Ellie Krieger, bestselling healthy cookbook author and registered dietitian, on finding the “sweet spot” between good food and good health.
Claim to fame: Since her first book, 2005’s Small Changes, Big Results: A 12-Week Action Plan to a Better Life, registered dietitian Ellie Krieger has become one of America’s most-loved healthy cooks. Her popular Food Network TV show, Healthy Appetite, now airs on The Cooking Channel. Her cookbooks—So Easy: Luscious Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week; The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life; and Comfort Food Fix: Feel Good Favorites Made Healthy—fly off bookshelves. In January 2013, Ellie released an updated version of her first book, Small Changes, Big Results, Revised and Updated: A Wellness Plan with 65 Recipes for a Healthy, Balanced Life Full of Flavor. She also blogs at http://www.elliekrieger.com.
Health philosophy: “Find a way of life that is enjoyable and delicious that also supports good health. In being well, you create a good life in every way.”
Food philosophy: Think of foods as being divided into three categories: “Usually, sometimes, rarely.” (Note: no “never”!) “When I cook at home, I really try to focus on the ‘usually’ foods,” she says. “Because I live in New York, when I go out, there are plenty of opportunities to get the ‘sometimes’ and ‘rarely!’”
Vitamins and supplements: She doesn’t take any. “If you want to take one as an insurance policy, that’s fine, but the only way to assure you’re going to get what you need is from food,” she says. “I’m not against supplements, per se, but I also don’t think they’re the answer—and for the average healthy person, I don’t think they’re necessary.”
Motivational trick: Think of the payoff. “Sometimes I’m just not in the mood to cook. The key is knowing I have these quick recipes in my back pocket that frankly taste better than anything I can order in, and are healthier and cheaper,” she says. “So OK, the payoff’s there. Then I turn up some music and I start drinking a little wine, and suddenly it’s not so bad— it’s fun!”
Favorite healthy meal: “I hardly ever make the same thing twice!” she admits. “But a typical meal could be as simple as my honey mustard salmon, a quinoa pilaf and some kind of seasonal vegetable like crispy roasted Brussels sprouts or maybe some beautiful, ripe tomatoes with olive oil.”
Secret weapon: Spices. “I’m always looking for that sweet spot where healthy and delicious meet,” she says. “Spices are great to experiment with—even a sprinkle of curry powder on your cauliflower before you roast it, or some smoked paprika on your eggs in the morning.”
Favorite workout: Yoga once or twice a week, indoor or outdoor cycling, hiking. “Sometimes I’ll go for a run. I’m maybe the slowest runner in the entire world—80-year-old speed-walking women pass me!” she says, laughing. “But I don’t care. I’m out there doing it.”
Favorite healthy snacks: While she tries not to eat much between meals, Ellie almost always has a little something at 4 p.m.: fruit with almonds or cheese; or a piece of chocolate. “In the winter, lately I’ve been into making hot cocoa with skim milk and real cocoa powder, a little bit of sugar,” she says. “If you make it with those pure ingredients—and not too sweet—you’re getting so much nutrition and a really satisfying snack.”
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