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Chef Danny Boome Takes Your Comfort Food Menu to "Recipe Rehab"

Host Danny Boome eats well to fuel his active lifestyle--he recently started CrossFit! (Photo by Vanessa Stump)

Take one easy-on-the-eyes English chef, mix in a selection of all of our favorite comfort food meals, add two all-star cooks with an eye towards health and stir.

That’s the formula for Recipe Rehab, a new TV show airing on ABC stations. Each episode of the show, hosted by Danny Boome (left), features one dish that traditionally is a calorie bomb (spaghetti with meatballs or macaroni and cheese, for example). Two accomplished gourmets duke it out in the kitchen to see who can create the most flavorful—and healthful—makeover.

We caught up with Boome to find out what makes this program stand out among all of the cooking shows on air and to learn how we can lighten up any of our favorite meals.

What do you think most home cooks do wrong in terms of the health factor of their meals?

Why do we always have to buy full-fat or full-sodium products? Swap in reduced-sodium and low-fat and use your spice rack frequently. It also helps if you buy seasonally. Butternut squash tastes so much better—and is way more affordable—now rather than during summer.

Great advice! There are a lot of food shows on TV. What convinced you to sign on to the Recipe Rehab team?

It's much fresher than the "stand and stir" shows. The competition adds energy, but it's still educational. We're not lecturing. You don't have to cut everything out, but we show viewers how to make good choices

Keep reading for Boome's greatest lessons learned on set, plus a winning "unfried" chicken recipe from the show.

Have you learned any secrets for keeping your meals flavorful yet light?

The great news is that healthy food doesn't have to taste like cardboard. If you do it right, a lower calorie recipe can actually have more flavor. Most of the chefs on the show end up taking out ingredients so you can taste the food rather than the fat. For the four-cheese macaroni and cheese recipe, Candice Kumai replaced three of the cheeses with butternut squash puree. She used sharp cheddar for the cheese since it has a strong flavor. It was delicious!

If you could pick one recipe to see rehabbed on a future episode, what would you pick?

I'm a big chocolate fan, so I'd like to see a chocolate fudge cake!

"If you can rehab fried chicken then you've done the impossible," Boome says. Former Top Chef competitor and restauranteur Spike Mendelsohn did just that to win one of the first episodes of the show. Don't be intimidated by the recipe length. It's easier than it looks and trust us: the payoff when you dig in is well worth it!

Unfried Chicken with Spicy Slaw
Serves 6

Chicken:

  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 4 ounces each)
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • Finely grated zest of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Chef Mendelsohn's recipe cuts 556 calories from traditional fried chicken! (Photo by Vanessa Stump)

Slaw:

  • ¼ cup light mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1½ teaspoons creole mustard
  • 1 cup shredded green cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • ½ cup shredded carrot
  • 1 ear fresh corn, kernels cut from the cob
  • ½ small red onion, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the chicken:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat a large baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Prepare a breading station by putting the flour on a large plate. Pour the egg whites into a wide, shallow bowl and whisk until foamy.
  3. In a separate plate, combine the cornmeal, parsley, lemon zest, granulated garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix with a fork to evenly distribute the ingredients.
  4. Put the chicken in between 2 pieces of wax paper or plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy pan, pound the chicken until 1/4-inch thick.
  5. Working with 1 at a time, dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off the excess. Dip the chicken in the egg white, dredge the chicken in the cornmeal mixture to coat both sides, then set the breaded chicken on a side platter.
  6. Coat a large skillet over medium heat and coat with the oil.
  7. When the oil is hot, add 2 pieces of the chicken. Cook the chicken until it is browned on both sides, turning once, 3 to 5 minutes total.
  8. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set on the prepared baking pan.
  9. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Transfer the baking pan to the oven and bake until cooked through, about 10 minutes.

To prepare the slaw:

  1. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, vinegar, hot sauce, and mustard. Stir to blend the ingredients together.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the green and red cabbage, carrot, corn, and onion.
  3. Pour the mayonnaise dressing over the slaw and toss well to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve: Slice the chicken and divide among 6 plates. Top each with a pile of the slaw.

Nutrition information per serving: 345 calories, 29 g protein, 30 g carbohydrates, 12 g fat, 675 mg sodium

Find more rehabbed meals at bettereats.com.

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