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Eat Like a Food Critic and Stay Slim

Restaurant reviewer Joy Manning keeps the pounds off with a tell-all blog and a semi-vegetarian diet at home—the subject of her new cookbook, Almost Meatless.

Like the fictional Bridget Jones, Joy Manning writes down her weight almost every day. But instead of keeping the number in a diary, she shares it with the world on a blog, WhatIWeighToday.com. “It makes me feel accountable,” explains Manning, the restaurant critic at Philadelphia magazine. (At five feet four inches, she’s about 145 pounds.)

Still, the threat of public embarrassment isn’t Manning’s most effective tactic for controlling her weight: Instead, her strategy is to work out—a lot—and balance rich restaurant meals with light dishes at home that contain just a little meat.

Manning, along with cowriter Tara Mataraza Desmond, has turned those recipes into a terrific cookbook, the new Almost Meatless. Her summery BLT bread salad is a tumble of cherry tomatoes, butter lettuce and homemade croutons, with a bit of smoky bacon for substance. She keeps her tangy white gazpacho completely vegetarian, but it’s deceptively creamy: Almonds and cauliflower give the soup a silky texture.

A bonus to her almost-vegetarian approach: “What’s good for you and good for the environment tend to go together,” she says.

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Published August 2009
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