MARIO BATALI

AGE 49

HEIGHT 5'11"

NOW 235 LBS.

THEN 280 LBS.

It was while watching himself on the 2008 PBS series Spain . . . on the Road Again that Batali realized, "I looked really big. I went, 'That's not me.'" To drop 45 lbs., Batali began working out 60 minutes a day and eating half portions at restaurants. "You don't want a giant bowl of pasta; you want maybe a cup," he explains, as in his recipe at right. He also now tastes food "with a finger, not a spoon," and skips the bread basket. "I have a family," he says. "And I want to be here for a long time."

WHOLE GRAIN RIGATONI

Serves: 4

• 4 tbsp. virgin olive oil

• 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

• 6 mint leaves

• ½ tsp. crushed red pepper

• 1 5-inch head of cauliflower, about 1 to 1¼ lbs.

• 1 lb. rigatoni pasta

• ½ cup grated pecorino cheese

• 2 tsp. ground black pepper

• 1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped to yield ¼ cup

1. Bring 6 quarts water to boil in a large pot and add 2 tbsp. salt.

2. In a medium sauté pan, heat oil; add onion, mint and red pepper. Cook until soft, about 5 to 6 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, remove leaves and base core from cauliflower and chop into ¼-inch pieces. Break the florets away from the central core and size them similarly. Cut the core into ¼-inch coins and throw all the pieces into the sauté pan with the onions. Lower heat to medium and cook, stirring regularly for 12 to 15 minutes, until cauliflower is softened and light brown.

4. Cook the rigatoni according to package instructions until al dente and drain in colander, but reserve some of the water. Toss hot pasta with a bit of the cooking water into pan with cauliflower and add grated cheese, black pepper and parsley. Toss to coat and serve immediately.

SUNNY ANDERSON

AGE 34

HEIGHT 5'5"

NOW 165 LBS.

THEN 196 LBS.

The Food Network star admits the comfort dishes she's known for (like grits and fried chicken) "make you just want to curl up on the couch and pass out." But after getting to 200 lbs. a few years ago, "it scared me," she says. "That's a lot of weight." To stay closer to 165 lbs. ("where I feel I look best," she says), Anderson starts her meals with salad (like the one below) "to fill up my belly," tops pasta with olive oil and capers instead of cream sauce, and splits dessert. "I don't want to deprive myself," she says. "I'm just trying not to overindulge."

APPLE, PEAR AND WALNUT SALAD

Serves: 6

• 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

• 2 ½ tbsp. orange juice

• 1 orange, zested

• ½ cup raisins

• 4 apples, preferably use 2 to 3 different kinds

• 2 pears, preferably red and green

• 2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• Salt and ground black pepper

1. In a large bowl whisk together vinegar, orange juice, zest and raisins.

2. Core and cube apples and pears. Add fruit and walnuts to a bowl and drizzle with oil.

3. Toss well to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate one hour before serving.

ART SMITH

AGE 49

HEIGHT 6'3"

NOW 250 LBS.

THEN 325 LBS.

A southern-food specialist, Smith was diagnosed with the early signs of diabetes last summer, prompting a lifestyle overhaul. He hired a personal trainer who got him walking five miles a day, swapped lean proteins like turkey sausage for pork (as in the recipe here) and cut out his case-a-day soda habit and late-night gorging. "I would eat peanut butter sandwiches, thinking they're healthy," says Smith, Oprah's ex-personal chef. "But I'd eat three of them!" Now down 75 lbs., "I'm a much better man," he says, "because I feel so good."

JAMBALAYA

Serves: 8-10

• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 lb. chicken thighs, cut into pieces

• 1 lb. turkey andouille sausage

• 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined

• 1 lb. catfish, cut into small pieces

• 1 large onion, chopped

• 1 bell pepper, chopped

• 3 cloves garlic, minced

• 4 stalks celery

• 2 tbsp. Creole seasoning

• 1 6-oz. can tomato paste

• 4 tomatoes, peeled and chopped

• 8 cups chicken broth

• 2 bay leaves

• 4 cups long-grain brown rice

• Salt to taste

• ½ cup chopped parsley and chives

1. Place olive oil in a large Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. When hot, first add chicken and sausage to cook for about 5 minutes. Then add shrimp, fish, onion, bell pepper, garlic and celery. Cook until lightly brown.

2. Add Creole seasoning, tomato paste, tomatoes and chicken broth and simmer. Add bay leaves, stir in rice and season with salt. Reduce to a simmer, then cover. Cook until liquid is almost evaporated, about 30 minutes.

3. Before serving, remove the bay leaves and stir in herbs.

  • Contributors:
  • With reporting by Alyssa Shelasky.