Here’s why we love Spring: It feels like another New Year, where there’s this air of renewal and motivation to make a new promise to yourself to live a healthier life. It’s the perfect time to start eating clean and using fresh ingredients, and doing so in a simple, timely way. And that’s exactly what E! News host Maria Menounos hopes to help you do with her new cookbook The EveryGirl’s Guide to Cooking.
We caught up with Maria to find out how she eats lighter, stays on track (even when her fiancé tempts her with his favorite, indulgent food), and how her upbringing inspired her healthy lifestyle. She also shares the impact her dad’s diabetes had on her diet and how things changed drastically when she went away to college. Her advice about eating well (and the 150 recipes in her book) is revitalizing us this season — and we hope it does the same for you!
1. You learned to cook from watching your mom. How did she influence your palate growing up and what role did her cooking play in your new cookbook?
My mom influenced my eating in every way, as did my Dad’s diabetic diet. Mom’s job was to create dishes that were healthy but still delicious so none of us felt like we were missing out. She was forced to do so on the tightest of schedules while working two jobs herself. On all counts, she succeeded! Her meals were always mouth-watering but prepared in a timely fashion. These are the exact cornerstone principles of my book.
2. You’ve spoken a lot about your dad’s longtime struggle with diabetes, which was the impetus for your mother to cook healthy meals for your family — was there a turning point in your lives that you recall when this happened or did you mostly just grow up surrounded by homemade healthy meals?
My Dad was so strict with his diet which is why he is so healthy today. As soon as he discovered he was type 1, he adapted to exactly what was needed. I had the luxury of growing up with only healthy food. Away at college, I strayed, ate what I wanted and gained 40 pounds. I believe I was able to lose it and keep it off by returning to my Mom’s meals and cooking.
3. Many of our readers struggle with diabetes, so we applaud anyone who can share with the world healthy recipes that will improve lives! Is there a specific recipe in the book that you would recommend to a diabetic?
Many of the recipes in the book are actually diabetic friendly and/or gluten-free! Each recipe has a GF or D icon on the top of the page to indicate if that recipe adheres to those diets! It’s hard to pick just one, but a great breakfast recipe is the Kayiana – Special Greek Omelet on page 7.
4. Speaking of loved ones and food… We also know that it can be struggle for people to eat healthily when their partner does not. In your life, have you ever struggled with this (congratulations on your engagement, by the way!) or do you have any advice for those who are struggling with this?
I struggle with it every day. Keven, my fiancé is obsessed with pizza, for example. Part of me is tempted and part of me worries for him that he is not eating his best. You just learn to pick your battles and know that everyone is on a different path in life.
5. Does your fiancé have a favorite dish that you make?
He loves my sweet potato pie that I make for holidays.
6. Having a big Greek family, I’m sure you know all too well about having a lot of family functions that revolve around food — how do you not fall off track? Is portion control ever hard for you?
I try to watch my portions. And when I have a bad day or weekend, I’ll be sure to eat clean the following week. I also stay very active, walking briskly as much as I can everywhere I go — even at work.
7. With Spring’s arrival, we’ve been thinking about detoxes and eating clean/lighter. How do you lighten things up food-wise as the seasons change?
Always lots of greens and very little dressings (I make my own!). Sushi and fresh fish are also nice. The Simple-Roasted Salmon Fillets and Cherry Tomato Salad is a great dinner recipe — you can even make a double portion and bring the rest to the office the next day.
8. We love that you also include smoothies in your book — such a great way to consume nutritious ingredients! Do you have a favorite?
Do I have to pick just one? I really love the caffeine infused options! This way there’s no choice between your morning smoothie or coffee — you can have both in one cup and take it to go easily! The Banana-Coffee Smoothie on page 41 is really good. If you’re not much for coffee, try the Green Tea & Berry Blast. If you’re feeling a little under the weather, the Immunity-Boosting Cold-Kicking Smoothie on page 219 will give you a good boost!
ENTER OUR GIVEAWAY!
Inspired to eat well? We’re giving away Maria’s The EveryGirl’s Guide to Cooking to one lucky winner. To enter for a chance to win, please comment below and tell us what stands in your way when you’re trying to eat healthily, then LIKE Further Food on Facebook. You must do both to enter. The winner will be notified by email on April 28, 2016. See contest rules.
Photo Credit: Elise Sinagra