When Laurie Egglezos reached into her mailbox last Tuesday she pulled out a recipe book signed by health and fitness guru Richard Simmons.
She was surprised to find one of her own creations - "I'm Just Wild About Chicken Enchiladas" - among the 50 other low calorie/low fat recipes in the book, "Cookin' on Broadway."
"I didn't know they had chosen my recipe to be included in the book until I received the cookbook and saw it for myself," she said.
Egglezos, who is a Simmons fan, found out about the recipe contest last April when she was perusing his Internet Web page and decided to enter the national contest.
"He is a good guy.
He has helped a lot of people lose weight.
He has been there.
He knows what its like to be heavy," Egglezos said of Simmons.
Indeed, Egglezos' vast assortment of cookbooks includes several "well-used" books Simmons has written, and for inspiration she watches one of the 15 Simmons video tapes and carries audio tapes around with her.
"I have head phones and listen to his tapes while I am walking around Centennial Park," she said.
She also carries around the "Food Mover," a Simmons invention that helps manage calories.
The counting system looks like a hand-held calculator, and offers pithy words of wisdom such as "I will never doubt my abilities," and "I will find something every day to laugh about."
Egglezos said the system works - she has lost 25 pounds and has helped her family eat healthier, including her husband Alex, who has high blood pressure, her father, who is diabetic, and her two sons Rusty and Lonnie.
"We eat good food, but it is cooked without fat and no sodium.
I use a lot of herbs when I cook.
I use herb rubs and herb vinegars," she said.
Because her husband is from Greece, she cooks a lot of Greek recipes, such as Greek salads, spinach pie and Greek-style soup, as well as an occasion desert of Baklava.
"I use olive oil when I cook, because it is good for the heart," she said.
She said she is inspired by the Simmons approach to weight lose because it is not a radical diet plan, but rather a sensible, healthy approach to eating.
"It really works.
And the best part is that you don't feel deprived, because the recipes taste so good," she said.
Egglezos said she received no money for the recipe, but didn't expect to.
"It is reward enough that people will read it.
I was glad I could help someone eat something a little bit different, that is low fat and tastes good," she said.
Egglezos' prize-winning recipe, as it appears in the "Cookin' on Broadway" cookbook is as follows:
"I'm Just Wild About Chicken Enchiladas"
• one-half pound shredded cooked white meat chicken
• one-eighth cup low-sodium chicken stock
• four six-inch tortillas (soft flour)
• one small chopped onion
• one chopped red pepper
• two teaspoons minced garlic
• four ounces low fat cheddar cheese
• eight ounces enchilada sauce
• cooking spray
optional garnish leaf lettuce, chopped tomato and dill pepper
Spray cooking spray in skillet and sauté onions, garlic and peppers until soft
Stir in chicken and stock and heat until almost all stock is evaporated.
Put about one-fourth cup filling in each tortilla and roll seam side down.
Place in oven-proof dish.
Top with enchilada sauce and shredded cheese and bake in 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and sauce is hot and bubbly.
Serve with optional lettuce, chopped tomato and dill pepper