Those of you who have read my cookbook or who follow my blog know that I don’t believe in diets. Rather, I believe in adopting a mindful and balanced approach towards food and focusing on whole, real foods. So, in my view, eating healthy is less about not eating “bad” foods and more about eating good quality foods, and everything in moderation. That said, here are five foods that I never eat or drink:
LOW FAT FOODS – I don’t ever get anything lowfat from the grocery story. Why? Because if they’ve taken out the fat, they’ve most likely added a lot of sugar and salt. Fats help you feel full so it’s likely that you will compensate for the lowfat food by eating more.
SODA – The regular kind has way too much sugar, and the diet kind is full of artificial sweeteners that are most likely carcinogenic. As a matter of fact, the regular kind is pretty much all sugar and, for some reasons, soda companies seem to think that we should be drinking 20oz. of it in one sitting. On top of that, a lot of companies use High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) as the sweetener. HFCS is, as the name implies, made up of fructose molecules (as opposed to glucose molecules). Fructose gets metabolized by the liver and when there is too much fructose, it gets stored as fat.
FRUIT AND VEGETABLE JUICES – Juices have too many concentrated sugars and very little fiber so you might as well be eating sugar by the spoonfuls. I can’t tell you how important fiber is for your health. Fiber helps you feel full, slows the absorption of sugar in the body, and it helps support the good bacteria in your gut, which if you’ve been reading the news recently (or just some of my previous blog posts) is crucial to good health.
PACKAGED CEREALS – Like juices, they are loaded with sugar and have very little fiber. On top of everything, they are usually made with refined grains – which also means more sugar and less fiber. Need I say more?
DELI/LUNCH MEATS – Processed meats are loaded with preservatives that have also been shown to cause cancer. On top of it all, they are full of sodium. In case you’re wondering, meats like Prosciutto or San Daniele are cured with salt and time (rather than with preservatives).
It’s actually quite simple: the more you can stick to whole, real foods without any added sugars and preservatives, the better you’ll feel!
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Farro, Spinach and Cheese Gratin
Ever since my husband became vegetarian, I’ve been experimenting with different dishes to make sure that he gets enough protein. This dish is filling and delicious accompanied by a light green salad. Serves 6-8
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup mascarpone cheese
4 oz. Gorgonzola cheese (creamy is preferable),
cut in to small pieces
2lbs. kale, washed
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup scallions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsp. dill, chopped
2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
1 cup farro, cooked
1 tsp. sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
- 1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 9”x13” baking dish.
- 2. In a small saucepan, combine the heavy cream, mascarpone and Gorgonzola. Cook over low heat until cheeses melt. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- 3. Cook the kale in boiling salted water until wilted, 3-4 minutes. Rinse under cold water, squeeze out the excess water then chop.
- 4. Heat the oil in a large saute pan. When hot, add the kale, scallions, garlic, dill and parsley. Saute until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- 5. In a large bowl, combine the spinach mixture, farro and heavy cream. Mix well. Pour into baking dish.
- 6. Bake until lightly browned, about 25 minutes.
With summer around the corner, here is a list of books and movies that I’ve got on my reading and watching list:
Letters to a Young Farmer:
On Food, Farming, and Our
Edited by the Stone Barns Center for
Food and Agriculture
The Place of Sugar
in Modern History
by Sydney Mintz
Food Fights &
A Secret History
by Tom Healon
The Buying and
Selling of Food in America
by Michael Ruhlman
All About Eggs:
Everything We Know About the
by Rachel Khong and the editors of
Director: George Mendeluk
Cast: Max Irons, Samantha Barks, Terence
The Last Magnificent –
The Untold Story
Director: Lydia Tenaglia
Cast: Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain,
Francesca De Luca
The McDonald’s Story
Directed by John Lee Hancock
Cast: Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman,
John Carroll Lynch
At the Fork
Director: John Papola
Theater of Life
Writer/director: Peter Svatek
Star: Massimo Bottura