Book Review: “Eat This, Not That” by David Zinczenko with Matt Goulding



This book is part of a series developed from a column from Men’s Health magazine written by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding.  Touted as “the no-diet weight loss solution,” it provides food swaps from national restaurant chains and supermarket aisles, that promise to save you calories and pounds.  This simple, illustrated guide to thousands of foods and nutritional information also pledges to give you the information you need to make smarter choices when eating out.

In the Eat This, Not That! dedication, the authors call out fast food and chain restaurants who continue to “obscure, disguise and completely conceal the calorie, fat and sodium counts for their food,” referring to this practice as “nutritional negligence.” They mention a few operations, however, who have made it a priority to provide consumers with nutritional information about their food; these include Burger King, Chili’s, and Panera.  The book is divided into eight chapters, along with a thorough Introduction and an Index.  Special topics include foods you should eat everyday, menu decoders, supermarket hints, and kids’ section.

About the Authors

David Zinczenko is a successful editor, writer, business person and television personality. He has authored 14 New York Times best-sellers, with more than 10 million books in print.  Zinczenko currently serves as the Consulting Editorial Director for Men’s Fitness magazine.  Prior to that, he was the Editor-in-Chief of Men’s Health magazine, a competing franchise. He grew up in Bethlehem, PA, attended Moravian College and later served in the military for the US Navy Reserves.  Additionally, he is the Nutrition and Wellness Editor at ABC News.

Contributing author, Matt Golding, is Chief Editor and Publisher of Roads and Kingdoms, a website that publishes features and travelogues on politics, culture, food, and drink. Previously, he was the Food and Nutrition Editor of Men’s Health magazine.

Critical Analysis – What I Liked Most

The most accessible and easily implemented suggestions in Eat This, Not That! are presented as lists. For example, in the introduction, the authors offer a list of the 10 Top Swaps. I liked all of the suggestions in the list, but these five stood out as my favorites:

  1. Cheeseburger – eat a McDonald’s Big Mac instead of a Burger King Whopper with cheese – save 220 calories and 18 grams of fat
  2. Turkey Sandwich: eat a Subway 6″ sub with cheese instead of a Panera Sierra Turkey sandwich – save 510 calories and 35.1 grams of fat
  3. Burrito: eat a Taco Bell Regular Style Steak Burrito Supreme instead of a Chipotle Steak Burrito – save 736 calories and 31 grams of fat
  4. Chicken Caesar Salad: eat a Panera Chicken Caesar Salad instead of a Chili’s Chicken Caesar Salad – save 450 calories and 42 grams of fat
  5. Donuts: eat a Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Doughnut instead of a Dunkin’ Donuts Glazed Cake Donut – save 130 calories and 6 grams of fat

Another list I really liked is presented in Chapter 1 – 8 Foods You Should Eat Every Day – due to their nutritional punch, as follows:

  1. Spinach                       5. Blueberries
  2. Yogurt                         6. Black Beans
  3. Tomatoes                   7. Walnuts
  4. Carrots                        8. Oats

The Menu Decoders chapter was also interesting in that it explained in plain language the meaning of many culinary terms and how various cooking methods can affect the nutritional profile of foods. The chapter is divided into sections for various types of restaurants: breakfast diner, sports bar, pizzeria, seafood, steakhouse, etc.  This information here is quite insightful, especially if you aren’t familiar with cooking techniques or menu descriptors. For example:

  • at a seafood restaurant, “blackened” fish is a better alternative to deep-frying because it involves using spices to cook the fish on high heat, usually in a cast iron skillet;
  • when frequenting a sports bar, opt for baked potato skins versus fried, which can cost you up to 40 grams of fat per skin!;
  • when ordering salads and sandwiches with protein, watch for the word “crispy” as it is restaurant speak for “fried” – opt instead for grilled or roasted;
  • when you come across “Dal” at an Indian restaurant, order it because these flavorful stewed lentils are an excellent low-fat source of fiber and protein.

For those of you that drink coffee (hot or iced) on a daily basis, you will appreciate the Drink This, Not That chapter, which compares the nutritional profiles of various drinks from Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and others.

Critical Analysis – What I Disliked

The in-your-face presentation of Eat This, Not That! is cheesy and gaudy, making this book seem less than credible. Also, the page layout is overcrowded with miscellaneous facts and figures, splashy charts, annoying arrows, busy bubbles, and a myriad of colors, making it too distracting to actually want to read.  It shouts out promises in boldface font with fake yellow highlights and large red arrows, using far too many exclamation points.  Just take a look at the cover – the entire book is like that.  As a result, it’s difficult to take this book seriously.

In the At Your Favorite Restaurants chapter, the authors list a comparison of better choices within several national restaurant chains.  The problem with this is that not all the restaurants are available to all readers. For example, only 65% of the 60+ chains listed are in my area – that’s 20+ pages of information I can’t use.  If you live in a small or remote location, then you will have even fewer of these chains available to you.

I was put off by the online weight loss plan from the Men’s Health which was advertised in the back pages of this book. I knew there was some catch here – some ploy to get more money! It reminded me of the “but wait, there’s more” chants from those infomercials you see on cable TV in the wee hours of the morning.

Finally, I also noticed that there were no quotes from industry insiders on the back cover, recommending this book.

Verdict – Yes, No or Maybe?

I give this book a weak Maybe, but lean more towards a No.  I liked that there are a few helpful lists which can be incorporated into daily life pretty easily.  I also liked that the authors decode some menu terms which many readers might find unfamiliar.  However, the flashy, somewhat juvenile presentation makes it difficult to take this book seriously. Yes, there is a lot of good information, but it’s hidden among the crazy graphics. While I understand that the hyped presentation is by design, I think they went overboard. Also, much of the content is not applicable to all readers, based on locations of national chains.

I can’t see myself using this book as a regular reference. Instead, I see it as more of a book I might casually flip through to pass the time.  I’m glad that I only paid $1 for it at a library book sale, versus the $19.95 retail price.

If you read it:

Genre: Nutrition
ISBN: 1-59486-854-9
ISBN-13: 9781594868542
Original Publication Date:  12/26/2007
Pages: 304
Publisher: Rodale Press, Inc.

Other books by this author (in full or in part):

  • Uncommon Knowledge: Hundreds of How-To Tips from Your Favorite Celebs!  (2000)
  • The Abs Diet Get Fit, Stay Fit Plan (2000)
  • The Abs Diet Eat Right Every Time Guide (2004)
  • The Abs Diet: The Six-Week Plan to Flatten Your Stomach and Keep You Lean for Life (2004)
  • The Abs Diet 6-Minute Meals for 6-Pack Abs (2006)
  • The Abs Diet 6-Minute Meals for 6-Pack Abs (2006)
  • Men, Love & Sex: The Complete User’s Guide for Women (2006)
  • Eat This, Not That!: The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution (2007)
  • ABS Diet for Women (2007)
  • The Abs Diet Ultimate Nutrition Handbook (2007)
  • Eat This, Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide (2008)
  • Eat This Not That! for Kids! (2008)
  • Cook This, Not That! (2009)
  • Eat This, Not That!: Restaurant Survival Guide (2009)
  • Eat This Not That! The Best (& Worst!) Foods in America! (2009)
  • Drink This Not That! (2010)
  • Cook This, Not That!: Easy & Awesome 350-Calorie Meals  (2010)
  • The New Abs Diet Cookbook (2010)
  • Grill This, Not That! (2012)
  • The 8 Hour Diet (2012)
  • Cook This, Not That!: Skinny Comfort Foods  (2012)
  • Eat It to Beat It: The No-Diet Food Lover’s Plan to Put You Back on the Road to Health (2013)
  • Zero Belly Diet  (2014)
  • The Eat This, Not That! No-Diet Diet (2014)
  • Cook This, Not That! World’s Greatest Weight Loss Recipes (2014)
  • Cook This, Not That!: Hundreds of quick & healthy meals that can save you 10, 20, 30 pounds–or more! (2014)
  • Eat This, Not That 2015 (2014)
  • Zero Belly Cookbook (2015)
  • Zero Belly Smoothies (2016)
  • AARP Special Edition: Eat This, Not That! for a Longer, Leaner, Healthier Life! (2016)



Book Review: “Home Cooking – A Writer in the Kitchen” by Laurie E. Colwin

Home Cooking, by Laurie Colwin, 1988,
“Home Cooking – A Writer in the Kitchen,” by Laurie Colwin, 1988

I first heard of Laurie Colwin from an online magazine editor (Denise Landis at The Cook’s Cook), who kindly published my first piece of work. While editing my piece, Denise mentioned that I should read as much as I could, about as many topics as I could. She specifically mentioned Laurie Colwin, and her book, Home Cooking. She said that Laurie had a way of writing that was informal, yet captivating and she thought I would enjoy reading her work. It didn’t take long for me to get online and buy Home Cooking, and Colwin’s later work, More Home Cooking.


So much more than your typical cookbook, Home Cooking is a collection of heartfelt tales of life experiences, which also happen to feature great recipes.  Colwin tells us of her wonderful wins and her disastrous fails, both in the kitchen and in life.  She offers us great recipes with side dishes of humor and joy.

She dedicates the book to her family – sister Leslie Friedman (whom she calls a great cook) and, husband Juris and daughter Rosa (both of whom she calls great eaters).  The Table of Contents is a wide-ranging affair, and includes humorous titles such as Bread Baking Without Agony, How to Disguise Vegetables, and Kitchen Horrors. However, she also dedicates several chapters to one food, with titles such as Potato Salad, Red Peppers, Bitter Greens, Chicken Salad, and Black Cake.

In the foreword, not only does Colwin thank a multitude of others for their inspiration and companionship, but she also reminds us that cooking and eating are inherently social activities.

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
Laurie Colwin

Shown below are a few quotes from the back cover, which indicate the positive reception of this book:

“A delightful tribute to food, friends and kitchen memories…This charmer is as irresistible as homemade shortbread.” – The San Diego Union-Tribune

“A very funny book. Funny enough to make you giggle out loud.” – Newsday

About the Author

Who is Laurie E. Colwin?  She is an American short story writer, novelist and essayist. In addition to writing, she also worked as a translator and a book editor. She wrote a food column for Gourmet magazine and contributed regularly to Mademoiselle, Playboy, Allure and Redbook. In addition, she worked for various literary agents and on publishers’ editorial staffs. She sold her first story to The New Yorker at the young age of just 25.  Her honors included a Guggenheim Fellowship and an O. Henry Award. Posthumously,  “Home Cooking” and “More Home Cooking” were honored at 2012 James Beard Awards.

Laurie Colwing at her Garden Gate, Photo Courtesy Nancy Crampton
Laurie Colwin at her Garden Gate, Photo Courtesy Nancy Crampton, Luarie Colwin Facebook Fan page

Colwin’s husband, Juris Jurjrvics, was the editor-in-chief of Soho Press for 20 years and wrote a novel, The Trudeau Vector, published in 2003. Their daughter, Rosa Jurjevics, works for a New York publishing house and is a contributing writer for the San Diego Reader.  Sadly, Colwin died unexpectedly in 1992, in Manhattan, from a heart attack at the age of 48.  All of her books are still in print, although in various versions and cover art.

Born: 1944 in Manhattan, New York USA
Deceased: 10-24-1992 at the age of 48
Education: Bard College, Columbia University
Spouse: Juris Jurjevics
Children: Rosa Audrey Jurjevics, daughter
Religion: Judaism

Critical Analysis – What I Liked Most

I especially liked that Home Cooking is a cookbook, disguised as a thoughtful memoir, which happens to serve up some great recipes. I often describe myself as a person who likes to read cookbooks like others like to read novels – with Home Cooking, I get the best of both worlds.

Beef, Barley and Leek Soup, before cooking, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog
Beef, Barley and Leek Soup, before cooking, Courtesy: Food Mingle Blog

Also, I appreciated that there is an alphabetical index in the back of the book, making it easy-as-pie to find a particular recipe featured in one of the delightful chapters. If you would like to try one of Laurie’s recipes, but you aren’t sure where to start, I suggest the Barley, Beef and Leek Soup.  I tried it and loved it, with the addition of more liquid than the original recipes calls for.

Finally, I related to the informality of Laurie’s prose. She puts on no airs and has not a hint of pretentiousness often found in cookbooks. For example, she says of her recipe for Braised Fennel, Celery, Onion and Red Pepper, “It is clear that I have come a long way from the days when I would eat a bag of peppers on the street, but considering that I can eat a mess of them straight from the frying pan, perhaps I haven’t come that far after all.”

Critical Analysis – What I Disliked

Because Home Cooking is not a traditional cookbook, you’ll not find a “soup to nuts” recipe trail. Instead, you’ll find a variety of interesting, but somewhat haphazard recipes. Yes, I found most of them to be a delight, but they are not strung together to form a cohesive collection.  For example, although there are several dessert recipes (gingerbread, black cake, etc.), you won’t find a chapter dedicated to desserts.

In fact, many of the recipes at the end of each chapter come as a surprise. For example, in the Friday Night Suppers chapter, I found recipes for both Potato Pancakes and Orange Ambrosia. What an eclectic duo, not meant to be served together, yet listed in succession.

Verdict – Yes, No or Maybe?

A resounding YES!  As long as you adjust your expectations to prepare for a memoir with recipes, and not a cookbook with stories, you’ll enjoy Home Cooking.  Because her works have been republished by a variety of publishers, you’ll find varying covers – don’t let that throw you off – the contents are the same. Also, set aside some time to read this book – once you start, you won’t want to put it down.

If you read it:

Genre:  Cookbook, Memoir
ISBN:  0060955309 (ISBN13: 9780060955304)
Original Publication Date: 1988, this edition published June 1st 2000
Paperback edition: 184 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial

Other books by this author:


  • Happy All the Time
  • Family Happiness
  • Goodbye Without Leaving
  • Shine On Bright and Dangerous Object
  • A Big Storm Knocked It Over

Short stories:

  • Passion and Affect
  • Another Marvelous Thing
  • The Lone Pilgrim


  • Home Cooking – A Writer in the Kitchen
  • More Home Cooking – A Writer Returns to the Kitchen


Book Review: “Kitchen Confidential – Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly” by Anthony Bourdain

"Kitchen Confidential - Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly" by Anthony Bourdain
“Kitchen Confidential – Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly” by Anthony Bourdain


Have you ever wondered what it’s really like to work in a busy kitchen of a popular restaurant? I mean what it’s really like? This autobiographical/memoir style book serves up an unfiltered, irreverent glimpse into the often hidden world of the culinary scene.  It certainly isn’t for the faint of heart or the ultra-proper reader. No, instead it’s for those of you who have a thick skin, a strong stomach, and a wicked sense of humor.

In Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain takes us on his tour of duty from an impoverished, no-nothing dishwasher, to a culinary school student, to a struggling line cook, then as an emerging kitchen cook and finally to a renowned chef/owner of multiple acclaimed restaurants. Along the way, we share in his entertaining antics of wanderlust, including bad decisions, twisted relationships, endearing failures, and more than a few brushes with misfits of culinary society (or are they?).

The title clues you into his goals with this autobiographical book – revealing his forrays into the secrets world of chefs, cooks and culinary culture. By breaking the unspoken code of silence, he has positioned himself as a bit of a rogue and even an outcast to some.  In a rather extended preface, Bourdain explains that he didn’t set out to write a “tell all” book.  Instead, he just wanted to relay an honest, unfiltered look at his own journey – he just happened to spill the beans a few times along the way.

Bourdain dedicates the book to his first wife, Nancy, from whom he was divorced in 2005.  In this updated edition’s Acknowledgements, Bourdain remarks that parts of this book appeared previously elsewhere and he thanks a legion of others, concluding with “Cooks Rule.”   The Table of Contents is true to the culinary theme of this book, organized into sections such as Appetizer, First Course, Second Course, Third Course, Dessert, and Coffee and a Cigarette. How clever.

The following quotes on the back cover give you an idea of the literary acclaim this book achieved:

“This is the kind of book you read in one sitting, then rush about annoying your coworkers by declaiming whole passages” – USA Toady

“Surprisingly beautiful. He’d probably hate to hear it, but Bourdain has a tender side, and when it peeks though his rough exterior and the wall of four-letter words he constructs, it elevates the book to something more than blustery memoir.” – Publishers Weekly


About the Author: Anthony Michael Bourdain

Who is this Anthony Michael Bourdain?  I consider him to be a complex guy, from a multi-cultural heritage. Yes, he is a bit of an egomaniac, with a strong irreverent side, and full of testosterone and inflated machismo. However, he is also a brilliant culinarian, accomplished chef and restaurateur, prolific and award-winning writer, and a popular television personality.

Anthony Bourdain, May, 2014, Courtesy: By Peabody Awards - Anthony Bourdain and Charlie Rose, CC BY 2.0,
Anthony Bourdain, May, 2014, Courtesy: By Peabody Awards – Anthony Bourdain and Charlie Rose, CC BY 2.0

Born: Jun 25, 1956 in New York City, NY USA
Height: 6′ 4″
Net worth: $16 million USD (2016)
Spouse: Ottavia Busia (married 2007), Nancy Putkoski (married 1985-2005)
Education: The Culinary Institute of America
Children: Ariane Bourdain, daughter (2007)
Mother Occupation: housewife
Father Occupation: Columbia Records music executive
Heritage: France, Brazil, Ukraine, Spain, Austria, Uruguay, Paraguay, Gibraltar
Religion: Jewish, Catholic

In addition to his many books (see below for a list), he has also hosted a succession of popular television shows, including:

  • A Cook’s Tour on the Food Network from 2002 – 2003
  • Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and The Layover on The Travel Channel from 2005 – 2013.  (culinary and cultural adventure programs)
  •  Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown on CNN since 2013

Showing his darker side, Bourdain has openly confessed to being an unrepentant drinker and smoker, as well as a frequent user of cocaine and heroin early on in his career. His liberal use of profanity and sexual references in this book are typical of his bad-boy persona. He extends this image by often consuming local “specialty” dishes on his popular television shows.  Finally, as one might expect, Bourdain is a critic of the vegetarian and vegan styles of eating, citing that they are not worthy of culinary merit.

Critical Analysis – What I Liked Most

For all his toughness and gritty exterior, I like that Bourdain is surprisingly open with his personal accounts of his life’s journey. He shares his hopes, fears, failures and successes without guilt, shame or reservation. For example, I like that he shares with us a glimpse into his young life, when, after eating a fresh mussel off the side of a fishing boat in France, he realized that, there was no turning back. The genie was out of the bottle. my life as a cook, and as a chef, had begun. Food had power. It could inspire, astonish, excite, delight and impress. It had the power to please me…and others.” 

Throughout the book, he occasionally lets us into his inner-most thoughts and (dare I say?) feelings. But, don’t be fooled, that does not personify the overall theme of this book. Indeed, Bourdain gives us raw and rough accounts of people, places and things he has encountered. Where or how else would we know about the insider information of the food service world if we weren’t there to see it first hand?

Even though I have been studying the hospitality industry for a few years now, I found that Bourdain has greatly improved my culinary street-slang. For example, I learned that “saving for well done” means that a chef saves the tough, dried-out end-cut of sirloin for a patron who wants his beef “incinerated into a flavorless, leathery hunk of carbon.”  I also learned that he considers that there are three groups of line chefs, including:

  1. Artists – a minority group of annoying, high maintenance persons, including patissiers, sous-chefs, butchers, and sauciers
  2. Exiles – those would can’t make it in traditional jobs, could never wear a shirt and tie, and don’t fit into civilized society, including refugees, immigrants, and their comrades
  3. Mercenaries – those who do it for the cash and do it very well, like a craft. They don’t necessarily love it, but they are professionals.

Additionally, I absolutely love that he rats out the not-so-glamorous side of fine dining. He tells the ugly truth about some of our favorite culinary traditions and legends. Here are five of my favorites “truths” from this book:

  • Sunday brunches: “Brunch menus are…a dumping ground for the odd bits left over from Friday and Saturday nights…Remember, brunch is only served once a week – on the weekends. Buzzword here – ‘Brunch Menu.’ Translation? ‘Old, nasty odds and ends and twelve dollars for two eggs with a free Bloody Mary.”
  • Hollandaise Sauce (eggs yolks and butter): “Bacteria love hollandaise… Nobody I know has ever made hollandaise to order. Most likely, the stuff on your eggs was made hours ago and held at a station. Equally disturbing is the likelihood that the butter used in the hollandaise is melted table butter, heated, clarified and strained to get out all of the bread crumbs and cigarette butts.”
  • Reuse of Bread: “The reuse of bread is an industry wide practice…when it’s busy, and the busboy sees a basket full of untouched bread, most times he’s going to use it. This is a fact of life. This doesn’t bother me and shouldn’t surprise you…Eat the bread.”
  • Swordfish:  “I like it fine. But my seafood purveyor, when he goes out to dinner, won’t eat it. He’s seen too many of those three-foot long parasitic worms that riddle the fish’s flesh. You see a few of these babies – and we all do – and you won’t be tucking into swordfish anytime soon.”
  • Server’s Body Language: “Look at your waiter’s face. He knows… If he likes you, maybe he’ll stop you from ordering a piece of fish he knows is going to hurt you…observe the body language and take note.”

In spite of all of the secrets of the culinary food service business, Chef Bourdain tells us to buck up and continue to eat out – enjoy ourselves and enjoy our lives. We’ve made it this far, he implies, so a little tainted hollandaise sauce, iffy swordfish or pre-enjoyed bread shouldn’t stop us now.

 Critical Analysis – What I Disliked

The rampant and casual use of profanity and sexual references in this book is such a shock that I think it should come with a “R” rating.  Yes, I understand that the culinary scene is gritty, raw and riddled with vulgar kitchen slang and profanity; that’s just the way it is.  I just think that there is a time and place for vile language – in the stories he tells and the situations he recounts.  However, I don’t think that Bourdain needs to continue that same gratuitous line of profanity in his general commentary. He’s a great writer who does not need to rely on shock journalism to get our attention, even if the words may accurately represent the world he is inviting us to experience. There are more polite ways to get his point across.

Verdict – Yes, No, or Maybe?

I give this book a Yes, with the caveat that it is for an adult audience only!  If you can get past the prolific profanity and voluminous vulgarity to uncover the subtle messages of redemption, inclusion and tolerance, then you will truly appreciate this book. Foodie or not, it’s an entertaining read.

If you read it:

Genre: non-fiction autobiography/memoir
ISBN: 0-06-093491-3
Original Publication Date: August, 2000
Paperback edition: 302 pages, $14 USA
Publisher:  First published by Bloomsbury USA.  Subsequent publications by The ECCO Press – An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Other books (including cookbooks) by this author (in full or in part):

  • Bone in the Throat (1995)
  • Gone Bamboo (1997)
  • The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating (1999)
  • A Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines  (2001)
  •  Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical (2001)
  • Mooch (2001)
  • Hotel Bemelmans (2002)
  • A Chef’s Christmas (2002)
  • Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook: Strategies, Recipes, and Techniques of Classic Bistro Cooking (2004)     
  • The Bobby Gold Stories (2004)
  • The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones (2005)    
  • No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach (2007)
  • The Elements of Cooking: Translating the Chef’s Craft for Every Kitchen  (2007)
  • My Last Supper: The World’s Greatest Chefs And Their Final Feasts (2007)
  • State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America (2008)
  • The Best American Travel Writing 2008 (2008)
  • A Moveable Feat: Life-Changing Food Adventures Around the World (2010)
  • Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook (2010)     
  • Get Jiro! (2012) and Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi (Get Jiro #2) (2015)
  • Tokyo Redux (2015)
  • Gluttony at Table #1: The Restaurant That Wouldn’t Die (2015)
  • Grill’n & Chill’n: 25 Great Rib Recipes for Everyone to Enjoy (2015)
  • Appetites: A Cookbook (expected October, 2016)