Calorie counting made easyImagine you're having lunch...


Calorie counting made easy

Imagine you're having lunch with a friend. Maybe you've been shopping, or maybe you've been out looking at sports cars. You've chosen a familiar place, chic and comfortable and friendly. You glance over the menu and place the following order: "Euro" salad with raspberry vinaigrette, grilled swordfish with golden Pommeray (pineapple-mustard sauce), and a phyllo-pastry cup filled with fruit and lemon yogurt.

How many calories did you consume? You don't want to know? Then you weren't dining from the new "Spa Cuisine" menu at Harvey's Restaurant in Greenspring Station, where that particular meal will count for only 391 calories.

A meal of asparagus spears with lemon-herb dressing, steamed spaghetti squash primavera and fresh seasonal berries would total only 268 calories. Or you could splurge, skip the appetizer and dessert and sample Sonoma shrimp and scallops tossed with angel hair pasta and a tomato and basil coulis, at 481 calories.

And here's the really good news. This is not low-calorie, low-flavor, too-lean cuisine; this is Harvey's food, rich-tasting and beautiful.

"For the past couple of years, we've seen everyone's habits change," says restaurateur Harvey Shugarman. "Plus, we have a lot of customers who go to spas, and who come back talking about it. Our customers are really tuned in to eating healthy." The spa menu offers diners a chance to customize their meals; they can order from the regular menu or the spa menu, or a mixture of both.

Chef David Mock, who's been at Harvey's only a few weeks, arrived in time to work on the spa presentations. He invented tasty low-calorie dressing and sauces, and beefed up portions so diners don't feel deprived. The spa menu, he says, allows people to dine out without having to wait for a special occasion. Nor do people have to make troublesome modifications to a regular range of dishes -- dressing on the side, no sauce, baked chicken rather than sauteed. The spa menu has taken care of all that. "They can come in and order everything and it's OK."

The spa menu is the first major menu change for the restaurant, Mr. Shugarman says, though the regular menu is often modified for reasons of season and taste. Customer response to the spa cuisine has been "unbelievable," he says.

Harvey's is at 2360 W. Joppa Road. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. For information or

reservations, call (410) 296-9526.

In a blatant display of partisan politics, the people who make Crisco solid vegetable shortening have declared chocolate chip cookies baked by Hillary Clinton, wife of presidential hopeful Bill Clinton, the winner over cookies baked by Barbara Bush, wife of incumbent George Bush. Did deep policy issues direct this outcome? No, it's clearly a case of special interests. Mrs. Bush's recipe calls for butter. Mrs. Clinton's recipe calls for Crisco. Won't it be nice when this presidential nonsense is over and we can go back to serious issues?

Fun facts for foodies

At last, there's a definitive explanation for the elusive "Lady Baltimore Cake," which out-of-towners expect to find on every cafe menu in Baltimore and to inquiries about which native foodies usually reply "Huh?" It has (we could have told you) nothing to do with Baltimore -- or at least, very, very little.

The intriguing answer comes from Lee Edwards Benning, a Pennsylvania home economist and cookbook writer, in her latest book "The Cook's Tales." It includes recipes, but the "meat" of the book is historical explanations for all sorts of "famous foods and recipes," ranging from the origin of gingerbread to the connection between food and opera (Luisa Tetrazzini inspired a number of dishes). The Baltimore cake reference comes from a turn-of-the-century book by novelist Owen Wiser, in which a Baltimore-style "lady cake" -- one step down the culinary hierarchy from "queen cakes," two steps down from "king cakes" -- unites a noble but penniless Charleston heroine and the novel's narrator. "Baltimore-style" had something to do with a walnut, candy-like filling, attributed to the city's alleged reputation in candy-making. (See listing for fudge.)

Among the entries is the story of tollhouse cookies, which, when invented by accident in the 1930s by restaurateur Ruth Wakefield, were called chocolate crunch cookies. Here's the recipe; Ms. Benning notes that it follows the "transitional style" of the period, with ingredients and directions merged.

Chocolate crunch cookies

Makes 100 cookies.


1 cup butter, add

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar and

2 eggs beaten whole. Dissolve

1 teaspoon soda in

1 teaspoon hot water and mix alternately with

2 1/4 cups flour sifted with

1 teaspoon salt. Last add

1 cup chopped nuts and

1 pound Nestle's yellow-label chocolate, semisweet, which has been cut in pieces the size of a pea.

Flavor with

1 teaspoon vanilla and drop half-teaspoons on a greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes in a 375-degree oven.

Or you can track down the Nestle version of the recipe from 1979, which is simpler.

Never mind that some of us consider Big Macs fast food for the gods. McDonalds Corp., which has been charged with not always having the best nutritional interests of children at heart, has now teamed up with CBS television and the Society for Nutrition Education to produce a series of 12 public-service announcements to teach kids about nutrition.

The 55-second spots, to be aired during kid "prime time," Saturday morning, are expected to reach nearly 3 million children from ages 2 to 11 weekly.

The spots feature a cartoon "purple kid" named Willie B. Munchright, and will offer such topics as everyday/sometime foods; trying new foods; fat; snacks; breakfast; and protein foods. The spots will use a question-and-answer format with rhymes to help the nutritional message stick. Example: "Is it OK to eat cake every day?" Explanation: It's OK to eat cake, chips, candy and sweet things sometimes, but not every day. Foods like corn, rice, lean meat, bananas and low-fat milk are everyday foods. The message: "Zap your hunger and thirst with everyday foods first."

The spots began airing a week ago Saturday. Whether the oddly hued Willie will be as influential as those popular, pizza-chomping, green guys with the masks remains to be seen.

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