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Notes from the Kitchen

Keeping it Healthy

by Libbie Summers

Paula Deen Online Food Editor, Libbie Summers, recently had a chance to sit down with Bobby Deen at his home and discuss healthy eating habits, exercise and his new role as the creator and head of Bobby Lightens It Up.  A new section launching in October on pauladeen.com.


LS:  First of all, thank you for making me a coffee this morning…let’s just get into it, but I have to warn you a couple of questions might be personal.
BD:  If it’s too personal, which I never have encountered, even from you, I’ll let you know…but I’m not worried.

LS:  So, we had a big video shoot with your brother, Jamie, last week at your mom’s condo on Tybee Island.  There are a number of photos of you there when you were….let’s just say…not your most svelte.  I barely recognized you.  When were these taken and was this when you were your “unhealthiest”?  Was anything out of the normal going on in your life?
BD:  (laughing and cringing)  Thanks a lot for pointing that out, Libbie!  Definitely yes.  It was 1988 when we moved to Savannah from Albany, GA.  I had 3 months left before high school graduation.  I moved here with no friends.  It was the worst thing that had happened to me.  I was miserable.  In Albany, I would have been graduating with kids I had gone to school with since Kindergarten.  I knew everyone there.  I was also dating a really nice girl at the time.  Savannah was a giant culture shock to me…a big city….we came from the country.  I was used to driving around in pick up trucks, going hunting.  Shooting deer and birds. I didn’t have anything to do here…and I didn’t WANT to do anything.  I didn’t want to socialize with people.  I didn’t want to make friends.  I didn’t want to go to school.  It wasn’t a conscious decision, but kind of all I did was sit around and eat.  I weigh 185 pounds now and at the time of those photos, I weighed 225 pounds. 

LS:  Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to take control and get healthy?
BD:  The whole exercise thing and my current lifestyle didn’t happen until after 30 years old.  I think in your twenties, at least me anyway, I was in a difficult spot just trying to figure stuff out.  I didn’t know what in the world was happening.  We were building this business that as far as I knew then was a road to nowhere.  A mix of that and being around heavier food…having to eat…and not knowing that you can work in a restaurant and still eat healthy.  So I think maybe it showed in my personal appearance.  I think I look like I feel in stages of my life.
LS:  I think that is very well said for everyone.
BD:  Definitely for me.  I think you can look at me now and know how I feel.  I feel great.  I’m happy and I have good things going on in my life.  The same for most people.  If your happy and healthy, it totally shows.  Look at my mom.  If you look at pictures of my mom when we were at 311 West Congress Street or 45 Eisenhower, you are looking at a woman who is physically working really really hard…struggling…it showed.  Look at my mom now.  She has blossomed.  She is so beautiful.

LS:  So, coupled with maturation, what was it that helped you make a healthy change in your life?
BD: The “What” is a “Who”.  I met a man by the name of Sam Carter.  He is the strength and conditioning coach at Savannah College of Art and Design,  an Ex Marine and all around good guy.  He not only helps me with my daily training, he keeps my mind focused on good things.
LS:  Ex Marine?  Is he tough on you?
BD:  You better believe it.  He whoops my butt.

LS:  Does it help you to work out with other people?
BD:  Yes, without a doubt.  I’m a competitive person.  If other people are in the gym working out hard, it pushes me to do better.  I have a great gym here at the house, but I don’t use it that much. 

LS:  Your mom has started working out every morning.  Are you working out with her at all?
BD:  No, I haven’t yet…but I am REAL proud of her. 

LS:  On the new Food Section of pauladeen.com launching in October, you handle a feature section called Bobby Lightens it Up…what is this all about and what made you want to do it? 
BD:  I’m real excited about this, because I LOVE my mom’s food.  This feature section will take some of my favorite classic recipes of hers each month and “Lighten” them up to cut some of the fat without sacrificing the flavor.  We get so many people asking for mom’s recipes a little healthier, so I’m hoping everyone will love these versions as much as I do.  It’s a really fun thing to get involved in and I get to taste everything!  Of course, my mom has the final say!

LS:  What is a typical food day for you?  How many meals a day do you eat?
BD:  I try to wake up in the morning and eat oatmeal.  Actually, I’m guilty of under eating which I have to watch…it’s as bad for you as overeating.  There have been days when I have gotten out of bed, gone straight to work (which is not as physical as it once was…it’s not like I’m breaking rocks), go to the gym, run 3 miles, workout real hard for an hour, go to a Jiu-Jitsu lesson, come home and I haven’t eaten anything all day long.  When I catch myself doing that, I make sure I don’t over eat at night.  I consciously go get a big tuna steak, make myself a little salad and have a side of cous cous.  I don’t have a big sweet tooth at all, so I don’t even think about that stuff which helps a lot.

LS:  Do you drink fresh protein shakes?
BD:  Yes.  I drink a lot of protein shakes.  Especially with fresh blueberries and bananas.  Stuff that easily blends.  I not only love the taste of blueberries, but all the health benefits they have as well.  EAS is a sports drink company that does whey protein shakes (no sugar).  I like their product.  I do it with water, not milk.  Add the berries or whatever seasonal fruit is available…Again, I love blueberries so I add a handful of them usually.

LS:  Do you take any vitamins or supplements?
BD:  The only thing I take is Krill Oil.  My doctor recommended it for me.  It is high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids and really seems to help me with my sore joints from years of sports and running.  I’m 39 and there were mornings when I woke up and my joints were really hurting.

LS:  What is the easiest thing someone can do to help them eat the right things?
BD:  Keep the preparation easy.  I don’t complicate my food.  I like big flavors in simple dishes.  Especially for me…since I am here by myself most nights.  I don’t want to spend a bunch of my time preparing a huge meal just for me.

LS:  Do you ever eat fast food? 
BD:  Yes, twice a year.  I love Chick Fil A.  I actually had a McDonald’s double cheeseburger and fries a couple of weeks ago in the airport.  I guess that is it for the year for me!  But Libbie, it is important to note that my life is a balance.  I don’t neglect myself the things I love.  You can look at your working out a couple of different ways.  For me, I work out really hard because I want to live the life that I want to live.  For example, I love Mexican food.  If I want to go have a great Mexican dinner, I’m going to do it.  If I want a burger from time to time, I’m going to do it.  That is the reward for busting my butt.  I will tell you that I have learned as you get older it is so much easier to put on weight and so much harder to take it off.

LS:  What is your food vice?
BD:  French Fries

LS:  Thank you for taking the time this morning to talk with me.  I know I made you late for the gym.
BD: Don’t worry about that.  I had a great time and I love talking with our readers.  I hope I inspired a few.
LS:  You inspired me.
BD:  Suck up.


Libbie Summers is a yacht chef turned stylist who specializes in innovative ways to present food. She serves as a Food and Prop Stylist for Paula Deen and Head Food Stylist for Paula’s Best Dishes. Libbie lives in Savannah with her pulchritudinous husband, Josh. Her website lives at http://www.libbiesummers.com

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Reader Comments:

 

I just started cooking (at all lol) Paula’s food because it was stuff we liked and not difficult to prepare.  I have lost 20 lbs. since last Oct. I had thought to myself that this food sure did taste good but, I wouldn’t be able to continue. (all that butter you know, lol) I saw Bobby just this morning on GMA. Im telling the truth, I thought to myself, now I know that boy eats right and works out. Then tonight I was on the web site and found this. How awesome!!!!! I can’t wait.

Cindy McMahan on September 09, 2009 08:15 PM

YAY Bobby! This absolutely thrills me. We had potluck this past Sunday and everyone wanted to know where my Mac and Cheese was (your mama’s recipe.) I said that we had to find a way to cut some of the unhealthy out while maintaining the incredible flavor. I can’t wait to cook up some good, healthy, fantastic tasting food for my family!

Heather Howell on September 10, 2009 02:23 PM

Yippee!!

A lighter alternative to Paula’s dishes…

I am a WLS patient; and have kept my weight off for nearly three years!  One of the things I miss most is Paula’s recipes.  I am so excited that Bobby will be offering lighter versions for those of us who need to eat more lean proteins and healthier versions of our favorites.  I would love to see some reduced sugar options as well.

Thank you, Bobby, for helping a die-hard fan of yours!

Betsy Hodges on September 10, 2009 02:23 PM

I’m SO excited to see Bobby’s new endeavor on the website! I’m a HUGE fan of all the Deen/Groover family, but frequently have to tailor some of the recipes to keep from raising my cholesterol numbers! I can’t wait to see how Bobby revises some of the fabulous dishes that his mama has come up with and can’t wait to see the hunky Bobby at Kansas City next week!

Barb Gaines on September 10, 2009 02:24 PM

Very inspiring! my story is similar to Bobby’s in many ways, and I do LOVE Mexican food…I am Mexican! I have lost 43 pounds already since last year and feel extremely happy.  I was lucky to meet Paula and Bobby at the Alaskan cruise last August; and it was so special because Paula has a MILLION things that remind me of my mom, so getting the chance to give her a hug is still something that makes me smile every day.
I look forward to Bobby’s lighter version of the recipes!!!!

Blanca Sanie on September 10, 2009 02:27 PM

I am so looking forward to Bobby’s new website.  I have made some of Paula’s recipes Weight Watcher Happy [so to speak], so having Bobby take his mom’s recipes and turn them around is great news to me!  Awesome!  Can’t wait!

Sharon Linton on September 10, 2009 02:29 PM

I love Bobby and think he does not get as much air time as Jamie==show more Bobby

marje on September 10, 2009 02:50 PM

Hey Bobby!! Maybe a cookbook with the lighter versions??? That would be fantastic!!

Barb Gaines on September 10, 2009 02:53 PM

I love Paula’s recipes… they make me happy just cooking them…but I would also like to figure out a way to make my favs a little lighter… I know that “butter equals love”.... but I am excited to know that Bobby will provide us with some lighter recipes.- a different way to “love” our families….....yay!

Pam Kemp on September 10, 2009 03:07 PM

Well it’s about time.I figured you would do a healthier version of cooking, it was just a matter of time.  I also noticed you were a bit more to love from the picture of your mom, brother and you jumping up and clicking your heels in front of the restaraunt. You still looked great.
As someone with a degree in Kinesiology/Health & PE I myself have put on some lb’s and need a little motivation to get back to my fit self. I’ll be sure to check out your feature section on the website. Good Luck!

Peggy M. on September 10, 2009 03:11 PM

Bobby, I need you to do a cook book on what you eat!  Then follow it with a magazine.  I have had to cancel Paula’s magazine because I can’t eat that way.  We all need to lighten up, eat healthy and live better.  I am handicapped and I can’t go to the gym.

Judy Krummel on September 10, 2009 03:20 PM

I am so happy to hear that Bobby will be teaching us some light ways to make our favorite recipes.  My husband and I have been dieting and we are going to enjoy some of what is ahead.  What a great idea.

Roz O'Donnell on September 10, 2009 03:21 PM

For me just watching Paula & her sons makes me happy. She can make me laugh most days I watch her. I have recently been diagnosed with diabetes so I will be anxious to see what is in the lighter recipes to see if I can eat her (or Bobbie’s)dishes & maintain a healthy carb count and still continue to lose weight.

Kay Flowers on September 10, 2009 03:22 PM

i recently went to savannah and ate at lady and sons and uncle bubba’s.  i attempt to cut calories/fat/sugar from recipes.  i am lookng forward to trying his slimmed down recipes.  and, the boy is fine.  hard work and diet really does pay off and he is proof.  he is right; at a certain age, weight is harder to loose.

lester baxendale on September 10, 2009 03:32 PM

So glad to hear you’ll be making healthier recipes! I’d say it’s long overdue. I don’t prepare many of ya’lls dishes be cause I am diabetic as well abeing gluten intolerant. Soooo, I hope you’ll consider this aspect of cooking and baking as well. Looking so forward to the newer and improved, healthier recipes.

Lynne on September 10, 2009 03:36 PM

Just love anything PAULA and her dishes are great!
I knew the time would come to cut down on the butter and cream tho as people are becoming so
health conscious.Want to know if Bobby & Jamie
will make time for a few more ROAD TASTED shows?
I sure enjoy them traveling all around the country
and although they are busy, maybe a few more shows
can be planned in the near future.  Debby

Debby on September 10, 2009 03:41 PM

On Heather Howell’s comment-

We had a family reunion potluck on Sunday too!!! And had lots and lots (possibly too much, lol) of fattening Southern food at the table. 
I asked one of the attendees, my stepdad’s granddaughter, who brought the Mac N Cheese, if it was Paula’s recipe (she’s a MAJOR fan, too!) but she said it wasn’t.  It was still very good though—got leftovers and gobbled it all up!

Jana Prevatt on September 10, 2009 03:45 PM

I love Paula’s recipes (and her personality), and have never wanted to lighten them up. 
I have a family history of heart problems, and at my last checkup, my cholesterol was high.  Now I’m interested. 
If anyone is interested, you can make individual fruit crisps with any fresh or frozen fruit, splenda, sugar free oatmeal, nuts, and just a little butter that will make breakfast a happy time again.

nannon on September 10, 2009 04:44 PM

I remember when you all were at 311 West Congress Street and my office was just down the street on the corner.  Watching Paula and her boys is a delight, they represent what is best in Southern culture.Over the years I have gained a bit of weight more than I should but it was well earned.  I am happy that Bobby will be posting lite fare however just remember your roots (more butter is better).

Best wishes,

Lee Lassiter
Savannah, Georgia

Lee Lassiter on September 10, 2009 04:50 PM

Am looking to step things up.  In just under a year have lost 75 pounds, a total of 34 inches. Gone from a size 28 to a 12. I am at a stand still but keep pushing it…maybe I can gain a couple tips.  No pun intended. Not at the point I want to be but will keep pushing till I am.  Need all the tips I can get and am looking forward to any offered

Brooke E Longlett on September 10, 2009 06:34 PM

Happy to see Bobby on board. I too, like Bobby just started to truly work out. I used to workout when I was younger but now being in my late 30’s I am finding a new found passion for it. It has given me so much energy.

Welcome.

Kimberly Whitacre on September 10, 2009 06:37 PM

See if this works in the URL line -

The website is about Krill Oil

Lisa of Minneapolis on September 10, 2009 07:38 PM

Good for you, Bobby!!  We do need to see and hear from you more.  Check out Barb Gaines; she has sent you two messages…wonder if she is single and cute???

Frances Shannon on September 10, 2009 07:38 PM

Bobby! Don’t you know there are no ex-Marines only former Marines! I won’t tell your trainer if you don’t. I think it is great that you are starting the new section on your Mom’s site. When I met her at a book signing she asked me if I really made her recipes and ate them too, and I said “yes, of course”! But what I didn’t mention is that I lighten them up. It will be interesting to see how you switch it up compared to how I do.

Audrey Yarbrough on September 10, 2009 08:16 PM

I’m looking forward to the lighter side of Paula Deen’s WONDERFUL comfort foods.  So happy for you Bobby - way to go!!!!!

Barbara of Fayetteville, GA on September 10, 2009 08:26 PM

Sorry Frances & Bobby. I’m his mama’s age and built about like dear sweet Paula! But I’m from the “other” Savannah - Savannah, Missouri. But I DO have a cute single daughter about Bobby’s age! grin

Barb Gaines on September 10, 2009 08:48 PM

YAY!!! I’m so excited about this….love me some southern food, but hate the calories that come with it smile

KB on September 10, 2009 11:38 PM

Audrey, I am so sorry about the “ex” marine statement.  I went back and listened to the tape with Bobby and he in fact did say “former” marine.  That was my bad when I transcribed the interview.  I apologize and thank you for correcting me!

Libbie Summers on September 11, 2009 12:00 AM

Glad to see that Bobby is doing this!  I am a personal chef in Fredericksburg, Texas and I like to cook healthy meals for my clients and I have used some of Paula’s recipes (Pepper Steak; Mashed Potato Casserole, to name a few) because I like good simple cooking, which she does!  Thank you, Bobby!  Can’t wait to see what you do!  Vicky

Vicky D on September 11, 2009 11:43 AM

Hey Bobby, I’m glad to see that you are coming out with lighter versions of your Mom’s recipes. I totally agree that the older you get the harder it is to lose weight. Thanks fo the heads up about the Krill Oil. I am 39 also and know what you mean about soreness in the morning.

Erik Oehling on September 11, 2009 11:45 AM

Hey Boby! Would love to see Mashed Potato/Hash Brown Casserole trimmed down!  I use “Alice Jo’s Spaghetti Sauce” to make lots of different dishes and am able to trim it down myself.  It makes a wonderful sauce for Lasagna!  Made four LARGE dishes yesterday!  Vicky D

Vicky D on September 11, 2009 01:49 PM

Wow! It seems like you have everyone excited about the “Lighten Up recipes! very cool!  do you think some of these might be incorporated at the Lady & Sons?
Can’t wait to see your new ideas.
Thanks!

Debbie Walters on September 11, 2009 08:06 PM

Had Paula Deem food for the first time a year ago in Mississippi.  I am from Washington State so i never thought I would be able to have it again.  Glad I was wrong and am super excited to see some lighter Paula Deem recipes.  Thanks Bobby for the personal notes of yourself.  Glad you turned it all around.

Dee Maxwell on September 12, 2009 11:43 AM

i love paula deen thank you for the light section for recipes, I’ve tried so many light recipes and the flavor is lacking seriously will a cookbook be coming out?

denise on September 12, 2009 12:30 PM

please do not use anything with articial sweetneer or products that are man-made supposedly good but are not. Be all natural and organic with the subsitutions.

christine on September 12, 2009 01:27 PM

I can’t wait to see Bobby’s web site.  I love Paula Deen and her recipes.  A lighter version coming from Bobby makes them even better…haha

Teresa Parrish on September 12, 2009 05:54 PM

Can’t wait to see some of your recipes Bobby.  I have lost almost 110 lbs. on Weight Watchers.  I’ve kept it off since summer of 2002.  I am in 30’s now so eating healthy is a way of life for me.  I worked out so much at the local YMCA that I now have worked there for almost 2 years. A cookbook of the lighter versions of your Mom’s recipes would be great.  Just a thought.  Also could possibly have the nutritional value of each recipe so we can figure out the points. Thanks Cindy

Cindy Greene on September 12, 2009 08:19 PM

I am so excited to see the “new” lighter recipies.  I always find myself watching PD and loving the program and ya’lls input.  Can’t Wait to see what is in store for those of us who love butter but NEED to lose some weight.  wink wink

Juder on September 13, 2009 01:31 PM

HEY BOBBY I WATCH ALL THE PAULA SHOWS I CAN EVEN IF THEY ARE REPEATS AND THEY ARE….WHEN WILL THE NEW SEASON OR SHOW OF PAULAS PARTY BE ON? MY HUSBAND AND I MISS THAT SHOW SO MUCH…I ESPECIALLY LOVE WATCHING IF YOU AND JAMIE ARE ON THE SHOW I JUST LOVE WATCHING THE LOVE YOU BOTH HAVE FOR YOUR MOM I ALWAYS SAY THAT SOUTHERN BOYS KNOW HOW TO TREAT THEIR MOMMA…LOVE ALL YOU DEANS N CANT FORGET MICHAEL smile LISA

lisa campbell on September 14, 2009 08:26 AM

My mom was like your mom if it had butter on it ,it was good for you . Her favorite was bread butter and tomato sandwiches . My doctor said i needed to loose 78 lbs I have managed to loose 17 .But i to love to cook .I love your families cook books . I have tried to cut some of the calories in those some ok and others not so easy. Are you going to come out with a cook book .

Nona Estabrook on September 14, 2009 09:00 AM

YES IT SAID SOMEONE RESPONDED TO MY COMMENT I WROTE BUT I DIDNT SEE ANYTHING I THOUGHT MAYBE BOBBY WOULD RESPOND TO IT IS THAT RIGHT? THANKS…LISA

lisa campbell on September 15, 2009 08:16 AM

Hi Lisa, if anyone writes a comment after yours you will get the message that someone has responded.

Phil P of Savannah, Georgia on September 23, 2009 07:55 AM

We are making Jamie’s chili as we speak….

Juder on September 26, 2009 03:18 PM

I think that paula has started something big here guys!

Bobby and Jamie can just take it tothe finish line…I would love to see Bobby open up a restaurant using his mama’s recipes but lighter and even have a couple old stand buys make her way for those that want it the regular way!

good luck Deen family!  Hope to see a restaurant opened here in NYC soon! It would be packed everyday! Reservations would be a must! wink

Lisa on October 11, 2009 12:48 PM

Just thought I would let everyone know that he Chili was fantastic! Thanks for the recipe

Juder on October 11, 2009 06:31 PM

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