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Top Chef Contestant Marisa Churchill Introduces Sweet and Skinny Dessert Cookbook

Sweet and Skinny Book CoverMost people would like to enjoy dessert without the guilt of consuming lots of fat and sugar. That’s why chef Marisa Churchill’s new cookbook, Sweet & Skinny: 100 Recipes for Enjoying Life’s Sweeter Site Without Tipping the Scale, is sure to have wide appeal. You may know Marisa from season two of Top Chef, in which her low-fat chocolate cake was a big hit. Last week, I caught up with Marisa to talk about Sweet & Skinny, and to try some of her low-cal creations.

In addition to baking tips and calorie-cutting suggestions at the beginning of the book, Sweet & Skinny features five chapters of desserts: Desserts In A Hurry, Sweet Treats, Sinner Party Showstoppers, Holiday Favorites and American Classics. “I knew that in Sweet & Skinny I wanted to have American classics, because we all love things like chocolate chip cookies and whoopie pies,” said Marisa of choosing recipes to include. She started by picking the desserts she loves to eat. “I hate when you see these low-fat dessert books and they’re full of fruit desserts or meringues. That’s fine, but who wants to eat meringue all the time? You want to have variety.”

Read More and Find Out How to Win!

Marisa’s Greek heritage also turns up in some of the recipes. “One of my favorite Greek recipes that’s in the book are the Kourabiedes, which are in the Sweet Treats chapter,” she said. “Those yummy, buttery cookies with powered sugar on top, not exactly low cal! That was one of the hardest recipes to make reduced-fat.” She explains that she started with her grandmother’s traditional recipe, one that had been described by the King of Greece as “the best he had ever tasted.” Marisa let her grandmother be the judge of whether reduced-calorie Kourabiedes could be included in the book. “When she tasted the finial batch, she actually said to me, ‘Are you sure this is not my recipe?’ That’s when I knew I had gotten it right.”

PB&J CookiesUnlike many of the packaged “diet” desserts that are commercially available, Marisa’s treats are free from artificial sweeteners or other highly-processed ingredients. She said her main focus was cutting calories “in a really natural way.”

Marisa uses simple substitutions to reduce fat and calories. “I started at first with some really obvious changes, like using egg whites or egg substitute for whole eggs,” she explained. “Then from there I started to get a little more innovative. A lot of the recipes in the book use browned butter, which has a much stronger flavor, so it allows me to cut the butter down by half in a recipe.” Another one of her calorie-saving substitutes is to use low-fat cream cheese instead of butter.

Many of the recipes also give you the option of being made sugar-free. To keep the desserts natural, Marisa uses Truvia, a sweetener derived from the stevia plant. A small panel on the side of the recipe will tell you how much Truvia to use in place of sugar, because it’s not a one-to-one swap. “It definitely bakes differently,” said Marisa. “if you are not familiar with using the product, I suggest that you follow a recipe.”

Marisa demonstrated her PB&J cookies and papaya mint popsicles (see video links below). The cookies, a twist on the classic peanut butter cookie proved to be moist and rich, while the popsicles were so good I was convinced to go buy myself a set of popsicle molds.

Watch PB&J Cookie Demo and Get the PB&J Cookie Recipe

Watch the Papaya Mint Popsicle Demo and Get the Papaya Mint Popsicle Recipe

Win A Copy of Sweet & Skinny, a Truvia Spoonable and a Measuring Cup!

Eligibility: Post a comment below telling us your favorite calorie-saving tip.

Drawing: Two winners will be drawn and announced 6/30/11, and awarded with a copy of Sweet & Skinny, a package of Truvia Spoonable, and a DietsInReview measuring cup , valued at $30.00.

WINNERS DRAWN 6/30/11: Charro and Kathy

*DISCLAIMER: Only residents of the U.S. are eligible to win. will draw two winners June 30, 2011 and will notify winner via the email used in the comment form. Winner has five business days to respond and claim prize or forfeit prize. may replace the prize with one of equal value if prize is not available. Prize value is $30.00; not redeemable for cash.

June 13th, 2011

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(Page 1 of 1, 33 total comments)


How do I adapt Gail Simmons' cake recipe to high altitude? How do I adapt Gail Simmons' cake recipe (5-Layer flat belly dessert) to high altitude? I'm at about 5,000 ft. One of Gail Simmons' recipes, 5-Layer Flat Belly Dessert, was featured on the Dr. Oz show on Feb. 15. Do you have a suggestion for adapting the chocolate cake layer to high altitude? I'm in Colorado, at about 5,000 feet. Thanks.

posted Feb 21st, 2012 6:20 pm


I saw the coconut almond balls in june Shape magazine..Anyone try these? sweet and skinny recipies

posted Aug 18th, 2011 10:50 am

Charro M.

Thanks so much!! I am excited to try the recipes in the book :)

posted Jul 1st, 2011 1:24 am

Leah N

I use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream it saves tons of calories and fat. You also get the added bonus of a great source of protein!!!

posted Jun 29th, 2011 7:11 pm


What I do is never cook enough for leftovers because if I see the food, I'll just keep eating it every time I walk to the kitchen. Since I only cook for myself, I only make one serving.

I also use Truvia instead of regular sugar in everything! I drink coffee every morning so that helps.

I avoid processed foods or adding salt to my food.

posted Jun 29th, 2011 4:11 pm


My favorite calorie cutting tip is only serve myself one portion. If it's on my plate I will eat it. But if it's not on my plate, I'm not likely to go back for seconds.

posted Jun 29th, 2011 4:11 pm


I love to use nonfat plain greek yogurt to substitute sour cream, mayo, and in baking.

posted Jun 28th, 2011 11:19 pm

Linda F

I use the low-fat and non-fat versions if they are available.

posted Jun 28th, 2011 10:16 pm


Id love this cookbook! I think it would fit in well with my low sugar eating. Thanks for the opportunity!

posted Jun 28th, 2011 10:15 pm

Denise Lao

Always share your dessert. Easy way to cut on calories.

posted Jun 28th, 2011 10:12 pm

Miranda Johnson

Use organic unsweetened applesauce in baking recipes.


bctripletmom at gmail dot com

posted Jun 28th, 2011 9:58 pm


use yogurt instead of cream cheese or sour cream

posted Jun 28th, 2011 9:39 pm


I use yogurt instead of mayo for spreads, dips, and dressings

posted Jun 28th, 2011 8:42 pm

Amy F @lilac_the_bunny

I love to find fun substitutions like applesauce or cream cheese that make the things I bake a little healthier.

posted Jun 28th, 2011 5:54 pm


I love that Truvia is a great substitute. Also, I like to use applesauce instead of oil in my baking.

posted Jun 28th, 2011 5:06 pm


One of my favorite calorie saving tips would have to be to weigh and measure would be surprised how easy it is to consume too large of servings without measuring. Guestimating = more calories consumed

posted Jun 28th, 2011 3:07 pm


I actually like to use artificial sweetener instead of sugar! :)

posted Jun 28th, 2011 2:19 pm

Charro M.

I never thought to use low fat cream cheese in place of butter- sounds like a great substition to me!!

posted Jun 28th, 2011 2:24 am


I use flax seed instead of eggs and also do aplesauce with flax instead of eggs

posted Jun 28th, 2011 12:02 am


my favorite calorie-saving tip is usuing smaller plates/ bowls. The smaller the space the less food!

posted Jun 27th, 2011 9:49 pm


Ilike to substitute unsweetened applesauce for oil and also double the amount of fruit.

posted Jun 25th, 2011 6:08 am

Denise Morse

My favorite tip is portion larger bags of snacks into individual portions as soon as i get home from the store.

posted Jun 25th, 2011 12:11 am


My favorite calorie-saving tip is to drink a large glass of water 30 minutes before meals. It helps curb hunger so I don't overeat.

posted Jun 24th, 2011 9:17 am

Suzie Sublette

When my kids (13, 9 and 8) were toddlers I started telling them they had to eat "something healthy" before eating a snack food: yogurt or fruit or a piece of cheese... Now we all do this, which is healthy and filling and leaves less room in the tummy for more than a small treat!

posted Jun 14th, 2011 11:48 pm


My favorite tip is to eat one and give the rest away!

posted Jun 14th, 2011 7:34 am


My favorite calorie saving tip is egg substitute instead of eggs. I don't even notice the difference but you cut out tons of calories and saturated fat, whether it's in an omelet or in baking.

posted Jun 13th, 2011 8:31 pm


I have yet to find a way to cut fat/calories out of desserts in a way for them to remain delicious, so it would be great to try these new recipes. When it comes to savory foods, I've found a way to cut hundreds of calories and plenty of extra carbs by substituting tofu pasta for wheat pasta. Two servings have only 40 calories and 6 grams of carbohydrates.

posted Jun 13th, 2011 8:12 pm

Susan Russell

I love to substitute Truvia for sugar. I just need to do it more often. The idea of a smaller plate is GREAT too!

posted Jun 13th, 2011 6:39 pm


I also like the idea of the fat free cream cheese to go in place with the butter ... butter has so many calories and that helps

posted Jun 13th, 2011 6:26 pm


I love using unsweetened applesauce or pumpkin puree in place of oil when baking.

posted Jun 13th, 2011 5:53 pm

Melissa (@MelGetsFit)

One of my favorite calorie-saving tips for baked goods is to substitute applesauce in place of the oil.

posted Jun 13th, 2011 5:41 pm


My favorite calorie cutting technique is eating on a smaller plate and putting food in the fridge immediately so I can't continue to snack on it!

posted Jun 13th, 2011 5:36 pm


My favorite calorie cutter is using low fat cream cheese in frosting recipes and substituting agave for sugar.
Also, winning great dessert books like this will help too!

posted Jun 13th, 2011 3:48 pm


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