George Stella's Livin' Low Carb has little in common with diet books: In fact, it's got more in common with a cookbook you might have bought for yourself when you first moved out on your own. The style is casual and approachable, with no tense lists of diet-related details or overly-complex recipes, and cooking techniques require little more than a working stove and a frying pan.
George Stella (along with pastry chef-wife Rachel) have developed a wide range of recipes designed to compliment Atkins and other low-carb diet regimens. Rather than relying on packaged convenience foods that meet these dietary standards, they focus on home-cooked meals that satisfy the demands of low carb life without tasting like they were baked up in a factory. Flavors include Chinese (Szechuan stir-fry), Italian-American (clams casino), Southern (fried chicken), and American sweets (chocolate chip muffins and no-bake Key lime cheesecake). Snacks, salads, entrees, and desserts all see equal amounts of attention.
There's a heavy reliance on the sugar substitute Splenda, but in general this is real food for daily life. The condiment chapter contains homemade versions of ketchup, mustard sauce, barbecue sauce and even Thousand Island dressing, and makes a simple place to get started even if the only kitchen appliance you're comfortable with is a can opener. Each recipe clearly notes "special equipment" (like 8-inch square pans) as well as the yield, net carbs per serving, and separate times needed for prepping and cooking.
Because of the sugar substitute and number of recipes that alter classics in ways that compromise traditional textures in favor of lowering carbs (such as noodle-free lasagna), the book is most likely to be used by dieters, rather than all home cooks. Still, if you're looking for easy ways to tinker with your food intake that doesn't involve packaged mixes from the diet industry, Stella offers plenty of tasty options. --Jill Lightner