Tess Masters is the first to admit she’s not a trained chef, but she has been experimenting with food for as long as she can remember. As a smoothie-obsessed teen, she started exploring the various virtues of the blender as a food prep tool, and she has never looked back. It was also starting in her teen years — after a diagnosis of Epstein-Barr virus — that Masters began searching for the perfect diet to help her feel healthier. Macrobiotic, vegan, raw food — you name it, she tried it. Ultimately, what she discovered is that her perfect diet (like everyone’s) was a blend. And so, The Blender Girl was born, and this spring, The Blender Girl Cookbook. Read more
With the new season of the prison drama Orange Is the New Black set to debut this week, it seems like a good time to celebrate all things orange. But that’s not necessarily a nod to neon-orange processed food — like crunchy cheese curls — or even prison garb, for that matter. This is about the tasty orange stuff that grows on trees and plants, all of which is uniquely good for us.
“The reality is various types of orange produce are all very similar nutritionally,” says Mary Howley Ryan, MS, RDN, owner of Beyond Broccoli Nutritional Counseling, in Jackson, Wyo. “The carotenoids — especially beta-carotene that turns into vitamin A — not only give them their beautiful color but also provide big health benefits.” That said, there are literally hundreds of different carotenoid compounds to be found in orange fruits and vegetables, so it pays to try them all.
The antioxidant beta-carotene is found in such plentiful quantities in carrots that it was actually named after the vegetable. This nutrient is also widely studied — research in the Netherlands found that those who had higher levels of carrot intake had significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease. And other compounds called polyacetylenes found in carrots have more recently been shown to inhibit growth of colon cancer cells in mice.
If fat was the star dietary villain for the past few decades, sugar is quickly stepping up to take its place. The sweet stuff figures prominently in the recent documentary Fed Up. There are websites, such as I Quit Sugar, devoted to eliminating sugar from the diet. And several books published this year chronicle or advocate similar nutritional journeys, including Year of No Sugar — which recounts a family’s quest to rid their lives of added sugars — and The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet, written by Dr. Mark Hyman, who just so happens to advise the Clinton family on matters of healthy eating.
The journey of Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge from New York City executives to country farmers has been well-chronicled — on the reality TV show The Fabulous Beekman Boys and in their best-selling cookbook The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook (both named after their historic home in upstate New York, Beekman 1802). Combining their business savvy with their love of the land and what it can produce, the duo have become well-known for turning a struggling goat farm into a thriving enterprise, producing goat’s milk soap, artisanal cheese and a cornucopia of vegetables.
Their latest book, The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook: 100 Delicious Heritage Recipes from the Farm and Garden, is year-round celebration of what they grow, and delicious ways in which home cooks can share in the bounty.
What’s a good way to expand your vegetable palate beyond the basics?
When in doubt, roast. Nearly any vegetable can be tossed in olive oil and salt — and red pepper flakes if you like them — and roasted in a 375 to 400 degree oven until browned and softened. It works with everything from the hardest winter squashes to delicate hearts of romaine lettuce. If there’s anything you’re curious about, buy it, roast it, and chances are, you’ll love it.
Japanese-born Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto planned on becoming a baseball player. But luckily — at least for the food world — a shoulder injury sidelined those plans and he switched careers. Today, he oversees a family of restaurants around the world, including New York City’s Morimoto. While true to his Japanese roots, Morimoto’s cooking fuses the best of both Eastern and Western gastronomy, with results that are as delicious as they are innovative. Here, he answers the Healthy Eats Q & A.
What health food trend would you like to see go away?
Anything that is too extreme. For example, low-carb versus no-carb. If you go for a no-carb diet, you cannot eat even healthy dishes like sushi. So, if you eat everything in moderation, including carbs, you can enjoy your favorite dishes without overdoing it.
Chia seeds: Love them or leave them?
I have not tried Chia seeds before, so I don’t know if I love them or want to leave them!
What shortcuts do you use when you’re cooking?
Using the microwave! There are many high-tech microwave these days, and you can adjust the cooking time and temperature easily. My wife often microwaves sweet potatoes for our dog, and I like to eat them too!
A longtime filmmaker and environmental activist (she produced the Academy Award–winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth), Laurie David is now on a crusade to change the way America eats. A lofty goal, for sure, but after revamping the way her own family approached food, she’s primed to share her practical yet sly spin on healthier home cooking (sample recipe: Roasted Cauliflower “Popcorn”). A few years back, she coauthored The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids One Meal at a Time, cookbook that combined recipes with advice on how to establish a regular and semi-sane dinner routine. She’s now followed that up with her new book, The Family Cooks: 100+ Recipes to Get Your Family Craving Food That’s Simple, Tasty, and Incredibly Good for You, out this week. David also tackles the issue of childhood obesity in her new documentary, Fed Up, co-produced with Katie Couric and slated for release on May 9th.
Long a mainstay of South Asian cooking, turmeric adds zing to curries and other dishes. But it has also been used in Eastern cultures for thousands of years for its medicinal properties. More recently, turmeric has caught the attention of Western researchers who have been studying the herb and its potential health benefits.
Born in Ethiopia, adopted by a Swedish family and raised in Sweden, Marcus Samuelsson comes to cooking with a unique background. He credits his Swedish grandmother, Helga, with first introducing him to the joys of the kitchen. He spent childhood summers at her side learning to pickle fresh vegetables, make meatballs and other Swedish delicacies. But as an adult, he returned to his native Ethiopia and learned about the culture’s cuisine and intricate spices.
In 2010, when he opened his restaurant Red Rooster Harlem in New York City, he described the menu as “American comfort food with hints of my Swedish and African roots.” Here, the chef — who has also made appearances on Iron Chef and Chopped – opens up about what goes on in his own kitchen.
What are your favorite healthy foods?
My favorites are definitely anything fresh and raw. Fruits and vegetables I pick up from the farmers market in the morning after a run are ideal, and there’s this guy that sells the best peaches in the summer.
For more than 30 years — starting with his first professional job at Le Cirque in 1982 — chef Geoffrey Zakarian has been cooking some of New York City’s finest food. He presides over the Modern American cuisine at The Lambs Club and The National, both in New York City, in addition to being a regular judge on Chopped and a co-host of The Kitchen. In 2011, he won the title of Iron Chef on the The Next Iron Chef. Here, he tackles some questions about his healthy eating habits.
What health food trend do you wish would go away?
Low-fat and fat-free. It robs the food of its flavor and richness. Just the eat the real thing, but eat less of it. I also hate the word “trend” when it comes to eating because health should be a daily lifestyle.
What must-have items are always in your kitchen?
Coconut water, Emmi yogurt, lots of mangoes and berries and canned Spanish tuna in olive oil. I use the tuna in salads and warm pasta dishes.
Chef Marc Murphy has devoted his career to creating innovative cuisine. He currently presides over five New York restaurants — two locations of Landmarc, a bistro with Italian influences, two locations of his New York-style fish shack, Ditch Plains, and his latest venture, Kingside, which features a New American menu. He’s also a regular judge on Chopped. Here, he opens up about some of his own eating habits — which include loving kale and french fries both.
What health-food trend would you like to see go away?
Week-long juice cleanses. I love a great juice, but I don’t think you should use it as a meal replacement every day. Everything in moderation.
What healthy items do you always have on hand in the kitchen, and how do you use them?
I always like to have some healthy grains like quinoa and farro around. At my newest restaurant Kingside, we just added a brick-roasted poussin with winter squash, farro and mustard greens, and it’s delicious!