The Diet Detective: 6 Tools to Keep Your Calories in Check

Here are my latest calorie bargain findings.

Calorie Bargain: Cooking Light Comfort Food, by the Editors of Cooking Light Magazine (Oxmoor House, 2011)

The Why: Most comfort food is normally very high in calories—think about fried chicken, mac and cheese, grilled cheese, meatloaf and brownies. However, Cooking Light's book lightens more than 200 of these comfort foods and shows us more than 200 mouthwatering full-color images.

The Health Bonus: Low-calorie, tasty recipes, many in the 250-400 calorie range.

What We Liked Best: Lots of photos, cooking techniques, ingredient prep advice and detailed nutritional information.

The Price: $24.95

Where to Buy: Bookstores,, and

Calorie Bargain: The Part-Time Vegan: 201 Yummy Recipes That Put the Fun in Flexitarian, by Cherise Grifoni (Adams Media, 2011)

The Why: Veganism is on fire, with celebrities such as Bill Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres, Alicia Silverstone and even Mike Tyson singing the praises of the vegan lifestyle. This book has 300 recipes including: Purely Vegan Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread; Lean, Mean, Black Bean Guacamole; Very Vegan Potato Pesto Salad; Spicy Roasted Tomato Soup; Roasted-Garlic Mashed Taters; Spanish Artichoke and Zucchini Paella; and Barley Pilaf with Edamame and Roasted Red Pepper.

The Health Bonus: You'll eat more vegetables for sure.

What We Liked Best: Easy-to-follow recipes, but it would be nice if there were nutritional information for each recipe.

The Price: $15.95

Where to Buy: Bookstores,, and

Calorie Bargain: Stonehouse 27 Dates & Tamarind Cooking Sauce with roasted chiles and garlic

The Why: This sauce, inspired by Portuguese and British Indian cuisines, provides an explosion of delicious flavor—I really loved the taste and the low calories. The spicy and sweet really works.

The Health Bonus: It's vegan, low-sodium, gluten-free, all-natural and has no refined sugar.

What We Liked Best: The very clean ingredients list—you can pronounce everything on it.

The Price: $6.49 per jar

Where to Buy: Online from, or you can check your local supermarket.

Nutrition Information: (1/3 cup): 70 calories; 2.5 g fat; 11 g carbs; 1 g fiber; 1 g protein; 10 mg sodium.

Ingredients: Onions, date puree, vinegar, water, GMO free expeller pressed canola oil, spices, garlic, tamarind, green chili.

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