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3 new cookbooks to spring-clean your diet

Looking for healthier meal ideas? Whether you’re eating for peak athletic performance, to feel better or to makeover down-home favorites, here are three new cookbooks to try:

Three new cookbooks: 'Slim Down South,' 'Virgin Diet Cookbook,' 'Athlete's Cookbook.'
Oxmoor House, Grand Central Life & Style, Ulysses Press

The Slim Down South Cookbook, by Carolyn O’Neil, RD (Oxmoor House, $24.95): Southern cooking doesn’t have the healthiest reputation. Fried foods, smothered dishes and biscuit toppings are all familiar Southern techniques. But then again, delicious, healthy foods like peaches, leafy greens and blackeyed peas are also part of the repertoire, so there are plenty of ways to eat healthfully with a Southern accent. Author Carolyn O’Neil, a James Beard award-winning registered dietitian, has come up with healthy eating strategies and 120 recipes that include dishes such as Pecan Pancakes, Skillet Fried Chicken, Tipsy Red and Yellow Watermelon Salad. There are color photos to accompany each recipe, which also includes nutritional information .

The Virgin Diet Cookbook, by JJ Virgin, CNS, CHFS (Grand Central Life & Style ($28): If you’re a follower of JJ Virgin’s Virgin Diet, you’ll appreciate this follow-up cookbook, which features 150 recipes that follow JJ’s rules – no gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, corn, peanuts, sugar or artificial sweeteners. There’s a basic introduction to the eating plan at the beginning of the book and an explanation of why those seven foods are off limits and can free you of food intolerances. If you’re unsure you’ll be able to live without the seven foods, there’s a section on swaps. Miss pasta? Try quinoa pasta. Need some milk? Give almond milk a shot. Craving sweet? Try xylitol. And you won’t miss those foods with recipes such as Stir-Fried Shrimp With Ginger, Black Beans & Cashews, Creamy Sweet Potato Soup, Shredded Brussels Sprouts With Bacon, Coconut-Allspice Steel-Cut Oats With Protein Boost, and Swedish-Style Pecan Pancakes With Orange and Strawberries. The book also includes a variety of three-week meal plans for weight loss, vegans, diabetes, paleo, or budget friendly meals.

The Athlete’s Cookbook, by Corey Irwin and Brett Stewart (Ulysses Press, $15.95): Food can be a potent fuel to an athlete – would you fuel up a sports car with inferior gasoline? It’s the same when you fuel up for athletic training and conditioning. Corey Irwin, a chef and recipe developer, and Brett Stewart, a trainer and coach, are both endurance athletes and they have come up with more than 100 recipes for getting lean, building muscle or increasing endurance. And lest you think that the dishes are typical jock meals of steamed chicken breast and broccoli, think again. How about Chocolate-Strawberry Waffles, Buffalo Chili, Pineapple-Ginger Stir-Fry, Olive Hummus, and No-Bake Chocolate-Cherry-Almond Energy Bites? In addition to the recipes, there’s a meal-timing schedule, a list of the top 10 best foods for athletes, and meal plans based on your athletic goals, whether it be fat loss, endurance or strength.