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Cookbooks: 100 Calories, 250 Recipes

100-Calorie Snack Cookbook
By Sally Sampson (Wiley, 2009; $18.95)

This author knows how to deliver a specialty cookbook. She’s written 20 in all, including 1998’s “The $50 Dinner Party" (way ahead of the curve, Zeitgeist-wise) and 2002’s “Party Nuts!” (of which I’ve made about half the recipes).

Sampson, who lives in Watertown, Mass., with her two teenagers, harnesses the power of marketing in her new book – in a good way. Portion-controlled snacks are hot; what’s not is overly processed food in wasteful packaging. So Sampson has developed more than 250 recipes, grouping them in snack-speak chapters: Crunchy, Creamy and Cheesy, Salty, Carbs, Vegetables, Protein and more.

She told me it took about six months to test the recipes. Sampson wanted to make sure the ingredients she used were widely accessible, so she literally went up and down grocery store aisles, spending lots of time in the produce departments, to see what consumers were buying. "I learned a lot about snacking, that's for sure," she says. "If you're hungry and need the volume, go for vegetables. If you want a taste of something sweet, keep the amounts small."

If you like the salty-sweet combo, and who doesn't, try her Chocolate Matchsticks. They're a Sampson favorite and couldn't be simpler. Fifteen short, thin pretzel sticks, 2 teaspoons of melted chocolate chips. Dip the sticks, then dip again. Eat right away or allow the chocolate to set. That's 100 calories.

Her recipes are fairly low in sodium and saturated fat. More important, a majority of them are in single servings. (Take note, Editor Joe/Cooking for One fans.) Sampson recognizes that snacking is a personal thing. I might want Honey Peanut Butter Bites (made with Kashi cheddar cheese crackers, at that) one day and Green Beans With Tofu or Beef Au Poivre Sliders the next. You could make a meal out of a combo of soup and slider recipes. She also provides several lists of 100-calorie portions of natural foods.

Each recipe comes with nutritional analysis, and Sampson’s work has been blessed with the endorsement (by way of foreword) of the director of the nutrition department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School.

The following recipe serves 2, and I'm not embarrassed to say I ate the whole thing. Note the sodium’s higher here than in most of the book’s recipes.

Check out her Web site. (What other new cookbooks are you curious about? We can always throw in our 2 cents' worth....)

-- Bonnie Benwick

Margery’s Tomatoes
2 servings

Adapted from Sally Sampson’s “100-Calorie Snack Cookbook” (Wiley, 2009).

2 1/2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon vodka (may substitute water; but I think the recipe’s better with the vodka!)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon curry powder

Place the tomatoes in a small bowl. Place the vodka, salt and curry powder in separate small bowls.

Dip just the tip of each tomato in the vodka, then the salt, then the curry powder. Snack happy.

Per serving (based on 2): 50 calories, 2 g protein, 0 g fat, 584 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 7 g carbohydrates, 542 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 5 g sugar (these are our numbers, not from the book)

By The Food Section  |  May 5, 2009; 12:15 PM ET
Categories:  Cooking for One , Recipes  | Tags: Bonnie Benwick, Sally Sampson, cookbooks, recipes  
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