Health & Fitness

Three pros dish on cooking more nutritiously

A recent survey by AllRecipes.com found that 75 percent of cooks are eating more healthfully these days. We wondered if that emphasis on health carried over to celebrity chefs and food experts .

So, we contacted three: Meeru Dhalwala, Steven Raichlen and Michelle Bernstein. Not surprisingly, they're part of the trend and have useful tips for those of us still struggling to eat healthier.

Meeru Dhalwala

The author of "Vij's at Home: Relax, Honey," is also the co-owner of Vij's and Rangoli, two Indian restaurants in Vancouver, British Columbia.

On eating healthier:

"Our family decided to make the effort and go vegetarian five nights out of seven and to use the money we save from buying less meat to buy healthier, better-tasting and clean meats, preferably organic and local. ... With more vegetables and beans/lentils in our diet, we're healthier and Vikram (her husband) is lighter in weight."

Tips for better eating:

"We will only eat better if we incorporate into our lifestyles what we can emotionally handle and enjoy. So, if you can't stand salad greens, don't make yourself eat a boring salad every night. Steamed vegetables?

Avoid them if you don't even enjoy vegetables. Try sauteing them instead. Rigid diets with no taste are wrong on all fronts."

Food recommendations:

Beans and lentils. Onion, garlic and butter. Tomatoes — canned in winter and fresh in the summer. Goat.

Steven Raichlen

A winner of five James Beard Awards, TV host/grilling authority/food writer Raichlen is also the author of more than two dozen books. His latest, "Bold & Healthy Flavors: 450 Recipes From Around the World," is a collection of full-flavor, low-fat recipes.

On eating healthier:

"What you may not know is that prior to my obsession with barbecue, I spent a decade writing about healthy cooking. In the late 1980s, I was diagnosed with an alarmingly high cholesterol level — a hazard, along with my burgeoning waistline, of my years as a food critic for Boston Magazine. I had to change my ways.

"Now you might not think a prolonged journey on the world's barbecue trail demonstrates commitment to healthier eating.

"But the truth is, when I dine at home with my family, we typically eat a low-fat diet based as much as possible on vegetables, grains, beef and seafood with small portions of meat and poultry."

Tips for eating better:

Use intense flavorings — fresh herbs, fragrant spices, intense condiments, chili peppers — instead of fat to make food taste delicious. When you do use a fat, make it a flavorful, healthy f at, such as extra-virgin olive oil or sesame or nut oils.

Eat less meat and use it as a condiment. Pair meats with a high proportion of grains, beans and vegetables, as cooks do in Asia.

Food recommendations:

Black beans; quinoa; olive oil; organic poultry; lean meat, grass-fed when possible (beef tenderloin, pork tenderloin, etc.); avocados; lean ground turkey; black kale; tomatoes; fresh herbs ; wild salmon; tofu (delicious when marinated and grilled); edamame; whole grain breads.

Michelle Bernstein

Bernstein is the James Beard Award-winning chef/owner of Michy's and Sra. Martinez in Miami.

On eating healthier:

"As I've gotten older, I realized that standing on my feet all day, trying to stuff my face with a quick meal and eating very late after service was just making us feel awful. My husband and I started an exercise regimen, forced ourselves to eat something good and healthy first thing in the morning, and enjoy a proper lunch."

Tips for eating better:

"Cook for yourself at least seven meals a week; breakfast, lunch or dinner. That's just one-third of the time. That way, you'll know every little thing you put into your food. Don't let the focus be so much about the protein. Think bright colors."

Food recommendations:

"I love kale; it's delicious. Beets; mustard greens; quinoa (wonder food); farro; brown rice and brown rice pasta; fish, fish and more fish; carrots; cauliflower; squash; broccoli rabe; pumpkin; and green beans.

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