Zoe Harris

Zoe Harris

By CYT Staff Trudi Maples

Zoe is 35, is a financial consultant and lives in London. She weighs in at 15½ stone and is a self-confessed serial dieter. She’s tried every diet under the sun! She said,

‘I’ve tried a number of different diets in the past and the tendency is that I’ll maybe lose kind of a stone, half a stone and then it creeps back on again.’

And, as we all know, when it creeps back on it likes to choose all the wrong places! Zoe said,

‘The parts of my body that I’d really like to change are my tummy, my arms and, finally, my chin. I’d love to have a little bit less chin!’ Yep, we can all empathise with that one Zoe, and it’s not something you can hide with clothes either is it?

Zoe’s busy life with work means that she eats at least two of her main meals a day out of the house. She also has quite a lot of takeaways throughout the week. She said,

‘Because I work I tend to eat my breakfasts out and, also, I tend to eat my lunch grabbing it from a sandwich shop or a local café.’

She loves a breakfast baguette for the first meal of the day, all washed down with a large coffee. Her lunch tends to be a deep fried Japanese curry. She said the curry is quite rich but, when you’re having a long day at the office, it’s good comfort food.

Zoe’s Friday night takeaway is a real gut buster! It’s a New Yorker pizza with tiny roast potatoes, onion chutney, bacon or chicken and a dollop of sour cream on top – her absolute favourite!

Whatever dishes Gizzi comes up with will have to be quick to make. Zoe said,

‘I do enjoy cooking, I’m just very time squeezed!’

Gizzi said,

‘You know what? We all think we’re too busy to cook a proper meal and, when we’re eating on the go, we tend to make bad choices but, I believe with a bit of planning and forethought you can make a really delicious meal in the same time that it takes to go and pick up a takeaway.’

Gizzi Meets Zoe

Gizzi arrived at Zoe’s house to get an idea of Zoe’s eating habits and where she was in her mind about her weight. Zoe said,

‘I’ve put on weight since I got married and I’d like to get back down to the weight that I was when I got married. I’ve gone up by about a dress size and maybe a little bit. The job that I do involves me travelling quite a bit so, I could be off in Brussels for a few months and living off room service and it’s also the fact that it’s much easier to pick up a baguette or a muffin and a coffee on the way to the office than kind of having breakfast before I go out.’

Gizzi said,

‘So it’s that working girl situation where it’s like, if I’m gonna work and I’m gonna work to this degree , in actual fact, I’m gonna have to let my eating habits go a little bit?’

Zoe said yes, laughing. She had already ‘fessed up to some of her guilty habits but there were more to come.

What’s In Your Fridge?

Gizzi then started to go through Zoe’s cupboards and fridge to get a better insight into her habits. There were lots of chocolate and goodies like fizzy drinks and Turkish delight biscuits. Zoe said she did like her fizzy drinks. There was also a New Yorker pizza in there. She said,

‘Crikey, I think I’m going to have to have a taste of this!’ she bit into it and said,

‘That is truly revolting! How do you eat it? It’s so sweet!’

Zoe’s fridge was definitely not doing her waistline any favours at all! But, rather than tell her she had to steer clear of her favourite dishes, Gizzi was going to try to reinvent them. She said,

‘Zoe, that clichéd working girl, jumping out of bed, straight down the sandwich shop, grabbing food on the go, eating at her desk, making bad decisions and I think a lot of us will be able to understand that. But, it’s just not ok to eat like that all the time.’

Snack Attack

The first takeaway that Gizzi tackled was Zoe’s breakfast. The normal baguette that Zoe liked to eat contained as many calories as two deep fried chicken drumsticks! So Gizzi needed to find a quick and easy brekkie replacement for our working girl, Zoe.

Gizzi decided to go for garlic mushrooms on sour dough toast. Zoe seemed quite happy with that because she loves mushrooms. She said,

Gizzi's Mushrooms on Toast

‘Oh wow! I love mushrooms. It’s one of my favourite foods.’

To stop Zoe popping to the sandwich shop on her way to work, this dish had to be quick and easy to prepare so there was only a few ingredients. Sour dough bread is slower to digest than white so it would leave Zoe fuller for longer – tip number one!

Gizzi measured the oil that she was going to cook the mushrooms in – she only used a teaspoon or two full. And, even with the oil to cook the mushrooms, this dish had half the fat of Zoe’s normal baguette! Gizzi said,

‘So, we’re gonna get frying those but we don’t want these to sweat. Cos if they sweat they sort of get, you know when you used to go for a fry up and they had those really sweaty, disgusting mushrooms? We want these to be really nicely caramelised, still holding their shape.’

Zoe’s Breakfast Baguette contained a huge 327 calories.

Gizzi’s Creamy Garlic Mushrooms on Toast has only 157 calories! Gizzi almost halved Zoe’s brekkie calories in one fell swoop! Zoe said,

‘It tastes absolutely delicious and is so quick to cook!’

‘So no excuse then?’ said Gizzi.

‘Nope!’ agreed Zoe.

Move It . . . Just a Little Bit

Zoe hasn’t always dreaded stepping on the scales. She was her thinnest at about 18 but, over the years her weight has slowly gone up. (Familiar story here guys and girls?) But she has really piled the pounds on in the last seven years since she married Rick. He said,

‘It’s probably only been about three stone but, it’s starting to creep upwards evermore. I’m a bit concerned for her cos I know she does think about it quite a lot.’

We all know that being a healthy weight isn’t just about the calories we consume – it’s about the calories we burn off too. But, gym membership or expensive equipment is not necessary to help us burn and tone.

Zoe had already said that she travelled quite a lot for work. But, she could even turn a hotel bedroom into her own personal workout space without reaching for the credit card.  She could do squats – which would tone her legs, tummy and butt. She could do step ups onto the end of the bed and leg lifts which would work her thighs and then, of course, the trusty old sit up which would work her tummy muscles. All finished off with some press ups, hard work but really good at burning the calories.

Just doing 10 minutes of these exercises could burn 149 calories off for Zoe. If she did them daily for a year, she could wave good bye to a stone! Zoe said,

‘They’re so easy. Next time I’m going away travelling it will be just so easy now I’ve got five exercises that I know I can do when I’m in a hotel room.’

The Calorie Swap

Next to be tackled was Zoe’s lunch – Chicken Katsu Curry. Being deep fried and then smothered in a sweet curry sauce, makes it very high calories, not to mention the fat content. Not exactly a light lunch! Zoe said,

‘Where I’m working at the moment there’s a place that does it that’s takeaway so, I’m having that maybe a little more than I really should!’ looking a little guilty!

Gizzi said,

‘The one dish I’m really looking forward to taking of Zoe’s is the Katsu Curry. One of my favourite dishes, really my sort of food. Got the challenge of trying to make this crispy coated chicken but with fewer calories.’

Gizzi’s take on Chicken Katsu began with the sweet curry sauce. She said that when you make Asian sauces, it is totally normal to whack tons of oil into them and that is where most of the fat comes from. But, in this recipe, only one tablespoon was needed. Measuring the oil can really help keep the fat content down – yay! Another good tip. 

Gizzi's Chicken Katsu Curry

For this recipe, the chicken is normally breaded and Gizzi said,

‘I believe you cannot do breaded chicken in any other way than frying. You know, you’re going to get that crunch and it’s not going to be an all over same colour unless you fry it.’

So, Gizzi pulled out her secret ingredient. Cornflakes! She said,

‘The type of breadcrumbs that they use in Japanese cooking, they’re called Panko crumbs and they tend to be more like shards of bread rather than what we consider to be breadcrumbs and when these (cornflakes) break up they turn almost identical so it couldn’t be more perfect.’

Cornflakes, although higher in sodium and fats, are more dense than breadcrumbs so less are used – great tip there!

Then guess what came out? Yep, the oil pump. Gizzi had placed the cornflaked chicken breast on a baking tray and then spritzed it with her trusty oil pump. Better than a dunk in a deep fat fryer! So, Gizzi had found a way round deep frying the chicken breast.

Zoe’s takeaway Chicken Katsu Curry with Rice comes in at a massive 994 calories per portion.

Gizzi’s Chicken Katsu Curry and Sushi Rice has a mere 581 calories per portion – almost half!

Zoe said Gizzi’s dish looked fantastic and tasted really good. She said is tasted just like the real thing and, because the crumb on the chicken was so crispy, you wouldn’t know it hadn’t been deep fried! All taste and texture with not a deep fat fryer in sight! Gizzi said,

‘Yay! That makes me really happy! I’m so chuffed!’

The Fat Buster

Zoe’s third guilty pleasure, her New Yorker pizza, was up next for Gizzi to transform. Zoe even has a special board for her pizza! Gizzi said,

‘The dish that I’m really nervous about taking on is her pizza because, we all know pizzas, with tons of cheese, really doughy bases, they’re rammed full of calories and fat. The only way to remove those calories and fat are by removing the two most integral parts of a pizza.’

Before Gizzi got to work, she had a surprise for Zoe when she told her how much fat her beloved pizza contained. Zoe reckoned on about 30 grams. Oh how wrong was she? It contains a gut busting 60grams! Just 10grams less than the recommended daily amount for a woman! The equivalent of 12 eggs. When Gizzi asked her about the calorie content Zoe thought there would be about 900 calories in her pizza. In fact, there are about 1574! An all round bad egg when you’re trying to beat the bulge!

Gizzi said she was going to create a Gratin Pizziola with some ciabatta bread to dip in. Zoe said that was great because it’s the toppings that are the good bit anyway.

Gizzi's Gratin Pizziola

While Gizzi was grilling the ciabatta she said that it naturally has loads of olive oil on it so you don’t need to add any more. Just bung it on the griddle and Bob’s your uncle.

Zoe was impressed yet again with Gizzi’s creation! She said,

‘Mmmmm, it’s really good.’ And when Gizzi asked if it was a good substitute for her normal pizza Zoe replied,

‘Definitely. It’s got all my favourite pizza toppings on it and so much more healthy. It’s really lovely, the combination with the egg and the tomatoes and the ciabatta.’

Gizzi said,

‘You can play around with it, you know. If you fancy putting spinach on here that would be delicious. Especially with the egg!’

Zoe’s New Yorker pizza has a staggering 60grams of fat per portion.

Gizzi’s scrummy Gratin Pizziola has a mere 15grams of fat per portion. A quarter of the fat of Zoe’s favourite.

Zoe said,

‘There’s been some really interesting things like, I would NEVER have guessed how many calories were in the pizza! The Katsu, always knew it was naughty but it’s a bit naughtier than I thought it was going to be. But, the alternative recipes are nice and you don’t feel like you’re missing out by having homemade Katsu rather than the takeaway one and because they’re so quick it’s like no different from making it than waiting for them to come round to deliver the pizza!’

Gizzi had one last surprise up her sleeve for Zoe. To help keep Zoe off the takeaway pizzas, Gizzi gave her a microplane. It grates really finely which, in turn, aerates the cheese which means you end up kidding yourself that you’re having a whole load of cheese when you’re not! A little piece of ungrated cheese goes a long way when you use a microplane!

If Zoe swaps her three dishes for Gizzi’s new ones and does her hotel room work out she could lose three stone in less than a year! Now that is how you cook yourself thin!


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Cook Yourself Thin Episode Four Zoe Harris

Last Updated Wednesday 16 June at 11:58 AM

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