People often ask me about how I stay thin (especially since having three babies in three years!) and also how we manage to cook with our busy schedules. So I thought I’d share my basic guiding principles behind the recipes shared in Deb’s Kitchen.
- Embrace the quickie. Food is like sex, and a great sex life usually includes a combo of gourmet sex and quickie sex. You know what I mean The same goes for a balanced diet. Who has time to prepare a gourmet meal every night!? Not me. So here you’ll find more “quickie” recipes that are simple, satisfying, and delicious.
- Dinner is a “freebie.” At one time, I was into eating “clean”– plain grilled chicken and steamed veggies for dinner, that kind of thing. Well, that kinda went out the window after getting married and definitely after getting pregnant. Why? Because most husbands (and pregnant ladies) don’t like to eat that kind of food. It’s just not very fun and exciting. But, I do like to manage my weight. For me, that means I’m pretty habitual about what I eat for breakfast and lunch (oatmeal, cereal, toast with almond butter; salads; tomato and mozzarella, or turkey sandwiches, respectively). Dinner is when I get more creative and indulgent, and try not to think about calorie count (within portion-controlled reason).
- Eat real food. I don’t drink “diet” beverages, and I don’t really eat packaged low-calorie or fat-free foods. I have no scientific data about this– although I think there is some out there somewhere–but it’s my feeling that eating diet foods only makes you crave the real stuff even more. When I want ice cream or bread pudding or a sugary beverage, I have the real thing, and I usually avoid low-cal substitutions in recipes.
- Add some “fresh” whenever possible. In a perfect world, I would have said “have a vegetable at every dinner,” but that’s not entirely true! I try, but some days it’s just too much to cut up that broccoli and put it in the
microwavesteamer. Like 80% of the time, I do prepare a green salad or some type of veggie with lunch and dinner. But even on days I don’t, I try to add a splash of fresh. Maybe it’s, say, throwing 1/4 cup of fresh chopped basil into a store-bought vodka sauce. It’s not much, but I think it makes the sauce so much more delightful and maybe a tad bit healthier.
- Color makes things better. This is a corollary to the previous rule, and one I’m borrowing from my wise younger sister Lauren. Color in a meal usually means veggies or fruits, so whenever you have an opportunity to liven up the plate with more and different color options, it’s a good bet your meal will be healthier and more fun.
- Frozen meals in moderation. As you see in the show, I’m really a fan of certain frozen meals– all the better if they’re organic or low-sodium. Here are some of the advantages: they’re fast, they’re portion- and therefore calorie-controlled, and you can experience a lot more variety in terms of flavors and recipes. For example, I love Amy’s Paneer Tikka especially because it is highly unlikely I am cooking that on a weekday!
- Experiment whenever possible. I love to cook. I find it relaxing. I’ve been known to fly home from an overnight trip to New York, and head straight to the kitchen and whip up a baked ziti from scratch at 9 p.m. (did I mention I was pregnant at the time?!). That said, on the average weeknight, it can be too much pressure to try and fumble with a complicated new recipe– not to mention there’s rarely time for this. Ordinarily I don’t reinvent the wheel during the week, but work from a repertoire of tried and true “staples.” But on days we have more time or on the weekends, I’ll often take an inventory of what we have in the fridge and google up a new recipe. Use what you have!
- Two seatings for dinner. My three kids are still pretty little (2 and a half; 17 months; newborn), so the way we roll for now is that we feed them first and put them to bed, and then Kevin and I have a relaxed meal after all that is done, about 8 or 9 p.m. We even try to get all the next day’s “chores” done first– making lunches and bottles, emptying the dishwasher, etc.– so that when we finally sit down together it’s really the most relaxing time of the day. I imagine this will change as the kids get older, but for now it works well for us.
- A glass of wine with dinner. Enough said!