Everyone deserves a great home-cooked meal. But after a long day at work or taking care of the kids, are you too tired to cook? Jessica Seinfeld is here to help you and your family with her new health-conscious cookbook, Double Delicious!, a follow-up to her 2007 best-selling Deceptively Delicious.
"People are working double what they used to do in this country, and lives have gotten more complicated," Jessica says. "Food is something that's suffered in this country."
To put Jessica's culinary expertise to the test, The Oprah Show challenged her to help some of the worst cooks in America learn to cook.
In Darlene's kitchen, you're likely to find just about anything except food. She stores her jewelry in her oven and her hair products in her slow cooker.
Instead of storage for scrunchies, Jessica says a slow cooker could be the key to Darlene's easiest dinner ever. "A Crock-Pot is actually a great place to start to learn how to cook because there's no flame," Jessica says.
While slow cookers are often thought of as 1970s throwbacks and only good for making heavy stews, Jessica says she uses hers to make everything from whole small chickens to oatmeal and even lasagna.
"There's no tricks and fancy stuff with my food," Jessica says. "This is giant noodles, tomatoes, some spices, some garlic, cheese—boom! Done!"
When Amanda is invited to a dinner party, she always asks if she can bring something. "Typically the response is, 'Go ahead and just bring a bag of lettuce,'" she says. "I don't even get to bring dressing."
And if she does want to go a step further with entertaining, Amanda says she usually opts for frozen, packaged appetizers.
While there's nothing wrong with premade hors d'oeuvres, Jessica says they aren't the healthiest things to serve your guests. "Those have a ton of sodium and fat in them," she says. "Do you ever go to a party and you have appetizers and [they're so filling] you can't even eat dinner?"
"I think these are great options," Jessica says. "Really simple and doable."
With a job that keeps her on the road all day long, Sherry often opts for frozen entrées or takeout for her family's meals—that is, until she got the ultimate diet wake-up call. A takeout dinner left Sherry hospitalized with food poisoning! "That's when I knew that I had to make some different decisions," she says.
The tostadas start off with browning ground turkey meat in a crushed tomato sauce. After layering it on a tostada shell, you can customize the toppings, Jessica says. "You can put in avocado. You can put in all different toppings that make it healthier and more colorful and beautiful," Jessica says. "However, you can just know that you've already made it and you're good to go.
Even though it's a healthy dinner, if your family is anything like Jessica's they'll still love it. "It starts with a chip," Jessica says. "Anything that has a chip, in my house, is the greatest."
Jessica's final mission is to help a gourmet-challenged cook named Victoria, who was turned in by her husband, Ryan. "My wife happens to be English. They're not really big on their spices," Ryan says. "So my wife's food just tends to taste of nothing."
The best part of this recipe, Jessica says, is that the technique for roasting asparagus can be adapted to just about any other vegetables. "This works for broccoli and cauliflower and carrots," Victoria says. "So we're having steak night for the next three months, but it gets a vegetable with it."
Jessica shares one final recipe that's perfect for busy families: a roasted chicken that can be used for more than one meal. Making a roasted chicken sounds intimidating, but Jessica says that reputation is totally unfair!
To make sure your bird is perfectly cooked, Jessica says it's a great idea to truss the chicken's legs—using a figure-8 pattern, tie the legs together—and to tuck the wings under the body. These steps aren't just for show. "The purpose of it is to make the chicken as compact as possible so it cooks evenly," she says.
Good cooking and good eating habits start with the choices you make at the grocery store, Jessica says. She and her good friend Ali Wentworth pop in to a New Jersey grocery store to help a few shoppers make healthier purchases.
Here are a few of Jessica's tips:
Instead of picking out a sugar-laden breakfast cereal, choose a healthier version and sprinkle just a little sugar on top for a treat.
Skip the sodas and opt for no-sugar-added, 100 percent fruit juice. Then, be sure you only give your kids the recommended daily serving—it's probably a lot less volume than you think.
Avoid packaged lunches made with large quantities of sodium.
Make your pasta dinner using a mixture of regular noodles and whole wheat noodles, which will boost your fiber intake.
Don't go shopping hungry! Make a shopping list and stick with it.