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Cristina Ferrare Shares Model Recipes for Healthy, Fresh Meals

Learn how to make watermelon salad, grilled lamb chops, strawberry shortcake and more

Cristina Ferrare Home and Family on the Hallmark Channel (Tara Donne)

Cristina Ferrare on the set of her Hallmark Channel show, "Home & Family." — 2013 Crown Media United States, LLC/Alexx Henry Studios/Jeremy Lee

She regularly graced the covers of Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Cosmopolitan during the 1970s, but former supermodel Cristina Ferrare refused to diet —a t least back then.

"I modeled during the era of Twiggy, when most models were bone thin, but I never gave up food," she says now. "Cheryl Tiegs and I changed the landscape. We were lean, but we weren't skinny."

All that changed when Ferrare, now 63, went through menopause, an experience she chronicles in her memoir Okay, So I Don't Have a Headache: What I Learned (and What All Women Need to Know) About Hormones, PMS, Stress, Diet, Menopause — and Sex.

Your body changes.

You diet and exercise and you still have to struggle [with your weight]. I've gotten to the point where it's just about being healthy and making healthier choices for myself."

These days, Ferrare showcases those healthier lifestyle choices as cohost of the Emmy-nominated show Home & Family on the Hallmark Channel. For two hours every morning, she dishes up advice on style, family, home and health with cohost Mark Stein. "It's the nicest, happiest place I've ever worked," she says. "I go to work and laugh every day. I feel very blessed."

The mother of seven (two with ex-husband John DeLorean, two with current husband Tony Thomopoulos and three stepchildren), she also cooks almost every day.

She goes for easy meals like pasta with fresh tomatoes, homemade soups and tortilla wraps, using basic staples she always has on hand: chicken stock, rice, pasta, fresh beans, seasonal vegetables. "I grew up in an Italian family and I'm married to a Greek man, so all of my fondest memories revolve around food," she says. "Cooking and my family are my passions.

"I try to make sure that everything I cook is clean," Ferrare continues. "Nothing out of a can, nothing processed, and everything I buy is organic. There are a thousand ways to feed your family well without resorting to processed foods."

Next page: Watch a video of Cristina Ferrare making a fresh watermelon salad with feta cheese, red onion and a balsamic drizzle. »

Watermelon Salad

Reprinted with permission from Cristina Ferrare

Serves 4

  • 1 16-ounce bottle balsamic vinegar
  • 1 5- to 6-pound seedless watermelon
  • Greek feta cheese, cut into 12 pieces, each 1/2-inch thick and 1-1/4-inch wide
  • 1 small red onion, sliced thin
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup microgreens (optional)

1. To make the balsamic syrup, pour the whole bottle of vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium-high and continue to boil until the vinegar starts to thicken and forms a syruplike consistency, about 15 to 20 minutes. Be careful not to let it thicken too much, or it will end up a thick, black goop. The best way to check is to use a wooden spoon: If the syrup coats the back of the spoon, it's ready to remove from the heat. Let it cool to room temperature before you store it in the refrigerator. It will last up to 2 months in the refrigerator.

2. Slice the watermelon into 2-inch-thick round slices. Take your best 4 round slices and cut a 3-by-3-inch rectangle from the middle of each. Wrap all 4 pieces in plastic wrap and cool in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Reserve the rest of the melon for another use.

3. To assemble the salad, place one 3-by-3-inch piece of watermelon on a plate and slice it into 1-inch pieces. You should have 9 squares.

4. Add 3 pieces of the feta cheese over the watermelon squares, then 4 to 5 slices of red onion. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, add 5 to 6 fresh mint leaves and scatter a handful of microgreens over the top. Drizzle balsamic syrup over all.

5. Repeat with the remaining three servings and serve immediately.

Nutrients per serving: 195 calories, 11g protein, 25g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 9g fat (6g saturated fat), 20mg cholesterol, 710mg sodium, 210mg potassium.

Next page: Grilled lamb chops with roasted potatoes and Kokkari dressing. »

Grilled Lamb Chops With Roasted Potatoes

Reprinted with permission from Kokkari Restaurant, San Francisco

Christina Ferrare lamp chop (Tara Donne)

For a hearty entrée, try grilled lamb chops with Kokkari dressing and roasted potatoes. — Tara Donne

Serves 6

Grilled Lamb Chops

  • 2 8-inch racks of lamb, about 11/2 pounds each
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried Greek oregano, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • 2 lemons, halved, plus 4 lemon wedges for garnish
  • Kokkari Dressing (see recipe below)
  • Fresh oregano sprigs for garnish

1. Ask the butcher to trim the fat cap (the thick sheet of fat on the outside of each rack) but to leave a thin layer of fat. Some butchers like to "French" the ribs, trimming away the meat between the rib ends to leave the bone exposed, but this meat is tasty and should be left in place. Ask the butcher to cut between the ribs to make a total of 16 single-rib chops.

2. Put the chops on a work surface and pound the meat lightly with your fist to make it evenly thick and to crack the external band of fat. Combine the garlic powder, pepper and dried oregano in a small bowl. Press this seasoning blend into both sides of the meat, including the meat on the bones. You can grill the lamb immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 12 hours (bring to room temperature before grilling).

3. Prepare a hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to high. Just before grilling, drizzle the seasoned chops with the olive oil, using your fingers to coat the meat evenly, then season with salt. Grill the chops, turning once, for about 3 minutes on each side for medium rare. Squeeze the lemon halves over them just before taking them off the grill.

4. Serve hot, drizzled with dressing (see recipe below) and garnished with lemon wedges and oregano sprigs.

Nutrients per serving: 226 calories, 28g protein, 2g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 11g fat (4g saturated fat), 87mg cholesterol, 462mg sodium, 356mg potassium

Kokkari Dressing

Makes 1/2 cup

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons capers, rinsed and minced
  • 2 teaspoons shallots, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried Greek oregano, crumbled
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, capers, shallots, garlic, parsley and fresh oregano. Add the dried oregano, and whisk in salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrients per serving (about 11/2 tablespoons): 124 calories, 0g protein, 1g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 14g fat (2g saturated fat), 0mg cholesterol, 125mg sodium, 17mg potassium

Roasted Potatoes

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, cut lengthwise into 6 wedges
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Greek oregano, crumbled
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, plus more for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 450˚ F. Put the potato wedges in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, oregano, 11/2 teaspoons salt and several grinds of pepper. Toss to coat evenly.

2. Arrange the wedges in one layer in a 9-by-13-inch nonreactive dish. Drizzle with the lemon juice. Pour 1/2 cup of water around, not over, the potatoes. Bake until the potatoes are browned in spots and tender when pierced and the water has evaporated, about 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking for even browning. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before bringing the potatoes to the table.

Nutrients per serving: 200 calories, 3g protein, 26g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 9g fat (1g saturated fat), 0mg cholesterol, 392mg sodium, 12mg potassium

Next page: Want dessert? Try this strawberry shortcake with homemade strawberry coulis. »

Strawberry Shortcake

Adapted from

Cristina Ferrare strawberry shortcake (Tara Donne)

Christina Ferrare, cohost of "Home & Family," suggests delicious dishes, like this strawberry dessert, for weight control and overall health. — Tara Donne

Serves 6

For the strawberry coulis:

  • 2 quarts fresh strawberries, hulled, washed and sliced
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water

For the whipped cream:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the shortcake:

  • 13/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 quarts fresh strawberries, hulled, washed and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon or orange zest
  • 10 to 12 fresh mint leaves

1. To make the coulis, combine the sliced strawberries, orange juice and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar has melted, about 5 minutes. Strain through a wire mesh into a saucepan. Mix the cornstarch and water together until smooth. Heat the strained strawberries to medium. Add the cornstarch mixture and stir until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Pour into an airtight container and place in the refrigerator to chill (the coulis should be served cold). The coulis can be made 3 days ahead.

2. To make the whipped cream, combine the whipping cream and vanilla in a mixing bowl fitted with a wire whisk. Whip until stiff peaks form. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

3. To make the shortcakes, have all the ingredients ready. Preheat the oven to 425° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

4. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender, and keep cutting until the butter is the size of small peas.

5. Whisk the cream and yogurt together. Add it to the flour mixture and blend with a fork until the dough comes together. Do not overmix or the dough will be tough. Pat out the dough, on a lightly floured surface, into a 1-inch-thick rectangle. Using a 21/2- or 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut (do not twist) as many shortcakes as you can from the rectangle. Place the shortcakes on the baking sheet. Gently press the scraps together and cut out more shortcakes. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

6. When ready to serve, slice the shortcakes in half horizontally and place the bottom half on a dessert plate. Pile on as many fresh sliced strawberries as you like. Pour 4 to 5 tablespoons of strawberry coulis over the top of the strawberries, sprinkle with a pinch of lemon or orange zest, add a dollop of whipped cream and some fresh mint, and top with the other half of the shortcake.

Nutrients per serving: 700 calories, 9g protein, 109g carbohydrates, 13g fiber, 29g fat (18g saturated fat), 98mg cholesterol, 471mg sodium, 191mg potassium

Next page: Learn how to make a tomato-mozzarella tower with shallot-bacon dressing. »

Tomato-Mozzarella Tower With Shallot- Bacon Dressing

Adapted from

Cristina Ferrare Home and Family on the Hallmark Channel (Tara Donne)

Be sure to use high quality white bread, heirloom tomatoes and fresh buffalo mozzarella for optimal taste. — Tara Donne

Serves 6

  • 6 slices really good white bread
  • 1 pint baby Roma tomatoes, red and yellow, for garnish
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 2 tablespoons finely chop ped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar
  • 6 heirloom tomatoes; make sure they are uniform in size (if you can't find heirlooms, use regular organic tomatoes)
  • 2 (6-ounce) packages buffalo mozzarella
  • 10 fresh basil leaves
  • Fine kosher salt
  • Cracked pepper

1. Cut 6 bread rounds using a 41/2-inch cookie cutter. Set aside.

2. Slice the baby Roma tomatoes in half lengthwise. Set aside.

3. Fry the bacon in a skillet until crispy. Remove the bacon from the skillet and place on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Lower the heat under the skillet to medium, add the shallots to the bacon drippings and sauté for 30 seconds or until the shallots start to turn a bit crispy.

4. Add the apple-cider vinegar. With a wooden spoon, stir well, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour into a small bowl and set aside to use as dressing.

5. Return the skillet to the stove and reheat over medium heat. Add as many bread rounds as will fit in the pan. Lightly toast both sides of the bread. Set aside.

6. Crumble the cooked bacon into small bits and set aside in a small bowl. Cut the heirloom tomatoes into slices slightly less than 1/2-inch thick. You should have 18 slices that are consistent in size. You will have some tomato left over.

7. Cut the buffalo mozzarella into 12 slices, slightly less than 1/2-inch thick each and consistent in size.

8. Stack all 10 of the basil leaves on top of one another, roll them into a cigarette shape, and slice thin.

9. To assemble the tower, make an assembly line with all of your ingredients: the bread, heirloom tomatoes, salt, pepper, shallot-bacon dressing, bacon bits, sliced mozzarella and basil.

10. Place 1 toasted bread round on a salad plate, add a slice of heirloom tomato and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle on several tiny drops of shallot-bacon dressing and some crumbled bacon, letting a little fall onto the plate as well. Top with a slice of mozzarella cheese and then another slice of tomato. Repeat this process until you have 3 slices of heirloom tomato and 2 slices of mozzarella cheese in your tower.

11. On each tower's top tomato slice, sprinkle more bacon bits, then lightly drizzle a bit more dressing, including some on the plate for a professional look. Garnish with a few strips of basil.

12. Add 5 to 6 baby Roma tomato halves to the plate and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt. Repeat for the remaining 5 towers. Serve.

Nutrients per serving: 214 calories, 13g protein, 20g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 10g fat (5g saturated fat), 22mg cholesterol, 584mg sodium, 549mg potassium

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