In Dr Joel Fuhrman's world, you don't need to count calories to lose weight. Rather, the 59-year-old former world-class figure skater suggests you keep tabs on maximising micronutrients while eating as much as you want - as long as it is plant based.
In other words Fuhrman recommends you turn vegan - which, in Eat to Live, his New York Times #1 bestseller first published in 2003, he promises will help you lose at least 9kg in six weeks.
You're probably now imagining yourself miserably nibbling on carrots or leaves while your stomach growls in protest. Fuhrman's latest offering, the Eat to Live Cookbook published this month by HarperOne, will transform your idea of veganism, and perhaps even convince you to give the diet a go, particularly as it contains dishes like chocolate cherry ice cream and eggplant cannelloni with pine nut romesco sauce.
It helps that Fuhrman, who has a medical degree specialising in nutritional medicine from the University of Pennsylvania, enlisted the help of six guest chefs to boost his culinary repertoire.
The chefs include Martin Oswald of Pyramid Bistro in Aspen, Colorado - the first so-called "nutritarian" restaurant in the US. There's also Jack Hunt, who was the executive chef at one of the many cafes at Google's headquarters.
Nutritarian is Fuhrman's term for his plant-based, nutrient-dense diet, which research shows can aid fast and sustained weight loss, reverse disease and promote lifelong health. The diet's foundation is Fuhrman's formula for health: nutrient intake divided by calorie intake. The bigger the number, the better - it means the food has more vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, all of which have no calories but are vital for well-being.
He has devised the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) to rank foods according to their micronutrient density per calorie. Kale, collard greens, mustard greens and watercress get the highest score of 1,000. Vanilla ice cream (nine), corn chips (seven) and cola (one) languish at the bottom of the list.
All 180 recipes in the book are made with nutrient-packed ingredients. The goji berry walnut squares below, for example, use nuts that have been ground to a fine consistency, rather than the typical refined white flour found in most sweet treats.
The ingredients are all pretty easy to find, even the relatively exotic ones such as chia seeds, hemp milk and kale leaves can be easily bought at the many organic stores around Hong Kong.
Every recipe comes with nutritional information per serving, which is handy. Recipes recommended for aggressive weight loss, diabetics and those with metabolic syndrome are specially marked out. There are also cooking tips and techniques.
It's a useful book, even if you aren't planning to go vegan. Many of the recipes, from smoothies to salads to soups and stews, could work well as a healthy side dish or snack.
Be warned, however, that Fuhrman is no Nigella Lawson or Jamie Oliver. This is a cookbook that gets straight to the business of cooking without many of the glossy photos.
In fact, the main disappointment of the book is the visual element. After all, research has shown that we eat with our eyes first.
Here are two recipes in the book which have both photos and an Asian touch.
Apple bak choi salad
Per serving: 202 calories, seven grams of protein, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 8.9 grams of fat, four grams of fibre
6 cups finely chopped bak choi
1 large apple, shredded
1 large carrot, shredded
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup unsweetened soya,
hemp or almond milk
1/2 cup raw cashews or
1/4 cup raw cashew butter
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup raisins
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Combine bak choi, apple, carrot, and chopped onion in a large bowl. Blend soya milk, cashews, vinegar, raisins, and mustard in a food processor or blender. Add desired amount to chopped vegetables.
Goji berry walnut squares with chocolate drizzle
Makes 15 squares
Per serving: 233 calories, seven grams protein, 26 grams carbohydrates, 13.1 grams fat, five grams fibre
1 1/2 cups oats
1 cup walnuts
1 cup raw almonds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup goji berries
60 grams unsweetened dark chocolate
Blend the oats until a flour forms. Add to a large bowl.
Repeat for walnuts and almonds and add to the bowl. It's OK if a few walnut or almond pieces remain. (Substitute the raw whole almonds with one cup of almond flour if you're too lazy to process them.) Stir in the cinnamon.
Add dates and water to blender and process to a thick paste. Add banana and blend until well combined. Add date and banana mixture to dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in vanilla and goji berries.
Line an eight-inch (20.3cm) square pan with foil or parchment paper. Scoop the mixture onto the paper. Dip a knife in water and spread until smooth. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Heat chocolate in microwave for one minute, stir, and heat for another 30 seconds or until melted.
Remove pan from freezer. Using a small spoon, drizzle with chocolate to add a decorative touch. Cut into squares.
Store in the freezer for a guilt-free snack. They can be eaten straight from the freezer or heated in the microwave for 30 to 45 seconds.