Behind our yummy recipes, reviews and photos are creative cooks, crafters, photographers and food lovers. This month we’re spending time with Shirl (J) 831!
Born in Alberta, Canada and now living in Eastern North Carolina, Shirl (J) 831 is a Food.com veteran. A forum host and low-fat and healthy eating advocate, she found the time to sit through our Q&A so we could get to know her a bit better and find out her food (and Food.com!) favorites.
Where do you live?
I am originally from Alberta, Canada and I now live in Eastern NC. I miss the snow and it is very hot and humid here which I don’t like. I love the mountains and would rather live through a blizzard; at least then I’d know my house would still be there, unlike a hurricane which is what hits where I live now!
What can you tell us about being a forum host? Why do you do it?
I really love being a forum host. To me it is both a challenge and a reward. I love being able to help people with general food/diet questions and try to help them find the answers they seek. Being a forum host is not a paid job on Food.com, but as a forum hosts I get rewarded in many ways.
How has your low fat cooking approach influenced the food you put on your table?
I have always eaten low fat or healthy. I am not a fan of red meat or pork. I NEVER deep fry anything. Yes, I know I’m living in the wrong part of the world. Here in the South it is all pork, and almost everything is deep fried. Because I have stomach issues I have to watch what I eat. I love fresh spinach with strawberries. Making small changes in one’s food choices can lead to big changes along the way. I try to take a traditional meal and cut back the fat and calories, without compromising taste.
Do you have any tips for easy healthy eating and cooking for today’s busy lives?
Stop and think twice before the quick drive through at a fast food place. Before you grab a fat and calorie loaded biscuit with sausage and egg and use up a good portion of your allotted calories for the day, make a healthy shake full of fruit and skim or soy milk at home. The night before work, prepare your kids’ lunches with healthy sides and snacks. Make your own lunch ahead of time as well. Taking a few extra minutes is worth it in the end. While at work, make sure to have a bottle of water with you. Drinking plenty of water not only helps lose weight, but it also helps you feel full. While shopping, be aware of misleading fat-free and low-fat labels. Look at the calories. Keeping on track takes time to establish and learn, but once you set a good example for you and your family, you will feel better and your health will benefit greatly. Being rushed does not mean you have to eat poorly. All in all, you just need to be moderately active and remember calories in, calories out. Practice good habits and they will last a life time.
Out of the dishes you make, what are you and your family’s favorites?
I love Joshua’s Favorite Tilapia With Jasmine Rice, a signature dish of mine. It is full of flavor, simply by using fat free Italian dressing to sauté the fish in — no need for oil! I also make a great meatloaf but use lean ground chicken or turkey for less fat. I also love to coat chicken breasts with low fat mayonnaise, cover with Italian bread crumbs and then bake them in the oven (my Crispy Balsamic Baked Chicken Breasts). My motto is: You do not have to compromise flavor when cutting back calories or fat.
Is there a story behind your famous Soft Molasses Cookies? Please tell!
OH YES!!! There sure is. Another one of my signature recipes. I had spent many hours searching recipes on the internet for a good soft molasses cookie recipe. One that tasted like gingerbread, and one that would be addictive! I could not find one that I liked, and after trying so many, I finally gave up and created my own and on the very first attempt, I had a WINNER !!!
Do you have a favorite member/chef here at Food.com?
I think I would have to say that my favorite member is Kree. One of the main reasons I tend to look towards her recipes is because she has the same stomach issues I have. I had actually known Kree from a specific (Gastro) related website before coming to Food.com. I always know that if I need a tummy safe recipe, Kree was my gal.
Confession time: What’s your guilty pleasure dish?
My Awesome Easy Burritos, another one of my own creations. Inexpensive to make and you cannot eat just one.
It’s your last meal: What are you having?
COFFEE!!! Probably with an English Muffin with homemade strawberry freezer jam and anything chocolate!
What’s your most epic cooking flop? Did you cry? Save it? Or just get takeout?
OH BOY! Before I actually learned to cook, I wanted to make a special supper for my sister and her family. I made a roast, added no liquid to the pan, cooked it TOO long and ended up with a dry and burnt outcome. I also tried to make an apple pie, but you needed a chain saw to get through the crust. We ate the filling and threw the crust out. After that I learned to cook like my mom: A little of this and a little of that instead of following a recipe exactly. Her wisdom and style of cooking has stayed with me.
Dig In: 3 Favorites from Shirl (J) 831
Soft Molasses Cookies
“Your cookie jar will be SO empty when you make these. Even better the day after. Very ADDICTIVE!!!!”
Joshua’s Favorite Tilapia With Jasmine Rice
“I whipped this up one day quite by accident. I call this Joshua’s favorite tilapia because my husband could eat this 7 nights a week. This is the easiest way to cook tilapia, and if you are watching those calories then you need not worry!”
Crispy Balsamic Chicken Breasts
“This is easy, yummy and looks elegant when served for company. I’ve also used the sauce as a type of tarter dip for sweet potato fries.”
Check out our past members of the month: