Cooking demonstrations help home cooks feel at ease in the kitchen.
Stroll through any bookstore or surf the Internet, and you can take your pick from thousands of healthy recipes. But for some cooks, words and pictures on a page or screen are not enough to inspire them to take the leap and try something new.
Enter food television, where reluctant cooks can be motivated by watching professionals share their cooking tips and ease with the kitchen.
"Cooking is very sensual, and the beauty of a cooking show allows viewers to see and almost feel the texture, shape, and quantity of the ingredients and finished product," says Ellie Krieger, host of the Food Network's Healthy Appetite.
Says Liz Weiss, MS, RD, who co-hosted a pilot program called Recipe Rescue: "Seeing a food demonstration is a very powerful motivator because it reduces any anxiety that you can't do it."
Cooking on TV is not a new idea -- Julia Child was doing it decades ago. But the Food Network and its star chefs have made it more popular than ever. And some cooking shows, like Krieger's, are specifically aimed at showing the public just how easy -- and tasty -- healthy cuisine can be.
"There is a misconception that eating healthy and delicious food is mutually exclusive -- but they are not," Krieger says. She says she tries to show viewers that they can still enjoy their favorite foods as long as they prepare them in a healthful way and watch portion sizes.
Krieger also tries to dispel the notion that healthy cooking is complicated.
"I am a busy mom like everyone else, and so I focus on recipes that are easy, and have discovered some very simple tips, tricks, and options to encourage viewers to venture beyond their comfort zones and see just how easy it is to create delicious, healthy dishes," she says.
Recipe Rescue, a pilot on a PBS affiliate, actually put a family to work in the kitchen with dietitians Liz Weiss and Janice Bissell, co-authors of The Moms' Guide to Meal Makeovers. The goal: To make the family's favorite recipes more healthful.
"Our family realized their favorite foods were loaded with fat, calories and sodium," says Weiss, "and with a few simple steps, and without using convenience foods, we made their dishes much healthier."