By Jill Weinlein, 1/24/2013
When The Cheesecake Factory’s Bistro Shrimp Pasta recently topped the list of Xtreme Eating Awards with 3,120 calories, (put out by the Center for Science in the Public Interest) I shuddered to think of all the calories I consume when I go out to dine.
A friend told me about a terrific chef, Devin Alexander, who cooks up nutritious low-calorie dishes at The Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach. Her dishes are lower in fat than at most restaurants.
Currently, Devin has published eight popular books, including “The Biggest Loser” cookbooks. She hosts “America’s Chefs on Tour” on PBS and has a show “Healthy Decadence” which can be viewed on FitTV.
Recently. I went with a friend to meet Devin and try her healthier dishes. She shared with us that at the age of 15, she weighed 70 pounds more than she does today. After being bullied and feeling bad about herself, she learned that if she could cut 100 calories from her diet each day, she could lose weight. In one year, she lost about 20 pounds and felt better about herself. She realized that you don’t have to deprive yourself of good food to be fit and trim, and learned how to cook healthier and more wholesome dishes.
Restaurant and hotel entrepreneur Michael Zislis, the owner of Shade Hotel, met Devin last year and asked if she would cook for him. He was so impressed with her delectable dishes, that he hired her to create “30-Days of Devinly Decadence” menu to be served at his restaurant, Zinc. Zislis has proudly lost almost 10 pounds by eating Devin’s food.
A group of us sat down to enjoy nine of Devin’s dishes featured on her menu. Each week Devin creates some new items, so those who want to dine at Zinc daily, will always have a brand new dish to experience.
We started with a chocolate peanut butter breakfast banana split. What? How can that be low calorie and healthy? Devin splits a banana in half and scoops fresh ground peanut butter on top. Next she adds non-fat vanilla yogurt and high-fiber Grape Nuts cereal to give the dish texture and a delightful crunch. It was heavenly.
When the egg white goat cheese omelet arrived, it was topped with fresh tarragon and chives. The goat cheese makes this dish pop with wonderful flavors. The best part of this dish is it’s only 141 calories and a miniscule amount of fat.
For lunch, Devin serves a bountiful salad with a twist on buffalo chicken wings. It’s a grilled white meat chicken dipped in Devin’s secret wing sauce. The chicken is cubed and tossed with mixed greens, celery, tomatoes, carrots and red onions. This pleasing dish is less than 500 calories, even with Devin’s housemade low-cal blue cheese dressing.
The Little Dev burger looks just like a Big Mac and tastes just like a Big Mac, yet is only 317 calories with 11 grams of fat. Compare that to the traditional Big Mac with 560 calories and 30 grams of fat. Devin’s is served with seasoned light-skinned sweet potato chips or a mixed green salad.
Craving Mexican food, but don’t want the high-fat and calories? Devin’s grilled chicken enchiladas are only 366 calories. They have a zing to them with Devin’s special seasoning.
Everyone knows that crab cakes are fried and filled with fat, however Devin’s are unfried lump crab “balls” seasoned with panko breadcrumbs and served with a salad. Three crab balls with a zesty lemon caper dipping sauce are only 215 calories.
I love potato skins; yet never eat them because of all the cheese, sour cream and bacon bits. Devin constructs a healthy potato skin dish with seasoned sweet potato rounds, low-fat cheddar cheese, nitrite-free turkey bacon bits and tops them with non-fat Greek yogurt and sprinkles some green onions. The entire dish is 288 calories with 9 grams of fat.
It’s easy to save room for Devin’s Divine Desserts, because one doesn’t feel overstuffed or guilty for consuming too many calories. Her life-altering lemon Bundt cake is fat-free, gluten-free and filled with fiber. The entire portion is only 207 calories. Craving chocolate? Devin makes a Godiva chocolate Bundt cake that has 239 calories and 3 grams of fat. It’s rich, gooey and oh-so-delicious! The lowest calorie dessert is her banana mania muffin at 131 calories and a trace of fat. It’s gluten-free and has no alternative sweeteners that give off a chemical aftertaste.
For drinks, her unsweetened passion green ice tea is pink in color and full of tropical flavors. For those craving a cocktail, Shade Lounge and restaurant are serving Devinly Decadence cocktails that are all less than 200 calories. The sparkly greyhound is made with Ketel One Vodka, fresh squeezed pink grapefruit juice and grapefruit sparkling water. Her frozen blueberry margarita is only 188 calories, compared to 500 calories elsewhere. A nice nightcap is the Ripped Russian with Kahlua, Ketel One, and Devin’s all natural Devinly cocoa-infused creaminess. It’s dreamy with only 118 calories, vs. a traditional 450-calorie white Russian.
I left the restaurant amazed to eat all of those low-calorie dishes and not one tasted bland or like cardboard – they were divine!
Come meet Devin on Monday, Jan. 28, from 6 to 10 p.m. Zinc@shade restaurant will hold a special screening party of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” television series. Devin will treat guests to tray-passed samples of her menu from 6 to 8 p.m. There will be special $5 low calorie libations. Those ordering items from the Devinly Decadent menu, will be eligible to win autographed copies of her “The Biggest Loser” cookbooks. Other prizes will be given away during commercials.
Devin’s menu is available at Zinc through February 5. Her dishes are served from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sun. through Wed. and 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thurs. through Sat.$$ Open Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Zinc @ Shade Hotel, 1221 N. Valley Drive, Manhattan Beach, (310)546-4995.