Not Your Average TV Chef
Bobby Deen dishes on fitness, healthy eating, and his famous mama
Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean eating boring. No one knows this better than Bobby Deen, the son of Southern cooking maven Paula Deen and host of Cooking Channel’s Not My Mama’s Meals, who’s become something of an expert in lightening up calorie-laden recipes without losing any fab flavor.
Since his mother announced that she has type 2 diabetes, Bobby has joined the Diabetes in a New Light campaign, where he proves that eating well doesn’t have to mean giving up delish food! And today, you’ll be able to find him at the American Diabetes Association Expo at the LA Convention Center, where he’ll be cooking up some healthy (and tasty!) recipes at the Novo Nordisk booth.
We had the chance to chat with him about his involvement with the campaign, his show, and, of course, his fave healthy recipes!
Can you tell us a little bit about your involvement with the Diabetes in a New Light campaign?
I just turned 43. And when I was 30, I started to exercise and take care of myself, and be cautious with my diet. So that really is truly my lifestyle. And then here, 10-12 years down the road, my mother is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.…the medication that my mother takes — Novo Nordisk — she’s had a really good relationship with them…She’s lost about 40 pounds. She’s taking really good care of herself and is embracing exercise, and gave up sweet tea, which is a big deal for us Southern folks.
The Diabetes in a New LIght campaign is important to me because it is improving my mother’s health, and I believe that it is improving the health of a lot of other people as well. And that’s a good thing, because there are 26 million people who have diabetes in the United States, and those are just the people that are diagnosed.
Your show is all about creating lighter versions of typically heavy dishes. Do you have any easy tips for how we can cut calories in our favorite recipes?
The people who have diabetes eat the way that we should all be eating. Less processed stuff, less saturated fat, lower in sugar.
In the South in particular, we like heavy cream, we like mayonnaise, we like ranch dressing, we like bleu cheese, we like all that stuff. And Greek yogurt is a great way to entirely lose some of those things from recipes. It’s really simple to go into the grocery store and make better choices by shopping around the edges of the grocery store, where you find your vegetables and your produce and those things. Those center aisles is where all the gotcha stuff is and all the processed stuff. I think that eating as much color as you possibly can is a good thing for everybody.
Are there any recipes that have been particularly challenging to lighten?
Some things I don’t fool with. Desserts are difficult. Like my mom makes the most incredible peach cobbler. I don’t make peach cobbler. Because hers is so good. So I don’t think you’re going to see me doing a light peach cobbler. But simple things like using a Neufchâtel cheese instead of cream cheese, you know, when you’re doing toppings. I don’t have a big sweet tooth, but I like red velvet cake. And I have a red velvet cake that’s in my new book that just came out, and how do we lighten it up? Smaller portions. Because usually when you see a red velvet cake, it’s layered. And there’s that creamy deliciousness on each layer. And you always see it in a giant wedge. So we made it a single layer cake and cut the pieces smaller, and we used Neufchâtel instead of cream cheese.
You’re big into fitness, too. How do you find time to fit exercise into your busy schedule?
I brought my running shoes and my workout gear with me, and I do that everywhere I go. And when I see it sitting there, it’s basically just staring at me. You just gotta do it.
How did your mom help in your cooking career?
She blazed the trail for the Food Network. I’d like to look back in 10 years and have been the face of that network [The Cooking Channel] and have sort of blazed the trail myself.
She’s the strongest person I’ve ever been around, and has created quite an example for my brother and me, and has created opportunities for us that are beyond my wildest (dreams).
xx, The FabFitFun LA Team