'The Biggest Loser's' Alison Sweeney: Emeril Lagasse showed her the way

alison-sweeney-the-biggest-loser-nbc-325.jpgBecoming a mom made Alison Sweeney a healthy cook.

Her son, 8, and daughter, 4, were the catalysts for healthier eating, and the host of NBC's "The Biggest Loser," airing Tuesdays, saw her cooking evolve.

"It started as nonexistent," she says to Zap2it. "I famously, among my friends, had been known to explode a bag of popcorn in a microwave. I was so unqualified to be in my own kitchen. And when I was young and unmarried and not a parent, I was obsessed with the Food Network. Emeril Lagasse taught me how to cook. I became unafraid of cooking, watching him."

Though she was cooking, it wasn't healthy.

"I started cooking healthier, making him baby food when he was an infant," she says of her firstborn.

"Since then I have been a much healthier cook," she says. "I am pretty adventurous with different spices. I can wing it. It is not always a win."

Sweeney eats five meals a day, limiting herself to 1,500 calories. She exercises hard and often.

"I started changing my own eating patterns," she says. "The No. 1 thing I could do was to cook better and healthier."

Once Sweeney cooks, that's it -- she doesn't make substitutions for the kids.

"I am not a short-order cook," she says. "I don't take orders. I love mushrooms, so I am making mushrooms."

Her refrigerator is always stocked with fruit -- cut-up cantaloupe, washed blueberries -- ready to eat.

"I sort of have a theory it is why potato chips are so appealing -- not just because they are obviously salty," Sweeney says. "It is so convenient. But we don't have chips in our house."

Sweeney likes routine and eats oatmeal every day for breakfast. Her best dish is a vegetable stir-fry with a little brown rice and a protein.

She neither eats dessert nor squanders calories. "I won't waste my calories on a tasteless meal unless I am stuck somewhere," she says. "I almost never eat fast food. I try to avoid processed foods. I avoid deep-fried foods."

However, she does not forbid foods because that makes them too big of a deal.

"I would say I never eat pizza," she says. "[But] if I am in New York City, I am not going to say no."

What are you currently reading?
"I just downloaded a book about the guys in Hollywood, 'Difficult Men.' "

What did you have for dinner last night?
"I had grilled salmon that my husband made. I marinated, and my husband grilled. And a spinach salad with cherry tomatoes and feta cheese and pine nuts."

What is your next project?
"I am writing my second novel."

When was the last trip you took - where and why?
"On location for 'The Biggest Loser,' we went to Park City, Utah."
Photo/Video credit: NBC/Chris Haston
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