NEW YORK (Reuters) - Terry Walters, clean-food chef, educator and author of the new cookbook "Eat Clean Live Well," says her cooking career started as a necessity and became a passion.
The more than 175 recipes in her third book continue in the vegan, gluten-free vein that yielded best sellers “Clean Food” and “Clean Start.”
It all started, Walters said, when she was diagnosed with high cholesterol some 30 years ago.
“I was trying to figure out what is healthy, and then how to make it taste good,” the 48-year old said. “The palate of foods that I was able to work with was made quite small by my own health issues and then with my children, who had a number of food sensitivities.”
A James Beard Foundation Award finalist, Walters, who lives outside Hartford, Connecticut, spoke about her trial-and-error culinary education, her tips to make healthy food delicious, and why she does not subscribe to the vegan label.
Q: What is eating clean?
A: For me it is foods that are minimally processed so we can get maximum nutrition ... For one person, cleaning up their diet might mean getting artificial ingredients out of their processed food; for another it might mean getting rid of processed food altogether. There’s no judgment here. It’s not a trend. It’s a return to understanding of what food is, how it works in the body and how we can make it delicious so we can be healthy and happy.
Q: Why did you write this book?
A: This book was very rewarding for me because things came together differently. “Clean Food” (the first book) was everything I’d learned. The second book was about making it really easy for people to get started. But this book has been kind of a culmination. The recipes use new techniques that I’ve been studying and learning.
Q: Are you trained as a professional chef?
A: I do not have any training, although I’ve taken a few classes, here and there, on bread-making and things like that. I learned through a lot of trial and error, trying to figure out what is healthy, and then how to make it taste good.
Q: Are you a vegan?
A: I’m probably more vegan than most people who call themselves that; however, I eat for balance. I eat some fish, I take fish oil, I do what feels right for me. When I started teaching in 2000 my goal was to teach people how to eat these things I thought of as super nutritional food, and to this day that’s still what I’m doing. People can label it vegan, or vegetarian, or whatever they want. To me these are the foods we all need more of, no matter what else is on your plate.
Q: What’s always in your pantry?
A: Two or three jars of different grains, one or two jars of nuts, maybe almonds, or seeds. Pumpkin seeds are always there. And I always have canned and dried beans, a good olive oil and great sea salt. Onions, garlic and greens are always in the refrigerator.
Q: Do you have any advice for the novice who wants to eat cleaner?
A: When you go to the grocery store, buy something that you’re not used to buying. And if you don’t know where to begin, start with something green.
Avocado, Orange and Daikon Salad with Cumin Lime Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup julienned daikon (winter radish)
1/2 cup peeled and julienned watermelon radish
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced into wedges
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
In small bowl, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients. Cut skin and pith from orange and slice crosswise into thin rounds. Cut pomegranate in half. Hold one piece at a time, skin-side up, over a bowl. Slap the skin with the back of a wooden spoon to easily remove seeds. Add any pomegranate juice from bowl to vinaigrette and whisk to combine.
In large bowl, combine daikon, watermelon radish, red onion and orange rounds. Drizzle with all but 1 tablespoon vinaigrette and toss to coat and evenly distribute ingredients. Arrange on platter or individual plates. Place avocados in small bowl and drizzle with remaining dressing. Arrange on salad, top with pomegranate seeds and pine nuts and serve.
Editing by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Steve Orlofsky