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The Skinny on Great Dinner Parties

With the three elegant party recipes here, cookbook author Melissa Clark shares her philosophy of eating well without overindulging.

Food writer Melissa Clark has 18 cookbooks to her name, many co-written with star chefs like David Bouley, yet she somehow manages to stay a size 2. "People look at me and think I can eat whatever I want and stay thin, but I was 35 pounds heavier in my early twenties," she says. Clark lost the weight by changing her eating habits (she no longer cleans her plate) and lifestyle (she exercises four to five days a week). After her college pal Robin Aronson gave birth to twins, Clark helped her lose more than 30 pounds. The two friends then teamed up to write The Skinny: How to Fit into Your Little Black Dress Forever, due out later this month. The recipes in the book emphasize fruits, vegetables and grains. The book also includes ideas for healthy snacks (Clark believes in grazing) as well as what Clark calls "tidbits of yum" to satisfy cravings, like the creamy Greek yogurt and sugared pistachios on her elegant espresso gelées or the luscious Guinness glaze on her halibut.

Melissa Clark’s Healthy Attitudes

On watching the scale "I have a cookie or two every day, but when I see ’the creep’—a weight gain of a few pounds—I cut out sweets, add exercise and eat a little less at dinner."

On walking "I walk everywhere, even when I’m wearing my pointy high-heeled boots."

On grazing "I eat constantly and rarely let myself get hungry. If you’re really eating what you want, you’ll eat less."

On indulging "A salad of just lettuce is not a happy salad; I top mine with cheese, avocado or croutons fried in olive oil so I feel like I’m really eating well."

On eating out "I always ask for a doggie bag. Even a two-inch square of short ribs will taste amazing with a watercress salad the next day."

Melissa’s Healthy Holiday Strategies

On facing a buffet table "I take a little bit of the foods I really want and a lot of salad, then move far away from the table so temptation won’t be staring me in the face."

On drinking at cocktail parties "I drink wine like a snob: I stick my nose in the glass, inhale, then take a long, slow sip. When you savor what you drink or eat, you’ll be satisfied."

On regifting "Everyone gives me cookies and gingerbread, and if I keep them, I’ll eat them all. So I regift: My whole block has gained weight thanks to me."

On baking Christmas cookies "Baking cookies is my Achilles’ heel. They’re too easy to grab off the tray. I bake cakes instead—you can’t give someone a cake with a slice taken out."

Published December 2006
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