Every cook knows that the same ingredients, used in varying proportions or mixed in a different order, can lead to a host of distinct dishes. After all, isn't a cheese souffle a fancy version of a cheese omelet with just a little bit of flour added?

The same maxim applies to the host of food magazines now on newsstands. The ingredients are virtually the same -- exquisite photos, tantalizing recipes, alluring travel stories, updates on the latest in food and health, and reviews of the newest restaurants and cookbooks. But the results are amazingly varied.

In short, there is a magazine for all tastes, whether it be for the active cook looking for new recipes (Bon Appetit and Food & Wine best fit that bill), the health-conscious diner (Cooking Light comes most quickly to mind), the traveler looking for exotic getaways and food as well (Gourmet, of course) or just the plain armchair gourmet who likes to read about the hows and whys of food (Eating Well).

The latter is a new magazine, a sister publication of the Vermont-based Harrowsmith. Its charter issue helps fill the void left by the sudden cessation of Cook's, whose last issue (July-August) may still be on some newsstands. Although Eating Well does not have as many recipes and cooking tips as Cook's, it does explore the behind-the-scenes world of food, including a detailed look -- and taste test -- of the newest in beef: light and lean brand-name beef.

"Our intention is for this to be a magazine one reads out of fascination and pleasure, not guilt," says Publisher James M. Lawrence in the introduction. In fact, the first story puts any gourmand suspicious of the magazine's title immediately at ease. "I suppose I should feel embarrassed by the fact that I eat half a pound of chocolate a day and poach from my children's Halloween bags. ... But where I come from, candy is more important than money," begins Ann Hodgman about her failed efforts to open a candy business.

Guilt-inducing or not, Eating Well's very existence underscores the changes underway at food magazines. In one way or another, each is striving to provide readers with more tips on preparing and eating healthier foods. Some, like Eating Well and Cooking Light (published by Southern Living) are devoted entirely to that goal; still others, such as Bon Appetit and Food & Wine, have set aside columns to healthful cooking. Even Gourmet seems to be including more recipes with less cream and butter into its traditional devil-may-care mix.

As for recipes, it's clear that American food, once shunned for fancy French and spicy Oriental dishes, is a strong favorite today. The best example of that is Gourmet's August centerfold -- mouth-watering hamburgers, from a Mexican burger topped with guacamole to a Thai-style turkey burger with pickled cucumber. Even those who have forsaken beef will be tempted to fire up the grill after looking at the photo and accompanying recipes.

Meanwhile, August's Bon Appetit features an updated American summertime meal starring basil-buttermilk fried chicken and the July-August Cooking Light has a host of lighter American favorites -- from apple pie to tuna noodle casserole to creamy rice pudding.

The focus on such American staples doesn't mean that consumers have lost their love for the exotic. Oriental food continues to be a favorite, even in August's Vegetarian Times, which highlights Thai food.

Indian cooking is featured in Food & Wine, where renowned chef and cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey speculates on why so few American towns have Indian restaurants. Noting Americans' greater willingness to try Korean and Vietnamese dishes, Jaffrey says she believes they are more reluctant to try her native food because the United States never went to war with India.

"Sometimes I think you people ought to start a very little war with India so that your soldiers would learn how good the food is," she says.

These are the current trends. What lies ahead? For those predictions, cooks should turn to the July-August Food Arts, "the magazine for professionals" that promises to bring its readers "to the heart of the action, to keep {them} close to the cutting edge."

In Food Arts's second annual fall-winter preview, here's what the magazine sees "coming to a boil":

More fried food. "It would seem anything and everything is going into the deep-fryer: herbs, leafy vegetables, preserved lemons and -- the biggest hit everywhere -- root vegetables and potatoes carved into crisps, straws, ovals, crinkles and strings."

Potatoes, horseradish, sesame seeds and nuts taking the place of traditional pastry wrapping to coat fish, poultry, meat and other entrees.

Even more artistic plate presentations, with sauces becoming "dribbles, drips, drops, daubs, smears, swirls and swabs" as chefs turn their tasty handiwork into modern art as well.

Also expect to see more restaurants serving game -- not just venison, but also antelope, rattlesnake and kangaroo.

Food Arts also examines the food of Eastern Europe, asking in "Better Fed Than Red" whether the glories of the culinary past can be restored. To answer that, Food Arts went to a host of well-known Eastern European experts, from restaurateur George Lang to Ivana Trump. Trump's assessment of food from her native country: "Czechoslovakian food had never been very complicated as there were not many sources of meats, vegetables and fruits." But that should change, Trump says, as foreign food is imported into the country.