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What’s Missing from Your Healthy Meals? A Cookbook Author Reveals the Secret

May 1, 2019
Photo Credit: Lauren Volo

There are roughly a zillion healthy cookbooks hitting the market every day, and it’s part of our job at Clean Plates to sift through them and bring you some of the best.

Though many of them are awesome for any number of reasons, Healthier Together by author, writer and podcaster Liz Moody is special because it covers more than the collection of food on your plate. The recipes are creative and fabulous—a given for any cookbook we would bring you—but what we love about this one is the focus on cooking and enjoying food with someone. It can be a spouse or partner, sure—but it also could be a sibling, friend, roommate. The important thing is bringing companionship back into preparing and eating good food, something that’s often lost in our modern world but is deeply tied into our health.

Many of the recipes are also designed to feed two people, instead of the standard four. We love this because often that’s what you need—perhaps you live alone or with just one other person, maybe you have little kids who don’t eat the same foods as you. No matter what your situation, it can be challenging to find recipes designed this way, but many situations where it’s desirable.

Read on to find out more about why cooking together is so important, why it’s an advantage to get healthy recipes from someone who didn’t enjoy vegetables until her 20s, how to employ the concept of the book if your BFF is in another city—and, of course, get some samples of the recipes.

Q: What do you want everyone to know about cooking together and why it’s healthier?
A: As a longtime journalist, I’ve spent years working with some of the world’s leading wellness experts and studying pretty much every trend that emerges on the market, and I’ve come to the conclusion that community is a huge missing element of the wellness conversation. Everything about our modern lives has led to greater levels of loneliness—living without roommates or extended family is considered a sign of success; jobs are increasingly work from home; we live across the country from where we grew up. I don’t think it’s a surprise that anxiety has gone up in correlation with all of these things. Food is the one thing that every single person in the world has in common. It’s a huge opportunity to build and nourish relationships; to turn a time of watching TV or scrolling into cultivating true connections.

At the same time, so many studies show that the people you surround yourself with dramatically influence your choices, for better or for worse. If you team up and get healthier with someone, you’re far more likely to stick to your plan—and to actually enjoy it (which lowers cortisol, which further helps achieve a healthy body and happy weight). This is a book about strengthening your relationships through your healthy choices, and strengthening your healthy choices through your relationships, and I wholeheartedly believe that.

Q: People often equate eating healthier with having less fun. When you were working on the recipes for the book, how did you bridge that gap?
A: First of all, cooking with someone is always more fun, but beyond that, I am, for lack of a better word, a trashy eater—I grew up on hot dogs and mac and cheese. (I didn’t eat my first vegetable until I was 21.) Once I developed an interest in wellness, my recipes really reflected that sensibility. I believe that people should eat food that they crave, and are excited for—but I like to make that food also make them feel good. The recipes in my book are things like General Tso’s Cauliflower, Enchilada Lasagna, Falafel Flatbread, and more. There’s even an extensive dessert section, and, while all of the recipes are designed to keep blood sugar super stable and are filled with tons of protein and no refined sugar, they don’t sacrifice flavor at all (the viral #besthealthycookies are my favorite chocolate chip cookie, period, and the fun-size Snickers bars are ALWAYS in my fridge).

Q: I know it’s like choosing a favorite child, but… any favorites in the book? Does [your husband] Zack have a favorite?
A: I’m a huge snacker, so I love the BBQ-chip roasted chickpeas [see recipes, below], which utilize a genius (if I do say so myself!) technique that actually makes chickpeas crispy in the oven. The seasoning blend tastes just like BBQ chips—sometimes, if Zack is out of town, I’ll just make a batch of these and eat them for dinner. I also love the Actually Delicious Detox Soup with Toasted Hemp Gremolata, because it packs in so many vegetables that you actually instantly feel better (especially when you go to the bathroom!), but it tastes so good, you actually crave it. Zack’s favorite is probably the healthy biscuits with cauliflower gravy (it tastes just like normal gravy; it’s actually crazy!); it’s the sort of comfort food that just warms you from the inside out, but without making you feel heavy or bloated at all.

Q: What recipes do you recommend people start with?
A: It was hugely important to me that all of my recipes be accessible to any home cook—as a food editor, I saw way too many books that were filled with beautiful recipes, but they had 3o ingredients or expensive equipment. The “Fancy Food” section of my book is designed for when you want more of a cooking project, but the rest of the recipes pass what I call the Tuesday Night Test—no fancy ingredients, no crazy equipment, and can be made on a typical weeknight. As such, I recommend flipping through the book and finding something that makes you drool, and going with that, since the thing makes the best cooking experience is food you’re excited about.

Q: If someone doesn’t have an obvious cooking partner, like a spouse or significant other, who do you recommend they start cooking with?
A: Healthier Together is definitely not just a book for romantic partners—in the book, I share stories and pictures of how I’ve personally gotten healthier with both of my parents, my friends, my co-workers, and more. I’ve gotten so many stories on Instagram about girlfriends using it as the base for weekly cooking nights, or even a mom and daughter using it to stay connected from across the country (they pick a recipe, cook it together on FaceTime, and then talk about it—plus, the two portion serving size is actually the perfect amount of leftovers for solo cooks). The point is to nourish all points of connection in our life, so I’d use the book as an excuse to ask anyone you’re excited to hang out with to come cook with you.

Here are some recipes from the book—starting with those BBQ chickpeas…

[ic_add_posts post_type=’recipe’ ids=’16170,16171,16172′]

Reprinted from Healthier Together: Recipes for Two—Nourish Your Body, Nourish Your Relationships. Copyright © 2019 by Liz Moody. Photographs copyright © 2019 by Lauren Volo. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.


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