Books That Cook

THERE ARE THREE WORDS THAT would send any dieter into a food frenzy: "Nothing is forbidden." With that philosophy, Lake Austin Spa Resort's award winning chef, Terry Conlan, sets out to prove in his latest cookbook, Fresh: Healthy Cooking and Living From Lake Austin Spa Resort , that "high-calorie" can be transformed into "healthy" with only a few simple alterations.

Spread over 209 recipes, Fresh provides a savory reminder that "between the dim and distant outposts of gluttony and deprivation resides a very large space that celebrates eating," as Conlan notes in the preface. The featured fare easily transcends the spa atmosphere, and although you may not have all of the ingredients in your pantry (like tahini for the Baba Ghanoush ), even the most "kitchen-shy folks" will feel at ease preparing "food that insists upon being eaten."

Whether it's Skordalia, the Greek legume spread, or Coulibiac, the Czarist Russian seafood classic, or Torta Limoncello , the Italian lemon liqueur-infused dessert, your cravings will be sated. But do not think that Fresh is only in-step with exotic cuisine. Traditional favorites are also revamped into delicious and healthier versions of themselves, including Caesar Salad Dressing , Macaroni and Cheese , and even Thanksgiving Turkey With Fat-Free Gravy and Corn Bread Stuffing .

In harmony with the "food as enjoyment" theme that emanates from its pages, Fresh also splices in "Healthy Living" sections that feature "how to" tips on everything from fitness and nutrition to motivation and relaxation. After your adventures in the kitchen, you can improve your gardening and recreate your own spa experience at home, thanks to the advice of the Lake Austin Spa experts.

Fresh is a cookbook that is neither mired down in caloric heavyweights nor filled with insubstantial (and often tasteless) "health" food. Healthy living, as championed by Lake Austin Spa Resort's finest, embraces—not excludes—flavorful gourmet food. So go ahead and indulge yourself in that Chocolate Bourbon Swirl Cream Pie , because after all, nothing is forbidden.

Chef Terry Conlan urges us to "Eat well and be well." With these recipes, don't mind if we do:

Appetizer
Warm Artichoke and Cheese Dunk (18 calories per serving)

Salads and Dressings
Fresh Tuna Salad Niçoise

Soups
Smoky Louisiana Red Bean Soup

Vegetarian
Chimayo Tortilla Stack With New Mexican Red Chile Sauce

Poultry
Pan-Roasted Chicken With Peach and Bourbon Glaze (a 20-minute dinner)

Seafood
Hot Sweet and Sour Snapper on Asian Slaw

Meats
Coffee-Crusted Sirloin With Jalapeño Red-Eye Gravy

Desserts
Chocolate Mocha Dacquoise

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