It's been quite a while since I gave Cooking Light short shrift in a 2006 review of a competing magazine. Since then, CL has revamped visually so its graphics are more appealing, and added well-known contributors like New York Times columnist Mark Bittman. It's become a truly excellent pub.
In its previous incarnation, CL looked less like a nutrition/cooking book and more like a women's lifestyle/health mag, complete with pages of actual exercise regimes (who does exercises from a print page anymore?), and beauty features. Now there's much more of a focus on cooking, though a page or so on fitness and beauty remain in each issue. (However unrelated to the mag's core mission, a recent piece on the psychology of happiness was especially insightful, attesting to CL's upgrade in writing quality.)
The pub's emphasis on cooking techniques is very welcome to me, since as a former almost-vegetarian I need help with the basics of making chicken and fish dishes. So I found both a chicken cooking-times chart and a feature on the fine points of broiling really useful in making (and not burning) recipes like Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs. There's also plenty of fodder for more advanced cooks, from "a new trick for superlative roast chicken" to a primer on avoiding common cooking mistakes. And of course the pub features many appealing recipes, with nutritional info included (especially helpful if you're Weight Watching, as I am).
But what makes CL better than just reading a diet cookbook are the features that show average folks struggling to eat more healthfully, such as 2011's 12 Healthy Habits program, which focuses each month on one task to try -- from "eat more whole grains" to "cook more often." Other stories help put the latest nutrition news into context, like research showing that the body may process whole, unprocessed food better than processed foods, meaning healthful calories can count less.
One small editorial quibble with the September issue: the excellent pressure cooking story, which notes that this device can cook beans in 40 minutes, should have been cross-referenced with the piece on "10 things to know about beans." The latter advises you to cook -- presumably in a regular pot -- "until beans have reached the texture you like; this could take a couple of hours."
Ugh, hours of cooking -- that sounds particularly deadly to me as I struggle with upping the number of meals I cook in a month from a paltry one to maybe three, per March's Healthy Habit. Still, I'm finding inspiration both in CL's print edition, with case histories like that of the "lapsed solo cook," and complementary content online. Excuse me while I go chop some ginger....
Published by: Time Inc.
Frequency: 11 issues a year (Jan./Feb. combined)