Diet may be a four letter word on a food blog, but eventually too much bacon really does catch up to you (or so we're told, as we have yet to reach our limit). But as it is perilously close to the New Year's resolution hour, we have been looking back on 2010, and the large amounts of cured meat and heavy cream we've managed to consume. And though we do enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables from the farmers market, we also really, really dislike (hate?) most “diet” books. So while everyone else is pulling out their tattered South Beach diet cookbooks again, we'll be revisiting Mark Bittman's The Food Matters Cookbook, where the 600+ pages of recipes are divided into three handy categories — make ahead, fast, and pantry staple.

The New York Times columnist is upfront about his own Cook This, Not That epiphany, when he realized that mom really was right – you do need to eat your vegetables.

But despite the healthier slant, Bittman doesn't ban any ingredients. For instance, beef isn't given the heave-ho, but you also won't find it on a mashed potato and gravy-laden menu. Here, those strips of sirloin, skirt steak, or whatever lean, full-flavored cut you have on hand are simply tossed into spaghetti with seared radicchio and balsamic sauce.

What Bittman does best is offer simple tweaks to make that steak dish or quinoa salad taste more like Saturday night pop-the-good-wine fare. In our daily bread-laden life, New Year's resolutions or otherwise, that's pretty much all we're ever after.

LA Weekly