Catia Lopes

Catia Lopes

By CYT Staff Trudi Maples

33 year old Catia is originally from Portugal and loves cooking big, hearty Portuguese dinners for herself and husband Louis. She said,


‘Portuguese food tends to be a bit rich because we tend to use a lot of butter or olive oil to fry things.’


Her favourite foods are Portuguese Shepherd’s Pie with loads of creamy mashed potato on top, a roast lamb dinner with the lamb roasted in butter and, her biggest downfall, Haagen Dazs ice cream.

At her biggest, Catia was a size 18 but managed to shed 3½ stone. Then, in 2009 she had knee surgery and has gone back to a size 16 now and, at 5’7” Catia weighs in at a cuddly 13 stone.

Gizzi Meets Catia

Gizzi arrived at Catia’s place to take a look at the sort of thing that Catia normally eats and have a poke around in her fridge and cupboards. Gizzi asked Catia if she has an emotional connection with food. Catia said,

‘Yeah I do tend to feel very emotional with food,’

Gizzi the said,

‘The sort of food you’re cooking, would you say that generally it’s home cooked and it’s got love but, would you say that it tends to be verging on the wicked side and a bit indulgent?’

Catia said her cooking was definitely indulgent and slightly wicked. She said Portuguese cooking involved a lot of olive oil, butter and cream so a lot of the dishes were very high in fat but also very luxurious and always reminded Catia of home.

What’s In Your Fridge?

It was time for Gizzi to investigate Catia’s fridge, freezer and cupboard. There was lots of sugary, chocolaty breakfast cereals. Gizzi suggested that maybe Catia could start the day with some toast and a poached egg which would fill her up for longer instead of filling up with sugar.

Catia certainly seemed to have a very sweet tooth with her cake mixes and the tubs of Haagen Dazs!

In Catia’s fridge was a ready made pizza and some garlic bread. She also had her infamous homemade shepherd’s pie looking rather delicious and all the usual suspects for someone who is a baker. Gizzi said,

‘That’s all fresh – it’s a good fridge. I’m really, really pleased with that,’

She went on to say,

‘Catia’s a tricky one for me because she kind of eats really well. Ultimately, it comes down to two things. That’s portion control and the fact that she’s cooking old school Portuguese techniques which probably involve an awful lot of fat and butter and oil,’

But it is Catia’s indulgent Cookie and Cream Haagen Dazs that Gizzi needs to re-invent first.

Snack Attack

Gizzi told Catia that she was going to show her how to make some proper ice-cream and went on to explain that ice cream is fatty for various reasons but mainly because of the cream that is used to make it. It also has a lot of eggs in it because it is made using a custard base. Gizzi told Catia she had got a bit of a cheat to help make the ice cream lower in fat and calories. Catia was VERY keen on that!

Gizzi’s cheat was . . . custard powder! Lower in calories and fat than the eggs that would normally be used. Instead of using cream, Gizzi used some half fat crème fraiche which would give the ice cream the luxurious texture associated with it. Oooh, here we go with the tips! And to give it some extra body, Gizzi used some zero fat Greek yoghurt.

Catia’s favourite ice cream is cookies and cream so, because Gizzi wanted her lower calorie, lower fat version to be as close to Catia’s favourite as possible, she used Amaretti biscuits to give it the crunch.

Gizzi's Vanilla, Ameretti and Raspberry Ice Cream

Catia’s Cookie and Cream Haagen Dazs ice cream comes in at a whopping 281 calories!

Gizzi’s Amaretti and Raspberry ice cream comes in at a very respectable 167 calories. Not bad for a sweet, indulgent treat!

Gizzi’s ice cream got the thumbs up from Catia and she said that it didn’t taste like diet ice cream at all! She said it was very creamy. Gizzi said,

‘So you don’t have to feel so guilty when you want to indulge in something now!’

Move It . . . Just a Little Bit

Since moving to the UK in 2000, Catia’s weight has yo-yoed. At her heaviest, she was a size 18 at her lightest, she was a size 14. But in 2009, Catia had knee surgery which left her housebound. She said,

‘I couldn’t get out of the house so it’s really hard when you don’t exercise or walk. Since the operation I’ve put a stone on. I’ve always cared if I even put a pound on because battling with the weight most of my life made me realise that I can’t afford to go back to the way I used to be. Especially for health reasons,’

Working out at home doesn’t need expensive equipment and you don’t need to leave the comfort of your living room. For Catia, she could do bicep curls with a bean can in each hand which will help to tone up the bingo wings.

Catia is not able to do exercise that involves pressure on her knees so, she could use resistance tubes to tone up her upper body and sit ups to tone and reduce a muffin top! She could also do press ups against the wall. If she did all of this for 10 minutes every day, she could burn off 700 calories a week without leaving the house!

Calorie Swap

Catia’s favourite meat is lamb and her favourite cut is the leg. Gizzi said,

‘Roast lamb is a notoriously fatty meat. Also, the cut she likes, which is leg, is really fatty. Now in order for me to be able to cut back on the calories I’m going to have to use a different cut of meat and probably be a much leaner one which she may not be used to so, I’m a little bit nervous about that!’

Gizzi's Roast Rack of Lamb

Gizzi had decided to try Catia with a Roast Rack of Lamb with a Warm Courgette, Bean and Flageolet Salad instead of Catia’s normal Roast Leg of Lamb with extra trimmings.

Gizzi told Catia that not only would the dish be a lot less calories but, it would cook in under 20 minutes!

When Gizzi was preparing the courgettes, she showed Catia an Oil Pump. It means you can use oil to cook with but you use a fraction of the normal amount because it sprays a light dusting in a controlled way. Great tip!

Catia’s Roast Leg of Lamb Dinner with Extra Trimmings contains a huge 1446 calories per portion!
Gizzi’s Roasted Rack of Lamb with Warm Courgette, Bean and Flageolet Salad has a mere 332 calories per portion.

That’s a saving of over 1100 calories, yep 1100 calories, in one meal! Phew!

Catia tasted the lamb dish and said,

‘Wow!’ she was obviously enjoying it!

‘It’s really good. It’s amazing!’

Gizzi said,

‘It just goes to show using a different cut of meat, different cooking technique, use some clever things like low fat crème fraiche, you can get a really good low calorie, low fat meal,’

She went on to ask,

‘Would this compete with what you are used to having for your big roast?’

Catia said,

‘Yeah, it’s a winner I must say! Fantastic flavours!’

Fat Buster

With two dishes successfully transformed, all Gizzi had to tackle next was the buttery Portuguese shepherd’s pie. Catia said looking a little guilty,

‘I love it so much with lots and lots of creamy mashed potato on top! That’s really yummy! It tastes like home,’

Gizzi said,

‘When it comes to the shepherd’s pie I know that I can do one. I live off shepherd’s pie, it’s one of my favourite dishes! And I know every trick there is in the book to make that one lean! Because she likes it Portuguese style she’s probably used to having it with a bit of spice and I think I’m gonna give her some spice but in a different dimension this time. Something she’s probably not expecting,’

Gizzi asked Catia to have a think about how much fat she would expect her Portuguese Shepherd’s Pie would have in it. Catia said she wouldn’t have a clue but that she thought it would be a lot.

In just one portion of Catia’s Portuguese Shepherd’s Pie there is the same amount of fat as there is in a 12 steamed chocolate puddings! A massive 66grams of fat!

In one portion of Gizzi’s Spiced Shepherd’s Pie, there is a very modest 12grams of fat!

Gizzi's Shepherd's Pie

Gizzi said that when you are cooking minced lamb, if you have a good quality non-stick frying pan, there is no need to use oil to brown the mince. Another good tip – invest in a decent pan and save on the fat!

To help reduce the fat and calories even more, make sure you drain the mince – Gizzi got at least three tablespoons of fat from the mince once it had been browned. She also suggested bulking up the mince with onion, chopped carrot and leek. Tip after tip in this episode!

While they waited for the sauce to simmer and thicken, Gizzi asked Catia how the dish was different so far. Catia said that Gizzi had used a lot more vegetables than she would.

For the topping Gizzi decided to use celeriac instead of potatoes. She said,

‘Now we all love potatoes. I’m a big fan of mash potato as well but, it’s one of the highest calorie root vegetables you can use!’

Once the Shepherd’s Pie was ready, they both tried it. Success! Catia loved it. She said,

‘I actually don’t miss the potato!  It’s really good,’

Catia said she felt great – she couldn’t believe the amount of calories she would normally eat. She said it was really good to know the new recipes that were lower calorie and lower fat.

Gizzi asked if her new techniques would be useful and Catia said she would definitely use the idea of spraying the oil to cook with and that intended to get an oil pump.

‘Funny you should mention that!’ said Gizzi

‘Cos actually, I’ve got you a gift,’ and she presented Catia with her very own oil pump.

Catia was over the moon and said she would definitely use it.

If Catia did nothing but swap her three favourite dishes for the versions that Gizzi has shown her and continued with 20 minutes of exercise each day, she could lose 2 stone in under a year! And that is how to cook yourself thin!


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Cook Yourself Thin Episode Two Catia Lopes

Last Updated Wednesday 16 June at 11:49 AM

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