Health, it’s no mystery. Just like every other aspect of our lives these days, the wellness space has become crowded with too much content and information. We, in partnership with Tropicana, decided to bring it back to the basics.
Remember when coffee was just coffee? In other words, don’t you miss the days when there wasn’t a certain pressure to make our favorite food mainstays complicated or precious? We mulled it over with a few tastemakers, who gave us recipes they’ve been making from the start, through all the thick and thin health “trends.” Turns out, the secret to making wholesome, healthy food may just lie in the mainstays we’ve been making from the beginning. Between testing recipes for her show The Chew and being a judge on Cooks vs Cons, Daphne Oz wants to make fresh healthy dishes at home, like the banana nut oatmeal recipe she generously shared with us from back in her college days. This will have you seeing your breakfast go-to’s in a whole new light.
What food/dish did you make today? Why is it your classic go-to?
I am making banana nut oatmeal! Oatmeal is such a classic healthy start at the breakfast table, and I’ve been putting this indulgent twist on it since college. It is hearty and warming, naturally sweet from the bananas, and so easy to make. Your body sort of hibernates overnight, so energizing and waking it up with a combination of complex carbohydrates from the oats and bananas, protein and fat in the nuts, and plenty of fiber is a great way to set the rest of your day up for eating success. I also love that it is pretty healthy but feels naughty.
From start to finish, what is your ideal food day?
Today, I am going to say I start with a huge mug of warm water with lemon. Then, I would love scrambled eggs with spicy salsa and avocado for breakfast. (I would ideally mop this up with a huge hunk of crusty, chewy bread…or crispy tortilla chips…but I’m trying to be good.) I’d have coffee with cream or Brain Dust by Moon Juice in hot water with a splash of coconut milk for when I’m off caffeine. I’d sip on a midmorning all-greens juice if I have it around. Then arugula salad with chickpeas and Parmesan, olive oil and lemon dressing for lunch. For a snack, I’d have some plain, whole milk yogurt and an apple, a small handful of walnuts or almonds, or an easy protein shake if I’m getting a workout in later. Dinner would be roasted chicken and butternut squash/carrots/beets (roast the chicken over the veggies so they get coated in those tasty juices!), frisee salad with shallot vinaigrette, and a fruity red wine. Dessert would be mint tea, and I’d be dying for some chocolate right about now…
What are your diet mainstays?
I try not to have red meat more than once a week (except on show days!). We supplement with chicken and fish, but I keep those portions small and fill our plates with tons of veggies, some legumes, and occasional grains. We eat a lot of salads and a lot of yogurt. We love apples, citrus and berries. We drink wine and a lot of tea. We love popcorn, nuts and turkey jerky, and I make a lot of kale chips with olive oil, salt and nutritional yeast with the kids – they can’t get enough of them! There is always chocolate in our house, preferably dark and salted. On the weekends, we go carb wild – croissants/baguettes, pancakes, bagels or donuts in the mornings, barbecue or spaghetti with meatballs for dinner, cookies or cake for dessert!
What are your beauty mainstays?
I finally got lash extensions two months ago, and now I am obsessed. They are a mom’s best friend because you barely have to wear makeup when you have them. But I don’t know how they are in terms of safety long term, so I am trying not to make them a habit. My makeup essentials are lots of mascara (Wander Beauty’s formula is insane!), clear skin (you need Zelens Youth Glow formula), and rosy lips. I’m loving the pinky-nude combo of NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Stockholm with Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillowtalk for day, and a darker rose shade like Tarte Lippie Lingerie Matte Lip Tint in Envy for night.
What were you favorite foods as a child? What are they now?
New Jersey bagels with cream cheese, an ugly heirloom Jersey tomato and thinly sliced Vidalia onion! It is still my favorite. Also pizza, which is still my favorite, too.
What’s a beauty secret that hasn’t changed since your teenage years?
I’ve used cold eye cream since I was a teenager. I read this helps with puffiness and avoiding wrinkles in some magazine when I was 13, and I am sticking with it.
What item of clothing will you never throw away?
I’ll never get rid of this ratty Ramones t-shirt I’ve had for years (it is full of holes, but I think that makes it even better) or the green leather bomber coat my dad bought on a trip in the 1980s. It is stellar.
Do you have a uniform for getting dressed? What is it?
Everyone who knows me knows I would ideally live in sweatpants, but when I actually get dressed, it is usually in high-rise jeans (The Great and J Brand make great ones) and a soft tee or cozy sweater for casual days with the family. I like a flirty blouse or amazing structured blazer and lace top plus cigarette pants for meetings and a short dress for date night.
How important is diet and exercise to you?
I’ve never been a gym rat, but I am loving my time at Tracy Anderson these days. You can see the results dance cardio and muscular sculpting gets in targeting places like love handles, tummy, thighs and butt – and arms! I know how much better I feel when I am eating well and exercising regularly, so it is just a matter of making it a priority in my day when it can be so easy to shunt it to last place on my to-do list. I eat for a living, so making sure my time off set is filled with delicious, healthy food and fitness is the only way I can still fit into my clothes.
Do you follow any diets or health regimens? What are they?
I did no sugar and no grains 6 days a week for the month of January, and I felt incredible. It was great to use a few simple but strict rules to break down my food addictions and eating crutches. Interestingly, my meals didn’t change that much, but I stopped snacking which made a huge difference.
Is simple food better than extravagantly prepared food? Why?
I am a big fan of simple food made celebratory. I think this is the way most of us want to eat everyday. We want our food to be an experience, a memory, and that has nothing to do with how long it takes to prepare. It has almost everything to do with a few simple flavor-boosters or twists on technique that yield big results (I share a lot of my favorites in my latest cookbook, The Happy Cook) that make cooking at home something that is fun and easy to do regularly. The more regularly you cook – as with anything – the more confident in it you will be become. The more confident you are, the more you realize that you don’t need much to show off. Simple food prepared beautifully is gold.
Which ingredients are overrated? Which ingredients make every dish better?
Too much spice is overrated. The level of spice should not obliterate the other flavors of food. I love just the right amount of heat, and I collect hot sauces, but I think there is a trend now towards being so spicy it doesn’t really matter what else is on the plate. On the other hand, fat and salt will always make a dish better. A perfect drizzle of olive oil and salt and herbs can take bland protein and send it over the top.
What’s a food trend that you just don’t get?
I don’t understand the appeal of caffeinated jerky or protein bars or anything else that is not something you’d drink.
If you could only eat one cuisine for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Turkish or Mexican. Both are fresh and indulgent at the same time. But I only want French and American desserts. Or perfect gelato on a cone in Rome!
If you could host a dinner party, with any five guests, living or dead, who would be there and what would you cook?
I’m going for comedy greats: Jimmy Kimmel, Whoopi Goldberg, Kristen Wiig, Eddie Murphy, and Bob Hope. I feel like we should do In-N-Out burgers, milkshakes and champagne for this crowd, no?
*Sponsored by Tropicana
Photographed by Danielle Kosann