Supper Clubs Offer Convenience, Community (cont.)

"I'm pro anything that gets people cooking again," says Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, and WebMD Weight Loss Clinic's "Recipe Doctor." But, she says, "I'm neurotic about not keeping perishable food out at room temperature. Anything with animal protein or animal fat is at risk, including fish/shellfish."

The basic rules for any meal-based gathering: Keep hot food hot, cold food cold, and everything should be put away after two hours.

Cooking for a Cause

Once a supper club settles into a core group, most people find they've developed a network of dependable friends.

"Our club built a community," says Ginger Stinnett LaRose, an entertainment specialist in Atlanta. "We began helping each other with house projects and errands."

Others find new passions to share, such as training for a marathon or taking yoga together. Some clubs kick the community aspect up a notch by undertaking neighborhood service projects.

"We cooked a dinner for our Ronald McDonald House," says Nancy Smith, and "raised over $400 from family, friends, co-workers and employers, and served 90-plus residents [of the House] a taco and fajita bar, salads, and an ice cream sundae bar." Nancy's club even had some of the $400 left over to donate to the Ronald McDonald House.

For those hungry to hitch their club to a cause, home appliance giant KitchenAid, along with Gourmet magazine, sponsors Cook for the Cure. By encouraging fund-raising dinner parties -- and supplying a kit to help plan them -- the program offers those "with culinary passion ... an opportunity to support the fight against breast cancer," Brian Maynard, director of integrated Marketing for KitchenAid, says in a news release. Through such outreach, KitchenAid has raised more than $1,000,000 for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

As the fast-food jingle says, you gotta eat. In a hectic world where we can end up stalled in a food rut or find ourselves alone in our efforts to eat right, a supper club can offer a respite at least once a month. On that night, we can stop our frantic buzzing, slow down, and savor healthy foods seasoned with care, creativity, and community.

Originally published Friday, April 23, 2004.
Medically updated June 22, 2005.

SOURCES: News release, KitchenAid. Maelynn Cheung, managing editor, Cooking Light. Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, WebMD Weight Loss Clinic dietitian. Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, director of nutrition, WebMD Weight Loss Clinic. Suzanne and John Lilbell, Phoenix. Nancy Smith, Indianapolis. Ginger Stinnett LaRose, Atlanta.

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