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Zone Meals in Seconds

150 Fast and Delicious Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
by Dr. Barry Sears and Lynn Sears
(Regan Books, January 2005)

Zone Meals in Seconds: 150 Fast and Delicious Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

If you must try one of those trendy diets, at least look for one that is possible for you to sustain and that doesn’t damage your body or well-being. Part of the solution to any sensible diet rests in eating good food in moderation. You may also need to change your definition of good food; but if you can read a label, follow a recipe and keep an open mind, you’re nearly there.

The Zone Diet, launched in 1995 by scientist/researcher Barry Sears, Ph.D., relies on maintaining a specifically proportioned dietary balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, an approach that appears less fanatical than many programs we’ve encountered. Basically, as Sears defines it, there are Protein Blocks, Carbohydrate Blocks and Fat Blocks. Within each Block are desirable and undesirable choices. Success with the Zone has a lot to do with portion control, eating frequently timed meals (including snacks), drinking plenty of water and avoiding coffee and soda. In turn, your blood sugar remains stable and you won’t feel hungry. Sound good? It gets even better: You can have wine and cheese for a bedtime snack.

Meanwhile, the Zone Diet has caught on so big that there are even Zone meal delivery services. Could this mean that mastering Zone food is beyond reach for most of us? Is it so complicated and time-consuming that the effort alone will make you shed pounds?

Barry Sears and his wife, Lynn, put together Zone Meals in Seconds: 150 Fast and Delicious Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner with the goal of bringing the wildly popular Zone to the masses. The book benefits from the couple’s experience raising two daughters in the Zone, dealing with today’s foods and food choices and managing it all within the context of a hectic lifestyle.

Zone Meals in Seconds recaps the Zone Diet while doubling as a competent cookbook and guide to serving up breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. If you don’t mind stocking up on whey powders, fructose and soy mayonnaise, most everything is straightforward. Solid morning meals include Zoned Chocolate Zucchini Spice Muffins and Zoned Muesli loaded with almonds, pecans, macadamias, oats, raisins and yogurt. (Don’t worry: Not all recipe titles start with the word "Zoned.") Lunches like Tuna and White Bean Salad or Spinach Dip with Shrimp and Crudités make midday decision-making easy. Dinner choices range from Broiled Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese, Cherries, Pears, and Pecans to Turkey and Blue Cheese Burgers with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing.

Ever-important Zone snacks rate their own chapter and include Taco Salad, Deviled Eggs with Hummus and plenty of smoothies. A chapter on "The Kid’s Zone" offers useful tips and information for feeding children, while "The Can-Do Zone" provides tips and recipes for using canned, bottled and frozen convenience foods, including a nifty recipe for Steak Pizzaiola put together with prechopped garlic, canned diced tomatoes, canned fava beans and canned green beans. This may not be epicurean perfect, but it’s quick, easy and way better than what you’d pick up through the drive-thru window.

We think that "Slow Cooking in the Zone" is the best part of the book, and it makes good use of the dormant crock pot. Among our top choices are dishes like Moroccan Lamb and Lentil Stew with Cauliflower, Pepper, and Olive Salad; Slow-Cooked Pork Ragout with Spinach, Olive, and Tangerine Salad; and Lentil, Walnut, and Chicken Chili with Salad and Guacamole.

If you choose to eat in the Zone, Zone Meals in Seconds is worth the investment. With some good recipes and interesting dishes, you won’t feel like you are on such a restrictive diet. And that’s at least half the battle.

Reviewed by Kevin Schoeler

(Updated: 09/13/10 CT)

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