My cooking was at it’s healthiest (and my weight at it’s lowest, ironically) when I lived in Hoboken, NJ and attended the Institute For Integrative Nutrition. But looking back I’m realizing that I had 2 friends that were into healthy cooking at the time as well. Anja, my Danish friend, only used fresh, organic ingredients, cooked from scratch and was pretty much appalled by the convenience foods of the American diet. Michelle was less appalled by Americans (she’s Canadian for God’s sake). She just happened to be a fitness, cooking, and health food junkie. She worked out. She cooked tofu. She had a strange obsession with hot peppers. She put zucchini in her chocolate cake recipe. But most importantly, she was the first health nut I had ever met that didn’t necessarily hug trees while wearing a lot of clothes made of hemp.
Fast forward 10 years and I’m feeling strangely drawn to healthy cooking again. After returning to work and allowing my wifely and motherly cooking duties to seriously slide, I’m pulling out old recipes, making longer grocery lists and revisiting my healthier ways. Hmm…I can’t help but wonder if it’s because I’ve recently reconnected with Michelle who’s now living in Australia. Besides emailing one another, I’ve been reading her cooking blog and it’s as if we’re hanging out again – she just happens to be living on the other side of the planet instead of in the apartment building next door.
So was it the school or Michelle that got my ass in shape back then? Who knows? What I do know is that she’s wonderfully adept at updating recipes and making them as healthy as possible. Since healthy eating will be on everyone’s mind in about 10 days, check out her blog for lots of great recipe ideas and wonderful food photos. But before before heading over to her corner of the blogosphere, I thought you all might like to get to know my friend Michelle a little better.
LBP: When did you start your blog?
MP: I started my blog a little over a year ago after my husband finally convinced me that this would be a fun way to make my own personalized cookbook. I was worried about starting one because I am in no way a writer but over the year I’ve really come to enjoy just focusing on food and adding a bit of quirky family stories every once in a while.
Are the recipes from other cookbooks or ones you’ve adapted yourself?
To be honest, I was once a huge cookbook collector and would read them like one would a novel but since we began to travel more and more I donated most of them and my favorites are now sitting in a storage warehouse in Quebec. I try to create my own recipes but many are certainly adapted from memories of cooking shows and books that I’ve read. I will often just “healthify” every day recipes but if I use an original I do always give credit where credit is due. It’s also fun to give a shout out to other bloggers when you try out their ideas. It’s a respect thing.
Do you have a favorite cookbook you return to often?
I love Janet and Greta Podleski. Eat Shrink and Be Merry along with Crazy Plates are probably my favorite cookbooks. They’re fun to read and the recipes are simple every day meals made a little healthier which is basically what I try to do. I don’t like to make dishes that are too complicated. Instead I try to encourage people to stay away from foods you didn’t make yourself. Frozen, prepared meals, take out and restaurant food are the biggest problems today as far as I’m concerned.
Do you really lay in bed thinking about food / cooking?
You have no idea! Just the other night I had to finally get up and watch television so that I could stop dreaming about dates. I was doing a blog on a new date butter recipe and it was all I could think about. I try to get a blog out at least 6 days a week so I am constantly thinking about new food ideas. Thank God thinking about food is calorie free or I’d be in trouble!
Would you rather cook or bake?
Bake hands down. I get a weird pleasure out of watching a cake rise, especially one that is full of healthier substitutions. Baking bread to me is like an art and I am still surprised each time it works! I have two teenage girls. Baking is therapeutic 🙂
Would you rather cook or work out?
That’s an easy one! I cook because I love it. I work out because I have to. Like probably 90% of people, I don’t really enjoy spending an hour in a stinky gym with grunting monkeys trying to suck in my stomach but I do enjoy the mood enhancing effects exercising has on me. Leaving the gym and feeling fit is a definite high.
Since you’re into fitness…
To lose weight do you think it’s a 50/50 split between food and nutrition? Or is the stuff you eat more important than the calories you burn?
Food is 80-90% for the average person. I have seen and trained women who bust their butts in the gym every day (far more than me) and never lose a pound or change their body shape. The simple reason is that they consume more calories than they work off and often those calories come from low nutrient dense foods as well as alcohol. People will often maintain their weight and fitness levels for years and train like an athlete simply because they refuse to change their diets. I think that’s a huge waste of time in a gym. I would rather eat a healthy diet and exercise as little as possible.
I ask because I know a lot of people that lose weight without exercising, just by dramatically changing their diet. But I’ve yet to meet a WOMAN that loses weight from dramatically changing her exercise. Men on the other hand seem to be able to do either and lose weight.
Yes, sadly it is true that men can drop their doughnut a day habit and lose 10 lbs in the first week while we lucky ladies hold on to our muffin tops for dear life! But here’s the thing, although it is clearly easier for men to drop weight quicker, it is just as hard for them to maintain that loss if they don’t eventually change their diets and add exercise. As we get older the combination of the two become more and more important since our calorie needs get lower and lower. I see women lower their calories each year to maintain their weight until they are consuming 900-1200 calories a day. These low numbers mean that they are missing out on important nutrients in their diets, bone saving exercise and the simple pleasure of eating. Food and exercise go hand in hand for both men and women even if one plays a bigger role.
Tell me about the nutrition counseling you offer.
I offer 1:1 daily monitoring through an online food journal. I watch what you eat each day because you record everything on this website. In doing that you are able to see exactly what you consume and I then recommend changes and let you know where you should actually be with the macro numbers (fat, carbs, protein, etc.) I also send nutrition information for you to read regularly and use my blog to direct you to recipes
This is something that only works for people really willing to take the time to search a data base and log every single thing they eat and drink every day for at least the month. It’s a bit time consuming at the beginning but I know for a fact that seeing and being honest with a food journal is very eye opening for people. I have a client right now down 85lbs in 6 months. He’s under 300lbs for the first time since he was in his 20s and he is now 51. I sound like an infomercial 😦 I just really believe in the journaling process.
Thanks Michelle! I’ve eaten Michelle’s food and made many of her recipes – they are always tasty and easy to make. If you want to overhaul your diet or would like to work with Michelle, check out her blog, See Michelle Cook. Happy Eating!