Are you sabotaging your health with an unhealthy diet and binge eating?
"I used to binge when my parents left the house and then rearrange the foods in the fridge so they wouldn't notice," confesses cookbook author Rozanne Gold (her latest book is Healthy 1-2-3, Stewart Tabori & Chang, 2001), who spent her teen-age years and early 20s as a serial yo-yoer sliding up and down the scale from plump to anorexic as a result of her unhealthy diet and binge eating.
With a glamorous mother who loved to cook and entertain, and a high-profile father who loved to eat (he was a professional football player who didn’t necessarily want low fat cooking), Gold grew up surrounded by food and foodies. While her 5-year-old friends were reading Winnie the Pooh, Gold was holed up in her bedroom reading her mother's cookbooks -- "my favorite way to escape," she says.
Serial yo-yoer: before low fat cooking
At age 19, Gold went abroad for the first time. Inspired by the chic, svelte women in Florence and Rome, she was even more impressed with their eating habits, which revolved around smaller portions of "really beautiful food" and savoring every bite, she says—a striking contrast to her unhealthy diet and binge eating habits. By emulating them, Gold enjoyed a "thin summer."
Once she was back on American soil, the pounds began to pile on again. Gold quit graduate school to become a chef; by age 21 she was volunteering her services to any chef in Manhattan who'd have her, often working 20 hours straight, "anything to be around a famous chef so I could learn more," she says. It paid off. At 23, Gold was tapped as the personal chef for New York Mayor Ed Koch, a confirmed bachelor who loved great food.
[header = Low fat cooking and three ingredient recipes take author to Gracie Mansion.]
Rozanne Gold’s journey to low fat cooking takes her from scrub duty to Gracie Mansion.
"It was like a Cinderella story," says Gold. "I lived in the basement of Gracie Mansion, and every morning, I climbed the stairs to squeeze Ed's grapefruit juice." During her one-year tenure, Gold cooked for everyone from prime ministers to presidents, among them Jimmy Carter (she baked him a peanut-butter cheesecake).
Although her career was taking off, her unhealthy diet habits - and weight - remained erratic. (It didn't help that "low fat cooking" wasn’t a term in the mayor’s vocabulary.) Not until she got the phone call (from legendary New York restaurateurs Joseph Baum and Michael Whiteman) did the scales finally begin to tip in Gold's favor on a permanent basis -- regarding her unhealthy diet as well as her career.
Cinderella begins low fat cooking for her prince.
With Baum and Whiteman, she created low fat recipes for the Rockefeller Center Luncheon Club, consisting of two- or three-course low calorie meals (under 500 calories) called the "Evergreen" program.
While learning about low fat cooking, nutrition and "the concept of restraint," Gold's attitude about food changed. "I finally realized that less really was more and that I felt 'fuller' -- emotionally as well as physically -- on smaller portions of beautiful, clean, low fat foods than on huge portions of fatty, fussy foods."
Over time, minimalism became her mantra - in her personal and professional life as a chef and low fat recipes cookbook author. This led to her popular 1-2-3 cookbook series, a series of books of three ingredient recipes ("free ingredients" like salt, pepper and water don't count). Her latest, Healthy 1-2-3, features three ingredient recipes that are either low fat, low-calorie or fat-free.
During the '90s, Gold also became a culinary trendsetter: She ushered in Pan American fare, invented Hudson River Cuisine and helped define "light fare" in her award-winning book Little Meals (Villard, 1993), featuring quick, easy and naturally low fat recipes. Along the way, she also won the prestigious James Beard award for five of her cookbooks.
[header = Three ingredient recipes: simple tasty low fat cooking and low calorie meals.]
The magic of three ingredient recipes
In Healthy 1-2-3, Gold's latest take on simply elegant low fat cooking, she offers an arsenal of more than 200 three ingredient recipes, each one clicking into one or more of three healthy categories in her book: low-calorie recipes, low fat recipes or fat-free recipes. Easily change your unhealthy diet by incorporating these recipes into a balanced diet, and you can eat everything you love, even butter, cheese, eggs, sugar and chocolate, and still lose weight.
The reason these three ingredient recipes work so well is because Gold maximizes taste by removing extraneous ingredients in her low calorie meals. "It's all about keeping things simple," she says. "In watercoloring, if you add too many colors you wind up with mud," she says. The concept is similar in cooking. "If you have too many flavors, you have to keep correcting the dish by adding more salt, sugar and butter."
She also relies on clever low fat cooking techniques that enhance each ingredient and eliminate the need for added fat. In many recipes, she uses one or more ingredients in several ways. (This may sound like kitchen wizardry, but Gold insists that even a kitchen klutz can master her methods with her low calorie meals. "We're talking three ingredients," she says. "How hard could that be?")
Low calorie meals that are beautiful to eat
Finally, each of her low fat recipes are as visually beautiful to the eye as to the palate -- just check out the photos. As a result, "you don't have to eat heaps to feel physically and emotionally satisfied," Gold says. "I love to help people find that point of 'wow -- I don't need to take another bite,'" she says. "With all the fussy cooking going on lately, people are rediscovering the joy of keeping it simple."
Here are three low fat recipes from Healthy 1-2-3, each showcasing a low fat technique; Gold's secrets for weight loss; plus a list of favorite flavor-picker-uppers that she says no kitchen should be without.