Paula Deen is known for her no-holds-barred approach to Southern cooking, using sometimes shocking amounts of butter, cream cheese and more.
Now, one of her sons, Bobby, will attempt to create new associations with the family name as he tries to lighten his mother’s recipes on his new show Not My Mama’s Meals.
Though Bobby learned to cook at his mother’s hip, he experienced a lifestyle change about ten years ago as he began lifting weights. He says, “I embraced exercise and it completely changed my relationship with food… I like to eat for the way I want to feel.” To that end, he’s revamping the family recipes in order to drastically reduce the fat and calorie content. His mom’s response? “Good luck to you, sonny boy.”
In one episode, Bobby remakes Paula’s Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding — a recipe that according to Paula is a “one serving per lifetime” recipe. Using whole wheat doughnuts, cutting the portion size and making other substitutions, Bobby transforms takes this gluttonous dessert from 470 calories and 16 grams of fat to one with 230 calories and three grams of fat.
Not My Mama’s Meals tackles recipes such as the family’s gooey butter cake, pimento cheese and chocolate meringue pie. But Bobby’s favorite remake is the fried chicken. His version, the “unfried chicken” uses boneless, skinless chicken thighs coated with unsweetened cornflakes and baked in the oven.
Clips of Paula Deen cooking the original recipes on her own shows flank each recipe remake. Mama herself even appears on the first two episodes to weigh in on the recipes. After tasting a few, she says, “Son, don’t put your Mama out of business now, okay?” and “You’re on to something, darlin’ and I’m very proud of you.”
In fact, Bobby seems surprised that people wonder if Paula takes offense at his attempts to rein in her recipes. He says, “What mother wouldn’t want to see her 40-year-old son healthy?”
Could Paula Deen be converted to Bobby’s cooking style? After a hearty laugh and a pause, Bobby says, “I don’t think so. My mother is comfortable in her own skin. She’s happy with who she is. She doesn’t deprive herself of anything — she has few vices. She’s proud of what I’m doing. But, it might inspire her to do lighter stuff.” In one episode, Paula concedes, “It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.”
Will any of the revamped recipes show up on the menu at the family’s Savannah-based restaurant, The Lady & Sons? To that, Bobby answers that it isn’t likely and cites the old saying, “Dance with the one that brung ya.”
Not My Mama’s Meals airs on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on the Cooking Channel.
–by Jenny Turknett, Food and More blog