Teresa Giudice, the table-flipping Italian matriarch of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," has just released her third cookbook, "Fabulicious: Fast & Fit," featuring lightened-up versions of Italian favorites like chicken parm and fettuccine alfredo. We chatted with the TV star and mom of four about serving up specialties without the guilt.
When we think of Italian food, we often think of heavy dishes like eggplant parmesan or spaghetti and meatballs. What are your tricks for lightening up these meals while keeping the flavor intact?
The key to a lot of it is baking and not frying. In this book I do a naked chicken parmesan: You use reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, and then it's sauce, peppers, salt, chicken breast, olive oil and freshly grated parmesano-reggiano cheese. One of my favorites, I'll tell you, is the chicken bruschetta. That's [cooked] in the oven. I have a fettuccine carbonara in my book just using eggs and egg whites instead of the heavy cream. I definitely use whole-wheat pasta. My kids, I have to say, they've gotten used to the taste -- at first they didn't like it. But now my kids love it. And you know what, it's really good for you because there's a lot of fiber in it.
How do you stay in shape?
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Everyone's always [telling] me "you look amazing." They love my arms! My thing is, of course, just eat healthy, but you also have to exercise, and I think that keeps your heart healthy and it makes you look great also. My husband and I go to the gym together and this is the thing: You don't always do the same thing. You have to mix it up. I'm always mixing up my routine. I never do the same thing because then your body gets used to it and you don't see any change. Sometimes I use the machines, sometimes I use free weights, I do boxing, I do TRX. You have to mix it up so your body doesn't get used to the same thing -- that's how you see results in your body.
So are you trying to be the next Bethenny Frankel with these low-fat recipes?
Well, my first cookbook was "Skinny Italian," and I think that was even before she even came out with Skinnygirl Margarita. It takes a year for a cookbook to come out, so I think when her Skinnygirl Margarita came out, my "Skinny Italian" book came out at the same time. I wasn't copying off of her or anything. If anything, you know, "Skinny Bitch" has been around so long. My thing is, everyone always would tell me "you're a skinny Italian," so that's where I got "Skinny Italian" from.
Were cookbooks something you always envisioned yourself doing?
Well, cooking has always been my second nature. My parents are off the boat, I'm first-generation [Italian], so I've always cooked with my mom growing up and I've always been around authentic Italian food. I guess being on the "Housewives" gave me the opportunity to show another side of me, that yeah, I do cook for my family. For me it's very important to cook for my family every night. I think it's an important thing for every family to sit down together and have a meal together. I think the kids love it, and it's a good upbringing [for them].