Healthy eating encompasses both an element of health and wellbeing, of course, but also an element of pleasure. When you’re eating healthy, you are able to enjoy foods that are keeping your body thriving, giving you energy, fueling all the things you want to do in your life. But I think pleasure is also very important! So it is food that not only tastes good, it also helps you thrive in your life for today and the long term. That’s what healthy eating means to me. And by “healthy eating”, I don’t mean any particular diet per se. Instead of looking at food as “you can only have this” or “you should only eat that”, or to think food in the extremes, to me “healthy eating” is balanced and flexible. I look at food as “usually” – “sometimes” – “rarely”. In my opinion, there is no such thing as “never” and you don’t have to get all stressed out and worked up about every little detail. The most important thing is to make the most nutrient dense food the backbone of what you are eating. If you do that there is room to explore the different kinds of food, as long as the core is the most nutritious, which also happens to be among the most delicious.
How do you consider yogurt as nutritionist?
When I talk about “usually” food – that is food both delicious and nutrient rich… – I would say yogurt is right there! It is really one of the core, key food to me not only for nutrition but also for culinary reasons. I am always looking at heath and taste. So from the health standpoint, yogurt is wonderful: it is rich in protein, naturally rich in nutrients, with calcium as well as many other nutrients, probiotics… so it definitely relates to the definition of “usually” food, which represents the foundation of healthy eating. From a culinary point of view, it is wonderful how it works in recipes to create and carry flavor, to give recipes the creaminess that you really desire. And on top of that, it can help you substitute less healthy, creamy ingredients. So I include yogurt a lot in different recipes, and also use it as a snack or for breakfast.
Our readers can find your recipe “grilled tandoori chicken breast with yogurt” on our website. Can you tell us whether yogurt plays a specific role?
This recipe is based on a traditional idea in Indian cooking of marinating meat or poultry in yogurt. Yogurt really makes a wonderful marinade and this recipe provides a great example. The light acidity of the yogurt tenderizes the meat and also carries the flavor of the spices. And then when you cook it, the yogurt actually covers the chicken breast and protects it from getting overcooked on the grill. This way yogurt helps to keep the moist. Naturally, yogurt also adds lots of nutrients to the dish.