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.
Our May issue (on stands now!) features a lightened-up version of enchiladas, along with tips from Julian Medina, Chef/Owner Toloache, Yerba Buena and Coppelia restaurants in NYC. And with Cinco de Mayo right around the corner, we were psyched to score a few more online-only recipes from the inventive chef! Combine the gourmet recipes below with the guilt-free one in the mag and you’ll have a flavorful fiesta ready to go!
Guacamole de Frutas (serves 4)
- 2 Mexican Hass avocados
- 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
- 2 tablespoons Vidalia onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons mango, diced
- 2 tablespoons peach, diced
- 2 tablespoons apple, diced
- 1/4 teaspoon habanero pepper, minced
- 1 teaspoon Thai basil, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds
- Kosher salt to taste
1. Scoop the pulp out of the ripe avocados into a bowl.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and a pinch of salt. Mash the ingredients together, leaving it chunky and check the seasoning.
3. Serve with warm corn tortillas or chips.
Toloache Margarita (serves 1)
For the Hibiscus Puree:
- 1 cup of hibiscus flower
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 ounce sugar
Combine ingredients into a blender, or food processor and puree until smooth. Let cool.
For the Virgin Mix:
- 1 ounce Cointreau
- 1 ounce lime juice
In a separate container combine the Cointreau and lime juice, stir well.
For the Toloache Margarita:
- ½ bar spoon of blueberries
- 2 ounces hibiscus puree
- 2 ounces Herradura Blanco
- 1 ounce virgin mix
- Splash of simple syrup
1. In a cocktail shaker muddle the ½ bar spoon of blueberries, then add the hibiscus puree. Pour in the Herradura Blanco, virgin mix and simple syrup. Add ice and shake well.
2. Pour the margarita into a chilled rocks glass and garnish with a hibiscus flower and lime wedge.
Keep reading for an ambitious chicken quesadilla…!
The First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign strikes a chord with mom of four Cat Cora. In fact, Iron Chef Cora was at the White House in the spring of 2010 when Mrs. Obama kicked off the Chefs Move to Schools program. The goal: Improve the quality of food served during lunches at public schools and teach students to enjoy eating fruits and vegetables. This week, Cora is spreading the word about the Love Your Veggies Lunch Break for Schools, which raises money to help fund Chefs Move to Schools.
We spoke with the restaurateur, cookbook author and soon-to-be co-host of Bravo’s Around the World in 80 Plates (with Curtis Stone) about how to help your whole family to enjoy produce.
- Ask for input. Offer options, such as broccoli or edamame as a dinner side, before you start cooking. Once the young ones come to a consensus, cook it up and prepare to watch it disappear! “If you give your kids a choice, they’ll feel empowered and will be more willing to try a new food,” Cora says.
- Dip it good. “I always serve my kids crudites as an appetizer,” Cora says. Carrot and celery sticks, snap peas and sliced peppers taste great solo or with a dip like light Hidden Valley Ranch, Cora recommends. Or you can toss roasted or steamed veggies with lemon juice, sea salt and olive oil for some Mediterranean flair.
- Don’t take special requests. Cora believes that raising kids who eat what the adults in the family eat will make them more adventurous eaters. “That’s how I grew up and I think that’s really what made my palate grow,” she says. “Don’t assume your kids won’t like something just because it isn’t a typical ‘kid’ food.”
- Think outside the box. When asked what fruit or vegetable she’d most like to see as the secret ingredient unveiled at her next Iron Chef battle, Cora quickly responded, “the all-American vegetable: broccoli! I want to make it fun and cool.” While Cora thinks she might whip up candied broccoli or broccoli ice cream, you can add to the novelty of a meal and inspire your kids to eat more greens by preparing them in different ways (grilling, mixing into soups or chopping and tossing into salads).
Now that we covered the vegetables, we asked Cat to share one of her favorite family-friendly fruit recipes. Who’s ready for dessert?
You’ve seen her donning a chef’s coat on Next Iron Chef and with fork in hand as a judge for Chopped, but you’ve never seen Food Network personality Amanda Freitag quite like you will on page 44 of the January issue!
Because of her career, she is inundated with on-the-house samples at restaurants. She also travels frequently to tape the Cooking Channel show Unique Eats. So FITNESS stepped in with a team of experts who worked with Freitag and passed along the ingredients for a healthy, balanced lifestyle while keeping up with her fun job requirements. Pick up the magazine, on newsstands now, for all of the details!
Since Freitag is a culinary pro, we couldn’t let this opportunity pass without stealing a few kitchen secrets. It turns out, she was inspired by this project to create many new, diet-friendly recipes that are perfect for your healthy eating resolutions. Why wait until January 1 to start?
Here are two of her favorites that are sure to amaze your tasting panel!
Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken with Jamaican Spice
Chef Freitag says: “I really prefer the dark meat of the chicken, so while trying to trim down, I eat the thighs, but want my small portion to have incredible flavor and texture. This is a soul satisfying meal that also tastes great as a leftover!”
- 4-6 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
- 1 cup instant polenta or finely ground cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon coriander seed, ground
- pinch cayenne
- salt to taste
- 2 baked sweet potatoes
- 2 cups cooked kale
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- In a shallow baking dish combine the cornmeal and the spices thoroughly.
- Season the chicken legs with salt if desired.
- Place the thighs into the cornmeal mix skin side down and then flip over to coat the other side.
- Place the crusted thighs into another shallow baking dish skin side up and place in the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes turn the oven down to 350 degrees and cook for 15 more minutes or until juice of the chicken run clear when poked with a fork.
- Serve the thighs with a baked sweet potato and kale.
Top Chef: Just Desserts contestant Megan Ketover, who helped with The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight, revealed to SparkPeople how she stays so petite while whipping up pastries and other yummy goodies…
Q: You’re surrounded by pastries and treats all day, every day. How do you resist eating them all?
MK: I am very lucky because I take so many little bites throughout the day to make sure flavors are balanced, that I am very satisfied by sweets when the day is done. There are certain things that are so amazing when they come out of the oven, I do have to have some willpower to resist eating them all. I just make sure if I am going to eat something decadent, it is going to be really good, and not waste my calories on junk.
Q: Do you have any tips for those who might be intimidated by baking?
MK: With savory cooking, you can improvise and adjust amounts in a recipe, but baking is an exact science; so I always recommend that bakers get a scale to measure ingredients. Scales can also help to see what a real portion size is.
Q: For “The SparkPeople Cookbook,” you created recipes that were packed with flavor but low in fat? What are some ways that you make your favorite desserts healthier?
MK: I have always liked the rich flavor of whole wheat flour, so switching out regular flour to whole wheat is an easy way to add fiber and nutrients. Flax seed is also an amazing ingredient to add that packs a nutrient punch without a huge quality difference. I have always enjoyed nutritional baking, but it is important to know what role the baking ingredients play in a recipe in order to substitute it well. It is always important to me that “healthier” desserts still taste amazing. There is just no point if it does not taste good!
Q: People tend to think of desserts as very high in calories–a food that they should rarely eat. How do you incorporate desserts into everyday life?
MK: Sweets make people happy, they are satisfying at the end of a meal, so I encourage small portion sizes into a healthy diet. Fruits are great because they also pack vitamins, and dairy based desserts are a delicious way to add calcium and protein to a diet plan. Moderation is key; what works for me is to have a small portion of something really delicious and satisfying.
More from SparkPeople:
Looking for a quick spin on chicken to shake up a weeknight meal? Try Parmesan Crusted Chicken, the winning recipe of the first Hellmann’s Chicken Challenge, a series of cooking challenges to find the best mayo-enhanced chicken dish, hosted by celeb actor and dad Mark Consuelos (hubby to Kelly Ripa), Top Chef Masters’ chef Tim Love and lifestyle expert Sissy Biggers. We caught the showdown live to get a taste of the competition—and the chicken!
As it turns out, mayo can be more than just a deli meat-topper or potato salad mix-in. Hellman’s pros suggest using light mayo in a recipe to keep chicken moist. Since it’s seasoned, you don’t have to add salt or pepper to the dish. And good news for the calorie counters: You don’t need to use a ton of it to get the flavor you’re after. The proof is in the taste, as all three recipes in the audience-judged competition, Parmesan, Chipotle Lime and BBQ Cheddar, were delicious.
Post-taste test, we caught up with Mark, who cooked the winning dish (recipe below!), to find out how he and Kelly stay fit and get dinner on the table for their busy family.
Do you and Kelly share the cooking duties at home?
Kelly does most of the cooking, but I do the grilling. Even when I do, she’s making five or six side dishes—different kinds of salads. The kids can be picky, but they love steak, burgers, halibut (we try to get them to eat a lot of fish) and of course, chicken. We always have plenty of vegetables to balance it out.
Written by Lauren Cardarelli, FITNESS Editorial Intern
Celebrity chef, TV personality, mother, author and entrepreneur, Giada De Laurentiis manages to find time to lead a healthy, fit lifestyle. How does she do it all? We got her fitness tips, cooking secrets and menu for her lunch with the Royal newlyweds after interviewing the charming Emmy Award-winner. Here’s what we learned:
1. Adore your knife. “You need to have one knife that you absolutely love,” advised De Laurentiis. “This will give you confidence and make you feel good about cooking.” De Laurentiis grew up using mezzalunas in Europe, a curved blade knife with a handle on either side used to chop, and wanted to design an affordable, user-friendly product for just that. Her Stainless Steel Mezzaluna Knife, available at Target for $20.79, is lightweight, feels great in your hand and has a dip in its blade created for skilled and amateur choppers, alike. “It rocks back and forth so it makes chopping really easy and actually really fun,” she said. “It’s very unique to the market.”
2. Everything in moderation. Being a chef – with Italian roots, nonetheless – can certainly have its palatable perks, yet De Laurentiis always seems to maintain her petite, fit figure. What’s her secret? Small meals, several times a day. “I’m a big chocoholic and I like sweets a lot but I try not to overeat anything, basically, and I think that’s sort of the key. It’s calories in and calories out so if you overdo it one day, you have to take in less the next.”
Read on for Giada’s workout, creative cooking tips and what she plans to serve to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge!