Local food blogger has first cook book coming out in April
Audrey Johns heads to New York to go on the Rachel Ray Show
–Audrey Johns is in the thick of getting ready for her first cookbook, “Lose Weight by Eating,” with William Morrow, a subsidiary of HarperCollins Publishers. The book is currently available for pre-order on Amazon and will be officially released on Tuesday, April 12.
Johns struggled with her weight for most of her life, but after moving to Atascadero from Southern California, she found that in order to get a lot of the ethnic food she loved, and craved, she had to make it herself.
“Basically, I lost 150 pounds just by eating,” Johns said. “I was not able to go to the gym [because I was having surgeries]. We were completely broke when we moved up here [in early 2012]. We were insanely broke. I played this game – could I make dinner for three people under $5?”
While she said she did want to lose weight, she didn’t think the weight would come off by only changing the way she ate. At the time, her daughter, now 7, was going to dance classes weekly at Motions Academy of Dance in Atascadero. After several of the moms asked Johns what she did to lose the weight, she realized it made more sense to share her journey – and her recipes – on a blog. So the Lose Weight by Eating blog was born in early 2013.
It didn’t take long for Johns to get noticed. Her blog went from 10 visitors a day to 10,000 visitors per day overnight. Now, she said, the website has between 25,000 and 30,000 visitors on a slow day. In early 2014, she got an email from a casting company that was scouting out potential contestants for reality shows. She got an audition for the reality show, The Taste, an ABC show that puts 16 competitors, who range from home cooks to professional chefs and everything in between, in the kitchen.
Johns said she was especially excited for the chance to be on the show because when her mother was diagnosed with cancer and given six months to live, Johns quit college and spent the next three months, until her mother’s death, watching Nigella Lawson’s cooking show. She was also looking forward to meeting Lawson and author Chef Anthony Bourdain, so she accepted the call to audition.
“I stayed at a friend’s house and cooked lamb meatballs and prayed that they stayed hot long enough,” Johns said, adding that once it was her group’s turn in front of the casting crew, she had five minutes to plate meal she had already prepared.
She was cast in Season 2 of The Taste. And though she was one of the first ones eliminated from the show, she still stays in contact with her team and contestants from other teams.
“Out of all the teams, I think my team bonded the most,” Johns said.
When it was time for someone from her team to be chosen to go home, she said she volunteered to go home and was actually happy to go home because she was in a lot of pain from the nerve disease she got a few years ago after a car accident.
Her appearance on The Taste led to her getting a literary agent.
“The night of the airing of The Taste – that I got kicked off – I got calls from five different literary agents,” Johns said. Four of the five agents were in Manhattan. She ended up signing with Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc., out of New York City. One of the reasons Sterling Lord wanted to represent her, she said, was the way she represented her brand, Lose Weight by Eating, which is the reason she went on The Taste in the first place.
“We started working on a book proposal … [my agent] shopped it around at all of the publishing houses. I had two days to talk to 35 publishing houses,” Johns said. Then she went to Paris for a week and returned to offers from four publishing houses. In the end, she chose to go with William Morrow. “I was really excited to work with them for two reasons: one was the editor that worked with Ree Drummond the Pioneer Woman [works at William Morrow] and, second, because they wanted it packed full of photos.”
Two year later, she has a finished book and has been promoting her book through interviews, book reviews, a sweepstakes and going on TV. Her first television appearance for the book will be on the Rachel Ray Show. She will film for the show on Wednesday and expects that the show will appear in about two weeks.
Here is one recipe from Johns’ cookbook:
Jalapeño Poppers with Cool Dip
Makes eight servings
Serving size: one jalapeno popper and three tablespoons dip
Per serving: calories 52; fat 2.5 g; fiber 0.5 g; protein 3.5 g; carbohydrates 4 g
These jalapeño poppers are low calorie and delicious. You can make them mild, medium, or hot. To make them mild, remove all the seeds and ribs — the white membranes. For medium, take out all the seeds and half the membranes, and to make them hot, only remove the seeds.
- 4 large jalapeños
- 1∕8 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
- 4 tablespoons soft cream cheese
- 1/4 cup 0% Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1∕8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 sprig fresh dill
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat the oven to 425 degreesCut the jalapeños in half lengthwise and use a paring knife to remove the seeds and ribs. 3. In a small bowl, combine the cheese, garlic powder, and bread crumbs. 4. Lay the jalapeño halves
- Cut the jalapeños in half lengthwise and use a paring knife to remove the seeds and ribsIn a small bowl, combine the cheese, garlic powder, and bread crumbs. 4. Lay the jalapeño halves
- In a small bowl, combine the cheese, garlic powder, and bread crumbsLay the jalapeño halves
- Lay the jalapeño halves cut-side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread 1/2 tablespoon of the cream cheese in each one and top with the cheesy bread crumb mixture.