By Diane Henderiks
What do you get when you take a young, hip Canadian comedienne, add food, fun, fashion and music, then put it on TV? Nadia G!
This girl is super cool and one smart cookie. You know just what you are in for the minute she opens her mouth, revealing her Celine Dion-meets-Tony Soprano accent. Nadia Giosia was raised in an Italian home in the diverse town of St. Leonard in Montreal, Quebec.
"On one street you had duplexes with perfectly manicured yards and a few blocks away were the projects," she said. "Public school was rough but I grew up happy, in an 'angry teen' kind of way."
Nadia's family is filled with cooks, which is where she learned her culinary skills and love for food. Her dishes are approachable, delicious and uncomplicated.
Nadia's passion had always been art in one form or another. In her early 20s, she started MULT1MED1A, her web-design-branding company and before long top corporations were contracting her. Although her goal was to create a platform to share her comedic, musical and culinary talents with the masses, Nadia knew that "paychecks in entertainment don't come for like 10 years."
Certain that her comedy-cooking show hybrid concept would be a smash hit, she created "Bitchin' Kitchen," her Web based show. Nadia wrote the material, branded the concept and designed the logo and website by herself in her not-so-spare time. "Bitchin' Kitchen" was such a success that the Cooking Channel took notice and brought Nadia and her show to America and into our living rooms.
Diane: What's your definition of "healthy eating?"
Nadia: "Healthy eating," for me it's all about cooking at home from scratch. This way I can really control what goes into my food. As for what to cook, well, we all know the drill: low-fat, low sodium, no refined carbs, lean protein. … It isn't easy, our bodies are built to crave that fatty, juicy burger, but back in the day, hunting one down was a lot harder than going to the drive-thru, so here we are. One trick that works for me is to stick to a very healthy grocery list. This way even when you're craving cheese puffs at midnight , all you have handy is organic raisin bran, or soy chocolate pudding. A bit painful, but healthy.
Diane: What is your secret to cooking healthier without sacrificing flavor?
Nadia: To be honest, you're always going to sacrifice a bit of flavor. It's one of those big life decisions: Do you want to shake off a greasy, delicious pepperoni pizza? Or do you want to look good in skinny jeans? Cutting down on fat and sodium is challenging, but there are a few things you can do to get some satisfaction. Experiment with spices, pile on the garlic, caramelized onions really add a ton of flavor without barely any fat. Also, get your hands some good, aged balsamic (minimum 7 years old), this stuff is so tasty you barley need to add any oil to dressings.
Diane: What is your favorite healthier dish on your own menu and why?
Nadia: I love my Turkey Leg Cassoulet. it's a simple and hearty one-pot meal that's bursting with flavor: succulent turkey leg with spicy paprika, butter beans, a rich tomato sauce loaded with onion and fresh parsley. You'll love it.
Diane: How about an update on what's new and exciting in your world?
Nadia: I'm having a blast shooting season three of Nadia G's "Bitchin' Kitchen" these days. From Dysfunctional Family Pizza Night, to Office Lunches and Break-Up Brunches, we always have a laugh yapping about these hilarious topics and cook a Bitchin' meal to go along with it. There's lots of action going on in our online community as well: weekly supper club challenges, contests and just plain having a great time. Come say "Hi" on our Facebook page.
Also, be sure to tune in to the "Bitchin' Kitchen" Halloween Special, which airs on Sunday, Oct. 21, at 8 p.m. on the Cooking Channel: scary skits, zombie correspondents, half-naked models, a Mike Relm remix and, of course, a Halloween feast that actually tastes good. Spook-ilicious treats usually stink, they're all looks and no substance. That's OK when choosing a boyfriend, but not with food, man.
Turkey & Butter Bean Cassoulet Recipe Courtesy of Nadia G
Ingredients 4 turkey legs 1/2 cup cooked butter beans 8 slices turkey bacon 5 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock 3 1/2 cups San Marzano tomatoes 5 yellow onions, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 sprig fresh thyme 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped 1 bay leaf 2 tablespoons canola oil 2 tablespoons maple syrup Big pinch of paprika Freshly cracked pepper 1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Heat oil in a large non-stick pan on medium-high heat. Add turkey legs, paprika, cracked pepper and salt. Pan sear for a few minutes on each side until golden. To a roasting pan, add 4 cups chicken stock, 2 cups tomatoes, maple syrup, onions, garlic, thyme, parsley, bay leaf and butter beans. Stir to blend. Add pan-seared turkey legs, cover and cook at 325°F degrees for two hours. Every half hour add 1/2 cup chicken stock and 1/2 cup crushed tomato to the roasting pan.
To cook turkey bacon: Slice into 1/4 inch strips. Render on medium heat for 10 minutes or until golden and crispy. Drain.
Garnish cassoulet with crispy bacon pieces and buon appetito.