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A Top Chef’s Weight-Loss Secrets

After competing on Bravo’s Top Chef, Lee Anne Wong dropped 50 pounds. Her regimen: Eat less meat, more fruits and vegetables and lots of delicious soy dishes.

During her years as a restaurant cook subsisting on 3 a.m. burgers and beers, Lee Anne Wong added 50 pounds to her size 4 frame. After appearing as a contestant on Season 1 of Bravo’s Top Chef, then becoming the show’s supervising culinary producer, Wong made repeated attempts to slim down. But nothing worked long-term until she completely overhauled her diet, eating less meat, eliminating refined sugars and flours, and focusing on whole grains, fruits, vegetables and all kinds of soy, especially tofu.

Tofu is key, Wong says, because it provides lots of protein and folate without too much saturated fat. Plus, it’s super-versatile: She grills extra-firm tofu in a deeply savory marinade made with miso and tahini, for instance, then serves it like a steak with roasted asparagus in a fantastic nori vinaigrette. She adds crumbles of tofu to a tangy dressing for a hearty barley, spinach and mushroom salad. To reduce the fat in creamy recipes, she blends soft tofu with low-fat sour cream and nonfat yogurt for a lush, fluffy avocado dip.

“I’m the girl who loves bacon and pork,” Wong says, “but tofu can fill in when I’m craving something meaty or creamy.”

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Published June 2009
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