Take some inspiration from the beautifully arranged, low-calorie, high-energy dishes. : Spartan Spa Dining

Times Staff Writer

Gone are the days when only European royalty flocked to the health spas to purge body and soul of the excesses of too much living. Gone is the stigma of spas spare, Spartan fare--the miserable muesli and mineral water diets and those awful protein fasts.

Spa dining is today’s sophisticated dieter’s dream--a way of eating lightly with great eye appeal and without the slightest sense of deprivation.

Now that spa dining has come out of the spas and into the kitchen, anyone can start a program of light eating for trim and fit looks over the summer.

We followed chefs of four local spas into the kitchen to learn what they do to cut calories, fats, cholesterol, sugar and salt, while presenting picture-perfect plates for maximum eye appeal.


All differed in their approach to cooking methods and styles, but the bottom line was cutting total calories, particularly fats, which contribute the highest number of calories per gram compared to any other food element.

Some spa chefs stressed portion control, a method by which you can eat just about anything you enjoy but in restricted amounts. Others stressed the idea of cutting fat as a major tool for reducing total calories dramatically.

Fat, after all, contains more than double the calories per gram than carbohydrate foods. Alcohol calories, too, are higher than the calories from carbohydrates. Fat contains 9 calories per gram and alcohol contains 7, but carbohydrates contain only 4 calories per gram. Most spa chefs concentrate on the low-carbohydrate calories by using complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes) not only as bulk for increased fiber (nature’s great cleanser) but increasing portion size without the excess calories.

Chef Christian Chavanne of the Golden Door Inc. in Escondido, Calif., calls his spa cooking “the restorative cuisine” in keeping the basic tenets of health-conscious dining: “We pretend that fat, sugar, white flour, salt, butter and cream do not exist. We pretend we are on an island and cannot get these products. Instead there are hundreds of other things that nature provides us with,” Chavanne said. He also draws upon his native Provencale cuisine and his love for ethnic cuisines, whose products fascinate him enough to cause frequent trips to markets. His marriage to a Japanese woman, he thinks, has also influenced his spare, aesthetic approach to spa cooking.

To master chef Michel Stroot, of Cal-A-Vie in Vista, Calif., spa cooking is dictated by three important elements: colorful presentation, taste and texture. “My father was an artist and wallpaper designer, and he taught me about contrasts. I make sure color combinations are right on the plate. How a dish looks and excites the appetite is second in importance. People tend to overlook texture. You must have something crunchy to complement the softer foods on the plate.”

Beautiful presentation characterizes Stroot’s cuisine. Stroot, a Belgian, also draws heavily on ethnic cuisines--Thai and other Oriental cuisines fascinate him most. He will travel to Hong Kong this year to learn more about Chinese cooking.

At La Costa, Carlsbad, Calif., dietitians use a more scientific approach to cooking. “The basic philosophy we want people to recognize is that instead of counting calories, count fat. If you eliminate fat altogether from cooking, you won’t need to concentrate on counting calories,” said Kathy Hall, a registered dietitian at La Costa. The recommendation by the spa dietitians is that 70% of the total calories come from complex carbohydrates, 20% from protein and the remaining 10% in fat naturally inherent in foods, not added.

Most spa experts expressed a necessity for exercise in conjunction with lowered calorie diets. “Diet and exercise go hand in hand,” said Chavanne, who fought his own weight back to normal with diet and exercise. A daily regimen of 20 to 40 minutes of walking, bicycling, aerobic exercises, jogging or swimming are effective aerobic forms of exercise.

Here’s a rundown of methods used by the spa chefs to reduce calories, fats, sugar and salt, and some of their recipes to show you how it’s done.

Whole-Wheat Flour

Chavanne uses whole-wheat flour, sometimes oat and rice flours mixed with unbleached flour for baking. No enriched white flour is used.

For fiber, Chavanne concentrates on using more vegetables, rice and some grains. “I don’t use too many of the unfamiliar legumes, such as lentils and unusual beans, because you don’t want to shock people who are not accustomed to these foods.”

To cut fat calories and cholesterol, he uses no red meat. Fowl, boneless, skinless chicken and fish are used. If eggs are called for, he cuts down on egg yolk, by using two egg whites to one egg yolk. He uses low-fat cheeses such as hoop, skimmed ricotta, 2% cottage cheese and tofu cheese (which has 30% fewer calories than most cheeses).

He uses minute amounts of virgin olive oil and dark sesame seed oil only for flavoring, not for adding fat to foods. He uses a nonstick skillet for sauteing and water as a major source of a dressing.

For instance, for an Italian dressing, he uses 60% water, a minute amount of oil for flavoring, plus 2 tablespoons gum tragacanth, a natural emulsifier extracted from a plant from the pea family to replace the egg and oil used in dressings for thickening. He adds herbs from the spa’s garden as a chief seasoning. The result: a wonderfully creamy, fragrant Italian or French dressing. For a low-calorie blue-cheese dressing, he uses nonfat milk and a small amount of blue cheese and black pepper, with the emulsifier.

Cut Down on Sodium

As for cutting down on sodium, Chavanne believes that sodium present naturally in foods is more easily metabolized in the body than what is added to foods in the form of salt. He uses celery juice to compensate for the missing salt in rice dishes and vegetable stocks. Sometimes a small amount of soy sauce is added to foods for pungency. Otherwise, herbs of many varieties, which grow profusely in two plots at the Golden Door, are a constant supply of seasoning for all dishes. Everything from marjoram to bergamot, kiwi, oranges and avocados is grown on the plots, as are a variety of greens, ranging from mache (lamb’s lettuce) and miner’s lettuce to watercress, which is grown along the brooks running through the property.

Sweets are not out at the Golden Door. They are simply restricted to the type of sweetening used. Chavanne uses no white or brown sugar. Instead, concentrated fruit juices, such as apple juice, orange and lemon juice concentrate, are used alone or with minute amounts of fructose, a natural sugar found in fruit. Honey, too, is combined with fructose for proper sweetening. Chavanne uses a small amount of fructose in yogurt sauce, for instance. “I don’t feel guilty using only two tablespoons fructose in 40 servings of sauce,” he said.

At Cal-A-Vie, Stroot provides a painless 900 to 1,000 calories per day to guests undergoing the program. Complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes) constitute the bulk of the total calories per day. He uses grains such as brown rice, lentils and beans but curbs calories by serving smaller portions, or by mixing the higher-calorie grains with lower-calorie rice or pasta, as in lasagna, crepes and stuffed vegetable dishes.

Stroot uses oil and fats only in minute amounts. “You don’t need much fat to stir-fry. You would use just enough fat to barely coat the bottom of the pan. The remaining liquid comes from broth and natural moisture from the vegetables,” he said.

Vegetable Purees

Instead of heavy sauces, Stroot uses roasted pepper, asparagus, Swiss chard, celery and other vegetable purees to increase volume without the use of flour or eggs, thus decreasing the calorie content as well.

Use of salt is minimal in favor of herbs.

The sweets served are made with minimum amounts of fat, sugar and salt. Instead of covering an apple tart with sugary topping, Stroot serves purees of fruit sweetened with a dab of honey or sugar, if necessary. Sherbets are sweetened with fruit concentrates, never sugar or even fructose, which contains double the sweetness of sugar, so that half the amount (and calories) need be used.

La Costa chefs, who receive their guidance from dietitians, adhere strictly to 800- to 1,200-calories-per-day guidelines. The chefs do not cook with oil at all. No margarine or mayonnaise is used. Instead, nonfat plain yogurt and whipped 2%-fat cottage cheese mixed with skim milk is substituted.

All products are sodium free, including the bread and cottage cheese. Spices and seasonings are used instead.

Cooking classes once a week teach guests how to apply dietary modifications to their own recipes at home. They are encouraged to add exercise to their daily regimen and utilize calories more effectively by spreading their intake of food throughout the day, instead of at one sitting. “Research shows that the body metabolizes calories better when food is eaten in smaller increments with three meals and snacks throughout the day,” said dietitian Hall.

At the Oaks, in Ojai, food consultant Eleanor Brown has devised meals that are not only enjoyable but can be easily adapted once the guest is at home.

Chefs “de-calorize” foods by removing as much of the fat as possible. No refined sugar and no salt are used. Sweeteners such as concentrated fruit juices, honey or molasses are substituted. Fruit and fruit sauces are used in lieu of sugary desserts.

Most calories in salads come from the dressing, claims Brown. Therefore, pureed, seasoned avocado is sometimes used as a dressing. To “de-calorize” a salad further, Brown would, for instance, use low-fat meats, such as crab instead of ham, bacon bits instead of bacon, fewer hard-cooked eggs and low-fat mozzarella instead of regular Cheddar.

Substitutes for Meats

Seafood, white meat of skinless poultry and ground turkey meat, which works well in meat loaves and tostadas, are used in lieu of higher fat meats.

Baked products are made with whole grains, vegetables and fruit. Guests are served breads made with wheat flour, oat bran and wheat bran. Vegetarian dishes may contain lentils, barley, brown rice and a variety of beans and split peas.

No salt shaker is used on the premises. Foods are flavored by the addition of dry and fresh herbs from the Oaks herb garden, as well as wine, which imparts flavor. Alcohol content (and calories) are cooked away.

“In general we teach guests to go home and cook the same way as they ate at the Oaks. We tell them to leave the salt out of the cooking and double the amount of spices. We do ethnic recipes from the Orient, Mexico, India and Thailand; these have inherent flavor so you don’t miss the salt.”

At the Oaks, the diet consists of 750 calories a day, with complex carbohydrates added to suit individual appetites. The program includes mountain hiking for the superfit, a 3-mile brisk walk, or a 1-mile nature walk. Here’s a sample program for the day incorporating diet and exercise:

6 a.m.-- A pre-breakfast walk, hike or stroll.

7 a.m.-- Breakfast: whole grain muffin (made with fruit or vegetables), fresh fruit and vitamins.

Optional Breakfasts

Optional for breakfast: Oatmeal with skim milk, shredded wheat biscuits with banana, hard-cooked egg, 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 1/2 cup nonfat yogurt or 5 prunes.

8 a.m.--Stretch, weight training, aerobics or fitness classes.

10 a.m.-- Mid-morning broth break (high-potassium vegetable broth).

11 a.m.-- Pool exercises or creative aerobics.

Noon-- Lunch (indoors or outdoors): soup (vegetable, turkey, split pea, fruit, turkey, chicken-rice, borscht or other); salad (Nicoise, shrimp-stuffed papaya, crab-stuffed artichoke, crustless quiche made with vegetables, small amount of egg and low fat cheese).

1 to 4 p.m.-- More exercise and other classes.

4 p.m.-- Vegetable break followed by yoga.

5:30.-- Happy hour cocktail (grapefruit juice blended with fresh fruit over ice).

Dinner: White meat of poultry without skin, fish or vegetarian entree scheduled twice a week each, plus ground turkey entree once a week; dessert of fresh fruit, trifle made with fruit, flan made with skim milk and sweetened with vanilla and honey, fresh fruit gels, crepes filled with fruit and topped with low-calorie sour cream. Dessert is served with flavored decaffeinated coffee.

Here are some of the recipes from the spas’ chefs.



1 tablespoon safflower oil

1 shallot, minced

1 small Anaheim chile, minced

1 cup short grain brown rice

1/2 cup lentils, rinsed

1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 whole cloves

1 star anise

2 teaspoons curry powder or turmeric

Dash chili flakes

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons raisins or currants

4 cups unsalted chicken broth

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 1/2 to 2 cups diced vegetables (carrot, celery, sweet red pepper and turnip)

1/4 cup minced chives

Blanched, julienne cut lime peel

1/4 cup toasted grated coconut

8 cilantro sprigs

Heat safflower oil in heavy skillet. Add shallot and chile. Stir and add brown rice and lentils. Mix in fennel, cumin, coriander, cloves, star anise, curry powder, chili flakes and bay leaf. Stir to mix well.

Add raisins, chicken broth and soy sauce. Cover and simmer about 1 hour, or until rice is tender, adding broth as needed to keep moist. Then turn off heat and let stand 10 minutes. Heat sesame oil in skillet and stir-fry vegetables quickly. Add to rice and lentils with chives and mix well. Serve garnished with lime, sprinkling of coconut and cilantro sprig.

Makes 8 (1/2-cup) servings. Yields 200 calories per serving.



Peel of 1 orange, blanched and cut into slivers

2 tablespoons orange liqueur

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup white wine

1/4 cup sweet Madeira

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1 individual package artificial sweetener, optional

2 peaches, blanched, peeled and sliced

5 oranges, cut into segments

3 to 4 kiwi, peeled and sliced

1 pint fresh raspberries

10 medium strawberries


3 to 4 tablespoons ground blanched almonds

Soak orange peel in 1 tablespoon orange liqueur. Place egg yolks, white wine, Madeira, remaining 1 tablespoon orange liqueur and lemon peel in top of double boiler. Whisk over low heat until custard is consistency of sabayon or is thick enough to coat spoon. Remove from heat and continue whisking. Add sweetener.

Using 10 dessert plates, spread custard thinly on each plate. Arrange peaches, oranges, kiwi, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries over custard to form mosaic pattern. Sprinkle with ground almonds and broil 4 inches from source of heat until golden brown. Top with orange peel slivers.

Makes 10 servings.


(La Costa Spa)

1 cup dry kidney beans

1 onion, diced

1 large carrot, diced

1 large stalk celery, diced

1/2 green pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup tomato puree

2 large tomatoes, peeled and seeded

1 teaspoon ground cumin or to taste

1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder or to taste

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 pound tofu, cut into cubes

Place beans in saucepan and cover with water. Bring to boil. Boil 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain beans and place in large heavy saucepan. Add 4 cups water and cook beans until almost done.

Saute onion, carrot, celery and green pepper in non-stick skillet. Add garlic and saute few seconds. Add tomato puree, tomatoes, cumin, chili powder, black pepper and sauteed vegetable mixture to beans. Simmer 40 minutes, adding water as needed to keep moist. Add tofu as desired and heat through to serve.

Makes 5 (3/4-cup) servings. Recipe yields 150 calories and .5 grams fat per serving.


(La Costa Spa)

1 cup fresh boysenberries

1/2 tablespoon apple juice concentrate

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

3/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt

Mint leaves

Low-calorie whipped topping

Reserve 4 whole boysenberries for garnish. Crush together remaining berries, apple juice concentrate and almond extract. Fold yogurt into berry mixture and mix well.

Spoon berry yogurt into 4 tall (5-ounce) parfait glasses and garnish each with whole berry, mint leaf and dollop of low-calorie whipped topping.

Makes 4 servings. Recipe yields 50 calories per serving.



2 cups strawberries, trimmed and sliced

2 cups cranberry nectar

1 banana

1 cup crushed ice

Mineral water

Strawberries, sliced

Mint leaves

Edible flowers

Combine strawberries, cranberry nectar, banana and ice in blender container and blend until smooth. Pour into 4 tall (12-ounce) cocktail glasses. Add splash of mineral water and garnish with strawberries, mint leaves and flowers.

Makes 4 (12-ounce) servings. Recipe yields 122 calories, .5 grams fat per serving.



Virgin olive oil

1/2 pound fusilli or rotini pasta

6 ounces pink salmon fillet, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice

1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup sliced mushrooms

2 cups Italian plum tomatoes, peeled and diced

1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar

Ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped black olives

2 tablespoons capers

1/2 cup minced Italian parsley

2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

1 1/2 cups fresh peeled and diagonally sliced asparagus

1 sweet red or green pepper, sliced into 1-inch strips

2 baby carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally

6 green onions, peeled and sliced diagonally

1 cup frozen lima beans or peas

Lettuce leaves

Fresh parsley, sliced tomatoes and lemon wedges

Bring large pot of water to boil. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook pasta until tender but firm (al dente), then drain. Transfer to large bowl.

Place salmon slices in fan shape in large saucepan. Add lemon juice and white wine. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 3 to 4 minutes or until fish flakes when touched with fork. Do not overcook or fish will be dry.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in nonstick skillet. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are tender. Add tomatoes and bring to boil. Add vinegar, black pepper, olives and capers. Toss with cooked pasta. Add minced Italian parsley, basil and grated cheese, adding more olive oil, if calories are of no concern.

Cook asparagus, red pepper, carrots, onions and beans in boiling water to cover until blanched or until color heightens. Drain immediately. Cool several minutes.

Arrange 8 salad plates with lettuce and spread blanched vegetables in center. Top with prepared pasta and poached salmon slices. Garnish with parsley, sliced tomato and lemon wedges.

Makes 6 servings.


(Golden Door)

1 head leaf lettuce or chicory

1/2 pound bean thread noodles, cooked and chilled

1 Japanese cucumber, julienned

1 sweet red pepper, sliced into 1/8-inch strips

1 yellow pepper, sliced into 1/8-inch strips

1 cup Chinese pea pods, cut julienne and blanched

2 medium carrots, cut julienne and blanched

4 green onions, minced

1 cup Daikon sprouts

4 ounces shrimp, cooked, peeled and deveined

1 medium lobster tail, cooked, shelled and sliced into medallions

Tofu Dressing

Toasted sesame seeds and black sesame seeds (kuru goma)

2 limes, cut into wedges

Line 4 large dinner plates with lettuce leaves. Mix noodles and cucumber and mound 1/4 in center of each plate. Surround outer edges of plates with ring of red and yellow peppers. Form concentric circles with pea pods, carrots, green onions and sprouts.

Arrange 1/4 butterflied shrimp in center of each plate over cucumber-noodle mixture. Overlap slices of lobster. Drizzle 1/4 of Tofu Dressing over each salad. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and black sesame seeds. Garnish with lime wedges.

Makes 4 servings. Recipe yields 275 calories per serving.

Tofu Dressing

4 ounces soft curd tofu

1/4 cup rice vinegar

Juice of 1 lime

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon grated ginger root

1 teaspoon sesame oil (preferably dark)

1 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh basil

1 teaspoon fresh mint leaves

1 teaspoon coarsely chopped cilantro

1/2 tablespoon minced jalapeno chile

1 teaspoon sweet sake (Mirin)

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

Combine tofu, vinegar, lime juice, garlic, ginger, oil, basil, mint, cilantro, chile, sake and soy sauce. Mix well in blender until smooth.

Makes about 1 1/4 cups.


(Golden Door)

1 medium onion, cut in half

3 1/2 to 4 pounds chicken, rinsed, quartered and skinned

2 whole cloves

5 peppercorns

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon grated ginger root

3 quarts cold water

1 tablespoon miso (light or dark)

1/2 cup dry Sherry

4 egg whites

16 buckwheat sprouts

4 white stalk blossoms

Brown cut side of onion over direct flame. Add to pan with chicken, cloves, peppercorns, carrots, celery, garlic, ginger, water, miso and Sherry. Bring to simmer and simmer over medium-low heat 2 hours. Strain broth, cool, then skim off fat.

Beat egg whites and stir into broth. Slowly bring to boil, while whisking, until froth starts to form. Reduce heat and stop whisking. Simmer, uncovered, without stirring, 15 minutes. Pass through cheese cloth or coffee filter. Ladle hot consomme into warm bowls. Garnish each bowl with 4 buckwheat sprouts and 1 stalk blossom.

Makes 4 servings. Recipe yields 65 calories per 1 cup serving.


(Golden Door)

1/4 medium honeydew melon, peeled, seeded and cut crosswise to form base

3 whole plums, sliced

1 cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cut crosswise to form second layer

1/3 pineapple, cored, peeled and cut crosswise for third layer

8 strawberries, sliced lengthwise

12 grapes, cut into 1/4 lengthwise

Fruit ice (strawberry or peach)

1/2 kiwi, peeled

1 raspberry

1 mint leaf

Place honeydew ring in center of medium platter. Fan plum slices evenly around ring. Place cantaloupe ring over honeydew ring, then pineapple ring over cantaloupe. Place strawberry slices around base of honeydew.

Place grape quarters on cantaloupe and strawberries on pineapple. Fill hollow center with fruit ice. Place kiwi on top and raspberry over kiwi. Garnish with mint leaf.

Makes 4 servings. Recipe yields 143 calories per serving.

Note: Fresh strawberries are frozen overnight, then processed through juicer to form smooth ice.


(The Oaks at Ojai)

12 cups shredded lettuce

12 whole dark green lettuce leaves

3 hard-cooked eggs, grated

1/4 cup imitation bacon bits

1 1/2 cups shredded crab meat

3/4 cup minced green onions

4 ounces low-fat mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 ounce blue cheese, crumbled

2 tomatoes, chopped

Cobb Salad Dressing

Arrange shredded lettuce in mound on whole leaves on individual plates. Top with strips of hard-cooked egg, imitation bacon, crab meat, onion, mozzarella cheese mixed with blue cheese and tomatoes. Serve with 1-ounce Cobb Salad Dressing.

Makes 6 servings. Recipe yields 200 calories and 5 grams fat per serving.

Cobb Salad Dressing

1/4 cup diced avocado

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/3 cups unsalted tomato juice

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, pressed

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

Combine avocado, cheese, tomato juice, vinegar, garlic, oregano and basil in blender container and process until smooth. Chill at least 1 hour.

Makes 9 servings. Recipe yields 20 calories and 1 gram fat per serving.


(The Oaks at Ojai)

2 to 3 cups assorted salad greens

1/2 cup 1% low-fat cottage cheese

3 ounces water-packed tuna, drained and sliced, or 2 ounces white meat chicken or turkey, sliced

1 cup mixed vegetables (mushrooms, broccoli, tomato, zucchini, cauliflower, beets, alfalfa sprouts, parsley, carrot curls in any combination)

1 ounce Cobb Salad Dressing

Cover each plate with greens. Place scoop of cottage cheese in center. Arrange tuna with mixed vegetables around salad. Serve with Cobb Salad Dressing as printed in previous Cobb Salad recipe.

Makes 1 serving. Recipe yields 230 calories and 4 grams fat per serving.


(The Oaks at Ojai)

1 cup cabbage, coarsely chopped

1/2 large or 1 small apple, chopped

1 or 2 grated carrots

1 orange, peeled, leaving white membrane intact

2 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds

1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts

Arrange cabbage, apple and carrots on platter. Cut up orange, holding over salad so juice is retained. Sprinkle sunflower seeds over carrot and orange. Arrange alfalfa sprouts around edge of salad.

Makes 1 serving. Recipe yields 240 calories and 5 grams fat per serving.


(La Costa Spa)

1 pint lowfat cottage cheese

2 tablespoons nonfat milk

Blend lowfat cottage cheese and nonfat milk in blender on high speed 3 to 5 minutes until smooth.

Makes 2 cups. Recipe yields 15 calories per tablespoon.

Note: Use on toast, bagels, English muffins in lieu of cream cheese.


(La Costa Spa)

2 cups rolled oats

1/3 cup steel cut oats

1/3 cup rye flakes

1/2 cup apple juice

1 cup dry cereal (preferably Uncle Sam brand)

1/3 cup millet

1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup apple juice concentrate

2 tablespoons raisins

1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut, toasted

1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped

1 vanilla bean

Place oats and rye flakes in bowl. Add apple juice and mix with fork. Add dry cereal, millet, powdered milk, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and apple juice concentrate. Mix gently with fork and place on nonstick baking sheet or sheet sprayed with vegetable spray to prevent sticking.

Bake at 325 degrees 30 minutes or until granola is golden brown. Cool and add raisins, toasted coconut and apricots. Store in tightly sealed jar with vanilla bean.

Makes 4 (1/4-cup) servings. Recipe yields 100 calories per serving.


(La Costa Spa)

6 egg whites

2 cups nonfat milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Blend egg whites with small amount of milk, just enough to mix. Do not overbeat. Add remaining milk and vanilla. Fill warm custard cups and place in pan of hot water. Bake at 350 degrees 45 minutes or until set. Refrigerate at once.

Makes 6 servings. Recipe yields 40 calories per serving.

Note: Add any of following flavors to custard, if desired: cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, vanilla and mace, coconut extract.

For garnish, decorate top with dash shredded coconut or slivered almonds.

For pumpkin flavor, substitute 1/2 cup pumpkin for 1 cup nonfatmilk and add cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to taste.


(La Costa Spa)

1 egg

1 cup lowfat cottage cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder

Artificial sweetener to equal 2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 cup fresh berries or 2 tablespoons diet jam

Combine egg, cheese, vanilla, lemon juice, dry milk and sweetener in blender container and blend until creamy. Pour cheesecake mixture into 6 (3-ounce) ramekins and place in pan filled halfway with water. Bake at 300 degrees 30 minutes or until set. Cool slowly. Chill before serving. Garnish with berries or jam.

Makes 6 servings. Recipe yields 40 calories per serving.


(La Costa Spa)

1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt

1 cup medium or soft tofu, drained

1/4 cup nonfat milk

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 ounce blue cheese

Minced garlic


Combine yogurt, tofu, milk, vinegar, blue chese and garlic and pepper to taste in blender container. Blend until smooth. Place in covered container and store in refrigerator until ready to serve or up to 1 week.

Makes about 2 cups.