David Burtka’s Guide to Healthy Eating
Chef David (with help from Neil and the kids) shares his tips for eating healthier this new year
Every night last week, my family enjoyed a beautiful home-cooked meal as David transformed our home kitchen into a de-facto test kitchen. We were treated to something new at every dinner as he tried out a smorgasbord of healthy recipes to decide upon one to include in this special Wellness Issue. It shows just how much I care about you, our Wondercade reader — I’m willing to eat delicious food every night! You’re welcome.
Ever the experimenter, when it came time to write up his favorite recipe and the accompanying article, David tried something else that was new … Instead of sitting at his computer in his office and typing, he sat down at the kitchen table, pulled out his phone and recorded himself. Maybe he felt most comfortable in the kitchen? Maybe he thought it’d be easier to dictate rather than type? Maybe he didn’t notice me, Harper and Gideon hanging out behind him making snacks? Maybe he thought he had a different family, one that wouldn’t pester him as he worked? —NPH
DAVID: Many people — myself included — want to get a little bit more health conscious. I’m not necessarily talking about slimming down and losing weight … I mean cooking and eating healthy, nutritious foods that contribute to one’s overall wellness.
But how do you do that?
First off, eat natural foods. No fast food, no saturated fats, nothing processed. A great rule of thumb is that when you’re shopping, read the packaging, and don’t buy anything that has more than five ingredients.
Swap butter for extra virgin olive oil when you’re cooking. Consume healthy fats, like avocado and nuts. Almonds are a great snack. Cashews. Nut butters on fruit or whole grain toast. And salads are great any time of the day — instead of an omelet cooked in butter for breakfast, why not have a mixed green salad and a hard boiled egg?
NEIL: If I can interrupt, I also think that a healthy eating strategy is to have multiple small meals per day, instead of gorging on a breakfast, a lunch and then a dinner. Try a handful of almonds with a bit of cheese in the middle of the afternoon, or some blueberries and an English muffin with almond butter. Healthy mini meals every three or four hours keeps your body fueled without downing a thousand-plus calories per sitting.
DAVID: Oh, are we not talking about the seven Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups you eat at night?
Neil is right, of course: Smaller meals, eaten more frequently, are great. Also, eat whole grains — quinoa, brown rice, bulgur—
NEIL: Ray Bolger?
DAVID: Stop. No one knows who that is. Millet—
NEIL: Millet Bobby Brown? She’s wonderful in Stranger Things.
DAVID: Stop, stop.
NEIL: Barley? Barley Rubble? From The Flintstones? Bob Barley? I loved that book about the dog, Barley and Me.
DAVID: God, just stop. It was funny and now it’s just sad. Where was I? … Okay, so, eat whole grains, lean proteins and a ton of vegetables. Not just leafy greens, which are great for you, but vegetables of every color. We always like to say that in our family we “eat the rainbow.”
NEIL: That’s because we’re super gay.
DAVID: Stop. We like to eat as many colors as possible. Red beets, all kinds of peppers, green kale, purple eggplants—
NEIL: Nacho cheese Doritos?
NEIL: They’re orange!
DAVID: You want orange? Carrots.
GIDEON: Gummy bears!
DAVID: Stop, you guys. This is not your segment.
HARPER: Swedish Fish!
DAVID: Get out of here!
NEIL: Spinach is delightful.
DAVID: Spinach is delightful. Thanks for finally taking this seriously.
GIDEON: Tomatoes, too.
DAVID: Tomatoes are great!
HARPER: Gum drops!
DAVID: Oh my lanta. Hold on while I go to my office and lock the door. [2 minute pause] Okay, I’m back.
To recap: Eat natural foods. Tons and tons of veggies — eat the rainbow. Whole grains. Less red meat. Substitute red meat with hearty veggies like portobello mushroom or squash, or lean protein like turkey, chicken and of course, fish.
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