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The Wine & Food Lover's Diet

Cookbook Review

It’s not a diet—it’s a fresh approach to living

Review by Tanja Kern

Most New Year’s resolutions fizzle after a month or two. Come spring, those of us hoping to squeeze into that bathing suit or look more trim in our summer T’s could use some serious diet inspiration.

Imagine my delight in discovering The Wine and Food Lover’s Diet: 28 Days of Delicious Weight Loss (Chronicle Books, 2007). Author Phillip Tirman, M.D., a leading sports medicine physician, lives in an epicurean Mecca—Northern California. Like those of us at The Food Channel, Dr. Tirman loves food and wine, but he admits that he may have loved them both a bit too much. Six years ago, Dr. Tirman says he was, ‘an overweight, stressed-out doctor seeing overweight, stressed-out patients.’

After years of lacking stamina, yo-yo diets, and being scolded by his fit French grandmother, Tirman developed an approach to eating that uses both common sense and the latest nutritional research. Based on the premise of pairing low-glycemic foods with protein, the diet allows your body to burn fat instead of storing it.

Flipping through the book’s pages, I quickly realized that this is not your average diet book. There’s no calorie counting, no starvation and no deprivation involved. In fact, you get to choose among 100 gourmet recipes, artfully depicted by photos taken by Caren Alpert. You get to eat a bit of butter, bacon and chocolate.

Here’s the catch: weight loss relies on home cooking. That means shopping for fresh herbs, planning meals ahead and carefully pairing wine with each dinner. Yes, wine is allowed! Dr. Tirman said that smart consumption of alcohol is key, particularly during the first two weeks of the diet when your wine intake should be limited to one glass per day.

Start your day with an easy make-ahead like the shrimp and pea omelet cups with summer herbs or a quick Baja omelet with avocado-tomato salsa. Salads become your staple lunch and include arugula and cherry tomato drizzled with warm hazelnut dressing. For dinner, you pair a protein—be it fish, chicken or beef—with two savory, ‘super-savvy’ carbs. You could try saffron-braised leeks one day with button mushrooms or collard greens and garlic with roasted vegetables and arugula pesto.

Your sweet tooth isn’t left out, either. Peanut butter soufflés, flourless chocolate cakes and fresh berries with cream are just some of the options. Dr. Tirman’s basic prescription seems to be: stop dieting and start living!