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Chef Robert Irvine’s Tips for Transforming Turkey Day Leftovers

Written on November 29, 2013 at 10:13 am , by

Chef Robert Irvine makes whipping up healthy leftover dishes possible. (Photo courtesy of Robert Irvine)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, and you’ve likely allowed a little (hopefully!) indulgence to occur, what are you supposed to do with all the leftovers hanging out in the fridge? Celebrity chef Robert Irvine from Food Network’s Dinner: Impossible and Restaurant: Impossible is here on behalf of Gold’s Gym with a few tips for making the most out of Thanksgiving scraps while leaving our diets in tact, of course.

First and foremost, think ahead when preparing each dish for the big day. Make more of the vegetable-based sides so you have healthier leftovers to work with the following day. And watch the cooking time! “I like vegetables that still have texture to them,” says Irvine. “When we cook carrots, we don’t cook them so you can actually squash them in your hand. They should have some bite to them, so when you reutilize them the next day, they still have nutrients in them.”

And on the flipside, make fewer desserts to avoid the post-holiday sweets binge. While Chef Irvine is a believer in ending every meal with a bite of something sweet (read: not a handful of cookies!), he doesn’t go to town on the holiday pumpkin and pecan pies. “I make individual servings so that everybody gets one and that’s it. There is no seconds and therefore there’s no leftovers and I don’t have to deal with it staring at me the next day,” he says. “There’s only the good stuff.”

When it comes to the main attraction, there are plenty of ways to reinvent Mr. Turkey that don’t include two slices of gravy-soaked bread. Irvine combines the star ingredient with cranberry, brussel sprouts or cabbage and mashed potatoes—white or sweet—and gives the typical potato cake an upgrade. After chopping and combining all of the leftover ingredients, form each cake, coat them in egg white and panko breadcrumbs, pan-fry and top with a runny, poached egg. Now that’s a post-Thanksgiving breakfast! Check out this version of his recipe where good-for-you collard greens take center stage.

Otherwise, try making risotto without your leftover potatoes. Chef Irvine poaches diced potatoes and combines them with chicken stock, sour cream, chopped parsley, a little salt and white pepper, and uses it as a risotto. “People look at me like I’m crazy, but it’s really good and healthy,” he says.

And as far as those leftover carrots are concerned, why not transform them into a gourmet salad dressing? Reheat them in chicken or vegetable stock and blend them in a blender with fresh, unpeeled ginger and a teaspoon of stone ground mustard. Add a little grapeseed oil and sparkling water, and voila! “You have a brand new carrot and ginger dressing for salads that will keep for a week or so. And you can do that with any othervegetable you have left,” says Irvine.

Last but not least, a solid post-workout recovery meal is key for a guy who loves fitness almost as much as he loves food. Chef Irvine uses Thanksgiving turkey and vegetables in a fresh egg white frittata, which he serves cold, Spanish-style. After letting the pie cool, he plates slices alongside fresh tomato pico de gallo and smoked salmon. “That’s our post-workout meal and it only takes 25 minutes to make,” he says. You leave it on the side, let it cool down, wrap it up and leave it in the fridge. Then it’s always there to munch on.” Maybe the day (and weekend) after Thanksgiving won’t be such a diet disaster after all.

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Spice Up Healthy Cooking (Fast!) with Food Network’s Robin Miller

Written on October 15, 2013 at 10:47 am , by

Don’t have enough time to make quick fix meals? “Just try one thing and see how it goes,” Robin says. Are you up to the challenge? You got it!

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Healthy cooking becomes a chore when it involves extensive ingredient lists, advanced preparation and lengthy cooking times. Lucky for us, Food Network’s Robin Miller has made it her mission to help us simplify the process so we can spend more time enjoying our food with the people we love most. Her latest book, Robin Takes 5 for Busy Families, offers a wide variety of 5-ingredient recipes for breakfast, lunch, snacks and gluten-free dishes that taste gourmet with little work required on your end. During a recent visit to New York City, Robin dished how she keeps every meal quick, healthy and delicious so pull up a seat and dig into this!

What inspired your career in educating others on how to make quick and healthy meals for themselves and their families?

My kids, to put it simply. Before kids, I had all morning or all afternoon to deglaze, caramelize, test recipes and play in the kitchen. After kids, I didn’t have that amount of time, but I still wanted those flavors. It was my goal to create delicious meals that I can enjoy with my family in minimal time with minimal ingredients. I didn’t want to sacrifice flavor, but I wanted to get to the table faster and then spend more time there.

What do you find to be the greatest challenge with quick and healthy cooking?

I can’t start making dinner at 6 o’clock at night, chopping the onions and the mushrooms and the carrots, or deciding what to cook. So I like to plan ahead. I don’t do a week’s worth of meals on Saturday, but I’ll say in the morning, “What can I do today that’s going to make tonight easier?” And I find that that’s other people’s struggle, too, finding time in their head to prep ahead so that they can make meal time easier during the week. I like meal time to almost be assemble and serve, not start from scratch and wait.

Now that summer is over, how do you cope with the more limited selection of fresh fall and winter produce in your cooking?

I still feel like there are plenty of delicious produce items that are available throughout the fall and winter. We’re getting into grapefruits and oranges and other really nutritious fruits. The acorn squash, butternut squash and spaghetti squash are phenomenal. They’re loaded with nutrients and just scream fall. Also, frozen vegetables and fruits that don’t have any sugar or butter added and they are quickly frozen at the peak of their ripeness, which is at the peak of their nutrient value. So you should never feel guilty about going down the frozen vegetable and fruit aisle and loading up on that stuff too. I have plenty in my freezer, because I like to add them to soups and stews. They have all the nutrients I would hope to get from a farmer’s market or something I just got at the grocery store. They’re so convenient—always there in your freezer and ready to go.

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Iron Chef Michael Symon Teaches Us How to Bake Healthy Biscuits

Written on August 13, 2013 at 3:44 pm , by

Baking biscuits and becoming BFFs with Chef Symon. (Photo courtesy of Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt)

When comfort food is calling your name – especially Southern comfort food – there isn’t anything that fits the bill quite like a  right-outta-the-oven homemade biscuit (paired with chicken and gravy, yes?). Unfortunately, those small circles of delicious can wreak havoc on your waistline in a big way, thanks to calorie-ridden ingredients like buttermilk and shortening. To keep our tastebuds and figures happy, we said yes to a fun night of healthy baking with Iron Chef Michael Symon and  Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt. While we can’t give you personal kitchen time with Symon, who’s whole-hearted laugh and boisterous personality is super infectious, we can give you his slim-downed solution to your comfort food cravings. Whip up this fluffy biscuit recipe, and maybe tune in to Symon so he’s practically there, too.

Dannon Oikos Plain Greek Nonfat Yogurt Biscuits 


  •  2 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes and kept cold
  • 1 cup Dannon Oikos Plain Greek Nonfat Yogurt, plus more for brushing
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Zest of 1 lemon


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and lemon zest. Add cubed butter and work it into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

In a small bowl, whisk together Greek yogurt and milk. Add to butter and flour mixture. Stir until dough comes together, then knead the rest of the way, being careful not to overwork it. The dough will be slightly sticky when finished.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and press out to 3/4-inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter or drinking glass, cut into rounds, pressing straight down and not twisting.

Lay biscuits onto a baking sheet and brush tops with extra Greek yogurt. Sprinkle with sugar, if desired. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.

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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Rescue Chef’s Danny Boome Shares Kitchen-Conquering Tips

Written on February 8, 2012 at 12:08 pm , by

The Rescue Chef teaches you how to conquer the kitchen without going crazy. (Photo courtesy of Porter Novelli)

Written by Brittany Vickers, editorial intern

Let’s face it: we can’t all be super chefs in the kitchen. And you know what? That’s OK. If you need saving from all the scary stuff staring at you from your refrigerator, we found your kitchen hero. Danny Boome, host of the Food Network series Rescue Chef, surprises everyday chefs in distress with tips and tricks to survive (and enjoy!) cooking a nutritious meal.

“I tell everyone, don’t be scared of the kitchen,” says Boome. “If you feel comfortable in it, you can learn to use healthier or preferred ingredients in daily cooking, which gives you great control over your diet and will help you reach your goals.”

Boome, like 50 million Americans (that’s about 1 in 5), suffers from arthritis and had to alter his diet to keep up with his fast-paced career. “Being a chef is physically demanding, but I think we should all be a little more conscious about what we’re eating. I’ve learned how to replace the foods that trigger my arthritis, like wine, chocolate, ham and cheese, with healthy alternatives that taste just as good,” he says.

We sat down with this healthy chef to find out what quick tips you could utilize in the kitchen.

How can less-than-stellar cooks still whip up nutritious meals?

Approach everything with confidence and remember, it’s not rocket science. You can whip up simple, healthy stuff pretty easily. A great place to start is my perfect omelet recipe on Arthriving.com because if you mess it up, you can turn it into scrambled eggs. Having an easy backup option is a great way to go. The key is to start with the basics, then gradually build up to more complicated recipes as you feel comfortable.

How do you add great flavor to healthy dishes?

I love things that add good, lean flavor. Ham is one of my arthritis triggers, so if I’m making an omelet for breakfast, I use turkey instead. It’s a much leaner meat and it’s still delicious.

Do you have any go-to ingredients that are always in your house?

Fresh ginger, garlic and onion are always on hand! These are major flavors that can (and should!) be incorporated into all meals.

What are your quick meal tips?

I love cooking what I call one-pan meals. Pick something that you can cook all in one pan, like a stir-fry. And remember, it’s not cheating to go to the store and buy the pre-chopped stuff! It’s a chopped pepper no matter who did the actually cutting. It’s much easier, not to mention faster, to skip the prep work, throw everything into a pan and cook it. If you want to do a little bit of prep work yourself, don’t be afraid of the food processor or other specialty tools like it. It can cut, chop or slice ingredients, so you’re still seeing exactly what’s being done, but it gets the job done much faster.

More from FITNESS:

Hot Topic Tuesday: Paula Deen Has Diabetes…Now What?

Written on January 17, 2012 at 10:38 am , by

Deen was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes three years ago. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

Food Network chef Paula Deen sat down with Al Roker on the Today Show this morning to quiet the “does she or doesn’t she” chatter related to her diabetes status. After an April 2010 tabloid story, rumors have circulated that the Southern cook, famous for her use of ample amounts of butter and Krispy Kreme donuts as hamburger buns, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. (There are many potential causes for type 2, but eating processed meats, like bacon, and watching more than two hours of TV per day may increase your risk.)

Today, Deen took to the airwaves to address the rumors—and confirm that three years ago she was, in fact, diagnosed with type 2. “I’m here today to let the world know that this is not a death sentence,” she told Roker.

Deen decided to keep mum until now, she explained, because she didn’t have a full explanation of her action plan moving forward and needed time to come to terms with the diagnosis. But after consulting with her doctor and Dr. Mehmet Oz, she launched “Diabetes in a New Light” to support others with type 2, in conjunction with pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk. Personally, Deen has also given up sweet tea and started walking on a treadmill, according to USA Today, but will not plan to drastically alter the types of dishes she shares on her show. (“I have always eaten in moderation,” she explained. “It’s for entertainment.”) However, her son Bobby recently launched Not My Mama’s Meals on Cooking Channel, during which he tries to lighten up Paula’s recipes and cut the calories and fat without cutting taste.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Now tell us: Do you think that Deen should change the types of recipes she shares on her show Paula’s Best Dishes to reflect her new health focus? Or is it the responsibility of the viewer to realize that these meals are “treats?”

Hungry Girl’s Resolution-Ready Tricks and Food Picks

Written on January 5, 2012 at 12:28 pm , by

Lisa Lillien has the low-down on guilt-free foods. (Photo courtesy of Michael Rababy)

Like your friendly (and oh-so-food-savvy) neighbor, Lisa Lillian, aka Hungry Girl, doles out light eating advice every weekday in her online newsletters. They have garnered such a large fan base—to the tune of one million people—that Lillien now hosts her own cooking show, which appears on Food Network and the Cooking Channel! She “isn’t a nutritionist, she’s just hungry,” her tagline explains. So while you should always consult your doctor or dietitian before starting a diet to find your ideal calorie consumption level and to discuss the best ways for you to personally lose weight, sources like Hungry Girl (and FITNESS!) can provide fun recipe ideas and motivation to stick with your get-healthy goals.

We spoke with Lillien to learn more about her tricks to stay on track—and for more than the first few weeks of the year!

What is your New Year’s resolution?

You caught me on a good year. Usually I don’t believe in resolutions, but this year I actually made one to drink a lot more water. I’ve been traveling so much lately and stopped drinking the 12 to 14 glasses I had been drinking for so long. I’m back on the water bandwagon! I try to carry around a bottle, and I keep it at room temperature. If the water’s too cold, I can’t drink a lot.

What are you eating more or less of today than you were ten years ago?

My food tastes have changed a little bit. I eat a lot of protein now. In 2001, I was eating more starches, like sandwiches. Starchy carbs are my “trigger foods,” or foods that make me overeat, so I’ve replaced them with more protein options. That helps keep me on track. I love Tyson Grilled & Ready chicken, which comes frozen or refrigerated. I use them as snacks and in entrees—in salads, paired with spaghetti squash or mixed in a stir-fry.

You’ve been a big advocate for tofu Shirataki noodles. What’s the next item we should be stocking in our kitchen for a nutritious meal?

Shirataki noodles are magical! Since I’m such a pasta maniac, I also like spaghetti squash because it really acts like pasta. You can make a great marinara dish with spaghetti squash, mushrooms, Italian seasoning and a little garlic. It’s great stuff!

Are there any recipes that you’ve yet to find a guilt-free swap for that you’d love to?

The biggest challenge for a long time was creme brulee, but I think we’ve mastered that. [Find Lisa's 104-calorie recipe here.] Cheesecake was also a struggle, but there are a lot of Hungry Girl cheesecake options. It’s hard to stump me!

For more from Lillien, Read more

Resolution-Ready Recipes from a Slimmed-Down Top Chef

Written on December 30, 2011 at 10:17 am , by

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

Serves 4

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!”

The crispiness comes from cornmeal, not frying. (Photo by Barrett Washburne)

  • 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
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a shallow baking dish combine the cornmeal and the spices thoroughly.
  3. Season the chicken legs with salt if desired.
  4. Place the thighs into the cornmeal mix skin side down and then flip over to coat the other side.
  5. 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.
  6. Serve the thighs with a baked sweet potato and kale.

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In the Kitchen with Food Network’s Claire Robinson

Written on August 10, 2011 at 3:04 pm , by

Claire (left) and Lauren

Claire (left) and Lauren chat cuisine at a Coffee-mate event in New York City. (Photo courtesy of Coffee-mate)

Written by Lauren Cardarelli, editorial intern

With a hint of Southern twang and a whole lot of the hospitality, the host of Food Network’s 5 Ingredient Fix, Claire Robinson, demonstrates that time in the kitchen doesn’t have to be a chore. By simplifying recipes down to just a few, fresh ingredients (yep, you guessed it: five!), Claire makes preparing a delicious meal easier than ever.

“Turn over your packages! Know what you’re putting in your body,” advised the charismatic food enthusiast and adventure sport extraordinaire as she whipped up French Toast with Strawberries and Cream (keep reading for the recipe). “If you can’t pronounce what’s on the back, most likely it’s not good for you.”

After the cooking demonstration at the Coffee-mate Natural Bliss event last week, we sat down with Claire and asked her about her workout regimen, kitchen pantry staples and a whole lot more! Here’s what we learned:

  • Coffee pairs great with red meats and chocolate. Claire loves using espresso powder or a strong coffee to bring out the flavors in her savory desserts and beef dishes. Try this technique yourself with this unique dry-rubbed beef brisket recipe.
  • Swap your extra virgin for plain olive oil when cooking. You lose the flavoring of the extra virgin olive oil’s raw form when cooking with it over heat. Save some extra cash by buying the cheaper, regular olive oil for cooking purposes and keep the good stuff for drizzling over your meal before serving.<