Sonia Harmon

How to Cook Like a Masterchef

June 6, 2011 at 11:21 am , by

masterchef judges

Tonight is the premiere of season two of Masterchef, with chefs Graham Elliot, Joe Bastianich, and Gordon Ramsay back to judge the home cooks vying for the $250,000 grand prize. This year’s cooking competition comes with some surprisingly tasty dishes from unsuspecting characters, as well as some flat out awful auditions—and the judges don’t hold back with their critiques. Since we all can’t hold the title of Masterchef, we asked Bastianich to share a few quick tips for the rest us wanting to whip up a great meal at home.

Tip #1 “One of the big things I tell people is that when you’re cooking pasta, the last 20 percent of the cook time should be done in a sauté pan with the sauce. So reserve some of the pasta boiling water and add it to your sauce with the pasta in a sauté pan.”

joe masterchefTip #2 “When you’re grilling steaks, pull them out 3-4 hours before you cook them and leave them on the counter. Season the meat while it’s cold and let it come to room temperature with the salt, pepper and seasoning on it. To get a perfect medium-rare or rare you want your steaks, or any kind of meat, to be at room temperature when it hits the grill.”

Tip #3 “All home cooks should have good olive oil and a good quality sea salt for finishing in their kitchen. And dried porcini mushrooms are like the secret recipe for everything. Put them in a coffee grinder and turn them into a powder, which you can use to marinate meats with salt and pepper and sugar. Anywhere you want to add flavor, you’ve got to use porcini mushrooms. They’re great.”

Ali Vincent’s Biggest Loser Blog: Season Finale

May 26, 2011 at 10:09 am , by


And the confetti falls again.

When I saw Olivia and Hannah at the live Biggest Loser finale, I think my jaw practically hit the floor! I even saw a picture of them the day before and was still amazed at what they were able to accomplish. I think it’s so important for everyone at home to know that the finale is a stepping-stone into a lifetime of wellness, but it is still an event that contestants specifically train for. I weighed my finale weight of 122 pounds for about 2.2 seconds! I was healthy when I left the Biggest Loser campus five weeks before our finale date, but I made a conscious choice to train for the competition. I gave it my all so that no matter what the results ended up being, I knew I’d given it everything I had.

For those five weeks I was in the gym every day from 7 a.m to 2 a.m., wearing a 40-pound weight vest the majority of the time. My diet was very bland with frequent small portions of proteins and green vegetables, and I only drank water. With all of that, I only lost 13 additional pounds, but that’s because I didn’t have anything left to lose—I was 11% body fat. I finally understood how all those women complaining about having to lose 10-15 pounds must have felt. I couldn’t relate because before that period of my life losing 10-15 pounds was like sand off the dunes. With all that said, this was not a lifestyle change, it was training for the win of my life! I was training for my Olympic gold medal, my Tour de France, my history making moment, my confetti. When the moment was over and the confetti was being swept off the floor, so was the training. Read more

Ali Vincent’s Biggest Loser Blog: Episode 20

May 18, 2011 at 10:29 am , by

Ali Vincent beach photo cropped“I will endure through strength and confidence.”

That is what I would say to myself toward the end of my time on The Biggest Loser campus. Right now the contestants are at a point where they are so tired and they want to give it everything they have through the end, but they’re not sure if they have anything left to give. But they are stronger than they know. The Biggest Loser sends contestants home to train before the final weigh-in because this is a journey that they have to finish on their own. I know that many of you at home have started and finished weight loss goals or may be on a fitness journey to better health, but I hope you realize that this is a lifelong journey—there is no finish line.

If you’re at home struggling to believe that feeling better about yourself and feeling happiness is possible, I beg you to do as Olivia did and put your money on joy and happiness. I used to struggle with the thought of happiness for so long. When people would tell me to be happy, I would think, “How can I possibly feel happy when I feel so bad about myself?” But I found my way back to myself and to happiness one minute at a time. I literally could only do one minute on a treadmill when I started working out, but I did that minute and then I did another, and then another, and then another. With every new minute I felt stronger and more confident, and I started to feel happy again. I found happiness through honoring myself and keeping my word to myself. I realized that I always kept my word to others, but I would always put myself on the back burner. One minute at a time I felt what it was like to honor myself, maybe for the first time in my life, and challenge myself with each new minute. Read more

Ali Vincent’s Biggest Loser Blog: Episode 19

May 11, 2011 at 9:06 am , by

Ali Vincent beach photo croppedWe’re almost down to the final four. It seems like just yesterday we were introduced to the season 11 contestants. It’s amazing how time flies. How many of you said you were going to get in shape with the contestants this season? Now is the time to see if you got results, and to think about what you and the contestants have learned throughout this journey.

When I was eliminated during the fourth week of my season on The Biggest Loser, I found myself wondering on the way home if I had what it took to show up to the final weigh-in at the finale at my goal weight. I wondered if I would be the one contestant that shows up without an extreme weight loss. I trusted what my trainers were asking me to do but it was all so new and I was so tired and exhausted that I wasn’t sure what I had actually retained. The first day on the Biggest Loser campus, Bob and Jillian took all of the contestants through the catering line for the crew because we hadn’t made it to the house yet. I was so impressed that they knew every calorie for every option available, and I remember thinking that I want to know every calorie value for every food item so that I would always know exactly what I was putting into my body at any given moment—to me, that’s liberty. But in the first four weeks I let physical pain, emotional strain and peer angst distract me from that goal, so I relied on Bob and Jillian. I was heartbroken to go home after only four weeks, but it made me realize that I let so many things get in the way of focusing on what would give me liberty for the rest of my life.

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Ali Vincent’s Biggest Loser Blog: Episode 18

May 5, 2011 at 11:00 am , by

Almost every little girl has wanted to be a princess at some point in her life, but childhood dreams can start to fade away as our realities become clear. Slowly but surely all our little girl fantasies become just that, or do they?

We may not be able to change the decisions in our lives that brought us to where we are now, but we can always make choices to change our futures. After all, didn’t we just see this week on The Biggest Loser that princess fantasies can come true? I think wanting to be a princess really means wanting to feel beautiful. It’s so important as a woman to feel like your most beautiful self, so that others people will see and acknowledge that beauty too.

I remember the makeover episode in my season over three years ago and how amazing I felt. It had been years since I truly felt beautiful and in many respects, it was the first time I ever felt that way. Beauty took on a whole new definition for me and I realized that beauty is in our differences and our strengths, and for the first time in years I was embracing both in my life. I can honestly say that I feel beautiful and know that Irene, Hannah and Olivia, as well as the boys, felt that too. The strength and confidence behind Olivia’s words as she sang on that scale were breathtaking. I didn’t even know the language and I still had a tear run down my face because I could relate to how she felt in that moment.

I hope that you embrace your beauty and if for some reason you’ve let other’s opinions make you feel differently, now is the time to prove that you deserve to have all your princess fantasies come true!

Until next week,

Ali xo

Ali Vincent’s Biggest Loser Blog: Episode 17

April 27, 2011 at 10:49 am , by

What a week! I had so much fun going back to the Biggest Loser campus like I do every season. One of my favorite things about being the first female biggest loser is probably that I have kind of become the unofficial Biggest Loser mom. Every time I meet a contestant I give them a huge hug and whisper into their ear that “this too shall pass.” Most of us had no idea what we were really signing up for when we tried out for the show, and only being on campus can quite explain it. It helps to know that others have been in your shoes and have not only survived, but also thrived.

This week was truly a week of celebration, and a week of favorites. Sam and I got to share a couple of our favorite recipes with the contestants and run them through some of our favorite circuit moves, while Tara competed against the contestants in one of the ultimate Biggest Loser challenges. But most importantly, we each had the opportunity to spend quality with the contestants.

This is the point in the season when a good heart-to-heart is not only wanted, but also needed. By now the remaining contestants know what to do to lose weight, so now is the time to ensure that the dots get connected in regards to why they continue to lose weight or why not. The truth is that although The Biggest Loser is a gift to everyone who’s had the chance to participate, in reality it’s only 2.2 seconds of our entire lives. Returning to our lives back at home is what really puts us to the test and challenges us to succeed in communicating, loving and experiencing our old worlds with our renewed spirit. So this is when why you’re losing the weight becomes more important than how to lose the weight. Read more

Ali Vincent’s Biggest Loser Blog: Episode 16

April 20, 2011 at 9:23 am , by

Ali Vincent beach photo croppedWhat is living?

We often get so busy in our day-to-day lives that we don’t even realize that we aren’t really living our lives to the fullest. I think this week the contestants on The Biggest Loser had some life-altering experiences. It’s kind of ironic that some of the adventures that can help someone realize that they actually can create the life they want, are often not even an option for them when they could really use it. Let’s just break it down: there are weight limits on most adventure challenges.

When someone is struggling with their weight, they are usually also struggling with self-confidence. Only when something scares the crap out of you does a real breakthrough happen and confidence is built. Remember those shirts that said “NO FEAR”? Well, my mom used to say that they should say “KNOW FEAR.” She believed that only when you know fear are you able to have a breakthrough and put it behind you. We as a society have gotten so good at trying to keep the waters calm to avoid anything bad, but that diminishes the possibility of positive changes happening as well.

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