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‘Cook Your Ass Off’ is getting ‘Red Carpet Ready’ on HLN

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On tonight's HLN episode of “Cook Your Ass Off,” host and chef Richard Blais challenges three chefs to compete to help a person with bad eating habits, spruce up their diet with healthy versions of the unhealthy food they love. Richard knows what poor habits can do, as he has lost 50 pounds in his journey to regain his health and vitality.

As the episode begins, the three chefs are introduced; Ian Friedman, who went in for a routine test and had a heart attack on the treadmill. Now on the road to better health, he is a highly competitive person, who plans to win. Chef Sue Torres, who grew up eating garden-fresh food and wants to pass on her wealth of knowledge. The third chef is Luis Nieto, originally from Colombia who lost 25 pounds and wants to help others do the same.

The competition is for Tracy Balan, a celebrity hair stylist, hence the episode title, "Red Carpet Ready." At 31 years old, she loves fast food and meat and potatoes. She weighs 197 and her goal is 150. Three judges are; Tracy, nutritionist Keri Glassman and chef Claudia Fleming. The winner will get to work with Tracy and help redesign her menu and help with her poor eating habits. The winner will also be entered into the finals, where the winner could bring home $50,000.

The first round is Snack Attack. Her favorite snack food is cheese-fries. They must make over this 750 calorie and 48 gram of fat snack, which adds nothing but 85% of the daily value of saturated fat to her diet. They have 20 minutes and a pantry full of healthy ingredients to come up with a fulfilling snack treat that will satisfy her and the other two judges. This round is not an elimination round, but the winner will have a big advantage in the next round.

As they were sent by Richard, to “Cook Your Ass Off,” the rushed to the pantry. Ian knows that there is no substitution for cheesy fries, so he goes straight for the healthy route. Ian went totally off the cheesy fries route, and noticed the other two chefs each used potato in their recipe. Now he is wondering if he made a mistake. Sue made roast potato pepper hash with jack cheese. With 360 calories and 23 grams of protein, it is a healthy delicious snack. Luis made warm potato salad with smoked salmon and cucumber yogurt and mint sauce. With 223 calories and 18 grams of protein, it was eye-appealing and Tracy liked the taste. Ian made a tuna wrap with just 218 calories and 14 grams of protein. The judges felt his dish was condescending by going off the grid on the cheesy fries theme. Sue won the first round because she roasted the corn on the stove, right on the flame, along with the peppers, the crunch was just what the three judges loved.

For round two, an elimination round, they had to do a meal makeover of her favorite cheeseburger. The cheeseburger contains 530 calories, 30 grams of fat and 65% of the daily value of saturated fat. Keri stated that Tracy had to shift her diet to a plant-based diet, to enable her to lose weight, gain energy and take better care of her health. As the winner of the first round, Sue got to choose an ingredient that both of her competitors had to use in their dish, her choices were; seaweed, aloe and chayote. Sue chose aloe.

As they were prepping their dishes, Sue’s tortillas were on fire, as she put them on the stove to make them crisp. Sue did not get her black bean burgers on the plate in time; one was all that made it to the plate. Ian made a spicy ground tuna burger with pineapple, brushed with a simple syrup using the aloe and by using the hamburger bun. It contained 453 calories and contained 19 grams of fat. Tracy felt that she was not completely removed from her comfort zone, but Keri did not like the plain white bun. Luis made a kofta style whole wheat chicken pita with fresh vegetables and a low-fat spicy hollandaise. It was 391 calories and 12 grams of fat. Tracy did not like it, because it was salty and dry and had no lusciousness of a real burger. Sue’s black bean burger with Portobello bun contained 357 calories and 18 grams of fat. Although only one made it to the plate, Tracy gladly shared with the other judges, who liked the fact that she used the Portobello instead of a bun. Luis was the chef who was eliminated because his dish was not liked by the three judges.

The last round was the ideal meal round. The toughest meal for Tracy, because she lacks the time to cook and is always on call. They each must incorporate two ingredients in their meal; tofu and sunchokes, better known as Jerusalem artichokes. Ian made pan-seared crispy tofu with a poblano chili truffle corn sauce and quick-seared Jerusalem artichokes. It contained 305 calories and 14 grams of fat. Sue made scallops crusted with lime zest and an avocado dressed arugula salad. She forgot to put the tofu on the plate, even though she cooked it up, earlier. Hers contained 378 calories and 20 grams of fat, but she was eliminated from the competition.

Chef Ian earned a spot in the finals and a chance for the $50,000 grand prize.

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