Eating Clean: An Interview with Nutritionist and Personal Chef Amie Valpone
Amie Valpone is the clean eating expert and personal chef behind the gluten-free blog The Healthy Apple. Her cooking is inspired and influenced by her decision to not let food allergies stop her from eating well and being creative in the kitchen. Here’s a chance to get to know her a little bit better.
Q: When and how did your passion for food start?
A: My health has led me to the greatest food ever – I suffered for 6 years of my life with chronic pain and visited every doctor under the sun until I finally learned what was going on in my body. I focus on and eat Clean, Whole foods because a little bit of deprivation (my numerous food intolerances and sensitivities) have led me to discover creativity in my kitchen each and every day. This is what inspired me to start my blog -TheHealthyApple.com – helping others in the same boat as me to realize that there is flavor beyond sugar and processed, packaged foods- and there is a delicious life beyond food intolerances.
“It’s about being true to yourself and listening to what your taste buds are yearning for – whether it’s Brussels sprouts or whole grain pizza.”
Q: Any Tips for Kids to Eat More Veggies?
A: Of course; I have a bunch for you! This is my job everyday, working with families and kids – here are a few of my special tips:
- Toss ground cashews, almonds and flax seeds into a container and use them instead of bread crumbs for a nutritional boost.
- Be a good role model – sit down for all 3 meals and snacks.
- Teach them new tastes from fresh basil to fresh orange juice.
- Take your kids shopping with you – farmers markets or food stores- either way, they’ll learn.
- Be flexible; everything in moderation. Don’t go cold turkey on the kids – slowly add in healthy foods instead of tossing everything ‘bad’ out.
- Make mealtime special family time. Talk about the flavors and textures.
- Don’t be a short-order cook. Make the same dinner for everyone in the family while making sure to put some foods on the plate that your children like — then add something new.
- Let kids help in the kitchen- they’ll love the process of market to table fresh food.
- Make sure your child eats a healthy breakfast.
- Breakfast should always include a source of protein, some healthy fats, carbohydrates (whole grains are best), and vitamins and minerals.
- Stock the pantry with healthy choices and make them visible, which may seem intuitive but is often overlooked.
- Place carrots w/ guacamole in fridge and fruit on the counter to steer kids toward nutritious snacks.
- Instead of aiming for perfection, try for consistency so that kids are regularly exposed to healthy options.
- The best you can do is to make sure they eat healthy when they are under your control.
- Expect kids to mimic your behavior rather than follow your directions.
- Don’t give up! It’s important that your children know how to eat well for good health throughout their lives.
Q: What’s your best tip for anyone who wants to improve their cooking?
A: Start eating to live, not live to eat and learn to embrace simple, Clean, Whole foods that will give you energy and keep you satisfied for longer. Move away from the diet mentality and eat what your body wants not what someone else’s plan entails as that only brings you farther away from what you will truly enjoy cooking and eating day in-and day out. It’s about being true to yourself and listening to what your taste buds are yearning for – whether it’s Brussels sprouts or whole grain pizza. I tell my clients to start with their food processor – make a simple salsa, guacamole and hummus for the week to use on salads, pastas, pizzas, grains, eggs and proteins such as fish, chicken and tofu. A touch of fresh herbs goes a long way in any of these 3 simple condiments.
Q: As a nutritionist I am sure you have had lots of experience with supplements and vitamins. What would you say are the most common mistakes people make when choosing?
A: We are all different and each of us processes everything and absorbs food and nutrients differently so there’s no one pill for all. I often suggest a multivitamin for all of my clients who need the extra boost they may not be receiving from certain foods.
Amie Valpone, HHC, AADP, author of The Healthy Apple is a Manhattan based Culinary Nutritionist, Personal Chef, Professional Recipe Developer and Food Writer specializing in simple Gluten-Free ‘Clean’ recipes for the home cook.