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August 29, 1996|CHARLES PERRY

A Lighter Heavyweight

By and large, women don't seem to have much problem with the idea of dieting. Maybe that's why a lot of men seem to think going on a diet isn't quite a guy thing. But there's no doubt that George Foreman, the onetime world champion heavyweight boxer who came out of retirement at 37 to become world champion again, is a guy's guy, and he dieted so he could do it.

When he decided to go back to boxing, Foreman weighed more than 315 pounds. He says he lost the 85 pounds to get back to ring weight by replacing beef in his diet with pasta and other complex carbohydrates. Naturally, this inspiring story has led to a cookbook--"George Foreman's Knock-Out-the-Fat Barbecue and Grilling Cookbook," by George Foreman and Cherie Calbom (Villard, $13.95).

Two things make this diet book a little different. One is Foreman's exuberant, big-eater, regular-guy personality. When his nutritionist co-author was developing the recipes, he told her, "George wants taste! George wants juicy!"

The other is the fact that every recipe can be prepared on an outdoor grill or an electric grilling machine, a sort of top-and-bottom griddle that looks a bit like a waffle iron. (Foreman has his name on a grilling machine made by Salton/Maxim, and there's an ad for it in the back of the book, but while he touts its healthfulness and convenience, he candidly acknowledges that it has trouble with bones and won't give a smoke flavor.)

Anyway, the recipes decidedly are on the hearty end of the health-food spectrum. There's a Philadelphia cheese steak (amazingly, it gets the AMA heart-healthy symbol), but only one tofu recipe, and that one's loaded up with soy sauce, liquid smoke and garlic.

Only a tiny fraction are totally vegetarian, but Foreman is actually no stranger to vegetarianism. When he was growing up, his family could rarely afford meat. As he points out, it didn't keep him from turning out big and strong.

Wine Fire Sale

Between July 31 and Aug. 4, fire burned an area of 2,100 acres in Sonoma and Napa counties. Unfortunately for Carmenet Vineyard, it owned some of that land. Carmenet lost 170 tons of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes in the blaze.

So a group of Carmenet's neighbors, including Ravenswood, Benziger, Kunde Estate and Louis Martini, have offered to sell it some of their grapes so that Carmenet can bottle 1996 vintages. "It's really heartwarming," said Carmenet Managing Director Mike Richmond, who is considering naming the vineyards that are helping him on the back label of the fire season wine.

Footing the bill: Pacific Gas & Electric Co. The fire was sparked by a tree touching one of the utility's power poles.

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