Katrina Brink, founder of The Empowered Kitchen, joins Healthy Women Leaders to share some simple truth on diets, cooking, nutrition, and what eating "healthy" really means.
Q. It seems like there is always a new fad diet - eat this, don't eat that. How much of this do you take seriously? A. It's no secret that everyone has an opinion on nutrition. This adds to the confusion about how to eat healthy. Everyone's body is different, and so all I know is there's no one diet that's perfect for everyone. I teach people how to cook great tasting meals, flavorful meals from scratch, so you know exactly what you're putting in your food. I focus on mostly plant-based foods, with a variety of fats, and smaller amounts of sustainably-sourced animal products for the non-vegetarians.
Q. So if it's different for everyone, how can I tell what I should eat? A. Tuning into how your body feels after a meal will tell you a lot about what you should eat more of. I know I always feel great and powered up for my day if I have a big salad with lots of greens and fewer heavy carbs for lunch. I just feel better, so it's something I make happen as often as possible, still with some carb days thrown in here and there because nobody's perfect! Plus, if you feel you're depriving yourself and not enjoying food and living life, then you'll resent food and have a bad relationship with it. It's about enjoying the deliciousness of simple, healthy foods, as well as those heavier foods, along with chocolate, dessert and all the things you love! A lot of it is about portion size and how fast you eat too. If you simply eat off a smaller plate so you're forced to take a smaller portion, and take time to slow down, enjoy your food and converse with those around you, you'll notice when you feel full and naturally know when to stop eating. Another big factor to consider is to notice if your plate is mostly meat at every meal, with a tiny bit of vegetables or something cooked in a lot of grease? That probably isn't a recipe for a long-term healthy diet.
Q. Does cooking have to be complicated? A. No way! Typically, the fewer ingredients the better. It's simpler to make, and you let the ingredients really shine through so you can taste their essence. Think about a fresh garden tomato sprinkled with olive oil, salt and pepper... divinity.
I really think it's about enjoying your food, enjoying your life, and re-framing healthy food so you see how delicious it really is. When you eat whole, from-the-earth foods, there is a vibrancy/vitality that enters your life through taste and by giving your body the nutrition it needs.
Q. Do you eat "healthy" all the time? A. To me eating healthy is about enjoying your food, eating foods that are homemade (ie: not processed or from a box) and appreciating the hands that made it. I do love me some chocolate mousse, and will even eat it for breakfast if I have some left over from a class...usually doctored up with some blueberries and walnuts. Yum!
Lots of times I'll cook up some leftover veggies and put a fried egg on a tortilla and some sauce or salsa. It's an awesome breakfast, lunch or dinner.
I love healthy foods with lots of vegetables and whole grains. I eat some small amounts of fish and poultry, but I'm not a big red meat eater, as it's never appealed to me. I eat slowly as a natural habit, which I think really helps, so I can savor the food, and that helps me keep portions under control without thinking about it...although I have quite a hearty appetite and love butter! Don't get me started on real French pastries...then it's game over. ;) I just enjoy them with no guilt whatsoever.
Q. What do you believe is the real power behind food + cooking? A. My mission is to bring more love and connection to the world through good food and spending time with loved ones in the kitchen. That means loving ourselves, others, and our food. Great food and fun times in the kitchen can heal all of those relationships if we let it.