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Jessica Seinfeld

       

Jessica Seinfeld is all about balance. That, and having it all. Especially when it comes to cooking, eating and feeding her family. In her first books, she shared her secrets for infusing cauliflower into cinnamon buns and spinach into brownies. As long as her family wanted these foods, she saw no reason not to deliver them with a dose of health. And in her latest book, Food Swings: 125+ Recipes to Enjoy Your Life of Virtue & Vice, she encourages us all to take some bad with the good. Here, the author, chef and philanthropist shares how her have-it-all approach creates a life worth living.

 Your approach to wellness seems to always incorporate a healthy dose of pleasure. Has this always been your way? How did this take shape?

A bit of pleasure keeps me focused and working hard at everything I do. For me, the two extremes work in harmony. I realized a few years ago that I don’t want to die not having done or eaten the things I want because of guilt. Guilt can rule your life or it can be eliminated. I chose the latter.

Clearly food and nutrition are important to you. What other practices do you incorporate to stay well? I eat well enough, exercise, meditate (not as much as I should, but enough that I feel the benefits) and try to get enough sleep. I am also cognizant of what I read, watch and listen to. I avoid consuming low-quality information and watching shows that make me feel like I am witnessing a train wreck. I am a firm believer that whatever you consume in some way dictates your trajectory. So, I try to elevate the quality of everything around me so I hopefully advance as a human.

Do you have any non-negotiables, rituals or activities you do every day no matter what? Outside of brushing and flossing, I exercise in some way everyday – I’ve read too many studies to not do so. It keeps the aging process at bay and keeps my past injuries from coming back to haunt me. I am at the stage in my life where it is not about how I look and is way more about how I feel.

Walk us through a typical day of meals. What’s for breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? I try to eat a wholesome breakfast to set the tone for the day. I drink one coffee with coconut milk and have a Glory Bowl. The recipe is in my book Food Swings and is made with chia seeds, coconut milk and fresh berries.

For lunch, I will have a sensible salad, or whatever we are recipe testing that day.

Dinner is usually when I loosen up. I like to avoid food stress at dinnertime – there is enough anxiety in the world right now, so I make a meal everyone will enjoy. And I like a little something sweet for dessert – often it is chocolate-covered-dried-fruit and Van Leeuwen vegan ice cream.

Do you have any favorite spots for a virtuous meal out? I am not a big fan of stopping the work day for a lunch break, but when I do, I love to meet my friends at Juice Press. It’s quick and easy, and ensures you make a pretty good choice.

New York and LA both have some exciting virtuous food options right now and I am excited to try a couple of new veggie focused places.

And what about vice-filled meal? I always love a decadent meal at one of my favorites:

In New York, some of my favorite are Pasquale Jones, Charlie Bird, Lucali, Olmstead and Le Coq Rico.

What is your go-to recipe or menu for a last-minute dinner party? Dinner parties are about people coming together to have a good time, laugh a lot and eat delicious food. I like to choose recipes that don’t require you to be in the kitchen all night. My go-to for a quick meal for a fun group is linguine with clams, delicious garlic bread, a fresh green salad and flourless chocolate cake – all from my previous book, The Can’t Cook Book.

Do you have any favorite cookbooks or food blogs? There are so many wonderful and inspiring people in the food world these days, but a few of my favorites are Smitten Kitchen, My New Roots, What’s Gaby Cooking, The Happy Pear, Goop, The Medical Medium, and Aran Goyoaga. I love following Kate Krader from Bloomberg for her restaurant pics across the country.

Are there any ingredients or culinary discoveries you’re currently obsessing over? I try to make weekday breakfasts more nutritious, so I have been making pancakes and muffins with teff flour. Teff flour has more protein than most flours, is gluten free and doesn’t turn my kids off. A big win.

Do you prefer to cook for kids or adults? I love to cook for challenging people. I get very set on winning them over. Kids are easy for me because I know what they like – even the pickiest ones. Most of all, I love to cook for my husband because he thinks everything I make is the greatest thing he ever ate, even when I know it isn’t.

Do you have a favorite recipe from the new book? The recipes between the covers of this book are my “lifestyle.” The Glory Bowls are part of my daily life, the beer battered fish tacos are always a huge hit and the chocolate cake is a staple for everyone’s birthdays. The chicken parm recipe has been a constant since college, the breakfast toasts are my favorite Friday night meal when our kids are out for the night and my husband is away. All the recipes in Food Swings are favorites for different reasons – picking one is impossible!

How has being a mom shaped your interest in self care? And how do you guide your kids to make healthy choices? For many years, when our kids were very young, I didn’t look after myself very well. I was exhausted, grouchy and so focused on my family that I let myself get very depleted. I wish I had known then what I know now: you will be a better parent when you take care of yourself. Now that our kids are preteens and teenagers, I allow myself to take an exercise class, meditate, go for a walk and from time to time even get a massage or a facial. Modeling exercise and a decent eating habits are important to us as parents, so we do just that. Jerry and I both work out and we make our kids do it too. I make food choices for our family that incorporates both virtue and vice, so ultimately, everyone feels satisfied.

Another common theme through your work seems to be helping families thrive, whether through healthier eating or providing support and guidance to those living in poverty. And tips for our readers on how they can make an impact too? There is no better feeling for me than knowing I am bringing relief to struggling mothers, fathers and children. When I started Good+ Foundation 16 years ago, it was a simple idea and I had no idea that we would be where we are now. It’s become one of the most meaningful parts of my life. I feel lucky to wake up every day and feel great purpose, both personally and professionally.

There are so many people in need around the world, and so many small ways to help. It can be easier than you think to start making an impact. One simple way is to smile at someone who isn’t used to being smiled at. And if you’re up for volunteering, we can get you started at Good+ Foundation. We love our volunteers. Come see us sometime. Learn more at GoodPlusFoundation.org.

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