The America’s Most Wanted Recipes
cookbook series has become well known for providing accurate copycat recipes of your favorite restaurant dishes. People really love having the option of saving money by re-creating restaurant-quality meals at home whenever they want—so much so that we’ve developed a huge following, with more than 1 million books in print and over 1.9 million monthly views of our Web site, RecipeSecrets.net.
Now, in America’s Most Wanted Recipes Without the Guilt,
we’ve focused on providing reduced-calorie versions with the same great taste that you’ll find at the most popular restaurants in the country. Yes, you can enjoy your favorite foods without the guilt! America’s Most Wanted Recipes Without the Guilt
was inspired by my childhood friend and neighbor Troy “Escalade” Jackson, who passed away in his sleep in February 2011 at age thirty-five. Troy was a legendary athlete from Queens, New York, and had thousands of adoring fans and friends. He was a class act and will truly be missed.
In the wake of my friend’s sudden passing, I decided to make America’s Most Wanted Recipes Without the Guilt
more than just a cookbook. I felt an obligation to use the success of my cookbooks as a platform for educating readers on how to eat more healthfully as a better way of life instead of as just a temporary diet.
We’ve enlisted the help of licensed, registered dietitian Mary M. Franz to provide nutritional details and healthy tips throughout this cookbook. We’ve also worked with Mary to provide you with a comprehensive health and nutrition guide, located at the back of this book.
For each recipe in America’s Most Wanted RecipesWithout the Guilt,
we’ve included simple ways to make your favorite restaurant meals healthier, along with the number of calories saved by doing so. We hope that our examples help readers learn how to choose healthier options in their everyday meal planning. THE OBESITY EPIDEMIC
It is no secret that Americans are getting heavier. Chances are good that you know someone who is struggling to lose weight, or maybe you are battling your own weight problem. If so, you know how incredibly difficult it can be to lose even a few pounds. And maybe, like many others, you have just given up and resigned yourself to living with your excess weight.
The facts are stunning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 34 percent of American adults are either overweight or obese, and 6 percent are classified as “extremely obese.” In addition, nearly 20 percent of American kids aged two to seventeen are now obese. Childhood obesity is of special concern because it often leads to poor health very early in life. For example, over half of obese kids have at least one risk factor for heart disease, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. In addition, children who are obese tend to be obese as adults.
People who are obese experience many negative effects on their health and well-being. In addition to having less energy and a poor self-image, obese individuals have higher rates of serious health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and some kinds of cancers, and experience physical ailments such as arthritis and back pain. Reasons for Obesity
Why are we so heavy? There are many reasons for the explosion in the rate of obesity, but two of the main ones are an inactive lifestyle and poor eating habits. The past century saw a dramatic drop in the amount of exercise we get. Many jobs are now sedentary, in contrast to the active physical work such as farming that once employed most people. In addition, driving has replaced walking for nearly all of our errands and activities, so far fewer of the calories we consume are being burned. As for kids, cuts in school athletic programs, less outdoor play, and increased television-watching and video game use are to blame.
Our poor eating habits are just as troubling. Skipping meals:
Busy schedules and long commutes cause about 40 percent of Americans to skip breakfast; in addition, about one-third of people trying to lose weight skip meals regularly. However, missing meals, particularly breakfast, has been shown to lead to overeating later in the day, especially of high-calorie foods such as sweets and salty snacks. Bigger portion sizes:
If you eat out in restaurants, you have probably noticed that the amount of food on your plate is increasing. Your eyes are not deceiving you! Over the past twenty years, restaurant portions have doubled and tripled in size, resulting in hundreds, if not thousands, of extra calories. This so-called portion distortion (discussed later on) is thought to be one of the main drivers behind the obesity epidemic. Eating more “empty-calorie foods”:
Empty-calorie foods are processed foods that contain large amounts of calories, fat, sugar, and salt, but little nutritional value. You know what they are: chips, cookies, cake, pie, fries, candy, soda, and doughnuts. Because these calorically loaded foods are now available on nearly every corner (from convenience stores, franchise coffee shops, and vending machines), we have the opportunity to eat more and more of them—and we do. Not enough fruits and vegetables:
Because fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories and high in fiber, they fill us up and can help us lose or maintain weight. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
recommends eating 2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables each day (about nine servings all together). However, less than 30 percent of Americans meet this goal. Restaurant dining:
Another possible reason for the increase in overweight and obesity is the number and types of meals eaten away from home. About 25 percent of Americans now eat fast food at least once a week, and many families have replaced dinners at home with take-out food or meals eaten at sit-down restaurants.
Although quick, convenient, and tasty, restaurant food tends to be high in calories, fat, sugar, and sodium. An average meal consisting of a cheeseburger, medium fries, and a medium soda in a fast-food restaurant comes in at around 1,100 calories, 50 grams of fat, and 1,300 mg of sodium, while a steak dinner with an appetizer and dessert at a popular restaurant chain can rack up 2,000 calories, over 100 grams of fat, and 4,000 mg of sodium. Such numbers are surprising even to veteran nutritionists, including Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University, who finds the sky-high calorie counts in restaurant foods to be “astonishing.” “For someone like me who thinks that she knows about these things, I’m stunned by the number of calories in fast foods. I had no idea.”
Why is restaurant food so fattening? The answer lies in the cooking methods as well as the ingredients that are used: butter, fats, oils, cream, cheese, heavy sauces, and sugar and other kinds of sweeteners.
One of the biggest culprits in boosting the calories in restaurant meals is fat, particularly butter, shortening, and frying fats, which contain high levels of saturated and trans fats. Because fat is a “flavor carrier” (meaning it enhances the taste and other sensory qualities of food), restaurant chefs often add it in large amounts to provide customers with the delicious dining experience they are seeking. Consider this: Nearly half of the fat in the aforementioned steak dinner is added during cooking, building in hundreds of extra calories.
Of course, fat is not the only culinary demon here. Soft drinks, shakes, and desserts are often loaded with sugar. A large fast-food shake may contain 145 grams (36 teaspoons) of sugar, pushing the calorie count to 1,100!
Fortunately, a new federal law now requires restaurants with twenty or more locations to post calorie counts for all of their menu items. This legislation was designed to help consumers make informed choices about what they are eating when dining out. Although many restaurant chains provide this information on their Web sites, they must now list calorie counts right on their menus. However, it may take many restaurants some time (perhaps a few years) to get up to speed with this new law. PORTION DISTORTION
Americans like big things, and our restaurant meals are no exception. Throughout the past twenty years, restaurant portions have doubled and even tripled, leading to sky-high calorie counts for many restaurant dishes. And although many of us have come to accept these enormous portions as normal, the truth is that a typical restaurant meal often provides enough food for two or three people. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has coined a term for this phenomenon: portion distortion.
COMPARISON OF PORTIONS AND CALORIES 20 YEARS AGO TO PRESENT DAY FOOD 2O YEARS AGO PORTION CALORIES Bagel 3-inch diameter 140 Cheeseburger 1 333 Spaghetti with meatballs 1 cup sauce3 small meatballs 500 Soda 6.5 ounces 82 Blueberry muffin 1.5 ounces 210 Source: www.nhlbi.nih.gov. COMPARISON OF PORTIONS AND CALORIES 20 YEARS AGO TO PRESENT DAY FOOD TODAY PORTION CALORIES Bagel 6-inch diameter 350 Cheeseburger 1 590 Spaghetti with meatballs 2 cups sauce 3 large meatballs 1,020 Soda 20 ounces 250 Blueberry muffin 5 ounces 500 Source: www.nhlbi.nih.gov.
Our dinner plates have also increased in size, from 9-inch diameter to 12-inch diameter since 1960; and many restaurant plates are even larger than that. It’s a no-brainer: Bigger plates mean more food—as much as 30 percent more than half a century ago—and with it, more calories. Unless we burn those excess calories off, we will store them as fat.
Here’s what you can do to...