Food & Drink

Melissa d'Arabian Talks Food, Fitness and 'Holy Cow! I'm on TV!'

January 23, 2012 at 7:31 AM

Go grab that list of New Year’s resolutions you made.

Now find where you wrote down “lose weight.”

Now cross that off the list, then put it down and go turn on “Drop 5 Pounds with Good Housekeeping” on the Cooking Channel, the new series that teaches you how to make healthy recipes, get fit, and most importantly, how to finally make the changes stick.

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Melissa d’Arabian, the star of “Ten Dollar Dinners” and winner of season five of “The Next Food Network Star,” hosts the new show, which is based on Good Housekeeping’s popular weight loss column. In addition to Melissa’s recipes, it features expert advice from fitness guru Ashley Borden, Good Housekeeping Nutrition Director Samantha Cassetty and Aarti Sequeira (Aarti Party). The show premiered this weekend and airs Saturdays at 11 a.m.

Designed to make weight loss easy and manageable, episodes are filled with cooking and shopping tips, workout techniques and dining out do’s and don’ts.  From slimmed down versions of indulgent dishes like Fettucini Alfredo and Sesame Shrimp Stir Fry to fat blasting fitness plans and nutritional advice, this series offers a new approach to eating better, getting healthier and getting the most out of life.

“We call it a lifestyle show, because it’s not just about the food,” d’Arabian told this week. “We focus on things like what to do after you overindulge, how to navigate a restaurant menu, what to choose when you’re having fast food… all of the small changes you can make that will help make healthy living a lifestyle.”

Those changes, d’Arabian said, define who we are.

“We need to think smaller but longer term,” she said. “That’s where the big results will come from.”

The whole idea, she added, is for people to build a tool kit they can open whenever the need arises.

“The show is jam-packed with strategies, ideas, real tools they can put in their tool kit,” she said. “They need to be able to build it slowly, adding to it as they go, so that when life hits them with a challenge, there’s something they can grab to help them.”

If you’re inwardly groaning and thinking “Yes, but I have a family to feed…” d’Arabian says you don’t have to worry.

“One of the things that’s fantastic about Good Housekeeping is they’re so thorough about testing recipes and making sure they work, and all the recipes on this show are really workable,” she said. “They can all be served to your entire family. You can even have company over and serve these dishes and only you will know that you’re serving a ‘Drop 5 Pounds’ meal. Because you only want to cook once. You don’t want to have to cook a special meal for yourself and something else for your family.”

And you can believe she knows what she’s talking about. D’Arabian and her husband, Philippe, have four young daughters.

“Every recipe I make on TV is something I’ve made in my own kitchen,” she said. “When I say ‘It’s easy to make this on a busy Tuesday night, it’s because I‘ve made it on a busy Tuesday night.”

“Drop 5 Pounds with Good Housekeeping” is the third show with which d’Arabian has starred, including “The Next Food Network Star” in 2009, which catapulted her to culinary fame. She admits that it still takes some getting used to.

“On one hand, you adjust to the life,” said the former stay-at-home mom. “And sometimes I still can’t quite believe it’s all real. Sometimes I still think ‘Holy cow! I’m on TV!’”

D’Arabian said that only 10 percent of her job is about the TV aspects, like hair and makeup. Ninety percent of it is about the food and what she can bring to people’s lives.

“The biggest part of my job is developing recipes people can use, recipes that will help them eat well on a budget,” she said. “My job is to get my ideas out there and communicate them well. But it’s not just about the recipes - I have to really make sure I’m adding value to their lives. I don’t want to just show someone how to cook a fish, I want to teach them how to buy fish so they can not only make my recipes, but others as well. That’s what I live for. The fact that it ends up being on TV is just a bonus.”

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