More About the Author
Good food, good company, and a great conversation-and especially the three in combination-are among the greatest of life's pleasures. I like to help others create space for such joyful experiences in their lives.
I originally came to cooking from a background in fashion design. Nowadays, I like to encourage my students to trust their instincts and be their own designers. Creative inspiration can come from anywhere: from a trip to the Southwest, from an encounter with a green zebra tomato at a local greenmarket, from that great falafel that you picked up on the corner, from reading an exotic memoir, from a "mistake" in the kitchen.
Cooking is a lifelong journey, and the path is fascinating in its unpredictability. My students range from vegans to omnivores. While the particular foods they eat may vary, they all want to eat well. I have observed that at some point or another in the course of life, one's eating habits will alter. What worked at one point may no longer serve. What one chooses to eat is an individual decision based on a myriad of factors. It is best to be honest, and if one way of eating no longer serves, perhaps you need a dietary reassessment.
I spent years cooking vegan meals at Angelica kitchen, in New York City. My first book, The Voluptuous Vegan, reflects that experience. While I have never been vegan, or even vegetarian, I have come close at times. I did not find that it worked for me to be so strict. I do appreciate good vegetarian or vegan meals, and I cook them often. My subsequent two books are flexitarian and include some dairy, eggs, fish and poultry. My writing and editing address a wide variety of foods.
Here are a few pointers to keep in mind. It's worth using the highest quality "real food" ingredients, locally grown or produced if possible. Try not to surf on the latest fad-based dietary wave. Savor ingredients that have been favored by long cultural traditions. For the best-tasting results, use healthy traditional fats (yes, fat makes flavor!), and remember- salt is your friend. High quality sea salt draws the flavors of a dish together; and furthermore, it's good for you. Seek out animal food - whether it's dairy, eggs, or flesh - from an animal that was raised humanely and traditionally, and consumes what it was designed to eat. Products from traditionally raised animals are now becoming increasingly available from local farmers. It is, in fact, getting much easier to find pastured eggs with bright orange yolks from hens that have been foraging outside.
What is healthiest for you is also what is healthiest for the planet. Local food is fresher, picked riper, and often grown without excessive pesticides. It also requires a minimum amount of fossil fuel to get to market. Furthermore, it just tastes better. Compare a peach so ripe and juicy that it falls apart as you eat it to the mealy versions so common in most supermarkets.
Nourishment is not only a matter of what we eat, but how we eat. Slow down, pay attention, and really taste your food. Keep in mind the pleasure, or "hedonist" factor. Also keep in mind that a meal should make you feel satisfied and lively after eating it. Splash love into your food, call down blessings on your kitchen, your family and friends, even as you wash and chop and slice. Nourish yourself and others as deeply as you can.
Myra Kornfeld is the author of The Healthy Hedonist Holidays; A Year of Multi-Cultural Vegetarian-Friendly Holiday Feasts (October 16, 2007, Simon and Schuster Publishers), The Healthy Hedonist; More than 200 Delectable Flexitarian Recipes for Relaxed Daily Feasts. (Simon and Schuster, 2005), and The Voluptuous Vegan: More than 200 Sinfully Delicious Recipes for Eggless, Meatless, and Dairy Free Meals (now in its seventh printing from Clarkson Potter, October, 2000).
Myra is the Head Chef & Content Manager of MyFoodMyHealth.com, a food and healing website. Myra teaches classes in ethnic, classic, and vegetarian cooking at The Natural Gourmet School of Health and Culinary Arts and the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. She has been a guest instructor at numerous schools including the New York Jewish Community Center, Classic Thyme in New Jersey and at Sur la Tables around the country. She frequently teaches individual and group private classes and coordinates cooking parties. Myra specializes in corporate team- building events, with clients including Jurlique, The Gap, Credit-Suisse, Colgate-Palmalive, Alliance Bernstein, and American Express. She is a frequent contributor to Vegetarian Times and has contributed articles to Natural Health magazine and Organic Style. A veteran restaurant chef, recipe developer and editor, private chef and menu consultant, Myra worked for six years creating innovative vegan cuisine at New York's Angelica Kitchen.