Dieting is never easy. It has the tendency to make you a little bitchy, gives you a wicked headache, and leaves you hungry and willing to cruise through the Dairy Queen just to smell the waffle cones baking because who knows—maybe you could get some contact calories to help you make it through the day.
With Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, the concept of dieting can also leave you delirious with visions of sugar Plums dancing in your head. Are you a donut diva, like Stephanie? Maybe you’re a trendy dieter like Lula, or even better, a health nut like Ranger? Or (gasp!), maybe you’re a nibbler like Rex. Thanks to the power of fat-free literature, you can live vicariously through your favorite perennial characters.
Stephanie Plum is famous for her donut binges, bucket-filled runs to the Cluck-In-A-Bucket, Tastykake fixation, Pop Tart addiction, and frozen waffle affinity. But since I’ve got the whole Plum library and we don’t have time to write out daily menus of Plum-awesomeness, I grabbed three off the shelf to find some (anti-)diet tips and menu items.
Two for the Dough is a great story in the series (possibly my favorite), because we’ve been introduced to the main characters and Evanovich can get on with the storytelling. Plus, I like how the book jacket notes that Morelli has “a libido in permanent overdrive.” Everybody needs one of those guys … they help to burn off the extra calories.
Menu from Two for the Dough:
• Chocolate-covered doughnuts
• Mashed potatoes
• Apple pie
• Chocolate and blueberry pancakes
• Chocolate pudding
• Burger King
• Pizza Hut
• Spice cake
• Popeye’s spicy fried chicken and biscuits
• Kit Kat
• For Rex: hamster nuggets and a grapecheerios and blueberries; broccoli floret and a walnut
Hard Eight appeals to my good and my bad side. The story itself is a good one because I like the search for Annie Soder and her mother, Evelyn…and, let’s be real, Stephanie and Ranger finally get together. In the Biblical sense. But that’s also why this installation is on my bad side: because Stephanie and Ranger get together. He is, undeniably, sexy and compelling. But I’ve been a Morelli girl from the get-go.
Selections from Hard Eight:
• Fried chicken
• Fish sandwich
• Butterscotch Krimpets Tastycakes
• Coconut Juniors Tastycakes
• Double skinny caramel mochaccino
• For Rex: raisin and a piece of cheese
To the Nines has one of the funniest scenes I have ever read; plus, it lets us talk about Lula’s culinary choices—which in this one revolve around things that once had faces. These Atkins Diet entries didn’t sprout from Mother Nature’s goodness—they were birthed. Before we take a look at the best scene in the history of ever, here’s the nutritional recap:
• Pork rinds
• Frozen waffles
• Chocolate torte
• Caramel mochaccino
• Bucket of chicken
• For Rex: corner of PopTart; corner of bread with strawberry jam; piece of cheese
I had to stop typing so I could get out all the giggles that followed the deep belly laugh that made my eyes water and blur. My son even came in to check on me.
I moseyed over to the door, looked up the street, and spotted Lula at the end of the block. She was walking fast in her Via Spiga heels, holding a white food bag against her chest. Two dogs, a beagle and a golden retriever, trotted close behind Lula. A third dog crossed the street and joined the pack. Every couple steps Lula would turn and yell something at the dogs. When the beagle jumped for the bag when Lula was half a block away, Lula let out a shriek and started running.
“Stop running,” I yelled at her. “You’re making it worse. They think it’s a game.” They were snapping at her heels now and barking.
“Do something,” Lula yelled. “Shoot them!”
“Drop the bag! They want the bacon.”
“No way I’m giving up my bacon.”
Lula was running knees high, arms pumping. She was wearing the Via Spigas and a short black spandex skirt that was hiked up to her waist, showing Hamilton Avenue what a big woman looks like in a red thong.
“Open the door!” Lula shouted. “I can make it. I’m almost there. Just hold the damn door open!”
Lula tossed the dogs a slice of bacon from the bag, the dogs dove after the bacon, and Lula rushed past me into the office. I slammed the door shut and we all stood looking at the dogs milling around outside....
Grease stains were starting to show through the bag. “I love this diet.” Lula said. “I love pork chops. And I love ribs. And I love bacon. I love bacon most of all.”
Lula was eating bacon like it was popcorn, chomping on it out of the bag, rolling her eyes in gastronomic ecstasy.
“How much bacon do you have there?” Connie wanted to know.
“Three pounds minus the one strip I gave up to the dogs.”
“Sounds like a lot of bacon,” Connie said.
Take it from me, if you want to go on a bender over the holidays, live vicariously through Stephanie and Lula, and the culinary wonderland that is the Burg. While Stephanie’s packing in the calories with her doughnut runs, you can enjoy every bite—calorie-free.
Dolly Sickles is a Southerner with a lifelong penchant for storytelling. Her Secret Squirrel identity is Dolly Sickles, but she also writes romance as Becky Moore, and in the spring of 2012, her first children’s book will be published as Dolly Dozier. She’s an avid reader of all literature, but she takes refuge in the romance genre, where despite the most grandiose, exhilarating, strange, and unlikely plot that’s out there, every story has a happy ending.