A New York Times bestselling author and Emmy winning cohost of ABC’s “The Chew“, Daphne Oz sure has a long list of major accomplishments under her belt! You’d think that having Dr. Oz as a father would have something to do with her path of healthy eating, but this is something she developed on her own, after struggling with her weight in college. Read below to find out more about how and why she wrote her bestselling books, career tips, and her new cookbook, The Happy Cook: 125 Recipes For Eating Every Day Like It’s The Weekend.
Daphne has a treat for you at the bottom of this feature! She shares two recipes straight out of her new cookbook and they are so delicious!
Growing up with Dr. Oz as your dad, one would think that leading a healthy lifestyle and eating well must’ve come natural to you, right?!
You know it’s funny, a lot of people assume that since Dr. Oz was sitting at my dinner table that I always was eating healthy. I grew up eating healthy stuff but I was overeating it. I was actually 40 lbs. overweight. As the oldest child, I grew up in the kitchen with my mom, always cooking, making family dinners, and we would hang out and since it was how we were bonding I think I just got wrapped up in that emotion, which led me to not think so much about what and how much I was eating but just the good feeling I got from it.
I only lost the 40 lbs. when I went to college. I put myself back in power position and stopped letting food have this insane hold over me. I tried all these fad diets, which all have a deprivation aspect and are not ultimately healthy, so in college I worked to create a healthy lifestyle program. College is incredibly unique and the first time you are on your own and have the freedom to make those choices for yourself. I didn’t want to miss the keggers and the pizza parties, or the traditional college experiences and I didn’t have to because I found ways to moderate and practice portion control. I identified 5 danger zones for anyone working on a tight schedule with a limited budget, time, and space and I got my health back in a happy and healthy way. The rest is history with what I try to do with our viewers and my future cookbooks, really just trying to create this balance.
I put myself back in power position and stopped letting food have this insane hold over me.
Wow, that’s so inspirational! Did that make you want to head in the healthy eating/lifestyle direction for your career?
In America, we tend to view health as being black and white, but for me it’s not like that. It’s about making choices and allowing myself to indulge just enough. That’s what I see my career being about — trying to live my life to the fullest and have fun along the way, seeking out a happy and healthy balance and then sharing the things that work for me in my books and on TV so that people following along can share in that success.
One of the best places to start if you want to begin doing little things in your life a little bit better to yield big results is with food – the progress is obvious and the rewards are immediate, which is exactly what you need to see when you’re trying to make a positive change in your life. The recipes I share are meant to make you look and feel good in the kitchen. They tend to be simple but still exciting and a bit new and different. The simple additions of fresh herbs, citrus and garlic that jet-boost your meals overall. No one has time to do these long elaborate meals anymore and especially if you’re from New York, you have a tendency to order in or get something ready-made. I want to give people a reason to want to cook beyond just how much they and their families will benefit from food that’s probably better for you and better tasting. I also want it to be something that makes you feel good, that boosts your confidence to go out in the world and make it your own. If you can turn your kitchen into your kingdom, it becomes a place to continually renew, relax, replenish. I want you to have freedom in your kitchen and the confidence to know what to do with it. Every new recipe allows you to play, which is something we desperately need more of as adults. For me, it’s less about being a domestic goddess and all about being a domestic goddish – that ish gives you license to make a delicious mess, to start somewhere and get better and not need to reach perfect right away. It’s a lot more freeing and fun.
Goddish! You should license that term! We’ve been dying for new book to come out. Can you tell us all about it?
The new book is called, Happy Cook: 125 Recipes for Eating Every Day Like it’s the Weekend and it came out September 20th. It’s a collection of my favorite recipes and it’s exactly what is says: why wait for the weekend to make things that are exciting and fun? The recipes are quick, simple, and run the range of things you need from breakfast when you’re running out the door to dinner at night with the family. It includes a lot of things I cook that my 2.5 year old will eat and then tells you how I jazz it up with flavors and spices for my husband and I to eat the same meal. Part practical and part delicious recipes; that’s sort of how I live. It’s about finding that happy and healthy balance with some of my favorites!
Can you give us a quick run down of your others books as well?
Of course! So, Dorm Room Diet: The 10-Step Program for Creating a Healthy Lifestyle Plan That Really Works – this was book number one and is all about establishing a healthy lifestyle that is not about deprivation, but is about maximizing the times you have to enjoy yourself and figure out ways to do so. I call it — indulging intelligently. For example, I wouldn’t eat the stale store-bought brownie sitting on my roommate’s desk but, instead indulge in a sick, homemade dessert.
And then, Relish: An Adventure in Food, Style, and Everyday Fun was my second book and that came out in 2013. It’s a lifestyle guide with 80 of my favorite recipes. This idea was born out of a couple conversations over wine with some of my best friends. We were in that placeholder place in life; waiting for the right partner, home, and job. The response was very positive, and people latched onto the idea that it’s not about perfection, but about the areas that you can do little things a little bit better that will make a big difference to yield big results in your life. I shared a lot of my personal experiences.
I can’t wait to read the recipes for your little one that you turn into dinner for you and your husband, that’s great! Can you tell me about the process of writing the cookbook and what goes into creating a successful cookbook today?
As it turns out, a lot of people don’t actually know what a “done” chicken is supposed to look like – juices running clear at the bone, I could tell you to get an internal temperature of 165, but it’s probably more helpful and practical to give you something to look for or smell or taste. With roast chicken, you want the juices at the bone when you slice into the bird to run clear, and the skin to be opaque – not rubbery or translucent. That’s knowledge you’ll never forget, and once you learn how to check for it, you’ll rely on it for every chicken you ever roast. I work to make my recipes foolproof, because I want people to start to trust themselves. That’s when you really start to have fun in the kitchen. I would rather you learn a technique or a process rather than memorize a recipe. I feel like that’s really valuable information, and that drives a successful cookbook as much as beautiful pictures and tantalizing flavor combinations that excited book buyers. Another thing that is important to successful cookbooks these days is that people are curious to know the genesis of a recipe; who you make it for and where it came from, because it explains how it factors into your life and how it might start to factor into theirs. In The Happy Cook, I’ve shared a ton of personal anecdotes – some weird, some funny, some that just take me back to the first time I had the incredible meal I’m trying to recreate on the page.
I know you’ve been on TV for practically forever, but do you ever get nervous? Do you have some tricks or tips that are your go-to to help you calm yourself down?
Lucky for me, our show The Chew is going into its sixth season. We’ve made nearly 1200 hours of TV! Anyone who works on the show will tell you that we treat each other like a family with love and respect, and it’s a total privilege to go out there and be comfortable and not be nervous for filming. There are moments every week where we totally forget the cameras are on. We always joke that the best show would be if they would let us air what happens when the 5 of us are just bantering and joking around and learning from one another. That said, I’m a lot more tired now than I used to be – two little kids under 3 means I leave one job and go home to my real one haha. It’s long days but a little slice of heaven, too.
In terms of tips, one of the things I first learned when I got into doing TV is that you are only ever speaking to one person who is sitting at home watching you. It’s a really powerful thing for people to hear, because it’s relevant anytime you are doing anything that requires performing or public speaking; you are only ever connecting with one person. Imagine the way you would share with a friend. Giving yourself that specificity and authenticity allows everyone to benefit from whatever it is that you are communicating.
An Emmy, a New York Times bestselling author?! That’s quite a list! What else do you have up your sleeve?
Well I have the book, so I’ve really been plowing all my free time into that and working more with the social media aspect. I’m also thinking about revamping my blog and posting more on there.
Honestly, part of what I’m looking forward to is spending more time with my kids. It’s so easy to say yes to fun and cool work opportunities, but I’m desperate to spend more time with them. I hate that when we’re taping, I’m out the door before 6 am, before either of them are awake and those are the times where they have so much energy and just want to chat and cuddle. I want to figure out how I can better balance that juggling act.
Getting into shape post-baby can be SO hard! What has been your plan been like to get fit and stay healthy after having the baby?
It’s been almost a year since I had John, and I am definitely not thrilled with my progress with getting back my pre-baby body. I have to keep reminding myself that I haven’t been making it a priority so I shouldn’t get discouraged – I think I kept hoping I could will the extra tummy and thighs away. But I’ve had a lot going on – as we all do – and the weight is even slower to come off this time around. I like that today we can be more open and honest about how much hard work and dedication it takes to get back to feeling like yourself after you’ve had a baby. Of course diligent healthy eating and great workouts are key. But I also feel like we have to take it easy on ourselves emotionally and physically because our bodies and minds are still recovering. My main priority was to have maximum time with my family and also get back to work quickly. We have summer break from The Chew, so I could be more in control of what I ate in a day – it’s a hazard of my job that I’m constantly surrounded by delicious food! I loved starting most mornings with a 4 mile run or yoga, and coming home to a balanced smoothie (yogurt, a little bit of fruit and spinach or avocado, and a bunch of vitamin and supplement powders) or eggs on toast. For lunch, I love a big salad or sandwich. I often will do a frisee salad with shallot vinaigrette and boiled eggs or chicken. Then for dinner I try to do something light with mostly vegetables and lean protein, and try not to eat after 7 PM. Since I do have a sweet tooth, most nights I do some Halo Top ice cream, a popsicle or a little dark chocolate. I find the best thing if I want to lose weight is to cut out white bread and white sugar – that’s what I did before my wedding, and it worked wonders. But it is harder when you’re making meals for lots of mouths and your schedule isn’t entirely your own. One thing I would encourage all mamas to do – and have to remind myself to do – is to take a couple hours a week for you. Your happiness and feeling taken care of has to be a priority so you can take care of all the other people in your life, too. Maybe now that our son is nearly a year old, I can finally move getting back in shape up the priority chain to, like, number 3 haha…
Photos by Belathee Photography
1. Rigatoni with Green Monster Pesto and Kale Chips
Makes 4 Servings
I call pretty much anything I whir in the blender into a green sauce of some kind, “Green Monster.” I give Philo a green monster breakfast smoothie in the mornings, which is just banana, avocado, yogurt, a huge handful of frozen spinach, and water to blend. She loves it—and the name might have something to do with that. I also make a Green Monster dressing that’s basically tons of fresh herbs, a little jalapeño, peanuts, olive oil, honey, and tons of lime juice that we eat with everything from crudités to samosas. So when I made up this extra-healthy, greens-packed pesto, it was only natural to call it green monster pesto.
This is one dish I can rely on to be ready in the time it takes to throw a bunch of stuff into a blender and boil water for pasta, especially if you skip the kale chips step (but don’t, because they add a desirably crispy garnish to this dish, and are an excellent snack for the cook!). I tend to keep a bunch of sautéed greens on hand in the fridge to toss together with a healthy grain, a dollop of yogurt, and a drizzle of olive oil for fast lunches, and this blend often uses up any leftovers. The cooked garlic mutes the aggressive taste some raw garlic pestos can have, and the nuts, oil, and cheese blend to creamy perfection, enveloping the greens and making them delicious for palates of all ages. Green monster magic!
2 bunches Tuscan (lacinato) kale, washed, dried, and ribs removed
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound rigatoni
2 medium garlic cloves, sliced
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino-Romano cheese, plus extra for serving
Freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup walnuts or pine nuts
Adjust one oven rack to the upper-middle position and the other to the lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F.
Roughly tear half of the kale into bite-size pieces and add them to a large bowl. Toss with 11/2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. On 2 baking sheets, arrange the pieces of kale in a single layer, with the leaves overlapping as little as possible, so they don’t steam. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes, until the leaves are crisp, switching the pans from top to bottom and vice versa after 5 minutes and shaking the pans to loosen and redistribute the leaves. Set the kale aside to cool on the baking sheets.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the rigatoni and cook it 1 minute less than the package instructs. Reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water, drain the pasta.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 11/2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the remaining kale and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and toss to distribute. Cook until the garlic is fragrant and the greens are wilted, another 1 to 3 minutes. (This process works perfectly with spinach, chard, escarole, or any other green you’d like to use up.)
In a food processor, combine the basil, Romano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste and process until well combined. Add the sautéed kale and the walnuts and pulse while drizzling in the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil until the texture is smooth. Add a spoon or two of pasta water to loosen the mixture if needed.
Toss the pasta with the kale pesto. Serve sprinkled with kale chips and more Romano.
2. Millet “Burrito” Bowl
Makes 8 Servings
When I was pregnant with my son, John Jr., all I wanted in life was Mexican food. Every. Single. Day. It may be true what they say about boy-driven cravings—it’s all about the frat food.
This was a dish I came up with to satisfy some of those cravings in a mindful way, rather than constantly caving to my ultimate weakness: chips and salsa (which I would happily have eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner). The millet is hearty and filling, and the beans provide a good amount of protein and fiber, which helped keep me full . . . especially useful because I always seemed to be hungry. I love to throw the peppery arugula and radishes in this mix because they lighten it up a bit and give good crunch. The dressing is bright and tangy, with lots of lime and toasted cumin. If you go for the extras, a ladle of salsa and little dollop of sour cream at the end makes it all very messy, but very, very delicious. (If you’re pregnant or nursing, be sure to use a pasteurized variety when you choose your cheese!)
11/2 cups millet
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (3 to 4 limes), plus 1 lime cut into wedges for serving
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
Freshly cracked black pepper
One 15-ounce can pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed
4 radishes, halved and thinly sliced
4 scallions, finely chopped
4 cups baby arugula or torn arugula
3/4 cup crumbled Cotija, feta, or goat cheese
1/4 cup roasted and salted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
Salsa and sour cream for serving (optional)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the millet and cook until the millet is tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and rinse under cool water, shaking out as much water as possible. Transfer the millet to a large bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.Add the cumin seeds to a small skillet set over medium heat. Toast until it smells fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to gently crush, or tip out onto a cutting board and use a heavy-bottomed pot to do the same.
In a small bowl, combine the cumin, lime juice, coriander, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil.
Add the pinto beans, radishes, scallions, and arugula to the bowl with the millet. Drizzle in the dressing and toss with a fork to combine. Sprinkle with the cheese and pumpkin seeds and serve with a lime wedge, plus salsa and sour cream on the side, if desired.
TIP: Add even more protein by stirring in shredded cooked chicken or salmon, or a dose of healthy fat with chopped avocado.
Both recipes are from THE HAPPY COOK by Daphne Oz. Copyright © 2016 by Daphne Oz. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Looking for more food ideas? Check out Stephanie Middleberg’s dinner recipes.