Q - In just over five years, you’re putting out your sixth cookbook. How do you do this?
A – I’m quite surprised myself, actually. But preparing foods, finding new combinations and flavors and influences, discovering new cooking techniques and more imaginative ways to entertain guests – these are all motivating passions to me. I believe in the old adage that “if you do what you love, you’ll never work another day in your life.” I love sharing my discoveries with people.
Q – Lightens Up has taken you down a different path in kosher cooking. Why this book now?
A – It’s been a maturation process on a couple of levels, really. Since the original Kosher by Design was published in 2003, I’ve certainly grown as a home cook and my kids have grown. I was looking to do better by them and so I began investigating and experimenting with healthier foods and cooking methods. Lightens Up is the result.
Q – So how is it different?
A – I collaborated with certified nutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix on this book. She’s a well-known national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. People might recognize her from her many appearances on CNN and Good Morning America and her many articles in the New York Times, the Washington Post, WebMD, and others. I love Bonnie’s summary statement about Lightens Up: “This book is not about deprivation; it’s about blending an array of foods of varying colors, flavors, and textures, as well s a bouquet of nutrients that will please both you palate and your desire to feel good.”
Q – One of the signature features in your previous cookbooks has been rather tasty international influences. Does that carry through in Lightens Up?
A – Most definitely. Lightens Up can take you around the world. Off the top of my head I can mention an Argentinean Bison Steak, Korean Beef Kim Chee Skewers, Merquez Sausage on Whole Wheat Couscous, Chicken Tikka Masala, Lebanese Salad, Greek Farro Salad, Mexican Citrus Salad, Thai Chicken Soup, Moroccan Spiced Vegetables, Japanese Udon Noodle Soup, a Greek Fritta Ring, and Tangy Mediterranean Vegetables. There’s a lot more and besides tasting great, it’s all very healthy.
Q – You didn’t mention any desserts on that list. Are they out?
A – You’ll be quite surprised here. There are 21 in Lightens Up and they’re all fabulous. I’m thinking now about the Apple-Blueberry Cake, the Peach-Berry Tart, Baklava Bites, a Frozen Pumpkin Pie – there’s even a Banana-Chocolate Strudel.
Q – Were there any surprises for you personally in putting Lightens Up together?
A – I was certainly delighted that my family and friends found these recipes so good. I’ve learned to enjoy some new foods that I hadn’t known much before, such as wheat berries and faro, which is a very nutritious ancient Middle Eastern grain that’s becoming popular. As I’ve incorporated more whole grains into meals and reduced the amount of fats, sugars, and oils in my recipes, I’ve found the flavors to be refreshingly pure and satisfying. Also, we discovered some really fun and unique entertaining ideas, such as an olive oil tasting party and a fruit spritzer bar.
"Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become." -C.S. Lewis