We don't usually think of "comfort foods" in the same sentence as "dieting." But Chef Art Smith says that we should. The secret: Make smart swaps. He demonstrated his tricks for guilt-free treats such as Dark Chocolate Bark and talked about his 100-pound weight loss on the December 4 episode of Dr. Mehmet Oz's talk show.
Chef Art shed the weight after being diagnosed with diabetes. In dramatic contrast to Paula Deen, who first tried to hide her own diagnosis of diabetes, Art was forthright about his future. He knew that he needed to change his diet but wanted to keep his career. He's documented the result in his cookbook "Art Smith's Healthy Comfort: How America's Favorite Celebrity Chef Got it Together, Lost Weight, and Reclaimed His Health!" (click for details).
So what's the secret to keeping the flavor and cutting the fat and calories? Swap ingredients wherever possible to keep the texture and taste, says Chef Art. He whipped up an unfried chicken recipe (see below) that had Dr. Oz happily sighing with delight.
In addition, focus on comfort foods that feature healthy ingredients. The chicken, for example, provides you with protein to keep you satisfied and maintain your metabolism. And the delicious dark chocolate recipe provides you with antioxidants and, thanks to the pumpkin seeds, protein and healthy fats.
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tbsp Louisiana hot sauce or another hot sauce
- 4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, cut in half
- 1 1/2 cups multigrain or whole wheat panko bread crumbs
- 3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp paprika
For the chicken: Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a mixing bowl, mix the buttermilk and hot sauce. Submerge the chicken pieces in the buttermilk and soak in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour but no more than 24 hours.
In a gallon-size plastic bag, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, black pepper, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika. Seal the bag and shake until well mixed. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk and transfer directly to the bag with the bread crumb mixture. Shake the bag until the chicken breasts are evenly coated with the bread crumbs. Remove the chicken breasts from the bag and lay flat on a nonstick baking sheet. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Bake the chicken for 20 to 25 minutes or until just cooked through.
Art Smith's Dark Chocolate, Pumpkin Seed and Sea Salt Bark
Makes 8 servings
- 1 lb bittersweet chocolate (at least 65% cacao), coarsely chopped
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitos)
- 1 tsp sea salt
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
To temper the chocolate, place 3/4 of the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Program a microwave to 50 percent power. With the bowl uncovered, heat the chocolate for 30 seconds and then stir with a rubber spatula. Repeat, heating for 30 seconds and then stirring, until almost all the chocolate in the bowl is melted, about 3 minutes total.
Using an instant-read thermometer, check the temperature of the chocolate. It should be 110°F to 115°F. If it hasn’t reached desired temperature, continue to heat (in 10 second increments). Add the reserved chocolate and stir constantly until completely melted and smooth and thermometer reads 88°F to 90°F. The chocolate is now tempered.
Stir the pumpkin seeds into the chocolate.
Using an offset spatula spread the chocolate in an even layer, about 1-4 inch thick, on parchment paper. Sprinkle the sea salt over the chocolate. Allow the bark to cool at room temperature until hard. Break into irregular pieces.
Store the bark in an airtight container at room temperature.