Nancy Fox, founder and chef for Skinny Kitchen, gave a great interview for LaaLoosh a few days ago, discussing her blog, cooking tips and Weight Watchers. In addition, we are pleased to feature her recipe for the Most Decadent Cornbread Casserole Ever, Made Skinny for 5 Points Plus.
Nancy Fox has gained celebrity for her cooking in many different arenas, starting with Mrs. Beasley’s dessert baskets, to beginning a healthy restaurant business and now to working on her Skinny Kitchen recipe blog. One of Nancy’s specialties is finding high-fat or popular recipes and making them “skinny.”
You first gained a reputation for Mrs. Beasley’s gift baskets. Are these also made to be healthy for those watching their weight or are they the full-fat fare?
“No, they are pretty decadent… One thing I’ve learned, though, is to take the decadent recipes and make them skinnier…”
So, for all your fame in healthy cooking, you don’t appear to have weight issues. What got you started on Weight Watchers or what motivated you to be Weight Watchers friendly and specialize in healthy cooking? Have you ever struggled with your weight?
“I never really struggled with weight. I was blessed with a good metabolism. Mrs. Beasley involved decadent recipes using tons of butter and chocolate. After I sold the company, I really had to learn how to eat heart healthy. My husband’s father and all of his father’s brothers died of heart disease before age 40. I met my husband when he was 35, so I wanted him to stick around. So, that’s how I got into it. So, after four years of this, I decided to make a business of it and created a restaurant for the health-conscious. Then this love of healthy food and eating and the love of sharing this was how I started the Skinny Kitchen blog. Most food bloggers are passionate about these things and it’s a wonderful forum to share.
The reason I got involved in Weight Watchers and am Weight Watchers friendly is that out of all the programs out there, if someone is going to be on one, I love Weight Watchers. With my restaurant, people would come in with all kinds of diets… Weight watchers fits into people’s lifestyles…I decided to include Weight Watchers for this reason. Also, Weight Watchers is more of a lifestyle change, not a diet….It’s a slow process….habits don’t change overnight. One of the problems with fad diets is that people might lose weight but their brain doesn’t catch up to this. Weight Watchers teaches you to adopt healthier choices and a healthier lifestyle, changing actual habits….
With the recipes, it’s got to be a good tasting food and recipes that the whole family likes and…easy to make…people don’t have time to be short order cooks for the whole family. Recipes should include simple ingredients you can find in your supermarket. The other thing is people do read labels more and they are interested in nutritional facts…I don’t just give a recipe but include facts or origins as well as shopping tips or prep tips…I like to share these things. When you’re dealing with the public in a live cooking class, you get a lot of feedback.”
Tell me a bit about Skinny Kitchen. Are you also still in the restaurant business?
“No that’s why I enjoyed Skinny Kitchen. It’s a fun forum, though a lot of work. I come up with a recipe, photograph it and then share it…I do everything-a one lady kitchen. If someone had told me how much work would be involved in the blog, I may not have done it. But it’s my passion now. Basically what keeps me going now are all the followers I have. When they share how much they are enjoying the recipes and about their families…It’s a huge thrill for me. I want to continue… I get such amazing emails!
…With social media, I’m coming up on 27,000 followers on Facebook and other social media outlets, like Pinterest…It’s just a wonderful community. It’s great to be able to interact with followers-I love it!
One of the things I do on Skinny Kitchen that people like is that I love to take full fat recipes and remake them. These are recipes that people love but they want to have them lower in calories and fat. Skinny Kitchen isn’t about being skinny but about remaking recipes to be skinny-lower in calories and low-fat.”
What do you recommend to people regarding low-fat or fat-free products? I know many of these make up for the lack of fat with an excess of additives and sugars, rendering them a lot less healthy, which has been in the media a few times lately.
“I do use some fat-free products on my site…In most of my recipes, I recommend fat-free products or low-fat because this leads to fewer calories and fat…When you add all the ingredients, people are interested in the bottom line. One thing I like to use is Stevia, the most natural sugar substitute. Sugar got a bad rep and I am also not against it. I use sugar in moderation of course.”
I loved your tips for the kitchen. What tools do you see as essential that even someone on a budget can get or that saves someone time who doesn’t have many spare minutes in the day?
“I think it doesn’t take a lot…What’s essential, if you’re going to invest in anything are non-stick pans…I’m not against oil, especially good oil like olive oil or canola, but if you’re trying to eat less fat or are on Weight Watchers, you want to limit oil. Number two, I do use a microwave. Instead of sautéing vegetables in oil, I put them in the microwave… By just zapping them for a few minutes you have wonderful , soft vegetables. You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment.
The other favorite thing is…I’m a big proponent of cooking and freezing. Whether you are cooking for one or four, you can freeze leftovers and have a quick meal later.
The last tip…It’s difficult to plan to cook every day, so I recommend taking one or two days out of the week and then cook a few recipes and freeze them or keep in the refrigerator for a few days. Two to four recipes in a day and you have a full week’s meals.”
Do you have any upcoming changes? What’s next for you?
“I’m always changing…constantly doing things to improve Skinny Kitchen …I made a lot of new categories for instance so that people who come can easily search for the recipes. Also, some of my very best suggestions are from followers. So I continue to listen to my followers…I don’t see stopping any time soon.”
Anything you want to share about the featured recipe?
“Cornbread is a very versatile dish…You can pair it with meat or with vegetarian items. It’s one of the more popular dishes.”
The Most Decadent Cornbread Casserole Ever, Made Skinny
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 40 minutes
2 large onions, chopped (about 3½ cups)
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons reduced-fat butter or Smart Balance Light
4 egg whites
1 egg, I love Eggland’s Best eggs
2 tablespoons fat-free or reduced-fat milk
1 (1-LB) package Marie Callender’s Original Corn Bread Mix
2 (14.5 oz) cans cream-style corn
1 cup fat-free sour cream (½ pint)
½ cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a 13”x9” baking dish with nonstick spray.
2. In a microwave safe bowl, add the onions and butter. Cook in the microwave on high for about 4 minutes until soft. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, mix together the egg whites, egg and milk. Stir in the cornbread mix and cream-style corn. Spread cornbread batter into the prepared dish.
4. Spoon the cooked onions and liquid left in the bowl evenly over the top.
5. Using a rubber spatula carefully spread the sour cream over the onions. It’s not necessary to completely cover the onions. The sour cream will create little pillows.
6. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top of the sour cream.
7. Bake for about 40-45 minutes until golden brown.
9. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting into 16 squares. This casserole may be made ahead of time, refrigerated and reheated. It also freezes great.
Makes 16 servings (each serving, 1 slice)
Weight Watchers Points (old points) 4
Weight Watchers POINTS PLUS 5
205 calories, 5g fat, 7g protein, 32g carbs, 3g fiber, 447mg sodium, 13g sugar-5 Points Plus