Billie Josephs

Billie Josephs

By CYT Staff Trudi Maples

In today’s show, Gizzi meets 60 year old, comfort cook, Billie Jospehs. Billie’s favourite recipes are her buttery fruit crumble and custard, a double portion of turkey schnitzel and Roast Chicken with all the trimmings!


Billie is a semi-retired food critic, married with two grown-up children, lives in North London and is a self-confessed addict of all things edible!

Billie says that she loves food and that if you don’t like food, you don’t like life in her opinion.

Billie is 5’ and weighs in at 14stone. She is concerned about her ever-increasing waistline. She said,

‘I was, in fact, 6stone when I got married. Suddenly I thought, wow! Look at those chins, they weren’t there before!’

Naughty Habits

Billie loves comfort food and, although she is good at cooking, she does tend to stick to the same tried and tasted recipes. On Friday’s Billie religiously cooks and eats a huge seven course family feast of traditional foods. It starts with a chicken soup and then onion, followed by chopped liver, roast chicken with all the trimmings, fruit crumble with custard, chocolate mousse all finished off with coffee and chocolates. Phew!

Billie’s crumble is a family favourite and she admits she doesn’t measure things out very well so sometimes there is more sugar than there should be, sometimes too much butter – very definitely a comfort food.

On Wednesdays, Billie cooks turkey schnitzel. She said,

‘Turkey Schnitzel is the kind of meal we have midweek. We have two each cos you just can’t eat one!’

She fries the Schnitzel in corn oil but thinks she might use a little too much. She also cooks mashed potato with the Schnitzel. She said,

‘And if you’re gonna make mashed potato, you have to have lots because it’s sad not to have some really decent mashed potato,’

Her other naughty habit is her compulsion to snack. She loves chocolate with nuts in, the old fashioned candy cigarettes, flying saucers (wow! Blast from the past!), liquorice . . .

Billie said,

‘Really what I’ve got to do is eat less and exercise, and that is my biggest problem – portion control,’

Gizzi said,

‘We’re all guilty of falling back into cooking the same old same old but, it’s not always doing us any favours. Just by learning a few new techniques and experimenting with new flavours we can wake up our senses AND slim down!’

Gizzi Meets Billie

Gizzi introduced herself to Billie and said,

‘So Billie, I’m here to help you try and shift some pounds. Tell me a bit about your food background,’

Billie told Gizzi how much she loves food and that she doesn’t want to give up on it. But she said she did want to be healthy. She said,

‘What I’d love to know is how I can perhaps cook what I like but not with as much fat, with as much butter and if you can help me I would be really very grateful,’

What’s In Your Fridge?

Gizzi then rooted through Billie’s cupboards and fridge. She said,

‘Hmmmmmmmm. Quite a lot of chocolate here. How much of this could you get through?’

‘All of it,’ Billie replied

‘Daily?’ Gizzi asked

‘Possibly!’ Billie said, grinning sheepishly

Gizzi then saw the biccies and asks Billie how many she would have. Billie said it’s a bit of a treat and that she would have at least two.

Two biscuits doesn’t sound like much but it all adds up. Eating two chocolate biscuits a day could add a huge 1176 calories onto her weekly calorie intake! Add to that, 1267 calories from the giant bars of chocolate Billie eats. Wow! That’s quite a lot of extra calories!

Gizzi then looked in Billie’s freezer – it was full of frozen sweet treats like apple pies, ice cream, roulade, choc ices, gooey puddings and cheesecake and I am sure I spotted a lovely big tub of Ben and Jerry’s! Gizzi said,

‘Ah so this is where we going wrong!’

Billie said,

‘In case of emergency!’ laughing.

Gizzi asked her how often emergencies come along and Billie laughed saying,

‘Oh every day!’

She added,

‘Hands up, I’m guilty!’

Then Gizzi went on to the fridge. The first thing she saw was a jug of chicken stock with a thick layer of fat on the top. There was also butter, cheese and houmous – all of which are really fattening. One of Billie’s crumbles was also in the fridge - Gizzi sampled it. She said,

‘After a heavy meal, having something that has got a fair bit of butter in it makes it really high in calories. So I think it’s worth us thinking about something we can do that might not be so fatty and sugary,’

Billie said she would love to find out how to do something similar to her crumble. Her crumble isn’t just a Friday night pudding. It’s been a constant resident in her fridge for years. Gizzi said,

‘Billie is one of those classic, traditional cooks but she’s stuck in a rut. She needs to be open to new flavours, she needs to be open to new cuisines and I know that way it will open up a whole new world for her. She’ll get excited by food again and I promise you that will make her cook leaner!’

Snack Attack

To replace Billie’s buttery, sugary fruit crumble, Gizzi suggested a Plum & Almond Clafoutis - which is a fruity pudding topped with a batter. A bit like toad in the hole with plums – sounds yummy!

Instead of using normal sugar, Gizzi used a fruit sugar (fructose) which is one and a half times sweeter than sugar so you don’t need as much. Less is more! It is super sweet but without the aftertaste of artificial sweeteners – Good tip there then!

The finished article got a thumbs up from Billie. She said,

‘I think it’s lovely, hence I can’t sop eating it!’

Some of the plums had turned into a really lovely, sticky sauce in the bottom of the dish and the batter looked lovely and light.

Gizzi asked Billie,

‘Do you feel like you’re getting short changed? Do you feel like you’re missing out?’

Billie said,

‘Well, if anything I think it’s even more filling! And I like the fact that it’s actually got a kick to it! I wish I’d made it years earlier!’

Gizzi Erskine's Plum and Almond Clafoutis

Billie’s Fruit Crumble & Custard 587 calories per portion

Gizzi’s Plum & Almond Clafoutis 288 calories per portion

That’s a saving of 299 calories per portion in one fell swoop! Billie’s pudding has nearly twice the calories!

Move It . . . Just A Little Bit

The past few years have seen Billie’s weight rocket but now she is retired she has time to address the issue. She knows she eats too much and doesn’t do enough exercise. Billie said,

‘As I said to my husband, I am twice the woman he married!’

With her new Grandson arriving, Billie feels her health is more important than ever. She realises that there is a possibility of diabetes and strokes when you’re overweight and she wants to make the changes now to reduce her risk of getting weight related illnesses.

Exercise has never been a top priority for Billie but, as we all know, a little goes a long way and an expensive gym membership isn’t necessary to get yourself moving.

Stair climbing in your own home or at the office is a great way of burning calories and getting fit because your body has to work against gravity. It’s also a fab exercise to help make your tushi nice and pert!

If Billie climbs the stairs for 10 minutes every day, she could burn 609 calories a week. Not a bad start. And couple that with the calorie saving in the different puddings, she is off to a flying start! She said,

‘Well the stairs, I think, is a good idea. I can do it any time I like, morning, afternoon, evening,’

Later she said,

‘I do feel like I’ve worked out – definitely.’ Wiping the sweat off her brow.

The Fat Buster

When it comes to Billie’s Turkey Schnitzel and mash, Gizzi said it was going to have to be one or the other if Billie wanted to lose weight. Gizzi said she thought Billie would prefer to lose the mash than the Schnitzel because Gizzi felt that was the exciting part. But she was going to give her something vibrant to go with it that would wake her taste buds up.

Billie went to Gizzi’s kitchen to see Gizzi had up her sleeve! Gizzi explained to Billie that in her original Schnitzel and Mash there was the same amount of fat as 16 Jammy Dodgers! The equivalent of 50grams of fat! Billie looked horrified when Gizzi told her that.

Gizzi said,

‘What I’m going to do for you is go for something that is actually pretty indulgent. Going to go for a Chicken and Parmesan Schnitzel and with that I’m going to serve a really interesting coleslaw.’

While Gizzi was preparing the chicken, she flattened it with a rolling pin – not a bad way to stave off the bingo wings eh? Billie said,

‘Now I can see that maybe if I was to do that one would be enough rather than two,’

Gizzi said that the thing about breadcrumbs is that they soak up the oil they are cooking in, meaning the dish has way more fat in it than you think. With the crumb that she would be using, it takes on the crispness without soaking up the oil. Gizzi said that was to do with the polenta – another good tip!

Gizzi also said that it was important to measure the oil for cooking too. That way you know exactly what is going into the meal.

Gizzi's Crispy Parmesan Chicken

Billie’s double Schnitzel and Mash came in at a whopping 47.9grams of fat per portion.

Gizzi’s Crispy Chicken and Homemade Coleslaw came in at a healthier 11.5grams of fat.

Almost three times less!

Billie said to Gizzi that she thought Gizzi had just saved her life with the fat reduction. Gizzi said it wasn’t a bad substitute and Billie replied,

‘It’s not a substitute is it? It’s better!’

Calorie Swap

Two down and one to go! The next dish that Gizzi needed to look at was Billie’s Roast Chicken dinner. Billie said she loved Roast Chicken because, to her, it said Family. She said it equated to happiness for her.

Gizzi agreed. She said,

‘For me Roast Chicken is the most amazing meal. You don’t get better than a proper roast chicken with the works – with the stuffing, and the roast potatoes and all that delicious gravy! So how can I mess around with that? I don’t think I can. I think, in a way, I have to step away from the traditional and just use a completely different cooking technique to, you know, make her just a more inspired. Show her some ingredients she’s never known and maybe serve it in a completely different way.'

Gizzi asked Billie how many calories she thought would be in a roast chicken dinner with the trimmings. Billie said,

‘500,’ shrugging her shoulders – she really didn’t know. Gizzi said,

‘Try 1088 calories per portion – it’s such a shame right? It’s roast chicken, it’s not fair but, it’s really not a problem. I just want to show you, by adding some different flavours into what you are used to you can actually make a really low fat, low calorie roast chicken.’

Gizzi had decided to seek inspiration in Asia and was going for Vietnamese style food because it is naturally low in fat and ‘rammed’ with flavour. She had decided to pot roast the chicken in beer which could then be used to make a lovely gravy. Gizzi also used palm sugar in her Pot Roast Chicken which has a lovely toffee taste. She also used Fish Sauce – it’s not recommended that you smell this stuff from the bottle – very strong smell and taste so make sure you use it sparingly! But it does make a very good alternative to salt – wow! Another good tip!

Gizzi Erskine's Vietnamese Pot Roast Chicken

Billie’s Roast Chicken Dinner comes in at a monumental 1088 calories per portion.

Gizzi’s Vibrant Vietnamese Pot Roast Chicken with Pak Choi and Steamed Rice comes in at a wonderful 370 calories per portion.

A huge difference in calories there! Billie said that it did still fill her up and she felt good knowing that she wasn’t adding the calories. She said the dish was really tasty. Gizzi asked her if she thought her family would handle it and Billie said,

‘Definitely! It’ll blow their minds – that’s for sure!’

Gadget Swap

Gizzi definitely had a challenge on her hands with Billie who just loves food and is a serial snacker. But Gizzi definitely came up trumps with helping Billie to cook herself thin!

Billie said,

‘I am so excited! You think sometimes, you know, I’m set in my ways, I’m too old. But no, I’m not! And I’m really looking forward to trying these dishes out.’

Gizzi said that she knew Billie loved her roast chicken and that she wasn’t asking her to rule it out completely so she had bought her a gift.

Gizzi presented Billie with a roasting tray for her chicken with a roasting rack inside it. It means that the roast chicken can sit on the rack and the fat will drain out as it cooks, rather than sitting in the fat and soaking it all up.

If Billie does nothing more than swap her original dishes for Gizzi’s three new recipes and carries on doing 15 minutes of exercise a day she could lose 2492 calories a week which could mean a satisfying loss of 2½ stone per year! Now that’s how you cook yourself thin!


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Cook Yourself Thin Episode One Billie Josephs

Last Updated Wednesday 16 June at 11:42 AM

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