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TV Review: Cook Yourself Thin Premieres

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There are a lot of cooking shows available, and I like several of them. One of the newest, Cook Yourself Thin, premiered with back-to-back 30 minute episodes on May 4, 2009. The show is based on the British cookbook and series of the same name. With a bit of a different twist, this cooking show will likely be a lighthearted and popular addition to the lineup of cooking programs.

In the show, three culinary experts team up with a new participant each episode who wants to lose weight and learn to cook healthy versions of favorite recipes. The experts work the guests through calorie redo recipes of three typical meals. The last segment of the show takes place six weeks later. In it, the experts — Harry, Allison, and Candice — travel to the participant's home to follow-up and see if she has learned to 'cook herself thin' and lose a dress size in six weeks.

Harry Eastwood starred in the British version of this series. She is a food writer and co-author of the cookbook, Cook Yourself Thin: The Delicious Way to Drop a Dress Size. As an expert baker, she specializes in substituting high-fat ingredients usually found in baked goods for healthier ingredients.

As a former recipe developer/food stylist for Martha Stewart and the Food Network, Chef Allison Fishman has also acted as co-host of TLC's Home Made Simple, and writes a weekly food column. Her recipes and writings have appeared in magazines and newspapers across the nation.

The third expert, Candice Kumai works as a special events Chef at the Ritz-Carlton and has her own catering company. She was professionally trained at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu and appeared as a contestant on Bravo's Top Chef. In addition, Candice has participated in nationwide cooking demonstrations.

The first show participant, Rachel, self dubbed as the 'takeout queen,' developed bad eating habits as a child. Her personal motivation to lose weight was to facilitate getting pregnant. The experts cut down her typical daily calorie intake of 2,500 to less than 1,000. Did you know that keeping the skins on Yukon potatoes when you mash them makes them taste more buttery? And then if you also add half a cauliflower, scallions, and buttermilk to make tasty mashed potatoes you cut your calories from 1,042 to only 389 per serving. Rachel's main food nemesis was cupcakes. With secret ingredients like ground almonds to provide natural fat and shredded zucchini to add moisture instead of butter, calories in her cupcakes were slashed.

In the second episode, participant Kristin admitted that she didn't know any limits on her eating. Her heavenly foods brought in a daily catch of 5,000+ calories. The experts taught her to 'confetti' the ham and poach the eggs in vinegar water for a healthful version of her favorite breakfast sandwich. This method brought the calories down from 700 to 300. Other healthy alternatives to Kristin's crave menu were baked sweet potato fries with chili powder, garlic powder, and olive oil and turkey burgers with green chilies. Did you know that lightly pressing to make patties preserves air pockets to catch juices? Kristen's total burger meal was cut from 2,500 calories down to only 600. My favorite tip on pizza was to cut links of chicken sausage into pepperoni type slices and cook them before putting them on the pizza.

Fans of the show can go to the show's website for complete recipes and step-by-step cooking instructions. Full episodes of the series will also be available as well as behind-the-scenes information about the show participants.

I am an avid cook and have created many gourmet and original dishes. The ingredients and instructions on Cook Yourself Thin's first episodes are relatively simple, yet the recipes captured my attention and I will likely try a number of them. Why? Well, because like most people, I'd like to lose about 15 pounds. But if that means eating boring food, I will keep the weight I'd rather shed. However, these recipes and ideas for cutting calories may just be my tasty way into a one size smaller pair of jeans.

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