goes on!

    Nuts will inherit the earth!

  14. Marie

    The type of diet that I find works best for me- One that the whole family can be on. It kills me when I see moms blog about what they had for dinner vs. what their family had for dinner. Health is important for everyone, regardless of size, so make the healthy stuff taste good so everyone in the family will eat it. Plus, it makes dinner so much easier.

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  16. biz319

    That is a completely misleading title! I saw it in the bookstore but didn’t even pick it up thinking it was the next “new” diet!

    I am a carb counter, simply because I have to take insulin, but I also try to stay around 1500 calories – now I just need to give up my wine!

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