Danielle Wood

Danielle Wood

Danielle is 23 and works for Camden Council in London. She has always been quite sporty but can’t play sports at the moment because of her weight. Being a sociable creature, Danielle likes nothing more than a Friday night out at the pub followed by a kebab on the way home. She is a self-confessed junk food addict and drinks more than her fair share of fizzy pop! She said,

‘I’m addicted to cheese, chocolate, crisps, sweets, cheesecake, burgers! I’m addicted to everything, everything that’s bad for you which tastes really good!’

At 5’6.5”, Danielle tips the scales at 17 stone 9lbs which is more than 7 stone overweight! She is under no illusions as to why. She said,

‘I’m overweight cos I eat too much and I eat the wrong foods and I overeat. Instead of making one sandwich, I’ll make two!’

Even though Danielle loves food, she is really unhappy with the consequences. She says she doesn’t like her belly because ‘it’s massive and just not attractive’.

Her favourite supper is a cockney caloriefest – Pie ‘n’ Mash! But that’s not the worst of it. Danielle guzzles gallons of fizzy pop all day and her third downfall is her cheesecake. She said,

‘I love cheesecake. It’s just so nice to have. You can cut a slice and it’s just all nice and creamy and it just makes you feel good. I don’t, obviously, have a whole cheesecake but I probably would if I could!’

Gizzi said,

‘Hopefully it’s just going to be a matter of showing her a few tricks so she can still eat what she wants but, actually, just do it better.’

Danielle’s mum and brother are also worried about her weight. Danielle’s mum said,

‘We do try and say to her don’t eat that, that’s not good for you. So she’s a bit of a secret hoarder eater as well. Sneaky!’

What’s in Your Fridge?

Gizzi arrived at Danielle’s house to see how she could help Danielle cook herself thin. Gizzi asked her what she would have on a typical day for snacks. Danielle told her she would reach for the chocolate bars. Danielle showed Gizzi where she kept them. Gizzi said,

‘Wowzers! So you actually have a draw full of, not just, we’re not just talking chocolate bars, we’re talking fizzy drinks as well?’

Gizzi told Danielle she was going to show her a replacement for the fizzy pop that she would get the same kick out of but that would be so much better for her health and weight.

Gizzi then asked Danielle about her nights out. Danielle said she would go out about once a week and have fix or six pints. Gizzi’s face was a picture when she heard that. She said,

‘Pints? Of beer? So you’re hardcore?’

But the thing is, the average pint of beer contains 230 calories. So just in drinks on her night out, Danielle is consuming at least 1150 calories. That’s without the kebab to round the evening off! And the calories from beer are completely empty – they have no nutritional value whatsoever!

Then Gizzi came across Danielle’s famous cheesecake and asked Danielle to tell her what was in it. Danielle said,

‘Erm. Cream cheese, double cream, icing sugar, lemon, vanilla, butter and the biscuits.’ All adding up to a whopping 7,500 calories for the cheesecake and 617 calories per slice!

There was also more fizzy pop, full fat cream cheese and a half eaten Chinese takeaway in Danielle’s fridge. Gizzi said it wasn’t looking good!

Snack Attack

Danielle’s fizzy drink obsession means that every day she is slugging 49 teaspoons of sugar in her drinks alone! That works out at 686 calories which is almost half her recommended daily intake and that’s before eating anything.

Gizzi told Danielle her first recipe was going to be a home-made Blackberry and Orange cordial which she said was really simple. With this recipe Gizzi had a trick up her sleeve. Another ‘super ingredient’ - Agave nectar. Never heard of it? You’re probably not alone so, keep reading!

It’s the nectar of a cactus plant which means it’s sugar, just not as we know it! Danielle tasted it and said it was really sweet. Agave nectar is a good substitute for processed sugar. Its slower releasing, natural sugars leave you feeling satisfied for longer – good tip there.

Once the cordial is made, if you mix it with fizzy water, you have a healthy, lower calorie fizzy drink. The recipe that Gizzi made would make 22 glasses of juice. The downside is that it looks like it might stain your wooden spoon!

Once the cordial had cooked down into a syrup, Gizzi got Danielle to taste it. She said it tasted just like jam. The naturally occurring vitamins and minerals in the cordial will increase Danielle’s energy and should help reduce her sugar cravings.

Gizzi's Blackberry and Orange Cordial

Danielle’s seven cans of fizzy pop come in at a massive 686 calories.
In seven glasses of Gizzi’s cordial there is a sedate and much more waist-friendly 182 calories. So 500 fewer calories just in Danielle’s drinks a day!

When Danielle tasted the drink she looked pleasantly surprised. She said it was really nice. Gizzi said that she thought it beat a can of pop any day and Danielle agreed with her!

Move It . . . Just a Little Bit

Danielle hasn’t always been out of shape. She was quite sporty when she was younger and even used to play footie for Leighton Orient! She said,

‘I loved playing football but I preferred going out on a Saturday night rather than playing football on a Sunday morning so, I just sort of gave it up unfortunately.’

And, as we all know, when the exercise stops, the weight gain starts. Danielle’s weight crept up and up until 2008 when Danielle was diagnosed with Cancer. She said,

‘I was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. I lost about four stone in the space of two months.’

Now she’s in remission her eating habits have got worse than ever. But, Danielle has realised the error of her ways and wants to make a really positive change. She said,

‘I’m determined this time for my health reasons to lose some weight and make myself healthy again.’

An expensive gym membership is not required to get fit and burn some calories. A simple exercise of keepy-uppy with a bean bag is perfect for Danielle with her love of the beautiful game. Just 15 minutes a day will get her on her feet, increase her heart rate, strengthen her leg muscles and burn 70 calories! Of course, with this exercise, the equipment is totally transportable and cheap. Danielle said,

‘I could probably do this at work if there was enough room but there’s always the parks down the road to do this in.’

All she has to do is chuck the bean bag in her handbag and get it out when she has some time and some space – perfect! Great tip there.

Calorie Swap

Another of Danielle’s downfall dishes is Pie ‘n’ Mash – a real Cockney classic. But if she carries on eating this dish, it will definitely mean ‘Barney Rubble’ (trouble for those of you who don’t speak Cockney Rhyming Slang!) for her waistline!

‘I love Pie ‘n’ Mash. It’s just a proper London food to have. It’s got nice mash, liquor which is like green gravy, lovely pies. If I could I would have it every day. It’s proper lush!’

Gizzi said,

‘She’s eating an awful big volume that is just pure carbohydrate and it’s one big pile of mush and she’s not going to be getting anything out of it.’

So, Gizzi’s challenge is to replace Danielle’s Cockney favourite with something that is a bit less belly busting! Is she up to the challenge?

Traditional Pie ‘n’ Mash is a plain mince and onion pie with mash and liquor. It’s really heavy on the carbs but light in taste. Gizzi is going to have to pull out all the stops in the flavour stakes if she’s going to win Danielle over on this one and something has got to go! Gizzi asked Danielle how she felt about losing the mash. Danielle said,

‘I don’t like it but it’s a change I’m gonna have to make.’

Gizzi said,

‘But, fear not! I’m gonna show you how to make a meat pie with a really rich, sumptuous, sticky meat filling.’

Gizzi used Shin of Beef because there’s not a lot of fat on it and it’s a cheaper cut. To prepare it, she made sure she cut all the extra fat off it. It’s amazing how the extra bits of fat that we leave on can stack up the calories. Good tip there.

She added shallots to the pie filling to bulk it out without adding fat and, added bonus, add some sweetness as Danielle does have a bit of a sweet tooth. Gizzi also added plain flour to the juices to thicken up the sauce without having to add butter – great skinny tip!

The beer and red wine that Gizzi added to the filling will bring a huge amount of flavour to it but, don’t worry about the alcohol because the cooking neutralises most of it so, not a lot of chance of getting pie eyed!

While Gizzi was making the pastry for Danielle’s pie, she used another secret ingredient to help keep the calories down. Now, even though it’s considered to be quite fatty, Gizzi used suet. But she used vegetable suet which has 30% less fat and 115 less calories than its beef counterpart. Yay! Another skinny tip!

The other calorie saving tip from Gizzi was to only use the pastry to give the pie a hat instead of having a bottom to it too. She said,

‘When people are trying to lose weight they sort of assume that you can’t have these things but, you know, that is such a small volume, it’s just a better quality of suet and we’re using less of it.’

Gizzi's Rich and Aromatic Meat Pot Pies

Danielle’s favourite Cockney comfort food comes in at a huge 835 calories per portion.
Gizzi’s rich and tasty pie comes in at just 639 calories per portion. Almost 200 calories less!

Danielle got stuck in to one of the pies and said it was really nice. She said,

‘It’s so yummy! It’s really, really good!’

The Fat Buster

Next up was Danielle’s amazing, creamy cheesecake. Danielle had already explained how she felt about cheesecake! It’s definitely one of her favourites and will be a hard one for Gizzi to beat. Gizzi said,

‘That cheesecake is just a solid wedge of cream. Honestly, to me it didn’t have that much flavour. It was fine, it was delicious, I wouldn’t have turned my nose up at it but it wasn’t the sort of food that makes you go, Wow! This is really delicious. I want to teach her that she can actually put loads of flavour into her food and actually get more out of it.’

Danielle has been known to polish off a quarter of one of her cheesecakes in one day! Gizzi told Danielle that just three slices of the cheesecake had the same amount of fat in them as 21 Mars bars – 220grams of fat! That’s a HUGE amount! And this writer doesn’t know anyone that could get through that amount of Mars bars in one day. Do you?

Definitely time for a ‘cake-over’!

Gizzi told Danielle she was going to show her how to make a less fatty cheesecake that would also have so much more flavour and be MORE enjoyable to eat.

For the base, Gizzi used Amaretti biscuits. They have loads more taste than a normal digestive and have just 1gram of fat per biscuit whereas digestives have 3grams. Fat busting tip for you there! And, to help with portion control, Gizzi was making individual cheesecakes. Oooh sneaky tip there! Gizzi also used extra light cream cheese and zero fat Greek Yoghurt in place of the double cream to cut back even more on the fat. To make the topping Gizzi used fresh strawberries and a sugar free jam.

The cheesecakes looked really good when Gizzi had finished them. Danielle tried one and said,

‘It’s really lush! That’s really nice. Definitely this cheesecake wins hands down. Even if I wasn’t on a health kick I could not eat 21 Mars bars!’ She looked really happy too!

Gizzi's Individual Strawberry Cheesecake

Danielle’s creamfest cheesecake burst with fat at 54grams per slice.
Gizzi’s individual cheesecakes float in at just 6.4grams of fat per portion! Almost eight and a half times less!

Now that Danielle has tried and tasted Gizzi’s alternatives for her favourites, would she be changing her ways? Gizzi said,

‘We’ve been on quite a journey haven’t we Danielle? So will you be more inclined to try new things?’

‘Definitely. I now know you can make things that you enjoy but in a healthy way and not have to not have them any more. Like the cheesecake. Now I can enjoy a healthier version of the cheesecake which is always a good thing and not lose any flavour. It’s gaining more flavour!’

Gizzi told Danielle that before she sent her on her way she had a gift for her. She gave her a steamer in a bid to encourage her to eat more vegetables.

If Danielle just swaps her favourite dishes with Gizzi’s alternatives and carries on playing keepy-uppy daily, she could save nearly 5,200 calories a week and shed nearly two and a half stone in six months! Now that is how you cook yourself thin!


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Cook Yourself Thin Episode Seven Danielle Wood

Last Updated Tuesday 15 June at 2:52 PM

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