The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

In the Kitchen with Devin Alexander

In the Kitchen with Devin Alexander

In the Kitchen

December 23, 2012

New York Times Bestselling Author Devin Alexander is the Host of “America’s Chefs on Tour” and author of eight cookbooks including The Biggest Loser Cookbook series. Devin’s unique approach to healthy cooking and her motivational personal story have landed her appearances on more weight loss and fitness shows than any other food expert or nutritionist in America. Devin has been The Biggest Loser Chef since 2006. Having maintained her 70-pound weight loss for close to 20 years, she lives and eats her message: you don’t have to deprive yourself to be fit and healthy. We talked to Devin about the challenges of maintaining a healthy weight while still enjoying a delicious and nutritious lifestyle.

What is the main focus of your cooking?

I'm all about healthy decadence - Middle American comfort food favorites madeover! 
How is the nutritional focus of your menus helping to address the obesity epidemic in this country?

I deliver the foods people love in a way that is better for them – so they can (and want to!) stick with healthier eating! 
What has been your role in the Chefs Move To School program, which pairs chefs with schools and school districts to help schools improve kids’ health and nutrition? And how is the program working to get young people more interested in nutrition?

I am aligned with a number of charities that help with the obesity epidemic. For Let's Move, I was one of the chefs who went to the White House to help launch the initiatives. 

Are you incorporating locally grown foods into your dishes? How? And why is it important to you to do so?

Absolutely! Not only is cooking with local ingredients better for the environment, fruits and veggies tend to taste better AND they have more nutrients (since fruit and veggies lose nutrients over time – so it's more likely you're eating them more quickly) when they're locally sourced! I'm in the process of turning my entire front lawn into a fruit/veggie garden.  

Having returned from shooting America's Chefs on Tour, my new show coming to PBS this winter, which is a celebration of fresh, local ingredients, I am 100% inspired by local! And "addicted" to the fresh taste! I traveled the country meeting up with some of the coolest chefs out there – from Cat Cora and Todd English to local heroes in many cities – going behind the scenes in their gardens, on their farms and in their restaurants! It was a blast, and I ate some of the yummiest cuisine I've EVER had!
What are the major concerns today of your readers when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight? And how are you addressing them?

Cravings are the number one concern, but I have that covered, no problem with my "I'm not a tofu and carrot stick chef" mentality and execution.

Cost is often a factor, as well. And while I understand folks' concerns, it is important to remember that an investment now will save you a fortune later (in medical bills, time away from work, etc. if you don't take care of yourself). That said, I have many recipes that are beyond affordable.

Time is also another major factor I hear often. To solve that one, I've written two speedy cookbooks – I Can't Believe It's Not Fattening…Over 150 Ridiculously Easy Recipes for the Super Busy and The Biggest Loser Quick & Easy Cookbook.  

How important is sustainability and what is the relationship between sustainability and obesity?

There are a number of ways that practicing sustainability in your community can help the obesity epidemic. One of the most obvious ways is opting to bike ride instead of driving whenever possible. Not only will you save gas and resources, but you’ll burn calories too! Also, Professor Ian Roberts, a researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said, “When people think about environmental sustainability, they immediately focus on population. Actually, when it comes down to it – it’s not how many mouths there are to feed, it’s how much flesh there is on the planet.”   
What steps do you take toward conservation in your meal planning?

I cook a lot on Sunday to prepare for the week. I always make sure to have some sort of lean protein on hand along with a whole grain and plenty of pre-prepped veggies! It makes throwing together weeknight meals a no-brainer.