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cooking tips

Chef Danny Boome Takes Your Comfort Food Menu to “Recipe Rehab”

Written on October 30, 2012 at 10:30 am , by

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.

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Iron Chef Bobby Flay’s Favorite Secret Ingredient

Written on October 1, 2012 at 11:07 am , by

You’ll find Greek yogurt on the menu at many of Flay’s restaurants. (Photo courtesy of Fage)

On Iron Chef, Bobby Flay has slayed the competition using ingredients as varied as buffalo, bananas and blue foot chicken. Clearly, this is one man who knows his way around the kitchen (or grill!). So what’s this Food Network star’s dream secret ingredient? “Greek yogurt. It’s good for so much more than just eating straight topped with honey and berries,” Flay says.

In fact, the tangy dairy item has made an appearance in several of his Iron Chef battles, including a grilled lamb dish with pomegranate and mint yogurt sauce that “takes 60 seconds to make.” [Editor's note: Can we be on the tasting panel?]

Flay loves the versatility of Greek yogurt, using it as a meat marinade, substitute for heavy cream or creme fraiche as a soup-topper, and in dessert, of course. “Frozen yogurt is nothing new, so why not frozen Greek yogurt?” he suggests. “Think of it as a vanilla base and add berries, cinnamon or ricotta cheese.”

Flay, who dreams of taking on Gordon Ramsay in Kitchen Stadium one day, has teamed up with Fage Total to host a recipe contest. They want to see your most innovative, flavorful Greek yogurt ideas. The winner will see her recipe featured on the menu at a special Plain Kitchen event (not to mention a trip to New York City to meet the chef himself)!

To get things rolling, Flay shared one of his favorite snack recipes that includes Greek yogurt: hummus with pita chips. Click below for the recipe, and find more at fageusa.com/plainkitchen.

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Fit Links: Slash Your Grocery Bill and Beat Cake Cravings

Written on April 27, 2012 at 5:13 pm , by

Yes, you can do the kitchen prep in your PJs! (Photo by Reggie Casagrande)

This week’s fit links from around the web:

Fit Links: Kitchen Must-Haves and How to Make Any Trip Healthier

Written on April 13, 2012 at 4:27 pm , by

A pantry full of healthy staples leads to fewer "what's for dinner?" panics. (Photo by Peter Ardito)

This week’s fit links from around the web:

How to Eat Out and Stay Slim (Dessert Is Included!)

Written on January 24, 2012 at 1:26 pm , by

Chef Gourdet stays in shape by running, biking, doing CrossFit and taking yoga classes. (Photo by Mike Pifke)

When you are invited to a dinner at a fancy restaurant, you can chalk it up as a treat and indulge for the evening. Or you can make some smart swaps and menu alterations to enjoy the time out without packing on pounds. That’s exactly what Portland Chef Gregory Gourdet does—and this strategy keeps him well-fueled and on track with his marathon training (he’s completed seven to date!).

Chef Gourdet, who turns out delicious modern Asian cuisine at Departure Restaurant in Portland, enjoys accommodating his diners’ various dietary requests. Here are the smart moves he and his guests make to slim down restaurant dishes:

  1. Ask for no dairy. “It’s really only there for the mouth feel and you can save yourself a lot of saturated fat by omitting butter, high-fat milk or cream,” Gourdet says.
  2. Opt for seafood. Lean meats and fish are better options than something like braised beef.
  3. Ban breading. “Avoid anything fried,” Gourdet says, suggesting the grilled or steamed vegetables over French fries or onion rings.
  4. Order dessert. Really! Gourdet recommends sorbet as a smart sweet option.

How about when you’re cooking at home? Gourdet swears by four key ingredients to add amazing taste to any meal. Keep reading to find out what they are, and to learn how to make his signature salad.

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The Perfect Turkey is as Easy as 1, 2, 3!

Written on November 11, 2011 at 1:58 pm , by

Plan now for a perfect, stress-free holiday meal. (Photo by Blaine Moats)

For Sue Smith, a registered dietitian who moonlights as a turkey expert with the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line every fall, Thanksgiving is truly the most wonderful time of the year. “It’s definitely my favorite holiday! As part of the Talk-Line, I’m able to be involved with so many Thanksgiving meals,” Smith says.

The most common question she tackles? How to properly thaw the bird. And who calls most commonly? “A lot of newlyweds who want to make their first holidays perfect,” she says. But the most memorable call during her 11-year stint as a talk-line expert was from a mother-in-law who was whispering into her phone while hiding in a closet. “She would stop talking when people walked by! She was afraid her daughter-in-law, who was a vegetarian, couldn’t cook the meal right,” Smith remembers. “But the mom called back later to tell us that the daughter did everything perfectly and the turkey was delicious!

Smith promises that your Thanksgiving turkey is nothing to worry about—in fact, it can be as simple as following her three tricks of the trade:

1. Stock up. How do you know what size bird to buy? Smith recommends allotting for 1 1/2 pounds per person. “That will be plenty for generous servings and leftovers.”

2. Follow the “three Ts.” That’s Smith’s trick to remember the three most important factors in preparing the perfect turkey: thaw, temperature and temp.

  • Thaw. “Thaw your bird breast-side up in a pan on the bottom shelf of your fridge. Allow one day for every four pounds,” Smith says.
  • Temperature. “Cook your turkey until a thermometer you insert in the thigh reads 180 degrees or 170 degrees in the breast,” she adds.
  • Tent. Two-thirds of the way through the total cooking time, top your turkey with foil to allow the meat that is closer to the center of the bird to cook without burning the meat closer to the surface.

3. Ditch dry meat. When your turkey is finished in the oven, “pull it out and let it stand on the counter for about 20 minutes before carving, with the foil on top, to let the juices settle,” Smith says. This will lead to a moister, more flavorful slice.

If you need help with a turkey crisis during November and December, you can reach the experts at Butterball via phone (1-800-BUTTERBALL) or email (talkline@butterball.com). Keep checking in at The Fit Stop in the next two weeks for more Thanksgiving entertaining, cooking and leftover tips!

Now tell us: Do you have any Thanksgiving meal prep disaster stories? Come clean in the comments!

Kelsey Nixon’s Healthy Cooking Essentials

Written on October 17, 2011 at 2:19 pm , by

Kelsey's positive attitude makes home cooking seem fun and her tips make it simple! (Photo courtesy of Kelsey Nixon)

We love Cooking Channel’s Kelsey Nixon for her fun, you-can-do-this approach to cooking with fresh ingredients. We caught up with the The Next Food Network Star finalist to chat about her show (Kelsey’s Essentials is now in it’s second season, airing Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. EST!), the kitchen equipment she can’t live without and to find out how she stays healthy and fit.

Tell us about Kelsey’s Essentials.

Every episode focuses on an essential tool, tip or technique that I think every home cook should know, taking them one step beyond the basics in a fun way. The shows are also seasonal—I believe that if you cook with ingredients that are in season, it’s going to taste better and be more affordable.

What are your essential tools for healthy cooking?

High-quality sheet trays for roasting—they make it easy to caramelize vegetables, which brings out their natural sugars. I’d also suggest tongs, a cast iron skillet for making an omelet or searing fish, a sturdy pan and a good sharp knife. A non-stick skillet is also a great tool because the chance of sticking is low and it doesn’t require as much fat to brown chicken or fish, so you can use less oil or fat.

How can a kitchen newbie get started cooking more healthfully?

Take a trip to the farmers’ market once a week, and challenge yourself to buy one vegetable or fruit that’s in season. Use that ingredient to drive dinner ideas for the week.

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Breathe New Life Into Home-Cooked Dinners

Written on October 6, 2011 at 2:53 pm , by

Written by Alyssa Belanger, editorial intern

The AHA wants to help you avoid kitchen mishaps. (Photo by Peter Ardito)

Truth: How often do you really cook in your kitchen?

About 17 percent of American children ate meals outside of their home in 1970, but today at least half of all U.S. food expenditures are accounted for in away-from-home eating, the American Heart Association reports. While it is possible to eat out and lose weight, it’s much easier to control the ingredients and cooking methods when you whip up a dish in your own home.

That’s why the AHA launched Simple Cooking with Heart, which aims to “equip American families with basic culinary skills along with nutrition knowledge so they can know how to cook and eat at home,” says American Heart Association spokeswoman Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D., R.D.

The program, funded by the Walmart Foundation, offers a number of resources on their website to inspire nutritious and fun home-cooked meals. You can find video cooking demonstrations, recipes, tips and a downloadable “Host Kit” with everything you need to host a dinner party (think invitation templates, party games and shopping lists).

One of the ideas we’re planning to try first? “Traveling” with friends to the Far East through a heart-healthy meal of Asian Cole Slaw and Asian-Style Noodles. Paper lanterns, chop sticks and other fun and inexpensive items from a party store can make a simple meal festive!

This veggie-filled side comes together in minutes. (Photo courtesy of the AHA)

Asian Cole Slaw Recipe

Serves 6


  • 1 12-ounce bag shredded cabbage (green or purple)
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded, sliced in to thin sticks
  • 1 medium red or green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 5 medium green onions, sliced
  • 12 leaves washed fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil


  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic minced from jar or 1 clove minced
  • 3 tablespoons white or cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoons white sugar, granulated
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  1. Combine all vegetables in a bowl, toss.
  2. Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well.
  3. Pour over vegetable mixture and toss to coat.

Nutrition facts per serving: 42 calories, 1 g fat

For more recipe ideas, cooking tips and heart health facts visit the American Heart Association website.

Chef Giada De Laurentiis’ Tips for Healthy Cooking and Staying Fit

Written on July 7, 2011 at 3:02 pm , by

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:

Lauren with Giada De Laurentiis

Lauren with Giada De Laurentiis

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!

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Fit Links: Biking 101 and The Biggest Loser’s Newest Trainer

Written on June 3, 2011 at 3:48 pm , by

It'll be a real joyride if you follow the biking pointers from FitSugar!

Get your biking skills back in gear for summer!

This week’s fit links from around the web: