Curtis Stone shares his top healthy eating tips
We all know him. He's the charming and devilishly handsome host of Take Home Chef, but his food mantra extends far beyond entertainment. He offered up his favorite real life tips and ideas for making healthy eating decisions in our exclusive one on one chat.
Balance is his number one healthy eating tip when making nutritious choices. "You don't have to be super knowledgeable, you just have to eat primarily what comes out of the ground," says Stone. "You should be eating what Mother Nature supplies us with." Stone stocks his kitchen with a broad range of fresh vegetables and fruits, seafood, poultry, grains and nuts -- and he recommends that we do so as well. "We have access to all this incredible stuff, and we should take advantage of that and eat a diverse and balanced diet."
Vote with your wallet
Authors like Michael Pollan are heavily influencing how Americans eat -- and Stone believes that is not just a passing trend. "People taste the difference and feel the difference when they eat whole, unprocessed and nutritious foods." He urged me to not underestimate the impact that we have as individual consumers. "The real power is with the consumer. As soon as you change your vote -- or how you spend your money -- changes will take place." Cast your vote by choosing whole, natural foods and supporting your local farmers.
I asked Stone what kinds of foods we should avoid and without hesitation he answered "over processed products. When we over process stuff we lose a lot of its nutritional value," Stone explained. "The more simple you eat, the better. Basic diets are usually the healthiest." He pointed out that, interestingly enough, poor countries often have healthier diets. Inexpensive and unprocessed foods such as beans, rice, nuts and grains are far healthier than modern convenience foods like soda and processed breads and cheeses.
Keep a well-stocked pantry
Curtis stressed that the most important ingredients to have on hand for eating healthy are foods that live in the refrigerator, like fresh vegetables and fruits, but keeping a well-stocked pantry is also very important. "I always have foods like lentils and other beans, dried pasta, canned or semi-dried tomatoes, capers and cornichons in my pantry." When you keep a lot of healthy staple ingredients on hand, you've got stuff to pull from when you need to throw together a quick meal.
Cook in batches
Cooking in batches and being prepared for the busy week ahead is key when making good food choices. "It's easy to get overwhelmed with food. You think 'I don't have time to do it'. So we cheat." Stone continues, "We eat processed foods and do things like skip breakfast." Stone suggests taking an hour Sunday afternoon to get prepared for the week by doing things like boiling a dozen eggs, making a big pot of veggie soup and chopping up a lot of seasonal fruit. "Having healthy, already prepared food in the refrigerator to eat throughout the week arms you with a back-up plan," Stone points out. "If you think you don't have time in the morning to make breakfast, take some of your already-prepared fruit salad and serve it with a scoop of yogurt or whole grain cereal, like Post Great Grains." Or make a batch of healthy, high-fiber breakfast bars that you can grab on those busy weekday mornings when making breakfast just doesn't happen. Curtis shares his recipe for delicious and healthy chewy cherry-nut bars:
Curtis Stone's chewy cherry-nut bars recipe
Makes 12 bars
- Nonstick organic canola oil spray
- 1 cup Great Grains Crunchy Pecans cereal
- 2/3 cup whole raw almonds, very coarsely chopped
- 2/3 cup raw pecans, very coarsely chopped
- 2/3 cup raw walnuts, very coarsely chopped
- 2/3 cup dried tart cherries, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons golden flaxseeds
- 1/4 teaspoon fine-grained sea salt
- Grated zest of 1 orange
- 1/2 cup agave syrup
- Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil, allowing some foil to hang over the edges of the pan; then spray the foil with nonstick spray.
- In a large bowl, combine the cereal, nuts, cherries, flaxseeds and salt. Mix in the orange zest. Add the syrup and stir to coat. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan.
- Bake for 30 minutes, gently stirring the mixture occasionally with a silicone spatula to coat with the syrup. Pat the mixture firmly into the pan with a metal spatula. Continue baking (without stirring) until the mixture is golden brown and still pliable, about 40 minutes.
- Cool in the pan on a rack for 25 minutes. Using the overhanging sides of the foil, lift the mixture out of the pan and press firmly on the mixture to help compact it on all sides. Then, using the bottom of the pan, gently press on the top of the mixture to compact it more. Cool on the rack until barely warm, about 10 minutes.
- With the foil still attached, cut the nut and cereal sheet into 12 bars with a large sharp knife. Allow the bars to cool completely on the rack.
- Store the bars in an airtight container at room temperature. Remove the foil before serving.