PHOTO: The Coconut Shrimp Soup can be ready to be served in no time. | From “21-Day Tummy Diet Cookbook”

Well here’s a novel idea for a cookbook: Get rid of your digestive woes and get a trim belly in the process.

“The 21-Day Tummy Diet Cookbook” (Reader’s Digest, $26.99) offers relief from a host of conditions that cause gastrointestinal problems. When you think about it, it really does make sense: Get rid of the health problems plaguing the stomach and a lot of that bloating goes away.

The book’s subtitle boasts it features “150 New Recipes That Shrink, Soothe and Satisfy.” Don’t think for a moment that must mean bland and tasteless.  Does Tandoori-Style Baked Chicken sound blah? Or Margarita Shrimp Salad? Not at all. Global and inventive flavors fill this book.

Another twist: It shares the photos and stories of a dozen Tummy Testers who gave the diet a shot for 21 days. Each had gradual but sure weight loss (as well as inches off their waistlines) and saw things like bloating, heartburn and fatigue, go away.


The book’s authors, longtime health journalist Liz Vaccariello and registered dietitian Kate Scarlata, start out by describing the different conditions that plague many and which foods trigger problems and why. They tell readers which foods are Belly Buddies (including high-fiber veggies and grains, nuts, seeds and healthy fats, for example) and which ones to stay away from, such as carb-dense (read highly processed, refined items) and high-lactose foods. Later, they give you information on how to slowly reintroduce these bad guys back into one’s diet one by one, because not all of them are causing each individual’s problems.

There are all sorts of helpful tips throughout the book, including what foods should be stocked in a 21-Day pantry, simple salad dressing recipes, Included with some recipes are instructions on how to make a variety of these dishes for one, something not enough cookbooks do.

Each recipe tells home cooks which Belly Buddy foods are in the recipe — this helps a person see which ingredients complement one another — and how much hands-on and total time each requires. They are not difficult recipes and the instructions are clear and concise. They are not recipes that will take a lot of time, either.

Here’s the cookbook’s recipe for a soup that’s a good example of the book’s wide range of flavors included. Plus, it comes together quickly.



Servings: 4

Hands-on time: 25 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

 1 tablespoon olive oil

1 red bell pepper, diced

¼ cup quick-cooking brown rice

½ pound plum tomatoes, diced

1½ cups water

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 cup light coconut milk

¾ pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined and halved horizontally

1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

 In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Add the rice, stir to coat, and cook for 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes, water, salt and pepper flakes and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes, or until the rice is tender.

Add the coconut milk, shrimp, and corn and simmer, uncovered until the shrimp are just cooked through, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice.

Belly Buddies: bell pepper, brown rice, tomatoes, coconut milk, shrimp.