What You Can Learn from Food Network Chef Chris Avtges

Losing 140 pounds hasn’t just given Chris Avtges a new lease on life.  Chris has dropped his “fat is flavor” philosophy and has found a completely new way to cook.

As a recent contestant on a special weight-loss episode of the television show Chopped, Chris took park in the “Cook Your Butt Off” episode that highlighted four chefs from around the country who revamped their cooking styles to achieve significant weight loss.  The Cook Your Butt Off episode also included a cook-off competition where the chefs had to use surprise ingredients.

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Flickr photo by Karen Horton

Chris’ Journey

Chris began on his weight loss journey in 2010 when his son, Hunter 10, was diagnosed with celiac disease. With Hunter’s diagnosis, Chris began to take a closer look at the ingredients he was using and discovered ways to add flavor to foods without adding fat.

In 2011Chris was laid off from his job as a food service director for the public school district.  With extra time on his hands he and his wife, Tabatha, decided to join the YMCA where they worked with personal trainers and established an intense workout schedule.

Six Tips From Chef Chris

After a few weeks of working out at the Y Chris started using the iPhone app Lose It!.  Using the calorie tracker motivated him to re-evaluate his approach to cooking and he really began to drop the pounds. As part of his new lifestyle Chris made six significant changes to the way he cooked.

Here are Chris’ six simple tips that you can incorporate into your meal plans to reduce calories and fat:

  1. Use fresh herbs and boldly flavored vinegars for marinades.
  2. Substitute yogurt for cream or milk when making mashed or sweet potatoes.
  3. Grill. Grill. Grill
  4. Instead of thick sauces use homemade broths. He recommends using a vegetable base and adding flavor with lemon grass and other seasonings.
  5. Replace ground beef with turkey or chicken when making burgers, meatloaf or other dishes.
  6. Control portion with pre-plating.  Don’t eat family style.

Although Chris didn’t win the Cook Your Butt Off competition, he achieved his main goal which he says was “to have an opportunity to get my story out and to show the stereotypical obese American, that with some effort and determination, they can turn their health around.” As a result of his weight loss he has been taken off medications for diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

Chris plans to use his newly developed culinary skills to work with students in K-12 to show them what healthy eating and exercise can do.

For more inspiration from Chris, check out his Chopped My Butt Off blog at http://chefchrisa.wordpress.com/.