We asked each of our contestants to give us an update on their healthy eating plans since the final cook-off and winner announcement in January. Here’s winner Victoria Phillips on the challenges of healthy eating with a busy schedule and a full house:
Winning the America Cooks with Chefs Challenge continues to be such a positive experience for my family! Not only did I learn amazing cooking tips that helped to reset our weeknight family dinners, I also came home from work one day to find an incredible surprise – a gift box from Barilla filled with everything you need to create healthy and delicious pasta meals at home. Cooking tools, serving bowls, recipe ideas and, of course, plenty of pasta! I was inspired to put it all to good use.
One of the most useful things I learned from the America Cooks with Chefs was the Barilla Recipe Builder. This is a handy one-page guide that lays out how to create a complete, balanced, portion controlled pasta dinner that has only 500 calories per serving. It gives you multiple ingredient options across several categories:
- Base flavor (aromatics like onions, garlic, celery, etc.)
- Protein (beef, chicken, shrimp, tuna, beans, etc.)
- Cheese and dairy
You pick and choose an option from each category to make a complete pasta dinner for 6-8 people. The ingredient amounts are listed for each category (for example: 12 ounces of the protein of your choice) and the cooking method is really easy and universal no matter which ingredients you choose. It really is a no-brainer! I have turned to this for ideas many times… some of our favorite combinations are:
- Angel hair pasta with grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil
- Rigatoni pasta with tuna, cannellini beans, spinach and garlic
- Classic spaghetti with lean ground beef and a jar of Barilla sauce! This has been very successful with my kids – a few months ago, they would prefer to eat their pasta with butter. Getting them to enjoy pasta with marinara or traditional red sauce has been a major win, especially since Barilla has 2 servings of vegetables in every ½ cup of sauce. Yes!
Check out the Barilla Recipe Builder – you’ll find all of the ingredient ideas and details on the super simple cooking method that brings them all together into a quick, healthy and tasty dish. It is a weeknight dinner lifesaver!