Courtesy of Adam Bergey and Eric Baldetti
Courtesy of Adam Bergey and Eric Baldetti
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Move over, Martha Stewart, Sandra Lee, Rachael Ray and Giada De Laurentiis. There’s a new girl in town.

American Idol season two finalist Kimberley Locke has a new spin on the traditional cooking show with the launch of her new program, Cooking With Kimberley. She’s making it healthy — and she’s airing it online each month on her website, kimberleylockeofficial.com, with a target launch date of Aug. 1. According to Kimberley, I'm the first to break the news!

“People are so overwhelmed with the quick-fix diets out there that they don’t look at the incremental changes that they can do every day, instead of doing something so drastic that’s only going to set them up for failure,” the "Eighth World Wonder" singer, 34, tells me Wednesday while cruising around NYC in Purina Cat Chow’s Cat Cab.

“I want to share some of my favorite recipes with women. Sometimes they just need a little push in the right direction, and I believe that that’s what my cooking show is going to be about.”

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What if the Food Network or Cooking Channel come calling?

“I would love to have my own cooking show,” she says. “I’m a Southern girl, so of course I know how to cook the fried chicken and fried pork chops and all that good stuff, but I also know how to make a mean pork chop that is healthier and a piece of chicken that is delicious that you can feel good about afterward, and I think that’s what people need.”

Like Jennifer Hudson and Jordin Sparks, Kimberley lost significant poundage post-Idol. She has maintained a 40-lb. weight loss since her 2007 stint on VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club.

Of course, she feels a common bond with her fellow slimmed-down Idol comrades.

When you grow up a certain way your entire life, and then you have to start undoing those patterns, those bad habits or just those habits you’ve been so accustomed to, it’s breaking down yourself, so the three of us can definitely relate to making a conscious decision and saying, ‘OK, I’m going to do extremely different than I have been doing.’”

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For those looking to follow her lead, she offers motivation, guidance and know-how.

“I would tell someone if you want to make a change, make that commitment to yourself and say, ‘I’m going to do this no matter how long it takes.’ Every day just make a small change, and every day replace something that you know you should not be eating, that is not good for you. Just replace it with something that is healthier.”

She continues, “I promise you, within a six-month period, or within a three-month period, you will overhaul your entire eating plan, and how you eat. You’ll be like, ‘Oh, I don’t even miss that anymore’ because it’s not that you took it out, but you’re substituting something healthier and something better and it’s going to be more nutritious, it’s going to be more filling, and you’re going to feel better. Who doesn’t want to feel better? We want to feel good all the time.”

Kimberley has swapped her bad food habits for good ones.

“One thing I’ve replaced is when I was my heaviest, I was a junk food junkie. I’d eat potato chips and all that stuff. I don’t eat potato chips anymore — hardly ever. Every now and then I’ll have a chip, but in the very beginning, that was hard for me. What I did is I found some healthy chips, and I looked at the serving size.”

She continues, “My favorite ones were Pringles — the small ones. You could have 16 of those, so I would ration those 16 chips out to myself if I needed them, and it worked, until eventually I didn’t have to have them at all. Now if I want something crunchy, I will have kale chips, which you make in the oven, which I love. You still get the crunch and the texture. Or I’ll have a healthy cracker, like Kashi makes great little wheat crackers, and rye Chips that I get at Trader Joe’s are delicious. If I need something like that, I’ll have one of those two.”

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Not only is Kimberley excited about her healthy cooking show, she’s also giddy with excitement over her new music.

“I have a brand-new single that’s coming out, which I have about 16 remixes for. It’s called Finally Free. I just finished shooting a music video, which I’m very excited about. You’re the first one I’ve told. We’re launching that project July 31. That will be the launch of the single and the new remixes, and the video will follow shortly thereafter.”

And the album?

“We’re not sure there’s going to be an album. We’ve got four singles lined up. We’ll release these singles and put the body of work together. First quarter for the album.”

By her side through it all is her boyfriend of 10 months Matthew McSweeney, who is in the marketing industry. They met through a mutual friend.

“It’s funny because we learn a lot from each other,” she says. “He’s in the Internet marketing world, and so he’s constantly trying to find out more about what I do, and I am constantly trying to find out more about what he does. We have some really great conversation. For him, he’s never been in the entertainment world, and what I love about him is he doesn’t ask the surface, shallow questions about, ‘What’s that like? What’s this like?’ He wants to know the business side of things. I do enjoy having that conversation with him because as an independent artist, and having my own entertainment company, I Am Entertainment, it’s nice to sit down and talk to him and get his insight and collaborate on projects as well.”

Sounds like they make a great team.

I joined fellow cat lover Kimberley for a ride around Manhattan in Purina Cat Chow’s Cat Cab. Now through July 22, they’re offering free rides for people who share their cat stories. Quite a treat! If you’re not in NYC, go to www.yourcatstory.com to share your own story. Five grand prize winners will get $5,000 plus a year’s worth of Purina Cat Chow. And look for Kimberley’s new music and new cooking show, Cooking With Kimberley, on her website, kimberleylockeofficial.com, which is relaunching later this month. To keep up with the latest, follow her on Twitter @kimberleylocke.

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