Health Advice



How We Eat 2020: Our cooks' tips for healthier eating in the new year

Ben Mims and Genevieve Ko, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Health & Fitness

What "healthy" means to each of us is very different -- and is what we often discuss when developing recipes for, or talking about, eating to feel good.

More often than not the meals we manage are a hodgepodge of random bits of leftovers from recipe testing, foraged edible bric-a-brac from people bringing food into the offices, or completely absent because we're too busy to stop and do what we write about every week: eat.

Recognizing the gulf between the aspiration to eat well and the reality of daily life, we're sharing a few of the course corrections we're hoping to effect for ourselves in 2020. Eating better means feeling better, we all know that, so here are our prescriptions to ourselves for the new year:

Ben's tips:

Get over the stigma of frozen vegetables

I get it: We live in Southern California and the produce is unmatched. I go to the farmers market every weekend. But there still manages to be a couple of days I haven't planned for when I'm desperate for something green and the cupboard is barren (or wilted). That's where frozen vegetables come in. Not those depressing kaleidoscopic "medleys." I mean a bag of broccoli, green beans or peas (Jacques Pepin cosigns!) that I can steam, saute or roast instead of reaching for a takeout menu. With a bowl of warm rice, they're a meal.


Aim for a "healthy" breakfast at least three days a week

Knowing I should eat better and actually doing it are two separate things. I try to outsmart myself and eat a healthy-for-me breakfast at least three days a week -- a small bowl of cashew yogurt with granola and a big dollop of jam; wilted spinach scrambled with an egg; good whole-grain toast with a banana and almond butter. Ideally, starting my morning this way will influence the rest of my day's meals, but I know at least I got my nutrition in first thing and if I eat not so well the rest of the day, I won't beat myself up over it.

There's no shame in shakes

I often find myself too busy for lunch, whether I'm deep in the zone writing or have just finished a morning of driving all over L.A. for groceries and I want to start cooking and not make extra dishes. In those situations I go for a shake -- even, yes, easy-to-hate-on Soylent or green shakes from Moon Juice. Shakes are also my secret for staying sated when I have an early flight, photo shoot or TV appearance that throws a wrench in my usual morning routine.


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