Books That Cook

WHEN MY HUSBAND AND I WERE still dating, his mother asked us to join her for dinner one evening at Lake Austin Spa. I had never been out to the resort on Lake Austin and had no idea what to expect. The spa had recently been remodeled—the guest rooms, with saltillo tile and nicely appointed interiors, reminded me of upscale cabanas. After we toured the weight room and the grounds, we made our way to the dining room, where we enjoyed a wonderful meal. This cookbook from Terry Conlan, the food services director at the Lake Austin Spa Resort, was based on two considerations: "whether or not the finished dish was good for you" and "whether or not it was ‘just plain good.'" From my experience that night, I would say the finished dish was just plain good—I didn't really care at the time if it was good for me. About half of the items the resort prepares come from its original cookbook, Spa Specialties , but Lean Star Cuisine makes a nice companion and offers more recent recipes. The philosophy at Lake Austin Spa evolves around wellness, which translates into exercise and eating right—and a little pampering (read: manicures, massages, facials). And healthful dishes abound in Lean Star Cuisine, from the appetizers and entrée salads like Eggplant Spread and Tortellini With Salmon Salad to vegetarian entrées and desserts like Vegetable Paella and Chocolate Torte (the most requested new recipe, which calls for prune purée to replace the fat).

The pages are filled with recipes—most beginning with a few words about the dish and ending with calories and fat grams per serving—a glossary, sample menus, and the spa's very own Our Stock Stock Recipe, which lists the first ingredient as "1 rainy Sunday afternoon." The best thing about this cookbook is finding a recipe that sounds fabulous and then discovering that it isn't loaded with calories. Here's a sampling of the recipes you can expect to find in Lean Star Cuisine:

Fat Free Tortilla Chips

(approximately 15 calories and 0 grams of fat per chip)
Oat Bran Banana Raisin Muffins (165 calories and 5 grams of fat per muffin)
Skillet Cornbread (68 calories and 2.1 grams of fat per serving)
Chipotle Mayonnaise (5 calories and a trace of fat per tablespoon)
Tropical Barbecue Sauce (28 calories and a trace of fat per tablespoon)
Cold Potato Soup (117 calories and .45 gram of fat per 6-ounce serving)
Grilled Sweet Potatoes (75 calories and 1 gram of fat per 4-ounce serving)
Stuffed Pork Tenderloin With Blackberry Sauce (280 calories and 4.1 grams of fat per serving)
Dorado Veracruzano (139 calories and 1.8 grams of fat per serving when using mahi mahi)
Lemon Chiffon (85 calories and 1 gram of fat per serving)

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