Ask the Chef

Paula Deen in Fort Lauderdale for Book Signing Today

Paula Deen, the smoothie queen?  Maybe it doesn't have quite the same ring as her Butter Queen moniker, but these days, the chef is seeking to live a healthier life.

The celebrity chef, who hit a rocky road after Food Network refused to renew her contract in 2013, has since reinvented herself with the Paula Deen Network, an interactive digital site that features recipes and lifestyle shows. Deen also accepted a spot on last season's Dancing With the Stars, lasting an impressive six weeks on the show. 

Indeed, Deen seems adamant about changing her lifestyle for the better. The chef' latest tome, Paula Deen Cuts the Fat, features 250 classic Southern recipes lightened up to use less butter, salt, and sugar.

Deen is in Fort Lauderdale today, February 1, to sign her latest book. The chef will be at Barnes & Noble (2051 N. Federal Highway) today from noon to 2 p.m. and says she's looking forward to meeting fans.

"Expect lots of laughs and hugs," she says, while also encouraging fans to take as many pictures as they want. 

Deen says dealing with her own weight and illness led her to reassess her diet.

"I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, and for many years people have been asking me to give them lighter recipes. It was time." 

The chef decided to tweak her favorite recipes for her new book, adding Greek yogurt in her pimento cheese recipe and decreasing the amount of butter (and subbing chicken sausage for smoked pork sausage) in her Savannah gumbo roux. Other recipes that get a trimming down include cheesy mac, which uses low-fat cream cheese instead of sour cream, and peach cobbler, which uses half the sugar as the original recipe.

Like all people, Deen has found that extreme dieting isn't the key to lifelong results. "In the beginning, I gave up all white foods except for cauliflower, and that was a challenge. I have started to incorporate all of these items back into my diet but in moderation. Moderation is the key to everything. I have learned that I can eat healthier, yet still deliciously, in moderation."

Deen says she drinks lots of water and indulges on one cheat day a week.

"I eat whatever I want so that I don't feel like I am denying myself," she says. "That gives me a day to look forward to. Waiting too long to reward yourself does not help make it become a lifestyle." 

The former Butter Queen says cutting the fat feels good the longer you stick with it.

"The easiest is when you start to feel and see the results. It just makes you want to keep trying."

Paula Deen will be at the Barnes & Noble located at 2051 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, from noon to 2 p.m. Monday, February 1 promoting her new book, Paula Deen Cuts the Fat: 250 Favorite Recipes All Lightened Up.
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times, covering the restaurant and bar scene in South Florida. She has been featured on Cooking Channel’s Eat Street and Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race. Doss won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature on what it’s like to wait tables. In a previous life, she appeared off-Broadway and shook many a cocktail as a bartender at venues in South Florida and New York City. When she’s not writing, you can find Doss running some marathon then celebrating at the nearest watering hole.
Contact: Laine Doss