Lisa Oz

If we were to go through with our master plan to crash a Christmas, we would need to ask ourselves whose Christmas we would ideally crash. It’s a tough question, as all of our potato heads are people we’d want to spend Christmas with. But when we’re honest with ourselves, we’d probably pick the Oz’s…because there are – literally – so many professional cooks in the kitchen. Daphne and her Mom Lisa Oz are our permanent girl crushes, and we could get life advice on the side from Dr. Oz.

Lisa recently came out with a new book – The Oz Family Kitchen – celebrating over 100 recipes she makes for her family (so at least if we’re not invited to the Oz Christmas we can recreate it at home). We thought there was no better time than the holiday season to chat with Oz on the new book, family recipes and what her ideal food day would be…

From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day? 

Gosh, that question is harder than it looks. I’m a bit quixotic when it comes to meals, and my preferences swing wildly depending on the season. So let’s just say for today my ideal food choices would be the following: A protein smoothie to start the day (I’m never that hungry before noon.) Lunch would be a bowl of red lentil soup (because it’s cold outside and soup is so cozy) and a big salad, either with arugula or kale and some pomegranate seeds. For dinner, I’d choose a pasta with a spicy Arrabiata sauce accompanied by a glass of wine. I don’t care so much about dessert, but I could be convinced to have a bite of someone else’s molten chocolate cake…if they insisted.

What’s the concept behind your new cookbook – The Oz Family Kitchen

The idea was to show people that healthful eating doesn’t have to be puritanical or joyless. It can be full of flavor and easy to make with a few indulgences thrown in for special occasions. This is the food that we eat on a daily basis – which is mostly plant-based, but customizable for families with different dietary needs.

What are foods your kids loved and hated growing up? How did you get them to eat the ones they didn’t like?

Our kids had pretty sophisticated palates. They loved different ethnic foods and were excited about trying new things even when they were quite small. But I didn’t stop serving something if they didn’t like it on the first try. Kids need to be exposed to a new food several times before they’ll acquire a taste for it.

Advice to new Moms looking to cook something both healthy and tasty for their kids…

Get the kids involved in making the meals. They will be much more likely to try things that they’ve had a hand in creating.

Any quick go-to weekday recipes in three steps? What are they?

Seeded squash – you can use any type – acorn, butternut, or even a sweet potato. Cut it in pieces, then drizzle with warm coconut oil and a bit of maple syrup and sprinkle with your favorite mix of spices and herbs. (I love cumin and nigella seeds, garlic salt, red pepper and oregano.) Pop in the oven for about forty minutes. Couldn’t be easier.

Penne with tomato and basil – Boil water, and throw in the pasta. Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil. When they’re soft, add chopped fresh tomato and cook about ten minutes longer. Finish by adding salt, pepper and basil. Super simple – super delicious.

Marinated salmon – Combine olive oil, lemon juice, honey, tamari, garlic and scallions. Pour over salmon and let sit for about 15 minutes. Pop in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. Total crowd pleaser with no fuss.

Easy tricks to get the family around the dinner table every night…

It’s not a trick, just an expectation. Everyone knows that we eat together when we’re home. Separate meals have never been an option.

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What’s are some easy go-to family breakfasts in a few steps? 

Oatmeal add-ins (mango and coconut milk or maple syrup and walnuts). Egg sandwiches: We sauté different vegetables – everything from mushrooms and onions to spinach with garlic or red peppers, then layer them with a fried egg on an English muffin.

What are five great gift ideas for foodies?

Ninja (Can do everything – literally), The Spice Lab Gourmet Sea Salt Sampler (say that five times fast…), Cuisinart Multicooker (for one-pot meals), Philip Stein Travel Wine Wand (makes any wine taste better), and Bialetti Stovetop Espresso Maker (for coffee that tastes like Europe).

What are five red wines you like to bring to a dinner party or put out when throwing one? 

Anything Italian makes me happy (It’s in my blood). I also adore big, velvety, California varieties – and I’ll never turn away a great Australian Shiraz. If you’re asking for specific bottles I’d go for the following: Martinelli Jackass Vineyard Zinfandel, Querciabella Chianti Classico, Brancaia Ilatraia, Orin Swift The Prisoner, and Two Hands Bella’s Garden Barossa Valley Shiraz.

Your favorite holiday travel destinations… 

London – between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The whole city seems to be celebrating!

If you could host a dinner party with any five people living or dead, who would be there? What would you cook?

I’d rather eat with my family than anyone else – and truly five isn’t nearly enough for a great dinner party (I’m used to cooking for lots of people). But I would love it if I could have my four grandparents, who have all passed, join us for dinner. I’d make an Italian feast – with hot and cold antipasti, stuffed artichokes, a big lasagna and maybe a grilled fish (for my English grandmother). We’d have espresso and tiramisu if we had any room left for desert.

Remember when we chatted with Lisa and her daughter Daphne on Mother’s Day? Also read our full interview with Daphne Oz

*Lisa Oz, photographed at Eataly in New York, NY by Danielle Kosann. Lisa wears a Theory top, J Brand jeans and Aquatalia boots