Tuesday, November 12th, 2013
You know Giada De Laurentiis: the Food Network star, author of 10 books, mom, and all-around busy lady who somehow stays thin, healthy, and gorgeous. It’s enough to make us mortals green with envy. But happily, in her new book Giada’s Feel Good Food she is sharing her get-healthy and stay-there secrets with the rest of us. In a recent conversation, Giada revealed some of her tips for eating well on a budget and why she doesn’t believe in diets.
Q: As parents, we focus a lot on good nutrition for kids (which is important of course). But we don’t talk as much about good nutrition for parents. Do you think that’s problematic?
A: I like to say that this is the perfect opportunity to lead by example! My daughter Jade loves asking me questions while I’m cooking, and if I don’t baby-talk her, but rather get on her level and explain what all the yummy things going into my smoothie are and how they are going to fuel my body, then she’s far more likely to try what normally would look to her like a nasty green shake! It’s a great motivator, being an example for anyone.
Q: Why do you think it’s so difficult for many moms to eat well?
A: Two words: busy and tired. The thing is, the best way to help offset those two words is a well-balanced meal plan and some fun exercise. I’m not suggesting a boring diet or some workout that you’re going to dread all day long. Life is short, and we are made to be happy! Take a brisk walk with the kids through the neighborhood. Play hide-and-seek. Or try some nice yoga moves together! Eating healthy can and should be delicious; I think sometimes people just need to have the opportunity to discover an appreciation for fresh foods and natural flavor.
Q: What are three simple things parents can do to improve their diets?
A: Skip sodas, replace refined sugars with natural sugars like those found in fruit, and eat more often in smaller portions. Portion control is truly the key.
Q: Do you have any tips for people on a budget who are trying to eat well?
A: Skip the restaurant and cook at home. It will be easier on your wallet than eating at restaurants night after night. If you don’t consider yourself a cook, start simple and be patient with yourself. Learning to cook for yourself is a great way to be budget-savvy, plus it will taste better because you will learn to make it just how you like it. And if you do have a night out, skip the booze and do dessert at home to skinny up that check!
Q: Why do you say you don’t believe in diets for you?
A: Because I don’t stick to them and I generally resist things that seem like deprivation. I choose to get excited about my health and my body and adjust my meal plan and activities accordingly. Being healthy is a lifestyle and a state of mind, and diets don’t contribute to that in a positive way for me. It’s not sustainable, and I like things I can build on, look forward to, and get excited about. Being healthy is exciting!
Q: Like many moms you are one busy lady! How do you manage to fit exercise and healthy eating into your schedule?
A: For me, the key is good planning. You have to set yourself up for success, you know? I like to cook a few meals in advance to help with the impossible days in the week… there are always a couple!
Q: You mention that when you were younger you were addicted to chocolate and sugar. How did you kick the habit?
A: I got pregnant. Jade changed everything for me. Once I started eating for two, I really started really paying attention to what I was eating and made it a habit. A good one!
Q: If we forced you to choose, what would you say are your favorite three recipes in the book?
A: That’s hard. This book is full of my favorite recipes and feels a little like sharing my diary because a lot of these are what I cook myself… but I would say the Avocado-Chocolate Mousse with Raspberries, the Swiss Chard Rolls with Wild and Brown rice and Indian Spices, and, of course, my go-to Spinach, Ginger, and Apple smoothie [recipe below]!
Q: A lot of moms deal with picky eaters. What do you think is the best way to encourage kids to eat a variety of foods?
A: The best way to encourage them is to involve them in the process! I think the root of picky eaters is that they want control. It’s a power struggle, and I think that’s totally okay. They want to have control of what goes in their bodies, and it’s the perfect opportunity to empower them. Flip through the cookbook with them, see what sounds fun to make, and then cook with them! It will change a picky little eater’s tune just like that.
Q: What are your daughter’s favorite foods?
A: My girl loves her waffles. I’d have to say that’s probably her favorite right now. I’m excited though because she’s adventurous with food and is willing to try new things. She has a strong opinion and knows what she likes, but she’ll give things a shot, which is great.
Q: You’ve also written children’s books. What inspired you?
A: Jade is my ultimate inspiration. I wanted to write something she could enjoy soon, rather than having to wait until she can use my cookbooks. I come from a big Italian family of storytellers and I wanted to have a way to tell about the adventures I had with my own brother when I was a kid. We were fortunate as kids to get to travel a lot but even when we were just playing in our room, it turned into a grand adventure. Our imaginations were limitless, and I really wanted to encourage that curiosity for exploration — exploring the world as well as the kitchen!
Spinach, Ginger, and Apple Smoothie
From Giada’s Feel Good Food
Makes 2 cups; Serves 2
1½ cups ice
½ cup water
1 medium apple, such as Fuji or Honey Crisp, peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1 (1-inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 cup packed baby spinach leaves
1/3 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Combine all of the ingredients in the blender and blend on high speed until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve.Add a Comment