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An Eye-Opening Diagnosis continued...

"Because the butter will be the first thing you taste, the entire meal will taste butter-drenched, but with just a fraction of the calories than if it was butter cooked," he says.

Another of Nischan's tricks is to bypass nonstick pans in favor of cast iron.

"Heat the pan for about 3 minutes over a medium flame, then coat whatever you're going to fry in a thin layer of oil and drop it in the pan," he says.

The temperature exchange between the hot pan and the cool food protects the oil, says Nischan, and you end up using less oil while still searing flavor into the food.

'Such a Pretty Face'

From the time she was old enough to stand on a chair and touch a bowl, Devin Alexander knew she loved to cook. She also knew she loved to eat. And by the time she was teenager, she was packing on the pounds.

"I was the one who always heard 'You have such a pretty face – if only you weren't so fat,' ", says Alexander, now a slim and celebrated Los Angeles healthy eating chef and author of the new book Fast Food Fix.

It wasn't until she became an adult that healthy cooking entered her life. "I decided there had to be a way I could enjoy food and not keep gaining," she says.

After a stint in culinary school, she found it: A style of low-fat cooking that not only helped her shed 55 pounds and keep it off for 12 years, but, as executive chef of Café Renee Catering in Los Angeles, help others do the same.

The most important lesson she learned: That how you cook is as important as what you cook.

"If you sprinkle a chicken breast with herbs and sear it in a pan on medium heat, it's going to taste blah; take that same chicken breast and cook it at high heat, and you'll seal in the flavors and bring out the spices, and you'll end up with a dish that tastes entirely different and very enjoyable," says Alexander.

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