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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Eat, drink and give back - Girls' Night Out with a Cause!

Clients come to The Svelte Gourmet for different reasons -- some are trying to lose weight; some love to cook, but want to make their food healthier; some just want a night out with friends; and others know that if they come to The Svelte Gourmet, they won't have to do the dishes! Whatever the reason, we always have a great time, make a lot of fantastic food, and keep the calories to a minimum.

This particular group of ladies has a monthly girls' night out, with one major difference -- each month, they pick a charity to support. What a fantastic idea! I was honored to host their group and inspired to find my own ways to give back. I'm sharing this with you in the hopes that their girls' night out theme inspires you, too!

They had a great time, learned a lot, and we prepared a 5-part meal with fewer calories than 2 slices of pan pizza or most restaurants' dinner salads (more on this later)! But don't take my word for it...here's what they have to say:

Serving Up Taste, Not Calories
by Tess Hughes, GNO with a Cause
Charleston, South Carolina

The GNO with a Cause group headed out to the quaint town of Meggett, South Carolina to attend a fully-personalized, Thai-themed cooking lesson at the home of Jenny Fox, creator of The Svelte Gourmet. She welcomed us into her beautiful home to get a personalized, hands-on lesson on cooking a four course meal with less than 800 calories.

The room was filled with nostalgic music and the smell of fresh ingredients as we entered the home of The Svelte Gourmet herself. The kitchen was organized by course with recipes and ingredients at each station, which kept the preparation time down to a minimum. As a team we whipped up each course and sat to enjoy it before moving onto the next item on the menu. In between course preparation, Jenny answered any questions and offered up helpful hints. In addition to learning some fabulous low-calorie recipes, we took home a wealth of information on nutrition, no-calorie fillers and cooking tips and tricks. Jenny even had recipe cards of the entire meal for us to take home. The lesson's content was invaluable!

At the end of the meal, we were full, satisfied and talking about scheduling our next lesson before we could make it out of the front door. Although we
had just met Jenny for the first time that evening, we felt at home and welcomed. Thanks to Jenny for her charitable contribution to our February GNO with a Cause that benefited the Grace Home. To learn more about Grace Home, please visit

Here's the menu that Jenny prepared for us:
Ginger Sesame Salad Dressing over a bed of spinach, tomatoes and cucumbers
Far East Tomato Soup
Bok Choy with Sesame Drizzle
Shrimp Pad Thai
Petit Creme Brulee

For more information on The Svelte Gourmet, please visit

Thank you, Tess, for the great review! Now, a couple things. First, for the sake of learning, we cook a lot of courses as part of The Svelte Gourmet lessons and dinner parties. I certainly don't cook 5-part dinners every night, and I'm guessing you don't either! But take the dinner we cooked and split it up a little, and you have components that very easily fit into a reduced calorie diet. For example, the soup for lunch with a slice of whole grain bread; entree, side and salad for dinner; and dessert for a snack. Voila! But still, even with all its components, this entire dinner had fewer calories that 2 slices of pan pizza.

Which brings me to another point...a lot of people tell me they're trying to eat better, but wonder why they're not losing any weight. I know it can be depressing, but it's very important to know how much you're actually eating (even if you eat it anyway). You will be shocked by how many calories you're actually taking in. Yes, I'm a bit (a lot) nerdy with my calorie spreadsheets and Internet nutrition searches, but it really helps me to know what I'm putting in (and therefore, why the scale isn't budging!). I don't always practice what I preach, but in any lifestyle change, you're entitled to splurge once in a while. Anyway, if you have any questions about the calories in the foods you eat, let me know -- I'll research it for you!

Again, I'm honored that the ladies chose The Svelte Gourmet for their February location, and their review provides a great snapshot of what we do for clients in The Svelte Gourmet kitchen. It's inspired me to keep giving back, and I would love to do this same sort of GNO in my free time. What fun! And for great causes, too! In keeping with this model, I'll be donating a portion of cookbook sales to the Haiti relief efforts and Louie's Kids (fighting childhood obesity). The Svelte Gourmet: A Month of Main Courses is available at www.thesveltegourmet.com/products.html.


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