I Tried It: The 'Lose Weight by Eating' Cookbook

Lose Weight By Eating Cookbook, Turkey Burger

A little over a month ago, I was given my very own copy of the Lose Weight by Eating cookbook by Audrey Johns. And in that moment, I found myself excited, intrigued, and ready to arm myself with an arsenal of healthy yet delicious recipes to make eating healthy easier. NBD, right? However, I found myself completely disarmed by recipes such as the (to die for) dark chocolate fudge brownies and spaghetti bolognese, and suddenly I only had one destination in mind -- and it was food. 

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My curiosity was piqued. How could one lose weight by eating what appeared to be appealing and, furthermore, edible meals -- food that was seemingly (and much to my surprise) normal?

So, I set out -- not to lose weight, but to taste and test Audrey Johns's book of amazing recipes. Although, if I'd known I'd take so long to try everything out, I probably would've gone ahead and done the entire 30-day "plan."

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I studied the book for some days, trying to make sense of it all and seeing what recipe I would dare to try first. I'm no chef, but I don't fear following a recipe, and I actually enjoy trying new things.

However, after looking closely at the recipes, I grew slightly intimidated in noticing that almost all of the recipes were from scratch -- with the exception of pasta (I would've completely freaked). I found myself emailing her peeps, asking how the hell she managed to do this, as it calls for tons of prepping and thinking ahead.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing, since it's been proven that planning ahead and meal prepping makes for a healthier diet (it really makes total sense). But, my mind has been all over the place for the past month, still trying to adjust to so many recent changes in my life -- such as transitioning to a morning gym person -- and truthfully, the thought-out meal prepping was far from my mind. I was especially discouraged by carrying a sh*t ton of groceries with me on public transportation, the way only a New Yorker must do.

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If you're already into meal prepping, most everything in the book will come easy to you -- the recipes were very simple to follow along with. It all just comes down to time, and even then, Audrey maps out meal plans best for you based on different factors, from time to simplicity. 

That said, after trying a couple of the more time-consuming recipes, I sort of got real with myself -- and my expectations for myself -- and I switched to the quick meals that called for little to no brain power (I'm not above admitting I don't like thinking too hard after hours). 

Nonetheless, the simpler recipes were still every bit as delicious, and it turns out they're perfect for the newfound summer heat and all the cookouts to come. And best part of all is, we're going to share a couple of them with you.

Cheddar Stuffed Turkey Burgers:

Makes 4 turkey burgers
Serving size: 1 turkey burger
Per serving: calories 425; fat 23 g; fiber 4 g; protein 30.5 g; carbohydrates 24 g

Turkey Burger

Handy Tips from Audrey herself

I love burgers that ooze cheese when you bite into them, but turkey burgers typically fall apart when you make them with a chunk of cheese in the center. Instead of working against the ingredients, I work with them. If you dice the cheese (rather than shred it), you still get the oozing quality while the cheese also acts to hold the burgers together.

It's important that when you place these burgers on the grill, you don't "play" with them. Don't flip, move, or bother them in any way for the first five minutes or they'll fall apart (this goes for other burgers, too, but especially these). You can also sear them on a hot griddle before moving them to the grill to help them stay together.

Ingredients

1 pound ground turkey
¼ cup sharp cheddar, diced small
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil spray
¼ cup caramelized onions
4 ciabatta rolls or whole wheat buns
4 romaine leaves, halved
1 avocado, sliced
Pickled jalapeños rings (optional)
¼ cup Salsa Ranch Dip (featured in book)

Directions

1. In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, cheese, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper. Mix together with your hands until just combined -- you don’t want tough burgers.

2. Divide the meat mixture into four portions and roll each into a ball. Place each ball on a large plate and squish it down into a flat patty. Press your thumb into the center to create a little well. This will help the burgers keep their flat shape.

3. Spray the grill with olive oil and heat it to medium heat. Grill the patties on direct heat for 5 minutes, covered and undisturbed. Flip once, cover, and grill for another 4 to 6 minutes, until cooked through.

4. To assemble the burgers, smear the caramelized onions on the bottom half of each roll or bun. Top with romaine and place a cooked patty on each. Add avocado slices and jalapeño rings, if using. Smear the top halves of the buns with Salsa Ranch Dip, then place them on the burgers and serve. 

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Greek Pasta Salad:

Makes 15 servings
Serving size: about ½ cup
Per serving: calories 185; fat 7 g; fiber 2.5 g; protein 6 g; carbohydrates 27 g

pasta salad

Dressing Ingredients
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 2 lemons
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons spicy brown or Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon juice from a jar of Kalamata olives
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pasta Ingredients
1 (12-ounce) box gluten-free penne or fusilli pasta, or any [whole wheat] pasta you choose
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
15 Kalamata olives, sliced into thin rings
1 cucumber, cut into small chunks
½ red onion, roughly chopped
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup crumbled low-fat feta cheese

Directions

1. Make the dressing: Make the dressing as early as you can, up to 24 hours beforehand. In a jar or medium bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients. Whisk well and refrigerate until you need it.

2. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente according to the package directions. Drain.

3. While the pasta cooks, combine the tomatoes, olives, cucumber, and onion in a large bowl. Add the pasta, two-thirds of the parsley, and the dressing to the bowl and toss together.

4. Transfer to a serving dish, top with the crumbled feta and the remaining parsley, and serve.


So, while Audrey's cookbook certainly isn't for the faint of heart, it's indeed worth the investment for those committed to making a change. One bite of either of these recipes and you'll get all the assurance you're looking for. 


From LOSE WEIGHT BY EATING by Audrey Johns. Copyright © 2016 by Audrey Johns. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


Images via Carl Kravats

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