I have spent very little time in the South, but I am a lover of Southern food, and am on a perpetual diet, so this book snagged me at the title. I am a huge fan of Pat Conroy’s cookbook of low country and related fare, so I was eager to see what this book contained. It hasn’t disappointed. From “Ten Tips for Lightening Things Up”—which has some surprises, to the sidebar notes, I gained a lot of good information. And Willis doesn’t talk down to the reader.

The Creamy Broccoli-Parmesan soup is terrific. The lightened turkey meatloaf is a winner—so often turkey meatloaf is dry as cardboard, this is not. I used Trader Joe’s broccoli slaw for the Broccoli Slaw with Buttermilk Dressing and it was delicious and just the right consistency—my earlier attempts have not been so successful. I can’t wait for corn to be in season to try the Georgia Shrimp and Corn Chowder even though I’ll be making them with imported free range shrimp from God knows where. Also on my “to-make-soon” list are Green Beans with New Potatoes and Candied Garlic (candied garlic?! That will be fun) and Slow-Cooked Barbecued Pulled Chicken.

There are really two things to recommend this book—the recipes are healthy and use real ingredients that you are likely to have on hand on a regular basis, and there are not too many ingredients! So often “diet” and “heathy” cookbooks include a lot of ingredients to bring in some flavor, and they don’t always deliver. Or they are ingredients the common kitchen doesn’t keep around. The flavor in these recipes comes from the combinations of the main ingredients. For that reason, the recipes don’t taste “light.” I don’t have enough experience of Southern food to compare these recipes to the heavier original versions, but I suspect that they stack up pretty high. I don’t care, this is a wonderful book with great recipes that I will turn to again and again.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.