The January Syndrome
"Lighter, Quicker, Better"


It's here: time to repent for indulging in those exquisite Christmas chocolates, that extra cup of eggnog, the second (and third) helpings of everything. The average American gains over 5 pounds during the holiday season. Fortunately, most of us work it off in January by cutting back on meals, doing a little more exercise and, for those of us in snow country, just trying to stay warm.

Many of us have even made New Year's Resolutions to this end. I WILL LOSE TEN POUNDS AND KEEP IT OFF...sound familiar? While zillions of diets and diet books exist, the key to any effective weight loss plan is in changing your behavior. and the best way to accomplish that is by making it painless. Especially for us foodies who get so much joy out of things that taste good, look good and smell good. Depriving us of our daily gustatory delights is an act so radical that it surely guarantees our failure at weight loss.

Last year, a number of books were released tackling the notion that counting calories is not the answer to weight loss. These books taught us that we can all eat healthful foods that taste great and not feel deprived in the least. In response to what we at The eGG term "The January Syndrome"—i.e., the recognition that every eating-action in December has a tangible fat-reaction in January—we present one book in particular that has some common-sense tips designed for getting weight off and keeping one's diet contained to the modern lifestyle.

"Lighter, Quicker, Better: Cooking for the Way We Eat Today," by Richard Sax & Marie Simmons sums up the things we all know in our heart: that great tasting meals really can be made without an excess of fat. They do not pretend to go no-fat in their foods, but instead present recipes that may have some fat, or some cheese, but definitely in controlled amounts. While most of the recipes taste terrific, a few of them, the ones that traditionally get their predominant flavor from cheese or fat, do suffer a bit in taste by the reduction of these elements. But for the most part, the book includes such a wide variety of recipes that you will surely find many suitable meals throughout. More importantly, it is the tips and overall plan these writers espouse that the health-conscious reader should pay attention to and incorporate into the daily regime.

The authors, Richard Sax and Marie Simmons, did not set out to write a book first and then do the research for its contents. To the contrary, the authors began living the lifestyle and performing the eating habits contained in the book. They then put to paper the practical changes they made to create their "modern diet"—one that replaces methodological calorie-counting with a broader understanding of what's fat, fit, healthy and the techniques for making meals that conform naturally to a healthier dining approach. "We both feel," express the authors, "there is no greater celebration in life than eating wonderful food ...The food in this book, then, is a positive, upbeat approach to healthier eating."

Here is how the publisher describes the contents of their book:

LIGHTER—From appetizers to entrees to desserts, Sax and Simmons offer delightful new recipes and lighter versions of some traditional favorites like Unfried Fried Chicken where using skinned pieces of chicken, a light crumb coating, a drizzle of olive oil and yogurt result in the same great taste as the fat-laden original. Swordfish Baked with Sweet Peppers and Vinegar is moist, tender and rich in flavor, while being light in fat and calories. Nostalgic memories return with Super Chocolate Pudding. However, by using cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate, skim or low-fat milk instead of whole milk, and one whole egg instead of several yolks, the fat has been radically reduced.

QUICKER—Conscious of the time constraints so many home cooks face on a daily basis, many of Sax and Simmons' recipes share techniques for saving time-as well as fat. Quick Pizza Dough encourages you to mix it up the evening before and place it in the refrigerator overnight. It's ready the next day when you want fresh home-made pizza. Save time in preparing Penne with Cauliflower, Tomatoes and Basil by cooking the cauliflower right in the pasta water. Dessert can be as quick as Banana-Cinnamon Snacking Cake that bakes in only 15 minutes. The use of yogurt and mashed bananas keep it light, moist and flavorful.

BETTER—Lighter and quicker foods are only welcome on the table if the flavor is still rich, and the recipes in LIGHTER, QUICKER, BETTER meet that challenge easily. The caramelization of the natural sugars in the ingredients lends a smooth, round, rich flavor to Roasted Tomato Gazpacho, while the Basil purée is a colorful and bold-tasting garnish. Baked Fennel with Melted Parmigiano-Reggiano contrasts the soft, almost silky taste of the baked fennel with the sharp accent of well-aged Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Baked Polenta provides a mild canvas for the rich, earthy flavor of Wild Mushroom and Tomato Sauce when you want to serve a meatless meal.

The recipes are inventive and take advantage of nature's bounty throughout the year, with vegetables ranging from pumpkin to asparagus. Some clearly are based on very reduced fat quantities and are lean enough to feed Jack Sprat. Others indulge slightly in the name of flavor, and we welcome them for not being so drastic as to eliminate the mouthful flavor of olive oil or butter entirely from the diet. The chapters cover grains, seafood, poultry, meats, baked goods and desserts, accompanied by handy tips and commonsense guidelines for streamlining the process and reducing fat in general without depriving us of the flavors we relish.

Here then are some samples from "Lighter, Quicker, Better" that you can try in your own kitchen:


January Syndrome
Lighter, Quicker, Better Recipes

Lighter: Healthy Substitutions for Baking
Quicker: Quicker Marinades For Fish Fillets and Steaks
Better: A Quick Blast of Flavor
Recipe: Super Chocolate Pudding
Recipe: Cod en Papillote with Tomatoes, Dill and Orange
Recipe: Spinach, Tomato, and Country Bread Salad

by Richard Sax and Marie Simmons
(William Morrow & Co.;
June 26,1995;



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