Photography student, Emma is 45 and loves cooking for her husband and children. She uses top, organic ingredients and nearly all her food is home cooked – so where is she going wrong?
It could be all the double cream and butter she uses when she’s cooking! She admits to having at least four packs of butter in the fridge at any time (and we won’t mention the stash of Green and Black’s chocolate!) but, she doesn’t want to give the butter up because she thinks it will mean a compromise on taste.
She is a petite 5’1” but weighs in at almost 12 stone. She said,
‘I’m not big boned, I haven’t got a slow metabolism, I just eat too much fat! Butter, oil, I can drink double cream!’
A real Dairy Queen then Emma? Her cooking is all about indulgent, real ingredients and only the best will do. Her home-made, creamy fish pie is one of her favourites. But, as the name suggests, it has double cream in it. She said,
‘It does contain lots of lovely, good fish and hard-boiled eggs and some vegetables and then I lather double cream over it.’ Over a pint, in fact!
The topping is mashed potato with even more double cream and butter – half a block of butter. Then, over the top of that, she adds olive oil. And, as this isn’t an occasional treat but a family favourite, it features in her menu regularly. The creamy mash also features in another of her downfall dishes – Ox Cheek Stew with Mash which contains a massive 81 grams of fat!
Her third downfall dish has lashings of melted chocolate in it. She said,
‘If I was on a desert island, I would have to take chocolate – there’s iron in it, it’s very healthy!’
She makes home made Rocky Road squares and adores them! But she did admit that everything in them is ‘quite bad’. She also says she puts the finished articles in the fridge and then they sit there calling her name! She said,
‘I gift it to people so I try and make them fat as well. So if I see anyone skinny they have to have some!’
‘It’s a common misconception that when you’re trying to lose weight you have to give up creamy textures but, in fact with such great ingredients out there like low fat coconut milk, zero fat Greek yoghurt, half fat crème fraiche and sour cream, you can have your creamy textures.’
Gizzi Meets Emma
Gizzi arrived at Emma’s house to check out her eating habits and find out where Emma is going wrong. She asked Emma to tell her how she had got to where she is and how it makes her feel. Emma said,
‘By eating too much really. It’s that simple. I love to cook, I think when you cook for someone you’re showing love to them. My parents are very good cooks – both of them. So we had lovely soul food and that’s what I try and give to my children. Really good, healthy soul food.’
Gizzi said that there was an element of killing them with kindness in there too though because some of the food Emma cooks for her family can be fatty. She said,
‘I think you can get the same sort of kick out of cooking a new way. Let’s really excite their palates, let’s give them something new and fresh. I want to show this love but in a different way that’s gonna be, really, a bit more vivacious and exciting for you.’
What’s in Your Fridge?
Gizzi said she wanted to have a really good look round Emma’s kitchen to see if she could find some evidence. Emma said she might!
The first place Gizzi stopped at was the fridge and the first thing Gizzi saw was Emma’s stash of chocolate – 15 bars in fact! Then there was a bit of butter – well, ten packs that is. Of course, there was also the ‘vats’ of double cream. Just one of the pots of cream in Emma’s fridge contains 285 grams of fat!
Gizzi found a pot of Emma’s Rocky Road squares and asked Emma how many she reckoned she could get through at a time. Emma said,
‘Depends. If it’s lunch there could be five or six of them.’
Gizzi tried one and said they were really good! So she knew the Rocky Road addiction was going to be a hard one for her to break! She said,
‘The fact that she can get through four, five, six cubes of it is a bit insane. If she’s gonna have a chocolate hit, she needs to get it right between the eyes so she doesn’t actually wanna go back for more.’
The first dish for Gizzi to tackle was the Rocky Road squares. Emma has been known to actually miss a meal so she can have a fix!
Gizzi told Emma she was going to show her how to make a scrumptious Turkish Delight Chocolate Brownie. But it was a brownie with a double whammy. Gizzi asked Emma if she could see anything missing in the ingredients on the table. Emma said, with a bit of a tremble in her voice, there was no butter! Emma said,
‘How can you cook with no butter!’ wiping her brow!
Gizzi told Emma that she had a bit of a secret ingredient up her sleeve. There were some funny shaped items on the worktop – they were roasted sweet potatoes. Gizzi said they would add extra sweetness and extra moisture to the finished article. She scooped out the centres to use in the recipe. And, of course, the Turkish Delight is low in fat and calories.
Emma’s homemade Rocky Road Squares, although delicious, come in at a massive 666 calories per portion.
Gizzi’s sticky, homemade Turkish Delight Brownies come in at just 328 calories per portion. Half the calories!
The brownies looked really gooey and fudgy – just how a brownie should be! Emma tucked in and said,
‘There’s some serious stick in that! That’s chocolate heaven!’
Gizzi asked if she could taste the sweet potato and if the brownie tasted like a healthy one. Emma said no, it tasted absolutely wicked and really bad for you!
Move It . . . Just a Little Bit
As with quite a lot of us as we have got older, Emma hasn’t always been 12 stone. She said her weight is like a yo-yo. When she was working in the corporate world, she burned off the calories and kept trim. One of the problems she has now is that she hates exercise. She said,
‘I hate exercise with a passion you can only dream of. I really find it boring and dull.’
But, to lose weight and tone up, we need to burn calories and get moving! Unfortunately, as well as her dislike for exercise, she also spends a lot of time at her desk in front of the computer. But, she could do a desk based workout and fit it into her day.
- Shoulder Press – Pull two of the biggest books off your shelf and use them as weights
- Knee Lift – Sit on the chair and lift your knees from your hips, using your tummy muscles
- Leg Extension – Lift your legs from the knees, just like doing the Can Can!
- Abdominal Rotation – Hold a large book out in front of you and turn to the side keeping your bottom half facing forward, then return to the centre and turn to the opposite side
- Bicycle Crunch – Bring one elbow down and the knee of the opposite leg up to meet it – swap and repeat
Just by doing these exercises at her desk, Emma could burn 100 calories in ten minutes! If she did it daily for a year, she could burn off more than a stone!
Emma’s Ox Cheek Stew and Mash was the next dish for a Gizzi Makeover. Gizzi said,
‘That is such hearty, good cooking but, I just want to show her how she doesn’t need to add all this extra fat into her cooking.’
Gizzi told Emma she was going to do a really, rich aromatic beef stew and, instead of the Ox Cheeks that Emma normally uses, Gizzi told Emma she was going to use Beef Shin. It’s a leaner cut but still great for a slow-cooked stew. For the base of the stew, Gizzi used onions for the savouriness, carrots for the sweetness and celery to give it depth.
The ingredient missing this time was the potatoes. Gizzi explained to Emma that the potato is a really high carb vegetable which, in turn makes it quite calorific. But, it didn’t mean Gizzi wasn’t going to give Emma her mash – it was going to be a root vegetable mash instead. Gizzi used celeriac, swede and turnip. And, to give Emma her creaminess, Gizzi cooked the veggies in milk rather than water.
When the veggies were cooked, but before they were mashed, Gizzi strained the milk off. And, to make the smoothest mash, Gizzi used a potato ricer. Gizzi did give Emma a little bit of butter in the mash but, it was just a teaspoon. Emma looked amazed that she was using such a small amount. Emma said,
‘I think you’d die of you saw how much I would normally put in to mash!’
Gizzi also used a small amount of the milk that was used to cook the veggies to help make the mash smoother. She also used a touch of grated nutmeg to warm it all up.
Emma’s Ox Cheek Stew and Creamy Mash came in at a humungous 1449 calories per portion.
Gizzi’s Rich Aromatic Beef Stew with Root Vegetable Mash comes in at a much more deLITEful 476 calories per portion. Almost 1000 calories less in one fell swoop!
Emma said the finished dish looked divine. She got stuck in and said,
‘It is truly delicious. Absolutely gorgeous. And that mash is definitely going on the menu at my house!’ She went on to say,
‘I’ve really got to think about what I’m doing to my children when I give them too much fat. Although they’re skinny now, they’ll battle like I do with weight for the rest of their lives if I don’t crack it now!’
The Fat Buster
Two dishes down and one left to go. Next up was Emma’s Creamy Fish Pie. Emma described the taste as savoury, fatty, creamy fatty, creamy! Gizzi said,
‘She needs to step away from thinking that cream is the world when it comes to cooking. I want to take her away from her comfort zone and show her something where she gets her fish, she gets her creaminess but, you know, maybe a different way of cooking it.’
First, Gizzi had a shock for Emma. She told Emma that there was the same amount of fat in her fish pie as there is in 138 iced party ring biscuits! Emma was definitely shocked and took a sharp intake of breath.
Gizzi said she thought it was time for Emma to try something that was just as indulgent and delicious but with a lot less fat – this writer definitely agrees there!
Gizzi was going to show Emma how to make her Pink Prawn and Crab Open Lasagne. Emma looked intrigued. The base of the lasagne was a rich prawn sauce with a ‘good lug’ of brandy and she used low fat crème fraiche to make it nice and creamy for Emma – all the flavour but none of the fat!
The finished article didn’t look like lasagne as we know it but it did look fabulous! Emma got stuck in and approved! Gizzi asked her if she felt like she was missing the cream. Emma said,
‘No because it’s still in the sauce. So as long as I know there’s something in there.’
Emma’s Creamy Fish Pie clocked up a massive 31 grams of fat per portion.
Gizzi’s Pink Prawn and Crab Open Lasagne had a mere 14.4 grams of fat – less than half!
Gizzi asked Emma if she had come along thinking that they would be feeding her all the stuff that she loved. Emma said she hadn’t. She said she thought they would be giving her things like water and orange juice! She went on to say that she had learnt you could still have the indulgent, delicious food but without the fat. Gizzi said,
‘I think with you, it has been the cooking techniques.’ She went on to say that Emma didn’t have to get rid of her buttery, creamy mash all together but to keep it for a really special treat.
To help Emma pack bags of flavour into her food, Gizzi presented her with an herb saver to help Emma keep her herbs fresh for ages in the fridge. She told Emma that every time Emma felt the urge to reach for the cream, she wanted her to reach for the Herb Saver instead.
If Emma changes her fatty recipes for Gizzi’s new, lower fat, lower calorie ones and does her desk workout five times a week, she could lose 2½ stone in just six months! Now that is how you cook yourself thin!
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