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Star-Bulletin Features

Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Simon & Schuster
George Foreman is shown in a picture from his latest
cookbook, "George Foreman's Big Book of Grilling,
Barbecue and Rotisserie."

A champ in
the kitchen

A chance encounter with the
lean, mean Grilling Machine
leads to tons of cooking fun

By Nadine Kam

I'M not a kitchen gadget person. I know of too many people who have in their possession every kitchen gadget known to man -- bread machines, pasta machines, waffle makers, crockpots -- neatly tucked away in their closets after one or two uses.

I can be swept away by an Egg Wave as easily as the next consumer, but if I think about it for 5 seconds, I always come back to the reality that none of these appliances and gizmos are necessary in life. All your basic cooking functions can be completed in the oven or on the stovetop.

Then came Christmas and the George Foreman Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine entered my life.

Salton photo
"The Champ" version of George Foreman's Lean
Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine cooks
single servings.

My driver's license had expired in November, so on a Saturday in mid-December I had to go to satellite city hall in Windward Mall, the last place I wanted to be on a shopping day before Christmas.

I was almost safely out of the mall, trekking through Sears to get my car, when they announced the last 15 minutes of a half-day sale. Of course I did the all-American thing and grabbed everything I could, among them, the Grilling Machine.

When the clerk saw the grill, he couldn't contain his excitement. "Wow! I always wanted one of those!"

"You better get one then, sale's ending in 5 minutes," I told him.

Off he ran. "Hey, get me one more!" I yelled after him.

If the first grill was going to be a gift I had to test the other to make sure it was useful. And it was.

It worked on steaks, fish, turkey burgers, portobellos, vegetables, bananas, sweet potatoes and frozen potstickers. Because the machine has two grill surfaces to cook top and bottom evenly, normal cooking times are halved.

Salton photo
The cup is for drained fat, but natural juices are also lost.

Over the course of two weeks, anything edible was pressed between the Grilling Machine's wavy, non-stick cooking surfaces.

One thing that did not work well were scallops. The machine drained all the juices, leaving bland, white lumps. There's also a tendency for the surface of salmon filets to get leathery if you want the skin crisp.

My friends thought I was crazy. "Why'd you get that for? It looks stupid."

I couldn't argue with that. Before George Foreman made the leap from boxing ring champ to pitchman (he's also a preacher, rancher and cookbook author), I'd seen similar machines in sandwich shops and wrote them off. All they seemed to do was warm and flatten the contents of your sandwich.

My Grilling Machine, "The Champ" model No. GR10A, is pretty stupid technically. For one thing, it's so simple, it doesn't even have an on-off switch. Plug it in and it starts heating up. My machine also has no temperature controls, although bigger versions do.

And the food doesn't come out looking nearly as appetizing as the pictures of the plump, rounded burgers on the side of the box. In real life, burgers get flattened into waffley, animal-pawlike shapes.

While your food is getting pressed, oil and liquids drain away into a flimsy plastic container that partially melted when it touched the grill.

In terms of retaining flavor, the grill earns a score of about seven on a scale of one to 10. But even if it's not perfect, cooking on the grill is entertaining and convenient for a dual-career family. With prep done overnight, we could cook up burgers when we were ready for them. Fresh-cooked burgers are always better than ones reheated.

The Grilling Machine would also work for students in dorms or studio dwellers who don't have full kitchens. Between Foreman's device and a hot pot, the possibilities are limitless.

Given the small size of the grill and what you can put on it, you become more aware of portions, making this a good gauge for dieters. If it don't fit, don't eat it.

On, where ordinary consumers rate products, the Grilling Machine has received an overall 4-1/2 out of five stars in reviews by more than 200 users. There were a few detractors, such as magenta321, whose main beef is cleanup, although she wrote that part of the reason is because she is very germ-phobic.

I'm semi-germ phobic and don't feel queasy at all wiping the grill down with a soapy sponge, followed by a sponge rinse and drying with paper towels. Wait for the grill to cool off first, of course.

The machine comes with a small recipe booklet that includes The Champ's Sausage Without Guilt that follows with more recipes I experimented with. Don't fret if you don't have a Grilling Machine. Remember, in the olden days everyone had to use a saute pan or broiler.

The Champ's Sausage Without Guilt

From "The Healthy Gourmet" by Cherie Calbom

1 egg white, slightly beaten
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely snipped dried apples or 1 cup finely chopped fresh sweet apples
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 teaspoon crushed sage
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 pound lean, ground, skinless turkey breast

In a medium bowl, combine egg white, onion, apples, bread crumbs, parsley, salt, sage, nutmeg and peppers. Add turkey and mix well.

Shape the mixture into 8 2-inch wide patties.

Place the patties on the Grilling Machine and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the meat is no longer pink.

Approximate nutrient information per pattie without optional salt: 180 calories, 1 g total fat, 0.5 g saturated, 35 mg cholesterol, 550 mg sodium, 17 g protein, 25 g carbohydrate*

Pork Hash with Chop Suey Vegetables

1/2 pound ground pork
3 fresh shiitake mushrooms, minced
1/8 cup green onion, minced
6 water chestnuts, minced
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Black pepper to taste
8 ounces Taro Brand salad mix
12 ounces Eat Smart broccoli slaw

In a medium-sized bowl, combine pork, mushrooms, green onion, water chestnuts, oil and soy sauce together. Divide mixture into four patties. Refrigerate up to three days. When hungry, cook 3 minutes on Grilling Machine. Serve with rice and chop suey vegetables.

For a single portion of vegetables: Toss 3 ounces EACH of salad mix and broccoli slaw with 1/2 teaspoon EACH of sesame oil and soy sauce. Cook 1minute on George Foreman grill.

Makes 4 servings.

Approximate nutrient information, per serving (without rice): 210 calories, 12 g total fat, 4 g saturated, 40 mg cholesterol, 640 mg sodium, 15 g protein, 12 g carbohydrate

Portobello with Goat Cheese and Spinach

1 teaspoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces of spinach, chopped
1/4 lemon
2 portobellos
4 ounces goat cheese

On stovetop, saute garlic in olive oil. Lower heat to medium. Add spinach. (Pre-cooking will reduce the bulk on the grill.) Heat until cooked through. Add squeeze of lemon.

Divide goat cheese and spread in portobello caps. Place on top of Grilling Machine. Divide spinach and place into caps. Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.

Makes 2 servings.

Approximate nutrient information, per serving 295 calories, 20 g total fat, 12 g saturated, 45 mg cholesterol, 390 mg sodium, 19 g protein, 14 g carbohydrate*

Salmon Cakes

1 14-ounce can pink salmon
2 eggs
1 cup fine white bread crumbs
1/4 cup celery, chopped fine
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped fine
1/4 cup parsley, chopped fine
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Place salmon in a medium-sized bowl. Remove bones. Add the egg, along with 1/2 cup bread crumbs, celery, parsley, green onions, melted butter and lemon juice. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Form mixture into 6 patties about 3 inches wide and 1- to 1-1/2 inches thick.

Beat remaining egg in a shallow bowl. Brush egg on both sides of each pattie. Coat with bread crumbs. Cook two at a time for three minutes on Grilling Machine. Makes 6 patties.

Note: To replace moisture lost in grilling, serve Salmon Cakes with a simple sauce made by combining a tablespoon of yogurt with minced dill.

Approximate nutrient information, per pattie without sauce or added salt: 190 calories, 11 g total fat, 3 g saturated, 110 mg cholesterol, 450 mg sodium, 17 g protein, 6 g carbohydrate*

 | | |

Wisdom of George:

A lot of people don't need to diet; they need to burn calories. The problem is that many people start their diet the same minute they start their exercise program -- and that makes you miserable. You're starving to death and then you've got to find energy somewhere to exercise.

If people would just start exercising and not cut calories just for a while, they'd be amazed at how much better they'd feel. And, if you start increasing your exercise, and just don't increase your eating, you are going to lose weight anyway.

Of course everyone wants the two-week weight loss, but that's going to be temporary. We should do what children do; they run around and play until dinner is ready, then they run in and eat. An adult goes out and plays racquetball or whatever then comes home and says, "I'm not eating tonight; I want to lose weight." That's how you get burned out.


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